Ancient India

Pastoral and Farming Communities

Geographical distribution and characteristics of Pastoral and Farming communities (2000-500 BC)

The region falls into three major areas: the stretch between Peshawar and Taxila comprising the Peshawar valley and the Potwar plateau, the area between Swat and Chitral and finally the valley of Kashmir. The Neolithic levels of Saraikhola in the Potwar plateau gave way to Kot Diji related horizon and in some way this region as a whole was within the trading network of the contemporary Indus plains. In the Swat Chitral region the large number of sites that have been excavated show the use of different metals, stone and other objects among which are shell, coral and ivory which must have reached this region from the Indus plains. The rock shelter site of Ghaligai which perhaps goes back to 3000 BC provides the baseline in Swat -Chitral. The proto-historic graveyards of the region are dated between the second quarter of the second millennium BC and the late centuries BC. The evidence of such graveyards and associated settlements has been categorised as the Gandhara Grave Culture.

Pastoral and Farming Communities

Ladakh and Almora

The handmade red pottery excavated at Kiari in Ladakh has been compared with similar pottery of the Burzahom Neolithic Period II. Four hearths occur in three successive phases and there are domestic cattle, sheep and goat. Its date is 1000 BC. Giak a similar site at a distance of less than 10 km and located in the same geographical situation yielded a single radiocarbon date which goes back to the 6th millennium BC. In the UP Himalayas near Almora megalithic burials have been noticed and the upper filling of a cist yielded a date of third millennium BC. The cist-burials of this area show horse burials and red, grey and black pots. Uleri an iron-smelting site near Almora shows a date range of 1022-826 BC.

Northeast Rajasthan

It was Jodhpura a large mound on the bank of the non perennial Sabi or Sahibi River which first yielded evidence of Ganeshwar-Jodhpura culture belonging to the fourth and third millennia BC. Wheelmade orange to deep red color, decorated with incised designs and possessing shapes including dish on stand was found at Ganeshwar in a small Aravalli valley on the Delhi-Jaipur railway line. A large number of copper artefacts including a distinct type of arrowhead were found in the Ganeshwar excavations. Ganeshwar has been re-excavated and a large number of sites have been located in various parts of northeast Rajasthan especially in Sikar, Jaipur and Churu districts.

These Copper Age graves are marked by in-flexed burials and urn burials after cremation. Grave sites and associated settlements have been investigated at a large number of sites including Loebanr, Aligrama, Birkot Ghundai, Kherari, Lalbatai, Timargarha, Balambat, Kalako-Deray and Zarif Karuna located in the valleys of Chitral, Swat, Dir and Buner etc. In Kashmir more than 30 Neolithic sites have been found scattered but most of them are in the Baramula, Anantnag and Srinagar regions. This distribution points out that this was not a culture isolated from the plains. Handmade grey pottery with a mat impressed base is a distinguishing feature of the ceramic phase of the Kashmir Neolithic at both its excavated sites – Gufkral and Burzahom. The Neolithic phase in Kashmir merged into a megalithic phase around the middle of the second millennium BC. Handmade grey pottery with a mat impressed base is a distinguishing feature of the ceramic phase of the Kashmir Neolithic at both its excavated sites- Gufkral and Burzahom. The Neolithic phase in Kashmir merged into a megalithic phase around the middle of the second millennium BC.

South India

This area is broadly known as the Southern Neolithic Culture with geographical variations in each of the three component states. It consists of the Karnataka plateau; the plateau region of north-western part of TN and the tract of Telengana and Rayalseema in AP. Neolithic sites are abound in the region. Around Tekkalakota alone there are 19 of them. The flat topped granite hills of the region and the river banks seem to have provided a suitable occupation ground for the Neolithic settlers. Their principal excavated sites include Brahmagiri, Maski, Piklihal, Utnur, Kupgal, Hallur, Nagarjunakonda, Veerapuram etc. A full fledged Chalcolithic complex occurs in Andhra.

Among a large number of sites discovered in the Kurnool area, Singanapalli is a single culture site yielding a profuse quantity of painted pottery, stone blades etc. The area between the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra and the tip of the southern peninsula constitutes the major zone of the burial style denoted by various types of megaliths. This burial style continued well into the historical period in its main distribution area and is characterised by a host of megalithic structures such as cairn-circles, dolmen, menhirs and their extensive variations and combinations.

Eastern India

There are 70 odd reported Chalcolithic and Iron Age black and red ware sites in West Bengal distributed mostly in the area to the west of the Bhagirathi. The most impressive evidence of crops has occurred in the Chalcolithic context at Senuar-rice, barley, wheat, sorghum, millet, peas, lentil, sesamum and linseed. From approx the middle of the third millennium BC there were fully agricultural and pre-metallic villages with a wide range of crops on the river banks of a substantial area of Bihar. The relevant cultural material in Pandu Rajar Dhibi West Bengal consists of microliths blades and husk impressions of rice in the core of pottery. In Chirand, Bihar extensive evidence has been found in form of pottery, terracotta, bone tools, beads and remains of wheat, barley and rice. At Senuar in the Kaimur foothills three principal ceramic types were found. In addition to a rich microlithic industry there are bone tools, beads and miscellaneous stone objects, rice, barley and some millet. Rice is said to have been the principal crop.


The protohistoric archaeology of MP is dominated by that of the Malwa region which is a large fertile plateau drained by the Chambal, Kali sindh, Narmada, Sipra, Betwa and other rivers and has some trunk routes from the north to the Deccan and West India passing through it. The area is dotted with Chalcolithic sites. The dominant pottery type was Black on red ware associated with other types like the Black and red ware. The implements used were primarily although Navdatoli possesses copper flat axes. Beads occur profusely and were made of diverse material. A number of crops were grown at Navdatoli. The Malwa culture falls broadly in the first half of the second millennium BC. Malwa was closely linked with Rajasthan on the one hand and the Deccan on the other. There is also evidence of fire-altars and perhaps temples at Dangwada which has also yielded evidence of bull worship.

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