Archaeology and Astronomy at Burzahom

Burzahom was the first Neolithic site to be discovered in Kashmir.

It is located on a ‘karewa‘ between the banks of the Dal Lake and the Zabarvan hills, about 5 km from the famous Mughal garden of Shalimar. Burzahom translates as ‘place [ hom ] of birch [ burza ]‘ in Kashmiri.

Plentiful food from the forests on the Himalayan foothills, abundant water supply from the lake and a raised location protected from seasonal flooding ensured that the Burzahom plateau remained continuously settled from the Stone Age [2400 B.C] to the Early Historical period. The inhabitants progressed from hunt-and-gathering pit-dwellers to a pottery-making agricultural society over the ages.

A rock carving unearthed at the site shows two hunters hunting a stag while twin suns shine in the sky. The engraving on the slab depicts hunting scenes showing an antlered deer being pierced from behind with a long spear by a hunter and an arrow being discharged by another hunter from the front. The slab seems to reveal that hunting was still a part of the life of the Neolithic people of Burzahom.

The presence of two similar suns in the sky is however a mystery.

Some researchers believe that the twin suns indicate the duration of the hunt, while a far more exotic (and convincing, IMHO) theory has been proposed by a team of astronomers who believe that the scene represents the ancient night sky with the two suns actually representing the moon and a supernova*, while the hunters and the animals represent constellations like Orion and Taurus.

If the latter theory is to be believed, it would represent not only the first record of a supernova, but also the oldest sky-chart ever discovered!

* A supernova is the explosion of a massive star which produces an extremely bright object that gradually fades away over weeks or months.

Burzahom lies just off the Shalimar-Telbal road and is well worth the short trip to experience the history it represents.

Learn more about Burzahom here.

Update (2019):
I feel that in ancient times the Dal lake would have extended to the boundaries of Burzahom which seems to have the perfect attributes for a shore settlement. Unfortunately unplanned construction is taking place in the most likely place where an anchorage would have existed. Indeed the construction monster may soon devour Burzahom. Shame!