Making Ramayana and Mahabharata come alive


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New Delhi : Are those grey ware pots and pans the ones in which Sita cooked a simple meal during the 14 years of 'vanvas' (exile)? And what about those finely chiselled missiles? Did Arjun use them in the battle of Kurukshetra?

Take a walk through the 'Early Man's Gallery' in the National Museum in the capital and watch the "epic ages" of the Ramayana and Mahabharata come alive.

With painted grey ware, copper tools, ridged weapons, copper cutlery and other artefacts that are nearly two million years old, it's as if your history books and your epics have come alive.

The "educative gallery" – as D.P. Sharma the curator and head of department of museology puts it – is home to artefacts dating back to the Stone Age, Pre-historic Age, Palaeolithic Age, Mesolithic Age and Neolithic Age as well as the epic age of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

A fleeting look at the copper weapons and tools and painted grey ware like pots, plates and bowls dated between 2800 B.C. and 1100 B.C., excavated from various places like the Bharadwaj site, brings the story of Ramayana to life.

The epic age of Mahabharata comes alive with similar painted grey ware and iron tools that have been excavated from Hastinapur, Mathura and Panchali, among other places.

Finely carved weapons like chisels and anthromorphic figures which had been used as missiles also form a part of the collection of the epic age.

Going further back, the Stone Age is frozen in a frame in the form of various tools carved of pebbles.

Not all the tools from the Stone Age are from India. For instance, exhibits include one-million-year-old tools made of flint stone excavated from Barnfield in England. Similarly, a quartzite pebble tool from Kenya is three million years old.

Other than copperware, the development of silver and gold metallurgy in India can also be traced back through pieces of jewellery and other items excavated over different periods of time.

One of the interesting features of the gallery will be the conversion of one of its halls into the pre-historic Bhimbhetika cave, which will have an activity room for children where they can carve out stone tools themselves.

"This is an educative gallery which is in sync with the NCERT syllabus. Also, the undergraduate and postgraduate students who specialise in archaeology will benefit greatly by the objects exhibited in this gallery," said Sharma.

He added: "Places from where these excavations have been made are marked on the map of India and kept besides each frame. This will be of great help to students."

The Indus Valley Civilisation is, however, not a part of this gallery. It has a separate area dedicated to it in the museum. Sharma said that a Nizam's gallery would also be coming up in the museum.