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Ancient structure discovered in Meerut may lead to ‘lost’ Ashoka pillar site

Meerut: The ruins lay unnoticed for more than 1000 years, in the middle of a bustling city like Meerut. There was nothing distinctive about it at first glance – so much so that a portion of it was destroyed when a powerhouse was built over it. The Meerut circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was set up last year and the ruins have since been identified as remnants of a brick platform dating back over 2000 years. Additionally, the site could lead to the discovery of the ‘lost’ Ashoka Pillar site from the 3rd century BCE.

According to Meerut circle superintending archaeologist, Brajsundar Gadnayak, a major portion of the construction is in the shape of a 30m by 35m platforms at Vikas Puri. As the bricks are characteristic of the age, the ancient site is probably from the Mauryan period. The brick’s proportions are unique to the Mauryan era, measuring 42cm × 26cm x 8cm. ‘We have also found pottery and ceramics belonging to those times,’ Gadnayak said, adding that an old canal channel has also been found here, which most likely connects to the Kali river.

The discovery has reignited expectations that it may lead historians to a pillar built in Meerut in the third century BCE by Ashoka, the Mauryan dynasty’s third emperor. Historian Dr. KK Sharma said: ‘The Gazetteer (of 1904) mentions the reinstallation of Meerut’s pillar at the Delhi Ridge but we have not been able to find the original site here.’

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The Meerut Gazetteer to which Sharma cited, had said: ‘The earliest historical connection which can be made with the (Meerut) district is the erection of an Asoka pillar near Meerut. On the ridge at Dehli (Delhi) now stands a pillar which, according to Shams-i-Siraj, was removed from near the town of Meerut and set up in the Kushak Shikar or hunting palace. The site occupied by the pillar has not been identified.’


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