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Article

Joyce C. White

Site in north-east Thailand, c. 50 km east of Udon Thani. Excavations in 1974 and 1975 by Chester Gorman (1938–81) and Pisit Charoenwongsa (b 1938) uncovered a distinctive ceramic tradition, revealed chiefly through artefacts recovered from graves. Ceramics from even the earliest levels exhibit an elegance, sophistication and attention to decorative detail that far exceeds mere utilitarian needs. The funerary wares clearly served as an art medium for this village-based society. Although the ceramics are highly diverse, they share certain decorative treatments that characterize the tradition as a whole, in particular the free-hand application of abstract designs. Representational forms are rare. Many wares of the Early Period (3600–1000 bc) are decorated with intricate, curvilinear motifs, which are generally incised. The curvilinear or geometric painted and incised motifs of the Middle Period (1000–300 bc) are relatively simple, but vessel forms are unusually graceful and statuesque, with concave surfaces that are difficult to shape. The thin vessel walls (sometimes 1–2 mm thick) and delicate hue of the white carinated (ridged or heeled) vessels make this one of the most elegant and distinctive of all prehistoric ceramic styles, but it is the red-on-buff ware of the Late Period (...

Article

Gregory L. Possehl

Ancient site of the Indus or Harappan civilization (c. 2550–2000 bc) near the present flood plain of the Indus River in southern Sind, Pakistan. The group of three low mounds was originally part of a Harappan Mature or Urban Phase settlement c. 5 ha in extent. Chanhu-daro was first excavated by Nani Gopal Majumdar of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1930 (Majumdar, pp. 35–44), then in 1935–6 by Ernest J. H. Mackay, who was also responsible for extensive excavations at Mohenjo-daro. A large trench opened by Majumdar on Mound III disrupted much of this area for future digging, although the rest of the site was basically undisturbed. These excavations revealed that the occupation of Chanhu-daro can be divided into four periods, with four occupational sub-levels: Period IV, the Jhangar culture, perhaps datable to the late Bronze Age; Period III, the Trihni culture, of uncertain date; Period II, the Jhukar or Post-urban Harappan Phase; and Period I, the Harappan Urban Phase. Little is known of these upper periods at Chanhu-daro, and the exact relationship between the important Jhukar levels and the Urban Phase has not yet been established....

Article

Harappa  

Gregory L. Possehl

[Harappā]

Ancient city on the southern bank of the Ravi River, western Punjab, Pakistan, and the type site for the Indus civilization that flourished c. 2500–2000 bc (see also Mohenjo-daro). Harappa is the name of the modern village adjacent to the mounds and is not thought to be of ancient derivation, although the place-name Hariyupiya does occur in the Ṛg veda and has been associated with the site by some scholars (see Wheeler, pp. 78–82). The archaeological site was first recognized in 1826 by Charles Masson, an early traveller in the region. The city as a whole was robbed for bricks in the mid-19th century and is not well preserved. Alexander Cunningham, the first Director–General of the Archaeological Survey of India, excavated part of the site in 1871–2 and published the first of a series of important stamp seals associated with the Harappan civilization. The results of excavations undertaken in ...

Article

B. B. Lal

[Hastināpura]

Site of an ancient city, once capital of the Kauravas of Mahābhārata epic fame, on the right bank of the Ganga River in Meerut District, Uttar Pradesh, India. Excavation (1950–52) of the ancient mound yielded evidence of five cultural periods. Period I (pre-1200 bc), the earliest occupation, was characterized by Ochre Colour Ware and the absence of iron. Period II (c. 1100–800 bc) was distinguished by Painted Grey Ware (PGW), the first use of iron and evidence of the horse. Other objects included beads of cornelian, agate, jasper and bone, bangles of glass (the earliest so far in India) and terracotta figurines of animals. The PGW occupation was destroyed by heavy flooding of the Ganga River. Not only was there ample evidence of river erosion at the foot of the riverside face of the mound, but washed-away material was also encountered in borings in the riverbed, some 15 m below water-level. A late stage of PGW has also been found in the earliest levels at Kausambi. These two pieces of archaeological evidence provide circumstantial evidence for the Puranic statement that during the reign of Nichakshu, fifth king after the war related in the ...

Article

M. K. Dhavalikar

Bronze Age site at a small village of the same name, south-east of Pune, Maharashtra, India. Excavations yielded evidence of human habitation from c. 1700 to c. 900 bc. Initially, the people lived in rectangular houses with low mud walls and thatched roofs, and later (c.1200–c. 900 bc) in round huts. Among the numerous artefacts from the site are some interesting human figurines of baked or unbaked clay, which are all hand-modelled with curved projections for the hands and stumpy legs. There is no attempt at delineating facial features except for a pinched nose in some examples. Two unbaked female figures, one with head and the other without, seem to be associated with the religious beliefs of the people, for they were found carefully deposited below a house floor dated c. 1400 bc. The figurine with a head was placed in a clay box, while the headless figurine was positioned together with an unbaked clay bull on the lid of the container. The unique headless figure has a hole in her abdomen that corresponds with a similar one in the bull for the insertion of a dowel to attach the figurine to the back of the bull. Sculptures of a headless goddess occur in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka over a long period (...

