The archaeological excavation taking place in one of the Harappan cemetery at Rakhigarhi in Haryana, 150km northwest of Delhi, has unfolded new sides of history as it ended up with first-ever excavation of skeletons of a couple who were buried in a joint burial ceremony in the Harappa era.

The excavation led by archaeologists of the Deccan College Deemed University, Institute of Forensic Science, Seoul and the National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea uncovered this first simultaneously buried couple of Harappa civilization. The skeleton of a young male and a female with males’ face turned towards the female and their arms and legs extended was found – making it the first-of-its-kind finding in the Harappan cemetery.

Following the completion of the field survey, the skeletons were taken to the laboratory of the DCDU for analysis. The analysis and studies estimated the ages to be between 21 and 35 years at the time of death with no signs of trauma or lesions. The study of the pelvic region helped in determining the skeletons’ genders and was officially declared to be the first couple grave found in the Harappan civilization. Apart from the simultaneous burial grave, as many as 62 graves in the Rakhigarhi cemetery have been excavated till now.

 The two skeletons. Their heads were placed towards north. The foot bones on one of the skeletons was missing.

Vasant Shinde, corresponding author of the research, and vice chancellor of DCDU was quoted as saying that archaeologists in India have often debated the historical meaning of joint burials. The bowls and pottery in grave resemble the contemporary view of ‘life after death’ belief of the Harappans, backtracking to more than 5000 years. Further more, he said how a similar joint burial was recently found at Lothal, and although “couple burial is not rare in other civilizations, it was strange as not one was found in Harappan cemetery till now. But evidently, it does not indicate any specific funeral custom commonly performed then, not even the couple burial custom in the Harappa civilization.