India 1

Kulli culture
Sohr Damb
The Jhukar Phase
Jhangar Phase
Rehman Dheri
Painted Grey Ware culture
Northern Black Polished Ware culture
Andronovo culture

Kulli culture

The Kulli culture was a prehistoric culture in southern Balochistan (Gedrosia) in Pakistan ca. 2500 – 2000 BCE. The pottery and other artifacts are similar to those of the Indus Valley Civilization and it is not clear whether the Kulli culture is a local variation of the Indus Valley Civilization or an own culture complex. The culture is named after an archaeological site discovered by Sir Aurel Stein.
More than 100 settlement sites are known but very few are excavated. Some of them have the size of small towns and are similar to those of the Indus Valley Civilization. The houses are built of local stone along streets. The latter are sometimes paved.
There are stairs on the street for getting access to higher levels. The settlements are often placed at important strategic positions on small hills overlooking the surrounding country side. Most settlements are close to dams. Murda Sang is one town, about 35 ha big. The latest occupation level belongs to the Kulli culture.
Kulli culture ware is also found in the latest stratum of Sohr Damb (Nal), so, in the past, Sohr Damb was understood as belonging to the Kulli culture. But more recently, this site is rather seen as mostly belonging to its own, earlier, pottery tradition (also known as ‘Nal pottery’), linked more to Baluchistan. Agriculture was the economical base of this people. Several Kulli culture sites dams were found, providing evidence for a highly developed water management system.
The pottery of the Kulli culture shows different forms. There are globular beakers, small flasks, tall vases, cups and dishes. Large storage jars are sometimes painted. The only types in common with the Indus Valley Civilization are dishes on a stand and perforated vessels. Kulli culture pottery bears sometimes a painted decoration. The paintings are arranged in horizontal bands over the vessels.
There are geometrical patterns and sometimes bands with figures of animals with plants. A popular motif is the zebu-bull. The figures appear highly stylised. The paint used is always black on the red surface of the vessels. This is similar to the decorated pottery of the Indus Valley Civilization, although the red of the Kulli pottery appears brighter.
Other typical Kulli culture objects are rough clay figurines of zebu bulls and women. The women figurines are again highly stylized but show elaborate hair styles and many personal ornaments, such as necklaces and bangles. The bull figures are often painted. There were also found clay carts for the bulls. At Mehi were found several decorated chlorite vessels, imported from Tepe Yahya and attesting trade contacts with the Eastern Iran. Copper and bronze was known.


Nindowari is an important settlement of the Kulli culture, also known as Nindo Damb, is a Kulli archaeological site, dating back to chalcolithic period, in Kalat District of Balochistan, Pakistan. Archaeological investigation of the site suggests that the Nindowari complex was occupied by the Harappans before the Kulli civilization arrived and that the Kulli culture was related to or possibly derived from the Harappan culture.
Nindowari is located some 240 kilometres (150 mi) northwest of Karachi, in Ornach Valley in Tehsil Wadh of the Kalat District. It is located on the right bank of the Kud River, a tributary of the Porali River.
‘Nindowari is a site of the prehistoric Kulli culture of Balochistan with links to the Harappan Civilization. The site, spread over an area of 124 acres and 75 feet (23 m) high, is the largest Kulli complex site discovered so far.
The settlement was built on a flat schist bed with a central quadrangular platform which was surrounded by buildings on one side. Mounds of various heights were located in the area. The central mound near the platform rose to a height of 82 feet (25 m) and consisted of large stones and boulders.
The summit of the mound was accessed via a staircase from the platform showing this mound was considered a monument. Another mound, called Kulliki-an Damb (Mound of Potteries), was located 590 feet (180 m) south of the main mound.
The site offers evidence that Kulli culture might be strongly associated with the Harappan Civilization if not directly derived from it. Artifacts excavated from the site show that the two cultures had close interaction. The site was probably abandoned due to a major uplift which resulted in cutting off of the water source from the Kud River.
Excavations have uncovered traces of a Kulli settlement dating back to the third millennium BC. These excavations unearthed Kulli-Harappan pottery and vases with animal figures, mostly bulls and birds. Terracotta figurines of women adorned with jewelry with elaborate details were also discovered. Nal ware (old pottery from Indus Civilization) excavated from the site suggested a pre-Kulli occupation and that the Harrapans were settled in the area in early periods (3200 – 2500 BC).

