History and Politics

Burzahom and the origin of Kashmir

Burzahom archaeological site

The Burzahom (3000 BCE to 1000 BCE.) is an archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Valley of Kashmir which dates back to 3000 BC and 1000 BC [1][2].

The Burzahom Civilization coexisted with the Indus valley civilization (3300 – c. 1300 BCE), Mesopotamia (c. 3100 BC) and many other notable civilizations[1].

Origin of Kashmir and its authenticity

Source: KAFILA

You might have heard the story of Kashappa Reshi and how the Kashmir formed from satisar. But befor checking its authenticity, let us know the WHOLE story that you might have missed.

“Once upon a time Kashmir Vale was a vast lake on which Parvati, goddess, sailed in a pleasure boat from….in her honour was called Satisar…In the lake there dwelt a cruel demon, Jaldeo, whose patron was Brahma…….Jaldeo destroyed every life on its shores……

Kashyap, grandson of Brahma by chance found his way to lake (Kashmir valley) & was distressed by the havoc wrought by Jaldeo …….fought him for 1000 years ……..ultimately Jaldeo eluded him & hid under the water …then Vishnu came to help Kashyap and struck the mountains at Baramullah with his trident, and the waters of the lake rushed out.

But Jaldeo entrenched himself in low ground near Hari-Parbat……though the Gods searched for him with sun in one hand and the moon in the other but the demon baffled all Gods…… But at last Parvati Goddess dropped a mountain on top of him, crushing his life out, and that mountain is now known as Hari-Parbat. ……….. after this, valley was known as Kashafmar, home of Kashyap , and it is now corrupted to Kashmir…”[3]

according to Bedi ud Din’s Wakaat e Kashmir, before the Hindu Raja [Harinand] conquered the country & Hindu rule lasted for 1110 years, it was peopled by a Jewish tribe who indulged in idolatry against the teachings of Moses (a.s), so God punished them by the local inundation (converting it to satisar/big lake) & established supremacy of Jaldeo who was an Afreet/Afrit/Afat[4]

Horace Hayman Wilson further writes that Kashyap was not a Hindu seer, but a deo or jinn, according to Muslim writers, who under the orders of Hazrat Suleiman (a.s) “effected the desiccation of Kashmir. The method of doing this was opening a passage through the mountain at Baramullah by which the water passed off… but the Hindu accounts do not specify the channel by Kashyap originally drained the valley”[4]

There is yet another narrative of the Buddhists that equates the myth of Kashyap Rishi with Manjusri, a character in Buddhist mythology, who is believed to have drained Nepal & Tibet to make them habitable[5].

The etymology of the name Kashmir is “uncertain”. Under Hindu mythology Kashmir is linked to Sanskrit word “Kasmira” which means to dry up water, which relates to Kashmir once having been under water. Kashmir valley may have been a giant lake or island sea that, “as a result of an act of nature, inadvertently drained & flooded areas downstream”[6]

Bernier too, while rejecting myth of Kashyab Rishi, writes: “I am certainly not disposed to deny that this region was once covered with water…… ; but I cannot easily persuade myself that the opening in question ( in Baramullah mountains) was the work of a man (Kashyab Rishi), for the mountain is very extensive and very lofty.

I rather imagine that the mountain sank into to some subterraneous cavern, which was disclosed by a violent earthquake, not uncommon in these countries. …….in Arabia, the opening of Bab-e-Mandel was effected in the same manner; and it is thus that entire towns and mountains have been engulfed in great lakes. Kashmir, however, is no longer a lake, but a beautiful country, diversified with a great many low hills……”[7]

Following exploration of geographical structure of Kashmir valley conducted during 1854 & 1856, William H Purdon states that geology is antecedent to all history. But it was not only Kashmir valley. Rather, greater portion of the Himalayan region itself was beneath ocean.

The marks of former sea-beaches are so distinctly discernible at various elevations in Kashmir valley, especially along the steep cliffs which border the Wullur Lake; and, accordingly, we find a very pretty story, invented by the Brahmin priests…[8]

The aforementioned assertions of Sir M A Stein & other authorities debunking the Hindu legend of Kashyap Rishi apply equally to Muslim & Persian legendary narratives about the origin of the country. These are just stories without scientific & geological evidence.

