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Article

Clare Goff-Hill

[Pers. Bābājān]

Site on the Nurabad plain in the Luristan region, central Iran. The site comprises a group of three mounds that were excavated in 1966–9 and revealed complex buildings of the 1st millennium bc with decorated interiors. The most significant remains date from the 9th to 7th centuries bc, when newcomers established themselves on the summit of the earlier prehistoric mound. Their stone village was soon replaced by a large, fortified, mud-brick ‘manor’, consisting of a central courtyard (17.5×9.5 m) flanked to the west and east by two long, rectangular living rooms, with eight towers defending the perimeter. When the manor was rebuilt (for plan see Iran, ancient, fig.b) most of the towers were demolished and the central courtyard was roofed in, the roof being supported by two irregular rows of wooden columns. Further rooms were added to the sides, and to the east was a long buttressed recess possibly serving as a verandah or portico....

Article

Babylon  

[Akkad. Bab-ilim: ‘gate of god’]

Site in Iraq, 80 km south of modern Baghdad. It was once the capital and most important city of Babylonia (see Babylonian). It first rose to prominence under Hammurabi (reg 1792–1750 bc) and reached its peak of development under the Neo-Babylonian kings in the 6th century bc and was occupied until Sasanian times. Babylon was excavated by Austin Henry Layard (1850), Fulgence Fresnel (1852), Hormuzd Rassam (1879–82), and Robert Koldewey and Walter Andrae (1899–1917). Since 1958, excavations have been carried out by the Directorate-General of Antiquities, Baghdad, and the German Archaeological Institute. Finds from the early excavations are divided between the Iraq Museum in Baghdad and the Pergamonmuseum in Berlin. More recent finds are in Baghdad (Iraq Mus.) and in a museum on the site.

Babylon was the largest settlement in ancient Mesopotamia, extending over an area of some 850 ha. The oldest known reference attests the construction of a temple in Akkadian times (late 3rd millennium ...

Article

Paul T. Nicholson

[al-Badāri]

Site in Egypt on the east bank of the Nile, where a predynastic cemetery and settlement were meticulously excavated and recorded by Guy Brunton and Gertrude Caton-Thompson in 1922–5. They uncovered some 650 prehistoric pit graves and associated artefacts, which formed the basis for the definition of the so-called Badarian period (c. 6000/5500–c. 4000 bc). The Badarian graves were shallow and roughly oval, with sides sloping towards the base, probably originally roofed with sticks or matting. The deceased were each laid in a loose foetal or sleeping position, with their faces looking west, and there is no evidence of any deliberate attempt to preserve the bodies.

Most distinctive among the associated artefacts is the fine pottery, consisting of three types of thin-walled, handmade vessels: ‘Polished Red’, ‘Polished Black’ and ‘Black-topped Polished Red or Brown’. Some of this pottery had a ripple-burnished surface, created either by rubbing a rounded pebble over the leather-hard clay or by combing ripples into the wet clay and then burnishing when leather-hard. The manner of production of the black-topped ware remains a matter of debate. The shapes of the pots were usually simple and mostly bowls....

Article

Badoh  

Michael D. Willis

[Badoh-Pathārī; anc. Vaṭodaka]

Site in Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, India. The monumental temple ruins at the twin villages of Badoh and Pathari are scattered over a wide area, indicating that they mark the site of a once important city. The oldest remains are in a wide-mouthed cave to the west of Badoh, where a small spring is flanked by an early 5th-century ad rock-relief of seated goddesses and the god Virabhadra; an inscription mentions one Maharaja Jayatsena. The cave also contains ruined shrines from about the 9th century ad. To its south-east is the large 9th-century Gadarmal Temple (see Trivedi). It collapsed some time before the 19th century and was reconstructed in a haphazard fashion; the main image is in the Archaeological Museum, Gwalior. Near by, at the side of a large tank, is a rare example of a pre-Islamic pleasure pavilion, the Sola Khambi (c. 10th century). A short distance to the west is a group of Jaina temples that have been subject to reconstruction. Early fragments include doorframes of the ...

