Skeletons from possible ancient city exposed by riverbank erosion

Teeth unearthed by riverbank erosion in Nabekan village, Mandalay Region, on December 5, 2017. Photo: Win Maung
Teeth unearthed by riverbank erosion in Nabekan village, Mandalay Region, on December 5, 2017. Photo: Win Maung

Skeletons, urns containing pieces of bones, and the remains of a building were unearthed when the Samone River carried away a chunk of a riverbank in a Mandalay Region village on Tuesday.

The six-foot wide section of the riverbank was located in Nabekan village, Wundwin Township. When villagers saw the objects, they reported them to a local archaeologist and requested that the area be excavated.

“I’m sure the remains belong to a Pyu city, that [was situated beside the river] between the 1st and 5th centuries AD,” Win Maung, the archaeologist, told Eleven. “It might be a fort city that guarded a greater city.”

The building is thought to be the remains of a wall, he said, adding that the inhabitants may have abandoned the site to move to an area now known as Inn Kan Gyi. Silt deposits carried by the river then probably buried the ancient city over time.

Myo Thet, a local teacher, told Eleven: “Win Maung told us to keep an eye on the find and that he would inform the authorities. The remains were buried six feet underground, so I think hand-digging will not be efficient. We need the help of machines to dig deeper.”

If Win Maung’s estimates are correct, the fort city would have predated several of the known Pyu cities by centuries and the Bagan Empire by nearly a millennium.

Pyu is a name given to what are thought to have been the first inhabitants of the area that is now central Myanmar. Archaeologists have excavated five major walled cities and several walled towns from the Pyu period, which spanned roughly from 200 BC to 1050 AD.

Halin, Beikthano, and Sri Ksetra are recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

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