Sohr Damb

Sohr Damb (‘Red Mound’) is an archaeological site, located near Nal, in central Balochistan, Pakistan that predates the Indus Valley civilization. It has also been known as ‘Nal’, and gave its name to the prehistoric ‘Nal culture’.
The site extends over 4 hectares; the mound (mostly geologically formed) is 13 m high. The cultural stratum is less than 2 m deep. The excavations reveal four periods of occupation dating from 3800 to 2200 BC. They could be further divided into several sub-periods.
The locality was first discovered in 1903. In the following years, various minor excavations took place, including by Sir Aurel Stein. Since 2001, the site has been systematically excavated by the German Archaeological Institute and the Department of Archeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan.
The oldest period (Period I) belongs to the cultural complex called Togau. Numerous burials were found. Some of them were found located in small chambers, and they contained up to 16 skeletons. The grave goods included ceramics, pearls, as well as semi-precious stones and shells.
During Period II, we see the appearance of the Nal culture complex. The dead were now buried in individual graves. There are only a few vessels offered as grave goods. The excavated mud-brick houses are usually small. There was a lot of utility ceramics, but also some brightly painted ceramics typical of the Nal culture. There were also millstones, bone implements, and pearls.
Period III is closely related to the other cultures of the area, such as Mehrgarh, and Mundigak in Afghanistan. The mud-brick architecture has now become larger; copper makes its appearance, while the ceramics become simpler. Copper and ceramics were probably processed/produced on site. The Period IV layers are badly eroded. Overall, this period belongs to the Kulli culture, as well as the Indus culture.
Domesticated cattle bones are plentiful in the settlement, and bull figurines are also found. The bones were identified as coming from humped or Zebu cattle. Sheep and goats were also kept. The inhabitants also had dogs. Wild mammals account for only 5% of the bone remains. The crops like wheat, and hulled and naked barley were used from the earliest period. Later, the crops indigenous to the Indian subcontinent, like sesame, and millet became more popular.
The sesame sample from Period III is the oldest, stratified record from this crop until now. Both wild and cultivated fruits were exploited. Fig, jujube, dwarf palm and grape vine were quite popular.
Sohr Damb/Nal is stratigraphically earlier than the Kulli culture phase. Also, at Surab, Nal occupations are later than the Kili Gul Mohammad phase. In the past, the Nal cemetery was understood as belonging to the Kulli Culture. But more recently, Nal is rather understood as belonging to its own pottery tradition, linked more to Baluchistan.
Sohr Damb ceramics, wheel-turned, and with polychrome decoration, shows some parallels with Mundigak period III1-6. There’s some controversy about the absolute chronological framework of the transition from Period II to III at Nal.
This transition has a bearing on the chronology of both Shahr-e Sokhta, and of the Indus civilization. The transition can be dated either to the mid-3rd millennium, or to the late 3rd millennium BC. Early Nal has an affinity with Amri, Sindh. Their pottery is quite similar. Kulli-Mehi culture is in some ways a continuation of Nal.


