The archaeological site named Batpalathang is located on a flat alluvial terrace
lying above the Choskhor valley bottom (2600 m a.s.l.), on its eastern flank.
The altitude of the terrace at the location of the archaeological site is 2676 m
based on an average of multiple GPS and altimeter
recordings. This 70m-terrace, is the highest of a group of three, the first
being discontinuously observable at 10 m and the second more regularly at 40 m.
The existence of a fourth alluvial terrace at more than 300 m above valley
bottom is supposed (Bhutan Soil Survey Project 1998:12). In fact, we could
indeed observe something like the remains of this highest terrace at an
elevation of about 2950-3050 m in the investigation sector.
Eroding streams running
east-northeast to west-southwest toward the Bumthang chu regularly crosscut all three alluvial terraces. Nowadays, the
forested blue pine overgrowth (Pinus
wallichiana) makes it difficult to follow the terrace riser edges with
precision. A photograph (Fig. 7) taken by Anthony Aris in 1970 shows that the area of study
had undergone an extensive deforestation of the lower valley flanks thirty years
ago. This older picture gives a clear view of the 40 m and 70 m
alluvial terraces and the transecting stream crosscuts.
east of the archaeological site, a small stream, which seems to have dried out
almost completely, has progressively filled a shallow channel that is still
visible on the topographic record (see also
Fig. 9, between B3 and B4).
Nowadays, this stream brings in just sufficient water volume to make the area
spongy and wet. At the terrace riser edge, the stream flows regularly during
monsoon and cuts into the upper terrace riser edge.
east of this stream, we find a large flat grassy area used today as pasture land
for cattle and horses. The pasture is limited to the east and south by blue pine
Based on our own observations,
the local sedimentary deposits of the 70 m terrace are consisting of a very
thick alluvial accumulation of rounded boulder, mostly of crystalline origin,
densely fixed in a hardened matrix of sand locally forming observable
accumulation and erosion patterns. This layer, which is covering and hiding the
gneiss bedrock, shows an impressive thickness attaining 10 meters (Fig. 8).
sedimentary mass overlaying the alluvial deposit consists in layers of yellow
sandy loam of varying thickness. In some areas near the RNR-RC building site,
its thickness attains more than 2.5 meters; in July 2000, we observed more
than 3 meters of upper deposits in the pit dug to hold the septic tank of
the new research center, near the terrace riser. The highest sediment deposit of
the terrace consists in brown, humic, and slightly clayey silt. Locally, this
recent soil is fairly thick due to colluvial action that, in our opinion,
occurred recently and was caused by anthropic deforestation at higher
preliminary report for 1999 (Blumer and Vial 1999), we reported about a possible
wind-blown process which could have produced the 2.5-3.5 m thick loam
intermediary deposit of the terrace mass. Such event could have occurred in the
late Holocene period, thus ca. 4000-2000 BP. We based our writing on earlier
observations made by Gratzer and Rai in 1997 (in: Bhutan Soil Survey Project
1998:10). It is not yet clear whether the loam deposits are due to such a
process or if it is necessary to look for another explanation. In our opinion,
at least the recent time setting seems too late. In our opinion, the loam
deposit has rather a colluvial origin with progressive pedologic
transformation of its upper interface.
The local vegetation cover
consists mainly in blue pine forest (Pinus
Wallichiana), which is locally exploited for timber and fuel wood. The
ground vegetation in the dense forest is sparse and mostly concentrated in
widely forested area (young pines, rose (Rosa
sericea), and poplar (Populus).
Bamboo (Yushania sp.) grows densely in
wet zones and sedges (Juncus sp.) on
fringes with irregular drainage (Bhutan Soil Survey Project 1998:13).
terrace areas were mostly deforested. Exotic forage species (Cockfoot grass,
perennial ryegrass, and legume white clover) were planted in these locations to
improve pasture (Ibid.).
toponym Batpalathang is a popular derivative of a Tibetan denomination (Boeplagthang)
meaning “the place where the Tibetan were defeated”. This transliteration is
apparently widespread among the local population. In fact, the geographical data
indicates that the name is in fact associated with the nearby locality where the
shop signs are indeed mentioning the name Boeplagthang as the locality name.
Although the archaeological site is located at 1.1 kilometer from the
hamlet Boeplagthang, we kept Batpalathang as site name since the discovery was
made at the location of the new RNR research center, named Batpalathang too.