A new archaeological find could rewrite the history of the Sunderbans and set the clock back by more than 20 centuries. Scientists have stumbled upon a cache of remains that indicates the existence of an ancient civilisation in the mangroves dating back to the Mauryan period (322-185 BC). The civilisation, significantly, lasted for the next 500-600 years. In folklore, the history of the Sunderbans area can be traced back to 200-300 AD. The area was first mapped in 1764 soon after British East India Company obtained proprietary rights from Mughal emperor Alamgir II in 1757. So, the forests may be more than ivory gamesmen, miniature pots, pastel, semiprecious stone beads, net sinkers and pot shards. These have been collected from the Dhanchi and Bijwara forests in the tiger reserve area of Sunderbans over the last 22 years. The artefacts include several terracotta human and animal figurines dating back to pre and early centuries of the Christian era, terracotta lumps bearing impressions of seals dating back to the early historical period, terracotta rattles, toys and pendants. A large number of skeletons, bone fragments, skulls and teeth of wild, domesticated and aquatic animals are also part of the find. The civilisation went on from the Mauryan era to the Sunga era and continued through the early Gupta era.