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

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy, Volume 85, Issue 3, p.629-636 (2019)



Archaeology, DEM, Historical Bricks, Nalanda, Remote sensing, World Heritage


<p>Nalanda was a renowned Buddhist monastery which is believed to have been active for 800 years from around 4th/5th to 12th centuries AD. We know about the site from the accounts of 7th century Chinese traveler (Xuanzang) and later from 19th century British surveyors (Buchanan, Cunningham and Broadley). There are many studies on this site, recent one among them is a geospatial analysis which has revealed a larger extent (~7.25 sq. km) 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 the Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) technique on bricks collected from unprotected mounds in the environs of Nalanda. This paper also reports methods and issues in sample collection, preparation and discusses challenges to overcome in future efforts</p>