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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

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

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

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...