Our ancestors have left behind marks of their lives, with and without intention. The ones with a purpose are rock paintings, petroglyphs and tombs. The ones which just remained are ash-mounds. Why and how were these ash-mounds created? Obviously when combustible material was burned completely, what remains at the end of the process is ash. Considering the Neolithic lifestyle, the material that were burnt could be wood, cow-dung cakes and agricultural waste. Reason for making the fire could be to bake earthenware like pots, jars, plates, toys, jewellery and stoves. It is also possible that fire was made to dispose house-hold stuff during an annual ritual. Or its even possible that human bodies were burnt in a mass cremation after a battle or an epidemic.
Hundreds of ash mounds were located across the northern part of Karnataka. The well known sites are Kappagallu, Budihal, Kudathini and Hallur - these are the ones I've visited.
Here's the first prehistoric ash-mound I ever saw.. the one next to Hiregudda near Sanaganakallu. Many years ago there were three of them, two mounds were flattened out to facilitate cultivation and only one remains now. This mound id about 60 meters by 40 meters by 3 meters, its well preserved. Thanks to our friend Ramadasa for patiently sharing his thoughts.
Ash-mound at Hallur, on the left bank of river Tungabhadra is the largest one ever seen. The mound is spread over 30 acres easily, and reaches heights of 10 meters at places. The mound was a site to a fort as well, even to this day ruins of walls can be seen. Suresh a resident of Hallur village showed me all over the site. Literally every step I could see pieces of pottery.. black, red, brown. We found charcoal pieces, layers of different types of soil, grinding stones, bones, hair, and what not.
Considering the size, it could be the oldest ash-mound as well. However, the sad part is the monument is it's completely neglected, rather ignored by governments. The worst part is this - residents of Hallur village are hauling away the ash by tractor-trailers to their fields.. it seems farmers consider this a very good fertilizer. People are totally ignorant about their prehistoric heritage.
Here's a list of known ash-mounds in Karnataka state.
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