Will Dholavira ruins rewrite history of ancient theatre? AHMEDABAD: The 5,000-year-old Harappan ruins of Dholavira in Kutch have the capacity to rewrite an important portion of the history of theatre of the world. Until now, it was believed that Greek and Roman theatre, with their amphitheatres and poignant plays, were the oldest in the world - dating back 2,500 to 3,500 years. But, archaeologists who excavated Dholavira say they found remains of what can be the world's oldest stage. Well-known archaeologist R S Bisht, who is credited with excavating Dholavira, says, "We found a multipurpose open field which must have been used for everything, from sports like wrestling and bullock cart races, to plays." The field is 283 metres by about 45 metres and is placed between a citadel or what is known as the upper town, and the middle town in the ruins. Of course, plays in those days were not the same as today. They were more like a joyous procession with a variety of performances, including skits and dances happening at the same time. Yadubirsingh Rawat, director of Gujarat government's department of archaeology who was part of Bisht's original team, adds, "You can call the field 'rangbhoomi' or arena or stadium. We found steps around it which were used as stands for the audience. Also, they seemed to be adding a new layer of mud to the field every year. The mud was imported from outside Dholavira." This layering gave the stage unique acoustics and sonorous quality. Adds Bisht, "The stands had gates with stones that look worn out, as if bullock cart after bullock cart had passed over it. The stadium was a very popular part of the Dholavira settlement." One corner of the field has a smaller stadium which could have been the green room where performers dressed up before walking onto the main stage. It could also have been used for exclusive shows for the royalty of the time. "We excavated a small two metre by two metre portion of the field and found it was scattered with hundreds of jewellery beads," Bisht says. "You can imagine performers decked in beads from top to bottom, freely dancing and the beads falling everywhere The excavators also found row after row of peg holes, which may have been used to erect temporary stalls and dividers during performances.