Four Buddhist monasteries that date back to more than 1,500 years have been discovered at Ujalpur in Raninagar upazila, Naogaon.
A team of six archaeologists led by Mohammad Abu Al Hasan, a post-doctorate researcher at Jahangirnagar University, are currently conducting excavation at the sites of the new discovery.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, Hasan said he had been working on this particular project for more than one and a half years.
“I studied this area for one and a half years and found enough evidence that there was remnants of ancient civilisation in this area,” Hasan told the Dhaka Tribune.
Following his discovery, he acquired the permission of the government's Department of Archaeology and started excavation.
Hasan said he was conducting this project using his own fund. “But the district and upazila administrations are providing assistance, too.”
What drew his attention to this particular area? “Naogaon is rich with remnants of ancient civilisations; there are plenty of hillocks scattered in Raninagar and other upazilas. Seeing that not much of this area has been explored by archaeologists, I started studying this area,” he said.
Hasan said from initial investigation, the structures of the antiquities seem very similar to the monateries in Paharpur. “So it is highly likely that these were academic institutions.” More excavation is needed to find out more about these structures, he said.
But from what the team has gathered so far, the structures seem to be from pre-Pala period, he added.
The new discovery sparked excitement among the locals, who said they never thought there were centuries-old historical remains hidden under the hillocks they passed by every day.
“We never thought that structures from so long ago were hidden right before our eyes. We are very happy to see them uncovered for the world, and we are grateful to Mr Hasan for finding them,” said Abdul Gani, 65, a local resident.
Appreciating the archaeologists' efforts to unveil a part of ancient history of the area, local lawmaker Md Israfil Alam also vented his frustration at the lack of cooperation from the Department of Archaeology.
“They [Department of Archaeology] don't do anything significant to conserve and maintain the archaeological finds here. There are plenty of historic sites in this district. If the authorities allotted enough fund to repair and maintain these sites and aided the excavation of the new sites, Naogaon would become an excellent tourist destination,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
When contacted, Zayed Ali, assistant custodian of Bogra region at the Department of Archaeology, told the Dhaka Tribune that no decision had yet been made regarding the allotment of government fund for the excavation.