Temples are older than you think LUCKNOW: Here is one excavation that may alter some historical facts. Chemical analysis of coins found from the site at Lal Tilai in Hardoi district is all set to begin and its result is likely to change the consensus among historians that temple construction began in India around Gupta period. The experts from Lucknow University's Ancient Indian History (AIH) department, who undertook the excavation from May to July last, believe that they have found remains of temples that belong to Sunga period - 600 years before Guptas' advent - at the site. The analysis of coins and carbon-dating of charcol material may authenticate their claims. The researchers cite two major findings to prove their point. The first is a twin-temple structure, found underneath a mound at the Lal Tilai.''There is clear evidence that the early apsidal temple structure belongs to the Sunga period or times prior to that,'' claims Prof DP Tewari, team leader and head of the department. The proof is a the floor of 'parikrama' which is made of brick-jelly, he said. "The technique is quite characteristic to the Sunga period... we have also sent the charcoal materials obtained from the site for radio-carbon dating to determine the exact age of the structure," he added. The team has also recovered certain coins from the site which would give more details about the temple. Interestingly, the site is called 'twin temple' because an octagonal temple structure was found to be superimposing an older apsidal temple. "It may be assumed that there was an older temple which was renovated by the rulers who succeeded the Sunga rulers," said Prof Tewari. What makes the discovery of this temple more interesting is the fact that it housed a mysterious deity. "We are sure that the site was a Hindu temple... there is a proper entrance, portico, ardha mandap, mandap, transepts and a garbha griha...but we cannot claim which deity the temple housed," said Sandeep, a team member. In fact the team prefers to stay silent on the issue till they get a concrete evidence. What gives credence to the claim of the LU team is its another discovery after an excavation in Unnao district in 2008. The structure found then in Sanchankot is said to be a Shiva temple. The team has a number of artifacts to bolster their claim. Although Lal Tilai and Sanchankot fall in different districts, the distance between the two sites is less than five kilometres. The Shiva temple was discovered by the team in 2008. "The radio-carbon dates clearly show that the Sanchankot temple is about 2300-2400 years old. The finding becomes extremely significant knowing that the Gupta period is about 1500 years old (319 - 550 AD)," said Prof Tewari. Translating the findings in context of the Sanchankot temple, Prof Tewari and his team claims that the temple would have been constructed either in the fag-end of the Sunga period or early rulers of the Mauryan dynasty. Excavations at the site were started about two years ago under a University Grants Commission (UGC) sponsored excavation project which began in 2004. "Many things have come to fore since we began, but this twin-temple has suddenly taken our work to new heights," explained Prof Tewari.