Amri culture is attributed to Amri archaeological sites in Sindh and Balochistan provinces of Pakistan. It flourished in the 4th and 3rd millennia BC. The typesite is Amri, Sindh. Amri is an ancient settlement in modern-day Sindh, Pakistan, that goes back to 3600 BCE.
The site is located south of Mohenjo Daro on Hyderabad-Dadu Road more than 100 kilometres north of Hyderabad, Pakistan. This site had multi-level structures, although it was never a big city. Amri culture is named after the site.
Situated near the foothills of Kirthar Mountains, this was an important earlier urban center in Lower Sindh. Amri is close to Balochistan where development of earlier farming communities from 6000 BC to 4000 BC ultimately led to urbanization.
The ancient mounds of 8 hectares on the west bank of Indus River have been extensively excavated. The earliest phase was a fortified town that flourished from 3600 to 3300 BC, and belonged to the Pre-Harappan stage of the Indus Valley Civilization. Amri is dated after Rehman Dheri.
The pottery discovered here had its own characteristics and is known as Amri Ware. Sohr Damb (Nal) is a related site in Balochistan to the west of Amri. Their pottery is sometimes collectively described as ‘Amri-Nal ware’.
Like other Pre Harappa towns, no writings were found at this site. Evidence indicates widespread fire at the town around 2500 BCE. In period II (ca. 2750-2450 BC), more and more elements of Indus Valley culture appear. Period III (ca. 2450-1900 BC) belongs almost entirely to Indus Valley culture.
Period IV (ca. 1900-1300 BC) is marked by the mingling of cultural traditions. Elements of the Jhukar culture appear, and co-exist with the last phase of the Indus Valley culture. Later, the elements of Jhangar culture appear. Period V is Muslim and dated much later.
Based on the evidence from this site, Indus culture was probably not developed directly from Amri culture. Also, at least at this location, rather than suddenly being replaced by the Amri culture, there was a co-existence of both cultures.
At least 160 settlements attributed to the Amri Culture have been discovered, mainly in Balochistan, but also in lower Sindh. They are often distributed along the terraces of old and active river courses and consist of sites of different size and shape, which are sometimes stratified below settlements of later periods. Among these, that of the Tharro Hills, near the town of Gujo, is one of the most famous of lower Sindh.

The Jhukar Phase

The Jhukar Phase was a phase of the Late Harappan culture in Sindh that continued after the decline of the mature Indus Valley Civilisation in the 2nd millennium BC. It is named after the archaeological type site called Jhukar in Sindh. It was, in turn, followed by the Jhangar Phase.
The pottery of this phase is described as “showing some continuity with mature Harappan pottery traditions.” During this phase, urban features of cities (such as Mohenjo-Daro) disappeared, and artifacts such as stone weights and female figurines became rare.
This phase is characterized by some circular stamp seals with geometric designs, although lacking the Indus script which characterized the preceding phase of the civilization. Script is rare and confined to potsherd inscriptions. There was also a decline in long-distance trade.

Jhangar Phase

The Jhangar Phase was an archaeological culture, named after the type site Jhangar, that followed the Jhukar Phase of the Late Harappan Culture in Sindh (i.e., the Lower Indus Valley).
It is a non-urban culture, characterised by “crude handmade pottery” and “campsites of a population which was nomadic and mainly pastoralist,” and is dated to approximately the late second millennium BCE and early first millennium BCE. In Sindh, urban growth began again after approximately 500 BCE.

Rehman Dheri

Rehman Dheri or sometime Rahman Dheri is a Pre-Harappan Archaeological Site situated near Dera Ismail Khan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. This is one of the oldest urbanised centres found to date in South Asia. Dated about 3300 BC, the site is situated 22 kilometres (14 mi) north of Dera Ismail Khan.
The site is located on the Gomal River Plain near the Indus river. Since the earliest occupation, except for the extension outside the city in the south, the entire habitation area was enclosed by a massive wall, built from dressed blocks made from clay slabs.  The low rectangular mound is covering about 22 hectares and standing 4.5 m above the surrounding field.
The fortified town of about ten to fifteen thousand inhabitants shows sign of town planning. Pottery, and stone and metal tools were found.
No seals were found and no writing was discovered, though some type of notations on the pottery were observed. These ‘potter’s marks’, engraved or painted, are “strikingly similar to those appearing in the Mature Indus symbol system”.
At Kunal, Haryana, a button seal was discovered during 1998-99 excavations by Archaeological Survey of India. The seal is similar to the Rehman Dheri examples. It contained a picture of two deer on one side, and geometrical pattern on other side. The similar specimen from Rehman-Dheri is datable to c. 4000 BCE.
The mound is rectangular is shape with a grid-like street network. The walls demarcating individual buildings and avenue frontages are still clearly visible, and it’s easy to recognize some small-scale industrial areas; within the site, eroded kilns and scatters of slag have been found.
In Rehman Dehri the archeological sequence is over 4.5 meters deep and it covers a series of over 1,400 years that was begun at c. 3,300 BC. Reham Dehri characterizes different periods which includes the period from c. 3300-2850 BC, c. 2850-2500 BC, and the last is from c. 2500-1900 BC.
In its earliest phases it is accepted that the settlement receives its formal planning and that consequent stages extended the plan over time. Even though the excavators have cut a number of deep trenches into the lower levels, the uncovered area was too limited to study the spatial sharing of craft activities.
In the middle of the third millennium BC, at the beginning of the mature Indus phase, the site was abandoned. There was limited reoccupation. Some more records are found at the neighbouring archaeological mound Hisam Dheri.
Due to the recent developments, the plans of the Early Harappan settlement were disturbed. This site represents the earliest urban settlement on the sub-continent, with a very rich bead industry. It was earlier than the Kot Diji-Sothi complex.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board’s member Abdul Rahim Qureshi quoted former Archaeological Survey of India official Jassu Ram to argue that Ram, also known as Ramachandra, a major deity of Hinduism, was actually born in Dera Ismail Khan district of Pakistan, in a town called Rahman Dheri, which was earlier called Ram Dheri complex.


