GUWAHATI, Sept 20 - North East India was not an isolated and remote area for the rest of the world. It was culturally connected to different neighbouring regions of the Asian landmass. Prehistoric Hoabinhian and Hoabinhian-like artefacts found in different sites of North East India suggest cultural connections across the Himalayas and East/Southeast Asia.
Similarly, the Stone Age industry, based on fossilised wood as raw material for making artefacts across Bangladesh, North East India and Myanmar, also indicate early movement of people and cultural relations.
The above were observations made by Dr Manjil Hazarika, Assistant Professor and Head (incharge) of the Department of Archaeology, Cotton University here. Talking to this newspaper, he asserted that there is huge scope for further archaeological research on the region for understanding prehistoric cultural growth, development of agriculture and trade connecting major river valleys and urban centres of early Asia.
He maintained that the important features of the Neolithic period of the region are the cord-impressed or beater-impressed pottery, some ill-fired and plain pottery, tripod or three-legged wares, ground and polished tools, particularly shouldered celts, and incipient farming based on rice. These Neolithic cultural traits link the region with their South East and East Asian counterparts, besides middle Ganga valley and Vindhya region of India.
Archaeological, inscriptional and numismatic evidence attests to the emergence of different principalities or smaller kingdoms in the Brahmaputra Valley and the Brahmaputra tributaries since about the 4th - 5th century AD. Some of these river valleys are Dhansiri-Doiyang Valley, Kapili-Jamuna Valley, Kalang Valley and other areas like Tezpur, Guwahati, Goalpara etc.
There are many trade routes linking rivers and hills across the region and its neighbouring areas. These include the Assam-Burma route to China linking the Mauryan capital Pataliputra with Southern China through the Brahmaputra Valley and the Bhamo area of North Burma (now North Myanmar), Indian Ocean trade network extending overland to Yunnan through the Assam Valley at the beginning of the Common Era, the overland trade via North East India and Burma, among others.
Archaeological data from the Dhansiri-Doiyang and Kopili-Jamuna valleys support existence of such an overland trade network, emphasising that these two river valleys linked the sites at Sekta and Ambari. The archaeological importance of sites like Ambari in Guwahati and Sekta in Manipur lies here.
The glass beads in the burials at Sekta indicate trade links with mainland India as well as South East Asia. Hsuan-tsang (c. 602�664), the well-known Chinese pilgrim to India, who reached Kamarupa in 638 AD, recorded profuse use of glass beads in Assam.
The Nagas traditionally wear ornaments of marine origin like conch shells and cowries, Indo-Pacific glass beads traded by sea from the southeast Indian coast and carnelian beads from western India, said Dr Hazarika.