To recall to our minds, the Government of India & Archeological Survey of India in their above mentioned affidavit in the Supreme Court stated further that the study of human history, which is the primary object of the Archeological Survey of India, like other sciences and fields of study, must be carried out in a scientific manner using available technological aids, and its findings must be based on tangible material evidence.”[9]

So, Kashyap Rishi draining the vale of Kashmir is just a fable. Whether he was a Brahman or Buddhist or a monotheist-Jew or Muslim, whosoever, there is no historical evidence of it, though his name is mentioned in some ancient texts of Hindus.

But, on the basis of geological explorations of the valley, it is scientifically stated that once before millions of years the valley was under waters resembling a vast lake & that “there was such a devastating earthquake, that it broke open the mountain wall at Baramulla, and the water flowed out [from that opening], leaving behind lacustrine mud, known as the Karewas, along the margins of mountains. Thus came into existence the oval but irregular Valley of Kashmir[10]

Relation between the origin of Kashmiris and Israel

The Citadel/Tower of David| SOURCE Britannica

The theory of Kashmiri descent from the lost tribes of Israel posits that the Kashmiri people originally descended from the Ten Lost Tribes. It was first suggested by Al-Birun, the famous 11th-century Persian Muslim scholar.

The inhabitants of Kashmir . . . are particularly anxious about the natural strength of their country, and therefore take always much care to keep a strong hold upon the entrances and roads leading into it.

In consequence it is difficult to have any commerce with them. In former times they used to allow one or two foreigners to enter their country, particularly Jews, but at present time they do not allow any Hindu who they do not know personally to enter, much less other people[11].

François Bernier, a 17th-century French physician and Sir Francis Younghusband, who explored this region in the 1800s, commented on the similar physiognomy between Kashmiris and Jews, including “fair skin, prominent noses,” and similar head shapes[12][13][14].

Baikunth Nath Sharga argues that, despite the etymological similarities between Kashmiri and Jewish surnames, the Kashmiri Pandits are of Indo-Aryan descent while the Jews are of Semitic descent[15].

The theory is essentially based on the purported similarities between Kashmir place names and Hebrew words and phrases. The name Kashmir locally known as kasher itself is said to be based on the Hebrew word Kashir (Hebrew: כשיר), “like Syria”. The Kashmir valley, said to be the dwelling place of the Ten Lost Tribes, is called Bagh-I-Suleman (Garden of Solomon) in local parlance[16]

The connection between Kashmir and ancient Israel is strengthened further by such Kashmiri place names as “Tomb of Moses” and “Throne of Solomon”. There is also a Kashmiri tradition that the 40 years of wandering in the desert actually covered the ground from Asia to Kashmir, and that Kashmir is in fact the Promised Land[17].

The names of approximately 350 towns and villages in Kashmir bear some resemblance to place names in the Holy Land[18]. These include:

  • Bandpoor (similar to Beth Peor)[19]
  • Naboo Hill (similar to Mount Nebo)[19]
  • Pishgah (similar to Mount Pisgah)[20][21]
  • Mamre (similar to Mamre)[20][21]

What is the meaning of Burzahom?

Burzahom translates to ‘place of birch‘ in Kashmiri.

The Burzahom

Source: the economic times

The excavation at Burzahom was carried out in both vertical (depth wise) and horizontal directions; the depth provided the stratification features while the phasing of each stratification was provided by the horizontal excavations. Four periods of continuous occupational sequence at the site were documented over a period of 11 years of investigations from 1960 to 1971[1].

These are: Periods I and II of the Neolithic (Period I is called aceramic and Period II is called ceramic) origin, particularly characterized by dwelling pits (the largest measuring 2.74 metres (9 ft 0 in) at the top to 4.75 metres (15.6 ft) at the base at a depth of 3.95 metres (13.0 ft)).

Period III of the Megalithic sequence noted by the free standing large stone Menhirs installed at the site by shifting boulders manually from the hills; and Period IV of the early Modern Period[22]. The skeletal remains of the Neolithic humans found at Burzahom are similar to those found in Harappa of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Burzahom’s ceramic industry was mostly of hunting based culture and is different from the Chinese Neolithic pottery[1]. The economy of the people was found to be based on hunting and gathering with a nascent stage of cultivation practices[1].

Pottery made in Burzahom showed close affinity to those found in the Swat valley in Pakistan, particularly in respect of its shapes and decorations of the black ware pottery. The burial practices and type of tools recovered from the site were inferred as having close resemblance to those found in the North Chinese Neolithic culture.

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Period I

The remarkable find during this period was of pits which were inferred as dwelling units; these were in circular or oval shape dug in compact natural Karewa soil formation. Some of the deep pits had steps and ladder access to the bottom level. In some of the pits the stratification revealed ash and charcoal layers, which denoted human occupancy.

