Recent Archaeological findings suggest 3rd Century BC human settlements near the ancient Nalanda University, a Gupta period structure built much later in the 4th-5th Century AD.
A satellite survey at Nalanda last month has revealed NBP (Northern Black Polish) Ware belonging to the 3rd Century BC at Jaffardih, hardly three kilometers away from the ancient university site.
It may yet be pre-dated as further diggings are expected to yield more evidences of NBP Ware belonging to between 8th and 10th Century BC. The ASI is to start digging soon.
PK Mishra, Patna Circle Superintending Archaeologist, said that the ASI had instructed its Patna circle to identify ancient sites and archaeological remains in a 16-kms radius of the ancient Nalanda University.
"Satellite surveys last month revealed three ancient sites of Jagdishpur, Jaffardih and Rukministhan. The Jaffardih digging could reveal several cultural sequences of the University area," he said.
The Jaffardih digging had been a long pending project and the ASI had approved it only recently, said the superintending archaeologist of the ASI's excavation unit, SC Sharan.
Another ASI official, Sujit Nayan, said that though the Nalanda University was unearthed decades ago, archaeologists were still groping in the dark as regards the main entrance of the ancient university.
Jagdishpur had thrown up evidence to suggest another entrance, he added.
"Besides, with the discovery of NBP in surface exploration at Jaffardih, indications of much older habitations in the university area have come to the fore. Before the invention of the carbon dating method, the earliest period of NBP dated to 6th Century BC. Now it extends to even 8th to 10th Century BC", he said.
"Besides, the place shows a huge, 36-foot high mound spread over nearly 100 square km radius. A study of these would help radically alter the knowledge base we have for the site," he added.