A nearly 4,000-year-old urban settlement has been unearthed by a team of surveyors from the Banaras Hindu University, which experts say could be one of the craft villages mentioned in ancient texts.
The university's Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, which did the preliminary survey of the site in Babhaniyav village, 13 km from Varanasi, said it found remnants of one of the settlements mentioned in ancient literature about the holy city.
The survey found a temple dating back to the 5th century through 8th century, potteries which are 4,000-year-old and walls which are 2,000-year-old, said Professor AK Dubey of the BHU department.
"On the basis of the surface materials we can say the structure is anywhere between 3,500 to 4,000 year old," said Mr Dubey, who is part of the team which will start excavation at the site from Feb 23.
He said the site gains significance because of its proximity to Varanasi, which is said to be 5,000 years old, though modern scholars believe it to be around 3,000 years old.
"The site at Babhaniyav could be a small sub-centre of Varanasi which grew as an urban town," said Mr Dubey.
The findings are important as Babhaniyav could have been a satellite town and feeding centre for Varanasi-Sarnath region, said BR Mani, a former additional director general of Archaeological Survey of India.
Mr Mani was invited by the BHU during its initial survey, and said the team unearthed a 5-metre cultural deposit like the ones found in Sarnath.
"While such crafts villages have been earlier unearthed in Sarnath, Tilmapur, Ramnagar and other areas, Babhaniyav is an addition. They have also found a pillar with a two-line text in Kushan Brahmi script which makes the findings at least 3,500-4,000 years old.
"Once the excavation is complete we will get a clearer picture," Mani, who now heads the National Museum, told news agency PTI.