Delimitation of J&K


Post holes on the sides of pits at the surface level denoted the presence of superstructures covered with thatch made of birch. Shallow pits of circular shape of 60–91 centimetres (24–36 in) diameter adjoining the housing pits were found to contain bones of animals and also tools made of bones (of antlers used for making tools) and stones (harpoons, needles with or without eyes, awls)[1].

Carbon dating established that the Neolithic culture of this site was traceable to the 3rd millennium BC, the earliest occupation at the site was dated to before 2,357 BC[1].

The pottery found at the site were in an early stage of hand crafting, of the coarse variety, in steel-grey, dull red, brown, and buff colours with mat prints at the bottom; they were in the shape of bowl, vase and stem[1]. The antiquities did not reveal any signs of burials sites[1].

Late Kot-Diji type pots were found belonging to Period Ib.

Period II

In the Period II, the finds excavated revealed that people had moved out from pit dwelling to structures built at the ground level. However, the pits and its associated chambers formed the base floor of the superstructure, which was made up by filling the pits and covering it with mud plaster, and occasionally painted in red ochre.

Post-holes around the pits revealed that the superstructures were made of wood built over compacted Karewa soil floors[1].

This period also brought out, for the first time, the burial customs of the Neolithic people. Both human and animal skeletons were found in deep oval shaped pits, located either below the floors of the dwelling units or in its precincts.

These pits were filled with ash, stones and potsherds. Some of the human skulls found here had trepanning (bored hole) marks. In many pits, bones of dogs and antlered deer were found along with human skeletons. The skeletons of humans were found in the burial pits in a sitting position along with bones of animals[1].

Pottery finds showed better finish compared to the earlier Period I. The pots were of polished black ware, mostly handmade, in the form of a dish with stand, a high-necked jar, and so forth. Also found was a wheel turned red ware pot which contained 950 beads made from carnelian and agate (inferred as items for sale), which was thought to belong to the later part of this period[1]

A very impressive painted pottery ware recovered from this period was a globular red ware pot made on a turntable; the painting on the pot was of a wild goat of black colour with long horns and hanging ears[1]. Another pottery item which is of interest is a polished black ware in globular shape jar with a long neck and flaring mouth[1].

An interesting find of this period is of two standalone finished flat stone slabs. The carving on one is not distinct. The other stone slab is 48–27 centimetres (19–11 in) which depicts, on one polished side, sketches of hunting scenes such as a hunter spearing (with a Ker) an antlered deer and another hunter in the process of releasing an arrow, and a sketch of the sun and hb 9 supernova observation[1]. The carved figures are distinctly visible[1].

Agricultural practices were noted during the Periods I and II and crops grown were inferred as wheat, barley and lentil; finding lentils established a link of the Neolithic people with Central Asia, crossing over the Himalayas[1].

The people who resided here were characterized as “long headed dolichocranic”. Two female skulls, different from the male skulls, were also reported. The finds did not indicate of any external ethnic intrusions during the entire Neolithic period but showed more affinity to the Harappan people[1].

Burzahom represents the southernmost extent of what is known as Northern Neolithic culture of Asia.

Period III

Some Megalithic Period Menhirs are next to Neolithic pits, suggesting a gradual transition between the two phases. The Menhirs, boulders formed due to the varying temperatures, were brought down from the hills with great effort by the people and installed to mark notable events of the community.

These are rough in shape, huge and of considerable weight and height, and are “free-standing”. Craftsmanship was superior during this period with finds of wheel made durable hard red ware, copper objects, and tools made of bone and stone. Structures made of rubble were also found. Finds of a few copper arrowheads indicated knowledge of metallurgy[1].

Period IV

Period IV (dated to the 3rd–4th century AD), the last phase of human occupation at Burzahom, was related to the early Historical Period. The structures built were superior compared to the earlier period, and were made from mud-bricks. Pottery was also superior, of red ware type with slips and wheel turned. Some iron antiquaries were also found[WP/].

Comparison with other similar properties

The site could be compared to inscribed properties like – Prehistoric Pile dwellings around the Alps of Europe, Neolithic Flint Mines at Spiennes (Mons) of Belgium, Choirokoitia of Cyprus, Ecosystem and Relict Cultural Landscape of Lopé-Okanda of Gabon, Brú na Bóinne – Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne of Ireland, Sites of Human Evolution at Mount Carmel: The Nahal Me’arot / Wadi el-Mughara Caves of Israel, Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley of Malaysia and the Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites of United Kingdoms among others[22].