Article

Bagh  

Frederick M. Asher

[Bāgh]

Site of Buddhist rock-cut sanctuaries in Dhar District, Madhya Pradesh, India. During the second half of the 5th century ad a series of ten sanctuaries, one of them incomplete, was carved at Bagh from rock a great deal softer and thus less durable than that of sites in the Deccan plateau, such as Ajanta: consequently the work is not well preserved. The most elaborately carved caves are nos 2, 3, 4 and 6. All the caves at Bagh are viharas (monastic dwellings). The characteristic plan places monks’ cells around the outer walls enclosing a large pillared central hall. The pillars have thicker shafts than those of contemporary shrines at Ajanta (probably to compensate for the quality of stone), yet their design is imaginatively varied. Some of the shafts have diagonal or spiral flutes, while others are composite varieties combining a lower section of four sides, with upper sections moving from an octagonal to a 16-sided section; yet others become 12- or 24-sided. The pillar brackets of Cave 4 depict animals, some with riders. At the rear of most of the sanctuaries is an image shrine housing a stupa, not a Buddha figure as in the Ajanta shrines. Buddha images are, however, carved elsewhere in the Bagh sanctuaries, for example in the antechamber of several of the caves. The most famous are those of Cave 2, where larger-than-life-size standing Buddha figures flanked by bodhisattvas are depicted on two of the side walls. These figures bear a close resemblance to contemporary figural sculpture of Ajanta....

Article

A. J. Mills

[Arab. al-Baḥriyya; Bahria Oasis]

Site in Egypt, just south of the latitude of Cairo and about 200 km west of the Nile, occupied from the 17th Dynasty (c. 1630–c. 1540 bc). Most of the small settlements of which the oasis is composed are clustered at the northern end of an oval depression. Contact with the Nile seems to have been frequent. The oasis is best known for several decorated tombs with the remains of painted scenes, the earliest being that of Amenhotep Huy, a governor during the 19th Dynasty (c. 1292–c. 1190 bc). Another group of tombs, of officials from the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc), includes the tomb of Bannentiu, which has a variety of painted religious scenes whose vivid colours are well preserved. There are two ruined temples, both with the usual Egyptian style of relief decoration. One is a large limestone temple, dated to the reign of Apries (...

Article

Bamiyan  

Mary S. Lawton

Site in north-central Afghanistan. Located at the western end of the silk route, Bamiyan flourished as a trading and religious centre until the 13th century. It is the site of a rock-cut Buddhist monastery, the most distinctive feature of which were two monumental rock-cut standing Buddhas that bracket the religious complex. Confined in mandorla-shaped niches, they represented the first appearance of the colossal cult image in Buddhist art. Their size not only encouraged approaching pilgrims but exemplified the esoteric Mahayana doctrine of the Universal Buddha (see also Buddhism, §I). Faces and folds in the robes were modelled in mud mixed with chopped straw. This was supported by dowels and ropes pegged into the rock; a final coating of lime plaster was applied before gilding. The smaller Buddha (h. c. 38.5 m) probably dated to the 2nd–3rd century ad and its somewhat fluid drapery folds suggested Gandharan traditions. The frescoes and accompanying minor sculptures of donor figures were provincial Sasanian in technique and imagery. The larger Buddha (h. 55 m) was related to the style of Mathura during the ...

Article

Bampur  

Beatrice de Cardi

[Pers. Bampūr]

Site of settlements in Iranian Baluchistan (see Iran, ancient, §I, 2, (ii)), of the 4th to late 3rd millennium bc and later. It was dominated by a citadel and situated near important caravan routes. Trial trenching by Sir Aurel Stein in 1932 produced an assortment of wares; further excavations by Beatrice de Cardi in 1966 resulted in the discovery of a ceramic sequence based on six phases of occupation. Stein’s collections, relating largely to Bampur periods V and VI, are in the Peabody Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA; material from the later excavations is divided between the Archaeological Museum, Tehran, and study collections in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; and the American Museum of Natural History, New York.