Sothi is an early archaeological site of the Indus Valley Civilization, located in the plain of the ancient Ghaggar and Chautang rivers that were flowing parallel to each other from east to west in the Hanumangarh District of Rajasthan, India. About 60 km to the west, the large Indus settlement of Kalibangan was situated at the confluence of these rivers.
Sothi is the site of a Pre-Indus Valley Civilisation settlement dating to as early as 4600 BCE. According to Tejas Garge, Sothi culture precedes Siswal culture considerably, and should be seen as the earlier tradition.
Sothi ceramic ware may feature painted pipal leaves, or fish scale designs. External ribbing and external cord impressions are also typical of Sothi ceramics, as are ceramic toy cart wheels and the short-stemmed dish on a stand.
Sothi ware is present at almost all the Harappa sites in the Ghaggar valley, and also to the south. The historical period represented by Sothi ware is also called Kalibangan I. Mature Harappan period is designated Kalibangan II.
Siswal, in Haryana, is located about 70 km to the east, and has similar remains. This is now known as Sothi-Siswal culture. The ancient site of Rakhigarhi is about 140 km east from Sothi, and together with Sothi and Siswal, was situated in the valley of the Chautang river. Karanpura is also located nearby along the Chautang. In the view of many scholars, Ghaggar was the ancient Sarasvati River of myth and legend, and Chautang, its tributary, was the Drishadvati river.
Sothi-Siswal culture is named after these two sites, located 70 km apart. It was widespread in Rajasthan, Haryana, and in the Indian Punjab. As many as 165 sites of this culture have been reported. There are also broad similarities between Sothi-Siswal and Kot Diji ceramics. Kot Diji culture area is located just to the northwest of the Sothi-Siswal area. Sothi-Siswal ceramics are found as far south as the Ahar-Banas culture area in southeastern Rajasthan.