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End of the article Burzahom.

Please Zoom below for References 👇
 [1] Wikipedia, Burzahom archaeological site, Wikipedia
[2] Yatra, Ancient site and remains, Burzahom, Yatra
[3] The Valley of Kashmir (2014), by Sir WR Lawrence, page 184: It may be noticed here that Dr. M A Stein has remarked that the Kashmiri name "Hari" (myna bird or Sarika goddess/princess) has been by "popular etymology" of Punjabis, Dogras & other Indian visitors turned to Hari-Parbat when it has nothing to do with the name Hari= Siva.  Ibid, footnote 2; Dr. M A Stein, the Ancient Geography of Kashmir (1899-Calcutta) page 144, footnote 2
[4] History of Kashmir (1825) by Horace Hayman Wilson pages 8 & 9: the word "Afreet/Afrit/Afat" in Arabic mythology according to Collins English Dictionary means a powerful demon or giant monster or jinn.
[5] Samuel Bea, Travels of Fah-Hian & Sung Yun, Buddhist Pilgrims: from china to India (1869) page 60, footnote 1
[6] Christopher Sneden, Understands Kashmir & Kashmiris (2015) page 22 (the ancient Greeks, who knew of this region, called it 'Kasperia'); the Chinese called Kashmir Shie-in or Kia-Shi-Lo, the Tibetans called it Kanapal while Dardas called it Kashart.
[7] Travels in the Moghul Empire (Westminster, 1891) by Francois Bernier, pages 394-395; emphasis supplied.) On the strength of a huge geological authority, Sir WR Lawrence has also mentioned that there is abundant evidence that igneous or volcanic agencies were actively at work in Kashmir valley which is proved by the outpouring of the vast quantities of volcanic rocks. (Supra The Valley of Kashmir, page 42
[8] William H Purdon's article titled the Trigonometrical survey & physical configuration of valley of Kashmir published in Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London (1861) page 28
[9] Read "No evidence to prove  …" in rediff.com dated 12-09-2007
[10] Dr. A. N. Raina, Geography of Jammu & Kashmir State (2002 edition, Jammu) para1; emphasis mine
[11] Columbia University
[12] Quraishi, Humra (2004). Kashmir, The Untold Story. Penguin Books India. p. 37. ISBN 0143030876
[13] Bhandari, Mohan C. (2006). Solving Kashmir. Lancer Publishers. p. 107. ISBN 8170621259
[14] "Kashmir"Jewish Virtual Library. 2012. Retrieved 28 October 2012
[15] Kaw, M.K (2004). Kashmir and Its People: Studies in the Evolution of Kashmiri Society. APH Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 8176485373
[16] Wikipedia, Theory of Kashmiri descent from lost tribes of Israel, Wikipedia
[17] Childress, David Hatcher (1991). Lost Cities of China, Central Asia and India (3rd ed.). Adventures Unlimited Press. p. 271. ISBN 0932813070
[18] Allgood, Marcus (2009). What Da Vinci Really Didn't Want You to Know: The Jesus Conspiracy. AuthorHouse. p. 55. ISBN 1438990634.
[19] Harinanda, Swami. Yoga and the Portal. Jai Dee Marketing. ISBN 0978142950
[20] Skolnick, Fred; Berenbaum, Michael (2007). Encyclopedia Judaica: Ja–Kas (2nd ed.). Macmillan Reference USA. p. 822. ISBN 0028659392.
[21] "Midstream"Midstream. Theodor Herzl Foundation. 40: 20. 1994. Retrieved 28 October 2012
[22] World Heritage Convention, The Neolithic Settlement of Burzahom, UNESCO
Also used GK

Burzahom is 15 KM from Srinagar. Burzahom is an important site revealing the stories of civilizations of the people. Burzahom is as ancient as Egyptian civilization. The meaning of Burzahom is ‘place of birch.’ It is observed that Burzahom is being spoiled. The locals play cricket in the site of Burzahom which is not good.

Archeologists are demanding for a museum on the site of Burzahom. Burzahom also explains the advancement of the people. Textile industry is said to have been working in Burzahom. Though being the civilization of BCs, Burzahom was developed enough to sustain itself. What caused the end of Burzahom research under work and shall be uploaded on Ganaie.com with the name How burzahom ended; coninuation of Burzahom part 1. This article is uploaded on Ganaie.com with title ‘Burzahom.’