Sinauli, located in the Baghpat district of western Uttar Pradesh was declared as a site of national importance on 2nd September, 2020. The announcement made by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), brings the 28.67hectare-site under Central protection. The site would now be maintained by the ASI and development works around it would be subject to Central rules. The site is of especial importance due to the existence of burials and other findings such as chariots, swords and shields that have been unearthed. All of these indicate the presence of a warrior class, just 68kms from Delhi.
Excavations on the site have been carried out twice – once in 2005-06 and later in mid-2018. During the excavations of 2005, remains of a cemetery - the ‘Sanauli cemetery’ – was found that belonged to Late Harappan Phase
, providing extensive information on the late Harappan cultures.
Findings from the 2018 trial excavations include several wooden coffin burials, chariots, copper swords, and helmets. The wooden chariots - with solid disk wheels – are covered by copper sheets. Officials from ASI have termed the site as the ‘largest necropolis of the late Harappan period’ datable to early part of 2000BCE. According to ASI director SK Manjul, elaborate burials - 126 in total - which included underground chambers, decorated legged coffins and rice in pots buried with the bodies, belong to an indigenous warrior tribe which inhabited the region. He also added that the carbon dating has now confirmed that the burials date back to 1900BCE. The burial pits have legged coffins along with systematically arranged vases, bowls and pots. The coffins have anthropomorphic images on them, indicating religious beliefs, akin to the Vedic rituals.
According to historian BR Mani, who was also involved in the 2005 excavations, the site can be considered as an intersection between the peoples of the Ganga-Yamuna Doab region and the Indus Valley cultures. The chariots found in the site have fixed axle attached by a long pole to a smaller yoke. Their shapes and sizes confirm that these were pulled by horses, quite similar to the designs of a contemporary chariot, discovered for the first time in South Asia.