Radiocarbon Dating of Historical Bricks: Exploring the Unprotected Archaeological Mounds in the Environs of Excavated Site of Nalanda

  • Sonia Das The Institute of Trans-Disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology (TDU)
  • Pankaj Kumar Inter University Accelerator Centre (IUAC), New Delhi, 110067.
  • Mandyam Bhoolokam Rajani National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), IIsc campus, Bengaluru, 560012
  • Sundeep Chopra Inter University Accelerator Centre (IUAC), New Delhi, 110067.
Keywords: Nalanda, remote sensing, historical bricks, DEM, 14C AMS, World Heritage, archaeology



Nalanda was a renowned Buddhist monastery which is supposed to have been active for 800 years from around 4/5 to 12th centuries AD. We know about the site from the accounts of Chinese travellers’ records and later from 19th century British surveyors (Buchanan, Cunningham and Broadley). More recently remote sensing based studies have revealed a larger extent (~7.25 sq km approx.) of the site compared to what is protected at present as World Heritage (WH)  inscribed by UNESCO (0.23 sq. km. as core zones and 0.58 sq. km. as buffer zone) and has identified several unprotected archaeological mounds in the vicinity. Since we have a range of period when the site was active, it is possible that the dates of structures in each unexcavated mound are decades or centuries apart. To understand the time sequence in which the site existed one could use absolute dating method. This paper reports result of preliminary dating analysis using Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) technique on bricks collected from the vicinity of the unexcavated mounds in environs of Nalanda. This paper also reports methods and issues in sample collection, preparation and discusses challenges to overcome in future efforts.



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