A few stylistic links with the pottery of Yahya, Tepe period IVC suggest that Bampur was settled by the late 4th millennium ...

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

Daniel Ehnbom

Site of an important port on the bank of Gharo Creek, c. 64 km east of Karachi, Pakistan. It was occupied from around the 1st century bc to the 13th century ad and abandoned after a change in the course of the Indus River and a violent attack. The establishment of a large mosque, the Jami‛, dates to the early 8th century. Kufic inscriptions in the mosque are dated ah 107 (ad 725–6) and ah 294 (ad 906). It is likely that the Battle of Daybul (Debal) in ad 712 that led to the establishment of the first Islamic state in South Asia by Muhammad bin-Qasim took place in the vicinity of Banbhore. Daybul is the only city mentioned in the accounts of the Arab conquest of Sind that has not been identified with certainty.

See also Indian subcontinent, §III, 5, (ii), (a).

F. A. Khan...

Article

Banpo  

Mary S. Lawton

[Pan-p’o]

Site of a Neolithic village 10 km east of Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, China, from which is derived the name of the early phase (c. 4800–c. 4300 bc) of the Neolithic Central Yangshao culture. Archaeological excavations began in 1953; within an area of 5 hectares, 45 residences and more than 200 tombs were revealed. Subsequent carbon-14 tests dated the site to soon after 5000 bc. The excavations indicate that the settlement was divided into three separate areas, for residence, pottery production and burial. The residential section was surrounded by a manmade moat. Earlier houses were constructed partially underground, but later structures were built at ground-level. Floor-plans varied and could be circular or rectangular (e.g. see China, People’s Republic of, §II, 5, (ii)), but the main building material was mud mixed with straw. The traditional Chinese orientation of the entrance towards the south and the use of wooden roof support frames can be seen already in the architecture of Banpo (...

Article

Banshan  

Julia M. White

[Pan-shan]

Site in the Tao River valley near Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China. First excavated in 1924 by the Swedish archaeologist johan gunnar Andersson (1874–1960), it gives its name to a phase (c. 2800–c. 2300 bc) of the Neolithic-period Western or Gansu Yangshao culture.

Four sites make up Banshan: Waguanzui, Banshan proper, Bianjiagou and Wangjiagou. Excavations in the region have shown that the Banshan cultural phase includes a range of sites extending north from Lanzhou to Wuwei and Yongchang in Gansu Province and as far west as the Guide Basin in Qinghai Province. Banshan was the source of a large number of painted ceramic vessels, many now in the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm. Since the major archaeological excavations of the 1970s and 1980s, museums and research institutes in China, particularly the Gansu Provincial Museum in Lanzhou and the Qinghai Provincial Museum in Xining, have acquired large collections of Banshan pottery. Initial finds of Banshan ceramics were exclusively funerary wares, leading experts to believe that the painted designs, especially the black, swirling ‘death pattern’, were associated with ritual burial practice. Later, vessels with an identical serrated pattern were found in habitation sites as well, and the designs are no longer interpreted only in connection with death....

