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When culture comes to naught

Special Correspondent


The megalithic burial site at Hasmathpet has been infringed upon for plotting to carve out a housing colony




Trespass: Illegal building activity on at Hasmathpet burial site.

HYDERABAD: In a development that should shock historians, a large megalithic burial site at Hasmathpet, has suddenly been divided into plots with compound wall being built purportedly for a housing colony.

Amazed at the rapidity with which encroachments came up in the last three days, the staff of the Department of Archaeology and Museums, with the help of police, had demolished some of the structures on Friday. There are still a number of illegal constructions to be razed besides boulders deposited inside the protected site.

But the department officials are apprehensive about further protection of the site extending 28.27 acres with Revenue and other departments’ apathy and the influence of realtors who seem emboldened by the election results.

After the day-long demolition operation on Friday, P. Chenna Reddy, Director, Archaeology and Museums, told The Hindu that the encroachers have been making repeated attempts to plot the area despite the High Court’s orders to maintain a status quo in a petition filed by a housing society. The petition was filed when the department put up a wall around the protected area in 2001.

Excavations

The site full of cairn circles has been of significance, generating lot of interest among archaeologists from time to time. First noticed by Dr. Walker, the eminent archaeologista few burials were excavated unearthing a brass bell, pottery and an iron chain. Another round of excavation was taken up in 1934-35 by the Department of Archaeology of the then Nizam’s Dominion, this time under the supervision of D. G. Mackenzie.

For the next 35 years the site remained untouched. There was renewed interest and the department took up excavations in 1971 in collaboration with Birla Archaeological and Cultural Research Institute. Two undisturbed burials were excavated leading to recovery of valuable artefacts including iron implements, human bones and pottery. The last round of excavation of three more burials was in 2000-01.

The Hasmathpet site is one among a string of megalithic burials skirting the city, the others being Moulali, Kothaguda, Hyderabad Central University campus near Lingampalli and the latest discovery at Kethepalli near Ramoji Film City in 2008. These places are reminiscent of the Iron Age.

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