Kalibangān is a town located at 29.47°N 74.13°E on the left or southern banks of the Ghaggar (Ghaggar-Hakra River) in Tehsil Pilibangān, between Suratgarh and Hanumangarh in Hanumangarh District, Rajasthan, India 205 km. from Bikaner. It is also identified as being established in the triangle of land at the confluence of Drishadvati and Sarasvati Rivers.
The prehistoric and pre-Mauryan character of Indus Valley Civilization was first identified by Luigi Tessitori at this site. Kalibangan’s excavation report was published in its entirety in 2003 by the Archaeological Survey of India, 34 years after the completion of excavations. The report concluded that Kalibangan was a major provincial capital of the Indus Valley Civilization. Kalibangan is distinguished by its unique fire altars and “world’s earliest attested ploughed field”.
The Kalibangan pre-historic site was discovered by Luigi Pio Tessitori, an Italian Indologist (1887–1919).[5] He was doing some research in ancient Indian texts and was surprised by the character of ruins in that area. He sought help from Sir John Marshall of the Archaeological Survey of India. At that time the ASI was conducting excavations at Harappa, but they were unaware of the significance of the ruins. In fact, Tessitori was the first person to recognize that the ruins were ‘Prehistoric’ and pre-Mauryan. Luigi Pio Tessitori also pointed out the nature of the culture, but at that time it was not possible to guess that the ruins of Kalibangan lay within the Indus Valley Civilisation. He died five years before the Harappan culture was formally recognized.
After India’s independence, both the major Harappan cities together with the Indus became a part of Pakistan and Indian archaeologists were compelled to intensify the search for Harappan sites in India. Amlānand Ghosh (Ex. Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, or ASI) was the first person to recognise this site as Harappan and marked it out for excavations.[6] Under the leadership of B. B. Lal (then Director General, ASI), Balkrishna (B.K.) Thapar, M. D. Khare, K. M. Shrivastava and S. P. Jain carried out excavations for 9 years (1960-9) in 9 successive excavation sessions. Two ancient mounds were excavated, spread over half a kilometre (an area of a quarter square kilometre). On the western side is the smaller mound (KLB1), 9 meters high and known as the citadel. The Eastern mound, which is higher (12 meters) and bigger, is known as the lower city (KLB2).
The excavation unexpectedly brought to light a twofold sequence of cultures, of which the upper one (Kalibangan I) belongs to the Harappan, showing the characteristic grid layout of a metropolis and the lower one (Kalibangan II) was formerly called pre-Harappan but is now called “Early Harappan or antecedent Harappan”.[7] Other nearby sites belonging to IVC include Balu, Kunal, Banawali etc.
Traces of pre-Harappan culture have been found only at the lower levels of the western mound. According to archaeological evidence, the Indus Valley culture existed at the site from the proto-Harappan age (3500 BC – 2500 BC) to the Harappan age (2500 BC – 1750 BC). This earlier phase is labelled Kalibangan-I (KLB-I) or Period-I. Similarity of pottery relates Kalibangan-I with the Sothi culture because a lot of this pottery was later discovered at Sothi village in North Western India.
In this phase, the settlement was fortified, using dried mud bricks, from the beginning of occupation. This fort had been built twice in different periods. Earlier, fort wall had a thickness of 1.9 meters, which was raised to 3.7-4.1 meters during reconstruction in this phase. Brick size was 20 × 20 × 10 cm in both construction-phases.
The citadel mound (smaller mound) is a parallelogram about 130 meters on the east-west axis and 260 meters on the north-south. Town planning was like that of Mohenjodaro or Harappa. The direction of houses and brick sizes was markedly different from that used in the Harappan phase (KLB-II).
Within the walled area, the houses were also built of mud bricks of the same size as used in the fort wall; the use of burnt bricks is attested by a drain within the houses, remains of ovens and cylindrical pits, lined with lime plaster. Some burnt wedge shaped bricks have also been found.
B. B. Lal, former DG of ASI writes, “Kalibangan in Rajasthan has given the evidence of the earliest (c. 2800 BC) ploughed agricultural field[10] ever revealed through an excavation.”.[11][12] It has been found south east of the pre-Harappan settlement, outside the fort. “Kalibangan excavations in present western Rajasthan shows a ploughed field, the first site of this nature in the world. It shows a grid pattern of furrows, placed about 30 cm apart running east-west and other spaced about 190 cm apart running north-south, a pattern remarkably similar to the one practiced even now.”.[13] Even today, similar ploughing is used for two simultaneous crops in this region, esp. of mustard and gram. In order to preserve it, this excavated ploughed field area was refilled after excavation and the area was marked by concrete pillar posts.