Article

P. R. Giot

Site of Neolithic multiple-chambered tomb in Brittany, France, 13 km north of Morlaix (see also Prehistoric Europe, §IV, 2, (v), (b)). Discovered in 1851 and excavated and restored between 1955 and 1968, this monument is typical of the complex cairns of the region. It is trapezoidal in form, measuring 72 m long and up to 27 m wide and 8 m high, and it is constructed of dry-stone masonry. There were two principal phases of construction. The primary cairn, on the east, contains five passage graves arranged side by side and had two concentric revetment walls. Charcoal from Chamber G, the passage of which was well blocked, has yielded a radiocarbon date in the later 5th millennium bc after calibration, equivalent to the oldest known dates for passage graves of the Atlantic seaboard. Chamber H has an antechamber and five orthostats with pecked decoration. The capstone of the easternmost tomb has a carved figure in an abnormal position indicating that it is a reused stone from an older monument. Few grave goods have been recovered from this primary cairn. The secondary cairn extended the first towards the west and down a slope, so the number of supporting revetment walls had to be increased from four to six in places. It contains six more passage graves, most of which have yielded early Neolithic radiocarbon dates and grave goods, although two also had some later material. The internal passages are of dry-stone masonry supporting capstones; there are some orthostats, but these do not have a structural function. Most of the chambers are of dry-stone corbelling, although two have capstones and supports. Local dolerite was used for the smaller blocks and stones in the cairns, while granite from an island 2 km away was chosen for the megalithic slabs and for the outer blocks of the secondary cairn. The Barnenez monument demonstrates a keen sense of grandiose architectural design among its builders, who maintained continuity over the several generations it took to complete. Naturally, there were some slight changes during the successive accretions; the western extremity of the secondary cairn, in particular, is somewhat prow-shaped and ostentatious, but it is clear that the limiting structures were built to be seen as stepped tiers. The obstruction of certain passages was also important, and a small part of the forecourt between two passage entrances had accumulated offerings of pottery. The main holdings of material from the site are housed in the Musée Préhistorique Finistérien, Penmarch....

Article

Joan K. Lingen

Site in Panama, in the Volcan Baru district of Chiriquí Province near the Costa Rican border. It is one of the best known and most elaborate Pre-Columbian Panamanian sites; it flourished c. ad 400–c. 800. Barriles was first excavated in 1949 by Matthew Stirling under the auspices of the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution. Alejandro Mendez, Director of the Museo Nacional de Panamá, Panama City, had previously visited the site and removed the large figural sculptures for display at the museum. Other objects from the excavations are also at the Museo Nacional. In 1972 Olga Linares, Payson Sheets, and Jane Rosenthal excavated at Barriles to help clarify its chronological and cultural relationship with the rest of western Panama. Ceramic analysis and radiocarbon dating place the major occupation of Barriles and its artistic output before c. ad 800. Most of the pottery consists of simple, unpainted, and incised vessels, much like the Aguas Buenas pottery of Panama and some from central Costa Rica. Rare examples contain designs painted in red or black. The most common forms are small globular vessels with short tripod supports and bowls with flat bottoms. Somewhat crudely modelled animal forms are attached to the rims or bodies of some examples. Others feature negative-painted designs on the vessel interiors. Stirling also excavated tombs containing large, lidded urns 920 mm high, with human and animal imagery painted in red and bright yellow on the necks of the vessels....

Article

A. F. Harding

Site of Bronze Age settlement with fortified tower ( Nuraghe) in central-southern Sardinia, Italy. The tower of Su Nuraxi near Barumini is one of the most spectacular and fully developed of all the Sardinian nuraghi. Lying at a height of 238 m above sea-level on a terrace overlooking a fertile plain, it controlled an important route from the Campidano plain near Cagliari to the interior of the island. The site occupies about 1350 sq. m, of which the nuraghe takes up about one third. Excavations were carried out by Giovanni Lilliu in 1940 and between 1949 and 1954.

The history of the fortified elements of the site is complex. An initial tower of simple form, originally 18.6 m high and 10 m in diameter, lies eccentrically to the succeeding defensive conglomeration. The external walls, of uniform gradient, are formed of massive polyhedral basalt blocks in the lower courses and squared blocks in the upper. The tower contains three vaulted rooms, one above the other, the lowest having an entrance corridor with niches and a staircase opening. A radiocarbon date of 3410±200 ...

Article

Bassai  

Frederick Cooper

Site on the slopes and peak of Mt Kotilon in Arcadia, southern Greece, overlooking the fertile plains of Messenia. It is renowned for the late 5th-century bc Temple of Apollo with its sculptured Ionic frieze, its peculiar plan and the earliest extant Corinthian capital.

