Mangalkot2 an ancient site of archaeological importance located on the right-bank of the river Kunur in the Katwa subdivision of Burdwan district of West Bengal. The ruins are spread up to Kunur's confluence with the Ajay. The Department of Archaeology, Calcutta University, excavated the site in 1986-90.

There are five main cultural periods. Period I, yielding the remains of Chalcolithic culture is characterized by black and red ware, the dominant pottery of the time. The other associated sherds are red slipped wares with variants of orange, chocolate and lustrous red, besides black polished and black slipped wares. The potteries are occasionally decorated with paintings done either in white or in black.

The implements used regularly were made of bones. The most important discovery of this phase is the evidence of the use of iron, right from the bottom layer of this Cultural Period. On the basis of radiocarbon analysis the period has been dated 1000-500 BC. It antedates a transitional phase (Period II), revealing ceramic types, like plain red, brown, grey, black slipped wares, including coarser varieties of black and red sherds and associated pottery of the previous period. The important finds of Period II consist of iron objects in profuse number like arrowheads, chisels, knife points, indicating increasing use of iron. The bone tools, however, have continued during this period as well.

Period III (Maurya-Sunga periods: c 300 BC to the close of the first century BC) is marked on the one hand by the absence of black and red ware, and on the other by the occurrence of several new ceramics, like red, grey, black slipped wares of both the plain and designed variety, including a few coarse varieties of NBPW. The notable antiquities of this level include a single piece of punch marked copper cast coin and uninscribed copper cast coins, including a significant number of diagnostic terracotta figurines affiliated to Maurya- Shunga stylistic traits. Period IV, revealing the Kusana cultural phase, represents a prosperous stage. The burnt brick structures seem to have appeared for the first time in this site during this period. The characteristic pottery is sturdy red wares, at times stamped with floral and geometric motifs. Interesting antiquities found from this period include, besides seals and sealing, a number of moulded terracotta figurines; some wearing diaphanous folded garments. The period also reveals a large number of hand-modeled figurines - both male and female.

Period V, coeval with the Guptas, provides a picture of prosperous material life. Like the previous period, this phase also witnessed large scale building activities. The period is characterized by a thin fabricked red brown ware with wash and moulded decoration. The period reveals a large number of seals with varieties of symbols such as a tree within a railing, a couch-ant bull, purna kumbha, stupa, dhvaja, a women standing in akimbo, copper and bronze specimens comprising rings, bangles, antimony rods, fragments of bowls etc. The period is characterised by beads of various shapes and sizes made of different kinds of semi precious stones, copper, glass and terracotta.

Though not many of them exhibit the characteristic suppleness, fineness and sensitive rendering of the flesh, the terracotta finds have many of the typical qualities of the Gupta idiom. The succeeding phase of Mangalkot (period VI) reveal materials belonging to a long stretch of time, beginning with the post-Gupta phase and continuing till the late medieval period.

The wealth of antiquities collected from the excavations amply testifies to the fact that from the Mauryan period onward the sites seems to have grown into a full-fledged urban centre. [Amita Ray]