The distinguishing mark of this early phase is pottery, characterized by six fabrics labelled A, B, C, D, E and F, which were later identified also at Sothi in North Western India.
Fabrics A, B, and D can be clubbed together. They are red painted. Fabric-A is carelessly potted in spite of use of potter’s wheel. It contains designs in light-black, often decorated with white lines. Lines, semicircles, grids, insects, flowers, leaves, trees and squares were favourite motifs. Fabric-B shows marked improvement in finishing, but the lower half was deliberately roughened. Flowers, animals were painted in black on red background.
Fabric-D contained designs of slanted lines or semicircles in some, while most pots were plain. But Fabric-C pottery was thicker and stronger. Fabric-C was distinguished by violet tinge and fine polish, with designs in black; it is the best proto-Harappan pottery in finishing. Fabric-E was light colored and Fabric-F was grey.
Among the other finds of this Period are: small blades of chalcedony and agate, sometimes serrated or backed; beads of steatite, shell, carnelian, terracotta and copper; bangles of copper, shell and terracotta; terracotta objects like a toy-cart, wheel and a broken bull; quem with mullers, a bone point, and copper celts, including an unusual axe, etc.[15][16] Toy carts suggest carts were used for transportation in early phase of Kalibangan.
B. B. Lal, former DG of ASI writes,”Kalibangan in Rajasthan … has also shown that there occurred an earthquake around 2600 BC, which brought to an end the Early Indus settlement at the site.”.[11] This is perhaps the earliest archaeologically recorded earthquake.[17] At least three pre-historic earthquakes affecting the Indus Valley Civilization at Dholavira in Khadir have been identified during 2900–1800 BC.
KLB-I phase has left 1.6 meters of continuous deposits during five distinct structural strata, the last of which was destroyed perhaps by an earthquake and the site was abandoned around 2600 BCE, soon to be settled again by Harappans.
At Kalibangan, fire altars have been discovered, similar to those found at Lothal which S.R. Rao thinks could have served no other purpose than a ritualistic one.[19] These altars suggest fire worship or worship of Agni, the god of fire. It is the only Indus Valley Civilization site where there is no evidence to suggest the worship of the “mother goddess”.
Within the fortified citadel complex, the southern half contained many (five or six) raised platforms of mud bricks, mutually separated by corridors. Stairs were attached to these platforms. Vandalism of these platforms by brick robbers makes it difficult to reconstruct the original shape of structures above them but unmistakable remnants of oval fire-pits of burnt bricks for have been found, with a Pali Peedam or sacrificial post (cylindrical or with rectangular cross-section, sometimes bricks were laid upon each other to construct such a post) in the middle of each pit and sacrificial terracotta cakes in all these fire-pits. Houses in the lower town also contain similar altars. Burnt charcoals have been found in these fire-pits. The structure of these fire-altars is reminiscent of altars, but the analogy may be coincidental, and these altars are perhaps intended for some specific (perhaps religious) purpose by the community as a whole. In some fire-altars remnants of animals have been found, which suggest a possibility of animal-sacrifice.
The official website of ASI reports : “Besides the above two principle [sic] parts of the metropolis there was also a third one-a moderate structure situated upwards of 80 m e. of the lower town containing four to five fire altars. This lonely structure may perhaps have been used for ritual purposes.[21]” Thus, fire-altars have been found in three groups: public altars in the citadel, household altars in lower town, and public altars in a third separate group. A short distance from fire altars, a well and remnants of a bathing place were found, suggesting ceremonial bath was a part of rituals.
The lower town was also a fortified parallelogram, although only traces are now left. The fort was made of mud bricks (40 × 20 × 10 cm) and three or four structural phases have been recognized. It had gates in north and west.
B. B. Lal wrote: “Well-regulated streets (were) oriented almost invariably along with the cardinal directions, thus forming a grid-iron pattern. (At Kalibangan) even the widths of these streets were in a set ratio, i.e. if the narrowest lane was one unit in width, the other streets were twice, thrice and so on. (…) Such a town-planning was unknown in contemporary West Asia.”.