Apollo Bassitas was the principal god but his sanctuary also embraced cults to other gods, notably Artemis. Twin temples to Apollo and Artemis were built by c. 625–600 bc, the former (Apollo I) found immediately south of the present structure. The second temple (Apollo II, c. 575 bc) was replaced by Apollo III c. 500 bc, and blocks from Apollo III were reused in the last temple, Apollo IV, the remains of which stand today. The construction of Apollo IV began shortly after 429 bc, according to Pausanias, although some scholars date it to one or more generations earlier. Other evidence, however, including inscriptions and literary references, support Pausanias’ date. The architect was ...

Article

Stephan Kroll

[Pers. Basṭām; anc. Rusai.uru.tur]

Site in the north-west of Iran of a major Urartian castle of the first half of the 7th century bc (see Urartian). Bastam lies c. 50 km north of the modern city of Khoy and c. 1300 m above sea-level. The site is on a steep mountain cliff on the left bank of the River Aq Chay, overlooking a wide, fertile plain. In antiquity several channels were diverted from the river to water the adjacent plains. A major east-west route ran past Bastam, connecting the Urartian capital in Van (eastern Turkey) with territories in what are now Azerbaijan and Armenia. The site was discovered in 1967 by Wolfram Kleiss of the German Archaeological Institute in Tehran, who conducted excavations from 1968 to 1978. The finds are in the Archaeological Museum in Tehran.

In reorganizing his kingdom, the Urartian king Rusa II (reg c. 680–640 bc) erected in Bastam one of his three royal residences (...

Article

Bavian  

John M. Russell

Site in northern Iraq, c. 60 km north-east of Mosul. Near the modern village of Bavian, at Khinnis on the River Gomel, is the head of a canal built by the Assyrian king Sennacherib (reg 704–681 bc) to supply water for Nineveh. The site is best known for its Neo-Assyrian rock reliefs (see also Mesopotamia, §III, 6, (i)), which were described and illustrated by Austen Henry Layard and Walter Bachmann. In 1934 Thorkild Jacobsen and Seton Lloyd traced the water transfer system. A large stone block (6×4×8 m; now broken) was placed at the point where water was diverted into the canal. Two of its faces are sculpted with human-headed bull colossi flanking a human figure holding a lion (a group used also on the façades of Sennacherib’s palace at Nineveh) and with images of the king worshipping gods who stand on sacred animals. A large relief (9.3×9.2 m) on the rock face just south of the canal head depicts two gods flanked by two images of the king. The ...

Article

Bawit  

C. Walters

Site on the west bank of the River Nile, c. 16 km west of Daryūt in the province of Asyūt, Egypt. A large monastery with rich sculptural and painted decoration originally lay in the desert 1 km to the west. According to tradition it was founded by the monk Apollo in the late 4th century ad and was inhabited until the late 12th century. The site was excavated intermittently between 1901 and 1913 by the French Archaeological Institute in Cairo; most of the structural finds were removed to the Coptic Museum in Cairo and the Louvre in Paris. The monastery consisted of an enclosed nucleus with other buildings outside the walls, although it is not known how much of the site was occupied at any given time. Within the enclosed area were two churches. A number of two-storey structures were excavated, of which the ground floors were probably chapels and the upper floors served as living quarters, as in the monastery of Apa Jeremiah at Saqqara (...

Article

Begram  

Kurt Behrendt

[Begrām; anc. Kāpiśī, Kapisa]

Site of an ancient city located at the junction of the Panjshir and Ghorbend rivers near the modern village of Begram, 40 km north of Kabul, Afghanistan. Based on coins and structural finds of Indo-Greek origin, it is believed that Kāpiśī was an important city in the region, possibly a capital under the Kushana rulers. In the course of excavations in 1937–9, Joseph Hackin and Ria Hackin discovered in two contiguous chambers a wealth of important objects. These included Chinese lacquer ware, Greco-Roman style bronze and metal sculptures, glass vessels of Roman or Alexandrian origin, a group of Roman plaster casts of older Greek metalwork, and, finally, a large group of Indian ivories (Kabul Mus.; Paris, Mus. Guimet). All of the objects appear to be luxury items of a secular nature, though several non-Indian deities appear. The dating of these objects is unclear. Various ivories, for example, may date from as early as the ...