Artefacts found by archaeological excavations at the disputed site in Ayodhya proved that it had been a sacred place and not merely a human habitation, according to archaeologist R Nagaswamy. He had given expert advice to the Allahabad high court's Lucknow bench that heard the title suits in the Ayodhya case. The oldest structure for which evidence was dug up belonged to the 3rd century BC, said Nagaswamy, former director of archaeology in Tamil Nadu.
"The archaeology excavations done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) brought to light several carved stones that indicated the presence of a sacred place. Some of the material unearthed included pillars with engravings on them, an outlet for water in the form of a crocodile mouth," he said.
While the ASI carried out archaeology excavations on the HC's orders in 2003, Nagaswamy presented a report to the court, explaining in detail the artefacts unearthed by the ASI. "The artefacts proved that they belonged to a sacred place and not just any human habitation. The existence of a shrine was one of the crucial pieces of evidence presented to the judges," Nagaswamy said.
Showing an array of photographs of various artefacts, the expert said the excavations were carried out to a depth of 50 to 60 feet below the surface. "The ASI found several layers of artefacts belonging to different periods and there was evidence of a massive stone religious structure belonging to the 10th century AD," Nagaswamy said.
The ASI carried out two types of archaeology excavation. The first was an electro-magnetic survey without any digging, and later, it carried out site archaeology excavation in the presence of the parties to the case. "The time given by the court to the ASI was only three months, and within that time, it came out with some important findings," he said. "The judges asked me to explain as to how I arrived at the conclusions on various artefacts and I gave them all the details and explained my conclusions to them," he said.
Among the pieces of structural evidence that the ASI found were an 'amalaka', a stone disk-like piece normally found in N Indian shrines, and some terracotta figures showing human busts adorned with jewellery.
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