The lower town was 239 meters east to west, but north-south extent cannot be determined. 8 main roads have been recognized, 5 north-south and 3 east-west. Few more east-west roads are expected to be buried within the unexcavated remains. Second east-west road ran in a curved outline to meet the first at the north-eastern end (towards the river), where a gateway was provided. This road was an anomaly in the grid-pattern of straight roads. There were many lanes connected to specific housing complexes. Roads and lanes had widths in accurately determined proportions, like in other Harappan cities, ranging from 7.2 meters for main roads to 1.8 meters for narrow lanes. Fender posts were installed at street corners to prevent accidents. In second structural level, roads were laid with mud tiles. Drains from houses emptied into pits (soakage jars) beneath the roads. Some central authority must be there to plan and regulate all this.
Like town planning, housing also followed the common pattern of other Harappan cities. Due to grid-pattern of town planning like a chess board, all houses opened out to at least two or three roads or lanes. Each house had a courtyard and 6-7 rooms on three sides, with a well in some houses. One house had stairs for going to the roof. Houses were built of 30 × 15 × 7.5 cm mud bricks (same as those used in second structural phase of fort wall). Burnt bricks were used in drains, wells, bathing platforms and door-sills, besides fire-altar. Floors of rooms were built of thrashed fine mud, sometimes laid with mud bricks or terracotta cakes. One house had floors built of burnt tiles decorated with geometrical designs.[25] Kalibangan 1953 A. Ghosh Situated in Rajasthan on the Bank of Ghaggar 1. Shows both Pre Harappan and Harappan phase 2. Evidence of furrowed land 3. Evidence of camel bones 4. Many houses had their own well 5. Kalibangan stand for black bangles 6. Evidence of wooden furrow
Some early Kalibangan pottery has close resemblance to the pottery of the Hakra ware in Cholistan, to other Early Harappan pottery from the Indus Valley Civilization and to the pottery of the Integration Era.[26] Functionally, pottery can be classified into household pots, religious and burial purposes. Structurally, we have classes like plain and decorated wares. Some pots had Harappan inscriptions (undeciphered) on them.
The best terracota figure from Kalibangan is that a charging bull which is considered to signify the “realistic and powerful folk art of Harappan Age”.[27] The city is known for the numerous terracota bangles found here.
A number of seals have been found dating to this phase. Most noteworthy is a cylindrical seal, depicting a female figure between two male figures, fighting or threatening with spears. There is also a mixed person bull observing. They are of rectangular shape.
A cylindrical graduated measuring rod and a clay ball with human figures are other notable finds. Peas and chickpeas were also found.
Three systems of burial have been attested in the burial ground ~300 yards south-west of the citadel, where ~34 graves have been found : Burial in rectangular or oval pit, with corpse laid down straight (extended), head northwards amidst pottery. In one pit a copper mirror was found among these objects. Pits were mud filled after burying. One grave was enclosed with a mud brick wall plastered from inside. One child had six holes in the skull. Many paleopathological evidences have been gathered from these graves.
Burial in pot (urn) in a circular pit, with no corpse. Four to 29 pots and utensils were placed around the main pot (urn). In some graves beads, shell, etc have been found.
Rectangular or oval grave-pit, containing only pottery and other funerary objects. Like the first type, the length of this type of graves was also along north-south. The latter two methods were not associated with any skeletal remains and may be related to symbolic burial, not found at other Harappan towns. The third type of graves contained objects as in the second type, like beads, shells, etc., but no corpse. Some pits were not filled.
Robert Raikes[30] has argued that Kalibangan was abandoned because the river dried up. Prof. B. B. Lal (retd. Director General of Archaeological Survey of India) supports this view by asserting: “Radiocarbon dates indicate that the Mature Harappan settlement at Kalibangan had to be abandoned around 2000–1900 BCE. And, as the hydrological evidence indicates, this abandonment took place on account of the drying up of the Sarasvati (Ghaggar). This latter part is duly established by the work of Raikes, an Italian hydrologist, and of his Indian collaborators”.
Kalibangan name translates to “black bangles” (“Kālā”, in Hindi, means black and “bangan” means bangles). A few miles downstream is the railway station and township named Pilibangā, which means Yellow Bangles.
ASI set up a Archaeological Museum at Kālibangan in 1983 to store the excavated materials here during 1961-69. In one gallery, Pre-Harappan finds are displayed, while Harappan finds are displayed in the other two galleries.


