September 23, 2017

Research on ancient Pyu sites to continue despite end of excavations

The ornaments and utensils made of stone, bronze, iron, gold and earth excavated from the ancient cities show that the Pyu people were possessed with high professional artistic skills that are now extinct. Photo: Private collection
The ornaments and utensils made of stone, bronze, iron, gold and earth excavated from the ancient cities show that the Pyu people were possessed with high professional artistic skills that are now extinct. Photo: Private collection

ARCHAEOLOGICAL excavations of three ancient Pyu cities will officially come to a halt this month with the end of the current 2015-16 fiscal year, but a branch of the World Heritage Department has made it known that research on the sites will continue.
The ancient city of Hanlin, located in the Sagaing Region township of Wetlet; the ancient city of Beikthano, located in the Magwe Region township of Taung Twin Gyi; and the ancient city of Sri Ksetra, located in the Bago Region township of Pyay, are among the most prominent remnants of the ancient Pyu civilisation.
Discoveries have been made in each of the archaeological sites since excavation activities began in February this year. These finds include palace walls and entrances in Hanlin and Sri Ksetra, while religious edifices of Pyu cultural significance were discovered in the vicinity of the royal lake within the site of Beikthano.
U Than Zaw Oo, director of the Myanmar branch of the World Heritage Department, said these findings will be presented to the Ministry of Culture.
“Buildings that are believed to have been used for religious events and rituals were unearthed near the royal lake within the ancient Beikthano city. We will conduct research as to whether [the buildings] show evidence or proof of Pyu cultural heritage,” he said.
The aforementioned excavation activities have been carried out since February with a government budget of K80 million, provided through the Ministry of Culture. Archaeologists are now working to date the findings.
From 2014 to 2016, a total of 40 ancient mounds were unearthed at the site of the Hanlin ancient city, and 50 were excavated at Beikthano. A total of 63 digs have been conducted at Sri Kestra.
“Archaeologists surveyed the area using maps drawn up during the British colonial period in 1940, using the maps as guides for where to excavate. But the maps weren’t able to reveal everything. The locations of the palace walls could only be realised using modern, technological equipment,” added U Than Zaw Oo.
The excavations have been carried out as part of a five-year cultural heritage plan that began in 2014 and will run until 2018.—Myitmakha News Agency

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