A mound being dug up for the Purvanchal Expressway near the Mahpur village in Mau district has thrown up a Buddha head and a coin board, reportedly dating back to the Kushan period.
State archaeology directorate's Varanasi regional officer, Subhash Chandra, who paid a visit to the site on Thursday, told reporters, "On inspecting the site and after taking a look at the material unearthed including pottery, terracotta pieces, bricks and coins, the antiquity can be pegged from third Century BC to 12 Century AD. This means that the historical landscape of the place covers layers of Maurya, Sunga, Kushan, Gupta and subsequent rulers."
Chandra has recommended in his report to the state culture department, that the material be handed over to a museum while a part of it may be used for scientifically establishing its age. He has also urged the government to commission a detailed project for the area.
Apart from Buddha head and coins, terracotta artifacts including pottery were also found during digging on December 13.
A local Buddhist committee, Buddhankur Bhimjyoti Samiti, has also written to the state government and Archaeological Survey of India to save the place.
A member of the Samiti said, "About 15 years ago some coins and figurines were recovered from another side of the mound. We had sought the government's protection for the heritage site but nothing happened. Now this second incident has strengthened the belief that the place is archaeologically important. Thus, we have reiterated our demand."
Asked to comment on the antiquity of the place, Chandra said, "The place has been excavated several times. The initial work was undertaken by the British. Thereafter, Rahul Sankritayan drew inspiration from the site. Several research papers and doctorates may also be linked to the place. In short, the place is an archaeologically rich site without doubt."
Meanwhile, District Magistrate Amit Bansal has stopped the digging work and has asked officials to demarcate the place.
He also instructed preparation of an inventory of the material obtained and place it in safe custody.