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6. Ritual Monument Batpalathang B3

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Structural Description (part 7)

Chamber Fill and Ceremonials

Once the major part of the construction was ended, the platform chamber was still empty and lacking proper roofing. It is at this stage that the hypothetical ceremony must have taken place.

In a first stage, a large mass of sediment and stones were added into the chamber. The sediment mass consists in light brown yellowish clayey silts. The stones were often rounded pebbles and boulders of crystalline rock found within the alluvial terrace mass underlying the site. Numerous pottery vessels were also thrown into the chamber in this process (Fig. 24), leaving a scatter of fragments from which we can infer a few interesting points: (1) the fragment scatter groups (Fig. 25) show an average north-south direction so that we can infer that the pots were most probably thrown into the chamber from the northern or southern sides of the platform, (2) the fragments represent at least five complete vessels, (3) not all vessels were thrown simultaneously into the chamber, since varying masses of sediment separate the fragment groups (Fig. 26), and (4) the pottery scatter is thicker toward the north and thinner toward the south of the chamber (Fig. 26 and Fig. 27). From this information, it is clear that the addition of the pots to the chamber fill was not an act of ordered deposition, but a dynamic action in which systematic breakage of the vessels was integrated to the ceremonials.

Further information about the type of vessels is described in the part devoted to the archaeological material.

Fig. 24

Fig. 25

Fig. 26

Fig. 27

The chamber fill also contained dispersed charcoal fragments in varying sizes. Fifteen samples were collected from the chamber fill (Fig. 28). A few bovid skeletal remains were also recovered: one vertebra, four long bone fragments, three fragmented teeth partly attached to maxillary bone fragment) (Fig. 28). From the scatter, we observe that charcoal and faunal remains are as dispersed within the chamber as the numerous pottery fragments. We think that the faunal remains come from one single animal, and could eventually represent remainders of a ceremonial process, especially since all vessel fragments were cooking pots with external carbonization traces. The charcoals are lying in secondary position (not in combustion location). Their direct correlation with cooking activities cannot be absolutely guaranteed, although they are most probably linked directly to the building and/or filling of the monument.

Fig. 28

Although there are several indications of complex and dynamic processes involved in the filling of the chamber, it is extremely difficult to infer the complexity of the ceremonials that certainly took place around the platform B3. We have to notice that our results are uniquely based on observation of material remains, that there we could neither make use of comparable data nor historical records. Hopefully, further archaeological and historical work in Bhutan and adjoining regions will once enable scholars to draw more conclusive traits of such ceremonials.

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Copyright 2001, Reto Blumer, Switzerland
Copyright 2001, SLFA Zürich, Switzerland

For problems or questions regarding this web contact rblumer@vtx.ch.

Last updated: 29-05-2001.