Bellary: Work has begun on conservation of the inner and outer structures of megalithic burial chambers excavated by the Archeological Survey of India in a village of Chitradurga district. As many as 40 burial chambers shaped like rectangular cists, cist-circles (stones surrounding granite cists) and pit circles dating back to the lst millennium BC to 2nd century BC, have been discovered in Roppa village of Molakalmuru taluk in the district. Vessels with graffiti, stone beads and iron and copper tools have been found in the chambers.
The ASI has fully excavated one burial chamber and plans to cover it with glass to place the articles inside for public display. “It will stop treasure hunters from believing that the chambers are filled up with gold and diamond and try to plunderthem. These antiques will also help create awareness about the ancient system of burial and help conserve the other chambers ,” said an ASI official.
The site was first explored in 1891 by Benjamin L. Rice who discovered rock edicts of Emperor Ashoka here. The rock edicts indicated that the locality was called Isila and formed the southernmost extent of the Mauryan empire. In 1947, ASI archeologist, Mortimer Wheeler found medieval stone temples, pottery, terracota beads, figurines, semi precious stones and megalithic structures at the site.
He named the microlithic culture he discovered, Roppa culture after the Roppa village where the microlithic trench was located. He also found that the Neoliths had lived in the region as there was evidence of farming and herding by the communities in the pre-megalithic period at the site.