Ancient Monolithic Jar Sites
Ancient Monolithic Jar Sites

Unveiling History: Exploring Two Ancient Monolithic Jar Sites in Dima Hasao

Delving into the Archaeological Significance and Mysteries of Dima Hasao's Ancient Monolithic Jars

A joint team led by the District Museum officer Bidisha Bordoloi, research scholars Shring Dao Langthasa and Bhubanjoy Langthasa from the District Archaeology Department, and VL Hmar, senior instructor at the Cultural Department conducted an expedition to two previously unreported ancient monolithic jar sites recenty – Longkhai Hamrim Hading and Kolsi Tilla.

Monolith: Any single standing stone from the prehistoric era. Occasionally used interchangeably with "menhir" and "megalith," the term "monolith" is more frequently associated with single stones from later periods.

Monolithic sites:

Both the sites  Longkhai Hamrim Hading in Maibang West and Kolsi Tilla in Lower Kharthong feature monolithic jars, also known as stone jars.

Longkhai Hamrim Hading: 

  • The site was explored on January 21, 2024, which is situated northeast of Haflong, the district headquarters, and southwest of Choto Bathari village.

  • From there, it requires an approximate 2.4-kilometre uphill trek south towards Rilai village.

  • The site is on the summit of a hill and features a single weathered stone jar facing north, which is partially buried.

  • The exposed length measures 1 meter and suggests a pear shape.

  • The jar’s opening is the size of a standard football (27-28 cm) with a hollowed cavity of 50 cm.

  • Local villagers from the nearby village reported the presence of another jar in the past, which has since been vandalised. Upon further inquiry, they mentioned the discovery of damaged pottery interred with human skeletal remains north of the jar.

Kolsi Tilla:

  • It was explored by the team on February 25, 2024, which is situated southwest of Haflong, and northwest of Purana Zoar village.

  • The site is located on an elevated hill and can be reached by a 3.4-km uphill trek from the Keyeng Valley.

  • Three jars were excavated and removed from their original locations.

  • One jar was placed in isolation approximately 50 metres east of the cluster groups, while another was damaged during transportation.

  • The third jar s currently displayed in the vicinity of Ranachandi Madaikho Park in Maibang.

Currently, the jars at the site are divided into two distinct cluster groups by a passageway created by the villagers.

The first cluster:

  • Located on the western side, consists of three jars.

  • Two of these jars are partially damaged, while the third is shorter in height and features a flat oval opening.

The second cluster:

  • Situated on the eastern side, it comprises 25 jars.

  • These jars exhibit a variety of shapes and dimensions.

  • Can be broadly categorised into three primary forms: oval, bulbous, and barrel-shaped. 

  • The barrel-shaped jars are the most prevalent among the collection.

  • Some of these jars are partially visible above the ground, while others are partially buried.

  • On average, they stand at approximately 82 centimetres in height and are oriented in various directions.

  • One distinctive feature of these jars is the presence of oval openings with flat surfaces. This particular characteristic is unique to the site within the district.

  • These jars were covered with flat stone slabs in the past that served as lids.

  • These lids can still be observed at the site.

It is noteworthy that monolithic jars, initially reported by JP Mills and JH Hutton in 1932 from six sites in Dima Hasao district in Assam, are unique to the district and Saipung Reserve of Meghalaya in the North-eastern region. Ongoing research on these ancient remains utilizses relative technique methods, tentatively suggesting their function as repositories for the deceased, similar to those found in Laos DPR, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Advait IAS