Article

Gregory L. Possehl

[Kala Vangu]

Site on the south bank of the dry bed of the Ghaggar or Hakra River (anc. Sarasvati) near its confluence with the Drishadvati or Chautang River in Ganganagar District, northern Rajasthan, India. The site contains two occupation levels: a Pre-urban or Sothi settlement (c. 3000–2550 bc) and a later occupation associated with the Mature or Urban Phase of the Harappan or Indus civilization (c. 2500–2000 bc). L. P. Tessitori discovered and excavated Kalibangan in 1917, but the finds meant little at the time, since nothing was yet known of the Indian Bronze Age or the Indus civilization. Aurel Stein also visited the site during his exploration of the Sarasvati river in the early 1940s. Following the realization of the archaeological potential of the site by Amalananda Ghosh in 1950, the Archaeological Survey of India undertook nine seasons of excavation (1960–69) under Braj Bashi Lal and ...

Article

Lothal  

Gregory L. Possehl

[Saragwala]

Site between the Bhogavo and Sabarmati rivers, near the head of the Gulf of Khambhavat (Cambay), in Gujarat, India. It was discovered in 1954 by Shikarpur Ranganath Rao, who excavated the site for eight seasons (1954–63). It comprises two different, but continuous, occupations: the first belongs to the Harappan Urban Phase (c. 2500–2000 bc); the second, much smaller occupation is part of the Harappan Post-urban Phase (c. 2000–1750 bc). The settlement is located further to the south-east than other Harappan sites and appears to have been a frontier town, with important commercial links with non-Harappan peoples. Identification by Rao of a large, brick-lined basin on the eastern side of the settlement as a dockyard or harbour and Lothal as a port and centre of maritime commerce linking ancient India with Mesopotamia has been disputed by a number of scholars (Leshnik; Possehl).

During the Urban Phase the settlement was about 4.2 ha in size, not counting the area of the purported dockyard. On the mound adjacent to the brick-lined enclosure is a building identified as a warehouse, a long building with bathing facilities, other structures of baked brick and a typical Harappan drainage system. To the north lay the domestic quarter with private houses, while to the west was a manufacturing area. Judging from the small part of the latter area that was excavated, it is clear that Lothal was a centre of craftsmanship. The excavations uncovered finished products and waste matter from a wide range of materials, including copper, bronze, gold, cornelian, jasper, rock crystal, other hardstones, ivory and shell. Many of these materials were associated with a bead-making shop similar to one found at ...

Article

Mantai  

John Carswell

Port, occupied from the 2nd millennium bc to c. ad 1000, near modern Mannar in north-west Sri Lanka. Mantai was the port for the inland capital at Anuradhapura and an important link in the maritime network between the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and East Asia; during its final phase, it was one of Asia’s most important trading emporia. Its growth must have been dependent on the surplus capital generated by the agricultural development of the northern dry zone, with its sophisticated irrigation system of canals and tanks (reservoirs). The primary reason for Mantai’s development as an emporium was its location at the end of a narrow channel transversing the chain of reefs, known as Adam’s Bridge, that prevent the passage of large-scale shipping. Ships from the Near East and East Asia were able to meet at Mantai and exchange goods via the channel. Evidence of the Sasanian and Islamic presence was found in excavations in ...

Article

Gregory L. Possehl

Site of an ancient city on the west bank of the Indus River, about 90 km south-west of Shikarpur, Sind, Pakistan. It was a settlement of the Mature or Urban Phase of the Indus or Harappan civilization (c. 2550–2000 bc) and covers an area of some 100 ha. Mohenjo-daro (Sindhi: ‘mound of the dead men’) is the modern place name; the ancient name of the city is not known. It was first visited by an archaeologist in 1911–12 (see Bhandarkar), but its significance was not recognized until the 1920s. Excavations by R. D. Banerji for the Archaeological Survey of India in 1921–2 around the c. 2nd–4th-century ad Buddhist stupa on the western mound, the so-called ‘Citadel’, uncovered stamp seals similar to those found at Harappa 644 km to the north-east (Marshall, p. 10). These finds led to the full excavation of Mohenjo-daro, initially under John Marshall, then under ...

Article

Quetta  

Gregory L. Possehl

City and surrounding valley in the Baluchistan highlands of Pakistan, close to the border with Afghanistan. Its strategic location in the Quetta–Pishin valley region, which forms a natural route from the plains of the Indus Valley to the lowlands of southern Afghanistan, has made it an important crossroad of cultures and a prosperous settlement from prehistoric times to the present. A complete archaeological survey of the Quetta–Pishin valley region undertaken in the 1950s by Walter A. Fairservis jr documented human settlement in the area from the Early Neolithic culture of the site known as Kili Ghul Mohammad I (c. 5000–4000 bc) to the mature Bronze Age settlement at Damb Sadaat III contemporary with the civilization at Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and other Indus Valley sites (c. 2550–2000 bc). The important prehistoric ceramic type known as Quetta Ware was first defined in this region. It is a fine ceramic, made on the wheel, fired buff to light pink and used to make cups, pots and plates which were decorated in bold geometric patterns of zigzags, crosses and chevrons....

Article

Sanghol  

Gregory L. Possehl

Site adjacent to an ancient, now dry, course of the Sutlej River in Ludhiana District, Punjab, India. It is almost entirely covered by a modern village but was subjected to eight seasons of excavations between 1968 and 1985 that revealed a stratified sequence of eight periods. The earliest level (Period I) contained Bronze Age mud structures associated with copper tools, faience bangles and cornelian inlays. The ceramic finds comprised Bara Ware and pottery of Cemetery H type (c. 2000–1750 bc) that included the survival of some pre-Harappan designs. Period II was characterized by Painted Grey Ware (1000–450 bc), with an overlap of Northern Black Polished Ware (600–200 bc), which was primarily found in the levels of Period III. Period IV was distinguished by typical figurines of the Shunga dynasty dated c. 2nd–1st century bc. Period V contained a terracotta coin mould of the Indo-Parthian...