Directorate of Archaeology ( Uttar Pradesh ) INDIA Directorate of Archaeology ( Uttar Pradesh ) INDIA Directorate of Archaeology ( Uttar Pradesh ) INDIA
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Archaeological Explorations -Exploration in district Chandauli...
Ancient sites of the area: Location and Documentation
Project Director
RakeshTewari assisted by G.C. Singh, Directorate of Archaeology, Lucknow
Purushottam Singh (1999-2000) . Vibha Tripathi, Ravindra N. Singh, Department of Ancient Indian History Culture and Archaeology, Banaras Hindu University
Objective of the Project and Outcome
The objectives of this project are to review the antiquity of the previously reported sites in the light of the results of the Malhar excavation which has revealed a habitation deposit of about 2200 BC and evidence for iron smelting dating back to about 1800 BC; to locate ancient sites which may have similarities with Malhar; to have an idea of the present condition of the previously reported sites, and to locate and record the left out sites of the area.
The investigations carried out during the first season (1999-2000) have revealed that the southern part of Chandauli district comprising Vindhyan plateau was inhabited by the Epi-Palaeolithic or Upper Palaeolithic people. Chalcolithic and early Iron Age human activities were confined to the river banks in the plain area plateau area . Evidence for smelting of iron has been found at a site called Phakkada Baba located within the Moosakhand dam. On comparative basis it appeared contemporary to that of Period II of Malhar (c. 1800 BC). An extensive site extending over an area of about one km was located a tNaugary on the left bank of Karamnasa River. This site is especially notable for comprising hundreds of heaps of iron slags, which often show plans of damaged earthen furnaces. Apparently this place would have been a workshop site for the large-scale production of iron and its export to other areas. However, it was not as early as Malhar. The presence of black slipped ware and NBPW in association of iron slag indicates that it may be placed somewhere around BC 700. Some small sites, however, of later periods also showed evidence for iron smelting.
An extensive huge mound, located at Nindaur in Bihar in the area bordering Chandauli district in the east, is very significant in the context of ancient routes because it is on the alignment of ancient Varanasi and Pataliputra. Its extent, height and other features show that it would have been, in all probability, an administrative and trade centre. A settlement of such extent, at a distance of only about 60 km to the south east of Varanasi, needs further investigations because at the present state of knowledge we have no idea about any ancient city existing in the vicinity of Varanasi.
Research Aims and Emerging Results
The Gangetic plain is more than half-a-million sq. km of alluvium below the outer arc of the Himalayas and to the north of the northeastern segment of the geologically old Indian Peninsula. The aim of this project is to understand the long-term settlement history of the valley with reference to the locations of sites and the inferences which may be drawn on that basis about land-use, plateau-valley interaction, routes and textually known ancient political territories. There is now a greater urgency for recording the archaeological details of the Indian countryside where population pressure is increasingly leading to disappearance / destruction of archaeological evidence. Some of these sites have not been explored since the nineteenth century.
The still overwhelmingly pre-industrial character of agriculture in the valley offers some scope for inferences regarding the general character of ancient land use. Current day cultivation / crop patterns and related information available from Revenue records provide some basis for inferring earlier land use patterns. For instance, we now know that farmers in the third and second millennia B.C. in the West Bengal and Bihar sections of the valley showed a preference for locations either on river-banks or in close proximity of low-lying lands. The nature of interaction between the valley and the adjoining plateau sections can be appreciated from the study of surface scatters of valley sites. This opens up the issue of trade and it has been possible to infer that this trade was both at the local level extending up to distances of 300--400 km. During the historic period in the deltaic portion of West Bengal this trade included maritime contacts with the Mediterranean and southeast Asia, leading to the establishment of more than ten major urban centres in this section. The mode of investigation of ancient routes is the location and alignment of sites in an area and the historical and ethnographic documentation of the routes of that area. Political units have been mentioned in ancient texts, and this survey tries to understand the major geographical markers which could have served as delimitations to such political constituencies.
Singh, P., R. Tewari, R.N. Singh 2000.' Exploration in Chandauli District (U.P.) 1999-2000: A Preliminary Report'Pragdhara .10, pp. 135-48.
Tewari, Rakesh 1998. 'In Quest of Early Iron Age Sites in Karamnasa Valley', Pragdhara .8, pp. 57-67.
2000. 'Phakkada Baba: Another Protohistoric Site in Karamnasa Valley', Pragdhara. 10, pp. 99-107.
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