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Mizoram archaeological site eyes UNESCO recognition

Guwahati, Jun 22, 2018: A 2,400-year-old site in Mizoram, suspected to have links with a lost civilisation, is eyeing the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Vangchhia, Mizoram's only Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)-protected site, located in the state's northeastern part, 259km from Aizawl, has the potential to get the tag, said P. Rohmingthanga, convener of the Indian Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Mizoram chapter, and a former state bureaucrat who is among the first few to have understood its importance.
Archaeologists at work in Vangchhia

"I believe Vangchhia can change the history of Mizoram. It has reaches in Myanmar and maybe in Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. I first spotted the mysterious structures from a helicopter in the seventies when I was the deputy commissioner of Aizawl district. Back then, insurgency had prevented a proper study of the place," he told The Telegraph.

Vangchhia, spread over 40km, is nestled by forests. At its core lie archeological relics, menhirs, burial sites, rock-cut caves, water pavilions and retaining walls. So far, more than 50 structures, including 39 burials spread over almost 10 square kilometres, have been discovered.

During its excavations, the ASI has collected samples of potsherds and other antiquities dating back to 600 BC through C14 (radiocarbon). It says Vangchhia is one of the world's largest necropolis sites. Archaeologists have stumbled upon human bones and ornaments from many of the burial sites. Based on the structural remains found, the cultural sequence of Vangchhia has been divided into two periods: 600 BCE-1400 CE and circa 1400 CE-1750 CE.

Rohmingthanga said they are planning how to present Vangchhia. "A lot needs to be done and a concrete approach should be emphasised upon for the steps towards a heritage site tag," he added.

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