A recent paper, presented by Shri Rakesh Tewari and others at a seminar on “Early Farming at Lahuradewa” held in Lucknow regarding excavations at the Neolithic site of Lahuradewa in Middle Ganga Valley, reported a new series of radiocarbondates from the earliest layers yielding 8436 BC, 8518 BC and 8992 BC. Until now, it was thought that the settlement was from 7th millennium BC, so we now could have the earliest Neolithic site, not only in Middle Ganges region but in whole South Asia, even earlier than Mehrgarh by about 2000 years.
But this paper basically deals with early domestication of rice and definitely establishes that domesticated rice (Oryza sativa) was present in Lahuradewa’s fields by 7000 BC at least. As Shri Tewari and others found entirely domestic rice around 7th millennium BC, they claim an even earlier period for the process that led to domestication in Middle Ganga Valley.
Second Preliminary Report of the excavations at Lahuradewa under Sant Kabir Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh by Shri Rakesh Tewari, RK Srivastava, KK Singh, KS Saraswat, IB Singh, MS Chauhan, AK Pokharia, A Saxena, V Prasad and M Sharma says, “Rice-based agriculture was prevailing at least in an area extended from the Himalayan terai to north Vindhyas during, circa 6th to 3rd millennium BCE onwards. A diffusion of rice cultivation from the Ganga Plain to Harappan Zone was also suggested during the 3rd millennium BCE, where the rice is documented on a number of sites in Haryana and Punjab datable from 2850 BCE to the Early Historic times… On the basis of the presence of domesticated rice grains from Lahurdewa datable to mid 9th millennium BP, it may be surmised that this process was probably initiated during latest Pleistocene/Early Holocene. Mostly coarse variety of hand made red and black-and-red wares appear along with such rice grains from the very beginning. The settlers, related with these finds, were making wattle-and-daub dwellings having mud plastered screens made of reed like material. Aquatic fauna formed a considerable proportion of their subsistence economy. These people were interacting directly or indirectly with distant regions to procure steatite/steatite beads and beads made of semiprecious stones. These interactions, particularly with the western part of the Indian subcontinent, enhanced considerably since the early half of the 5th millennium BP onwards, which are evidenced by the appearance of copper arrowhead and fishing hook, dish-on-stand, barley, increased numbers of steatite and other beads, wheat and pulses, spouted and pedestal vessels, a few painted potsherds, improvement in pottery making, etc…”