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Dihar


Dihar one of the proto-historic sites that have been discovered on the north bank of the Darakeswar in the Bankura District of West Bengal. Although some neolithic tools have also been reported from the place, their worth is questionable. Excavation of a well-preserved mound here reveals that the beginning of habitation at Dihar coincides with the coming of copper-stone technology in the Darakeswar-Damodar valley. Materials found by excavation and radio-carbon dating of some of them suggest that by about 1000 BC the chalcolithic people of Dihar settled in the older alluvial tract watered by the Darakeswar and depended primarily on agriculture for their living. They built rudimentary houses with mud floor of rammed lime and terracotta nodules and roofs supported by posts. Their culture was characterised by both unpainted and painted black-and-red-ware, copper objects, microliths, beads, and a profusion of bone tools such as picks, chisels with broad and narrow end, scrapers, needles and drills. The Dihar settlers were conversant with forging of copper, but eventually learnt the technology of alloying and bronze making.

The settlement extended into the early historic period when iron and cast copper coins were introduced. The continuance, in this period, of black-and-red ware, an example of chalcolithic pottery, in spite of the introduction of iron was noticed. Similar examples are not rare in eastern India. Reference may in this connection be made to Chirand and Sonepur in Bihar and Mahisdal and Tulsipara in West Bengal. Coins depicting tree-in-railing and elephant symbols are not different in fabric and design from those unearthed at chandraketugarh and mangalkot in West Bengal. Archaeometrical studies show that settlers of Dihar added tin and lead to copper to reduce their melting points and for the better fusibility required for manufacturing coins. The few copper mines/ workings found in this region may have formed the supply base of the metal for Dihar. Iron implements used include nails, daggers and swords. Ceramics of early historic period were either plain or painted and comprised Sunga-Kusana bowls, storage jars, shallow dishes etc. Significantly, the site has yielded no northern black pottery (NBP). A few terracotta objects and a large number of beads of precious and semi-precious stone are other finds of the period.

After the early historic period, no significant activity at Dihar could be noticed. However, the place emerged, during the region's transition from late ancient to early medieval phase, as a major Saivite centre under the command of the twin temples of Shiva - Salleshvara and Sandeshvara (c 14th century AD).

The village continues to maintain its religious importance and annual festival held in honour of god Shiva in the Bangla month of Chaitra attracts a large number of devotees from far and near. [Dipak Ranjan Das]

Bibliography AC Pal, 'Dihar: A Chalcolithic Site', Pratna-Samiksha, I, 1992.