Discovery of Sarcophagus Burial at Kudatini

At one location in a recent Public Works Department trench to the northeast of the Kudatini ashmound, our team discovered a slightly damaged but nearly intact pot that was literally hanging out of the trench section.  Removal of this pot revealed another pot behind it.  This pot was entirely intact and sitting in an upright position.  Behind this second pot sat a third one, heavily cracked but otherwise intact, and again upright.  In all, the pots consisted of a Black-and-Red ware bowl and two Red Ware globular pots.  The Black-and-Red ware pot was akin to those found in Megalithic graves in South India, suggesting a tentative Early Iron Age date for the finds.  Analysis of the sediment contained within the pots revealed only sporadic cultural material similar to that found in the surrounding pit fill.  Careful scraping of the section revealed that the finds were situated at the base of a large pit (at least 1 m in section).  The finds clearly represented some sort of deliberate burial, for a purpose we were unable to ascertain.

Given the precarious situation of the pots and uncertainty about future Public Works Department activities at Kudatini, our team decided to put in a small trial trench adjacent to the Public Works trench to try to acquire further information about the pot finds, and prevent further unrecorded destruction of the locale.  Careful excavation revealed a fully intact (albeit badly cracked) terracotta sarcophagus.  The sarcophagus was zoomorphic in form, stood on six legs, and measured just under a metre in length.  It contained the partial remains of a 6-7 year-old child in secondary context.  The sarcophagus was surrounded by at least 13 pots (including the 3 original finds), a few of which also contained skeletal elements.  Skeletal remains were analysed by V. Mushrif and S.R. Walimbe at Deccan College, and reports are now published (Mushrif et al. 2003; Boivin et al. 2003 ). 

  Pots found with sarcophagus
Pots found accompanying sarcophagus burial

Kudatini sarcophagus
Terracotta sarcophagus and pots
unearthed at Kudatini

Kudatini sarcophagus re-assembled
Reconstructed sarcophagus