Collaborative study by BSIP in Lucknow & ASI reveals that Harappans consumed high-protein laddoos

BSIP and National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) in Lucknow assessed the geochemistry of these laddoos.

While laddoos are an inseparable part of Indian food plates, it is difficult to imagine that this delicacy dates back to almost 4,0000 years. Surprising as it may sound, this fact has been deciphered in a report prepared through a collaboration between Lucknow's Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP) and Delhi's Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The report stated that the Harappan inhabitants included high-protein, multigrain laddoos in their diets.


Laddoos unearthed at excavations in Bijnour, Western Rajasthan

The two organisations have been associated to scientifically study the material unearthed at a Harappan site in Rajasthan and following so, the prepared report was included in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports' by Elsevier. As per the information entailed in the report, historians and archaeologists studied seven laddoos found at the Harappan archaeological spot in Bijnour, between 2014 and 2017. ASI had transferred the excavated laddoos to BISP for conducting a detailed examination.

BSIP senior scientist Rajesh Agnihotri was quoted saying, "Seven similar big-size brown laddoos, two figurines of bulls and a hand-held copper adze (a tool similar to an axe, used for cutting or shaping wood) were excavated by the ASI at the Harappan site in Anupgarh district of Rajasthan."

He further added that these laddoos of the earliest dwellers were preserved beneath a hard structure that protected them from getting destroyed. If these eatables were uncovered, they would have decayed gradually but lying in contact with the mud and the ground, some of the internal organic components were conserved. What surprised the scientists was that the slurry turned purple when the laddoos came in contact with water.

Detailed Geochemistry study by BSIP & NBRI in Lucknow

"At first, we thought that these laddoos, excavated near the banks of Ghaggar (erstwhile Saraswati), had some connection with occult activities since figurines and adze were also found in close proximity. We were intrigued by their shape and size as they were clearly man-made. This curiosity led us to explore their composition. We initially presumed it could be a non-vegetarian food," said the BSIP scientist.

A detailed analysis of the geochemistry of these laddoos happened at BSIP and National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) in Lucknow. After a targetted scrutiny of the laddoos, BSIP senior scientist Anjum Farooqui, concluded that barley, wheat, chickpea and a few other oilseeds were used for making these laddoos. Coming from an era of agriculturists, these products were rich in high-protein vegetarian content. Largely composed of cereals and pulses, the high amounts of magnesium, calcium and potassium in these, indicated that they are rich in starch and protein.

Additional findings point to customs & rituals in the Harappan period

A group of nine scientists and archaeologists from the two organisations tried to derive interferences from the findings of seven laddoos coupled with specialised Harappan tools/items. According to their conclusions, it pointed to the fact that Harappans made offerings, took part in rituals and ate supplemental foods that boosted their nutrition.

Additionally, the excavations also brought to the limelight some of the respected artefacts from those times like bull figurines, adze and a Harappan seal. Given the fact that these things were found near the laddoos, it can be said that the earliest dwellers were engaged in multiple customs and rituals.

"The study provides important insights into types of food grain used in making laddoos, which reveal contemporary farming practices by Harappan people. This scientific finding appears to be unique and opens up avenues for more intrusive scientific research in archaeology to reconstruct the unwritten history of India and its glorious past," Agnihotri said.

-With Inputs from IANS

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