Bangladesh discovers ancient fort city


Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:59am ET17

By Nizam Ahmed

WARI, Bangladesh (Reuters) - Archaeologists in Bangladesh say they have uncovered part of a fortified citadel dating back to 450 B.C. that could have been a stopping off point along an ancient trade route.

So far, a moat round the citadel has been uncovered along with parts of an ancient road at Wari, 85 km (53 miles) northeast of the capital Dhaka.

"The citadel and a raft of artifacts may help redefine history of India," said Sufi Mostafizur Rahman, head of the department of archaeology at Jahangirnagar University, near Dhaka.

"The well-planned road with even manholes proves that the citadel was managed by a very efficient administration," Mostafizur added.

"I am confident further excavation will lead us to residue of a palace," he said.

Archaeologists have been excavating the ancient roads and unearthing artifacts for several years. Tests by a Dutch university revealed the objects dated to around 450 B.C.

Artefacts found in the 600 x 600 meter (1,800 x 1,800 ft) include metal coins, metallic chisels, terracotta missiles, rouletted and knobbed pottery, stone hammers and bangles. Ornaments suggested Buddhism dominated life in the urban centers. Mostafizur said the citadel was believed to be a part of Harappan civilization and a prime trade center might have flourished there, possibly serving as a link between contemporary South Asian and Roman civilizations.

The Harappan civilization flourished in the Indus and Ganges valleys between 2,700 B.C. to 700 B.C.

Archaeologists hope the citadel and surrounding area yield many more surprises.

In Wari and the nearby Batteswar village there are 47 raised areas and archaeologists are planning to excavate all of these as well.