Siswal is a village in Hisar district, Haryana, India. It is a site of Chalcolithic age. It is a typesite for Siswal culture dating around 3800 BC, also known as Sothi-Siswal culture.
The related site of Sothi (archaeology) is located in Rajasthan, about 70 km to the west of Siswal. The large archaeological site of Rakhigarhi is about 70 km to the east. All three ancient settlements are situated in the plain of the ancient Chautang river, that was flowing east to west in this area. Chautang, in its turn, was a tributary of the ancient Ghaggar river, that was also flowing east to west, and parallel to Ghaggar just to the north. Kalibangan is situated close to the confluence of these two rivers.
Siswal is a site of early Harappan culture, otherwise known as “Pre-Harappan” civilization. The Pre-Harappans were known to live in mud houses with thatched roofs. The culture focused mainly on agriculture as an occupation, domesticating animals such as cows, bulls, pigs and goats. They used wheel made red pottery which was often painted on.
They were said to have a black complexion, with curly hair and a flat nose, and according to archaeologists, stayed in the Haryana area around 2700 BC. Due to these features, Siswal is a village of great archaeological importance within the Indian subcontinent.
The Indus Valley Civilization ceramic period of Sothi-Siswal culture was relevant within the civilization. Sites around Siswal were excavated by archaeologist Suraj Bhan in different phases revealing an remarkable cultural sequence. Sothi, also in Haryana, has similar cultural remains.
During a three year period from 1967, Bhan was able to excavate ninety seven sites in the area in order to reach conclusions on the Harappan culture. Upon conducting the small scale excavations, Suraj Bhan was able date a time period ranging from Kalibangan to Late Harappan culture within the region. From here, he brought light to ceramic industry associated with the region known as Siswal, given the same name of the area that these ceramics are found in.
Early Indus Valley Civilization ceramic now as of recent have been classified in order to make a datum line for ceramic studies in this area. Known as the ‘six fabrics of Kalibanagan’, this term is now known by most scholars who are working within this area of archaeological research.
According to Tejas Garge, Sothi culture precedes Siswal culture considerably. Sothi culture may be as early as 4600 BCE, while the earliest Siswal A layer is dated 3800-3200 BCE, and is equivalent to the Middle and Upper layers of Sothi.
The mound located within the village of Siswal is 300m to the north of the village on the left bank of the Chautang Canal as reported by Bhan. The maximum habitation deposit found here was 1.25 m above the natural soil.
The cultural deposit is divided into Siswal A and Siswal B in which A was characterized by the presence of classical Kalibangan I – A to E fabrics. Bhan has also noted a clear trend of evolution in typology from the lowest to the upper levels. A few examples of the sherds found at the site are described in the words of Bhan himself below:
Miniature pot of red ware with short out-curved rim and thick horizontal black band on neck and lower part of body portion, Upper portion of the red ware jar with simple out-turned rim and black slip on the rim and neck portion, Fragment of a red ware sherd with horizontal black band on the rim portions and incisions in form of horizontal and criss-cross lines, Fragment of central portion of a red ware dish with incisions in form of concentric circle, knob (?), shaped like mushroom, 9 cm in height solid, on top potion a circular concentric circle incised with fish motif within.
Upon the excavations at Siswal, Suraj Bhan put forward an idea of the existence of a parallel culture to the Harappans within the region.
The ceramic industry of Siswal is divisible into three groups, Siswal A yielded the Kalibangan I Ware, with all the typical fabrics (A to F).
Fabric A is painted with white pigment in addition to the black.
In Siswal B, the late Siswal phase, both the Late Siswal and the Harappan Wares are found. This second phase is characterized by the austerity in shape and design, along with a disappearance of painted white pigment. Better potting technique can also be seen within this second group. It is marked by evolved Kalibangan I shapes bearing only black paintings.
Although all the six fabrics survive in the ware, it lacks in variety in shapes and designs and is generally sturdier and better plotted than the Kalibangan I ware of the earlier phase. In accordance to this, Bhan separated non-Harappan sites on presence of a worn out medium thick red ware treated with red slip and painted with black bands, though he admits similar typology and firing with these and Siswal wear.
Lastly the third and final group is characterized by the appearance of medium fabric made through a fast wheel and treated with a red slip in the case of vessels.
Along with these artifacts found at the Siswal site, others found include terracota bangles with black paint strokes, terracota beads, terracota sling-balls, and terracota triangular cakes.
Due to the abundance of Harrapan archaeological history within the Siswal area, the site continues to be a hot spot within the country of India for tourism as well as archaeological inquiry.
Similar pottery is also found at Lohari Ragho.


Karanpura is an archeological site near Bhadra city of Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan, India. It belongs with ancient Indus Valley Civilization. Harappan pottery has been found after excavation.

Karanpura is located on Nohar-Bhadra road near Bhadra city of Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan, India. Administrationally Karanpura is in Bhadra tehsil of Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan. It is 8 km in the west from Bhadra and 125 km in the south-east from district headquarters Hanumangarh. Other famous Harappan site of this district Kalibangan is about 120 km in the west from Karanpura.
The excavation was done by a team under archeologist V N Prbhakar, archeological department of India, New Delhi.
The archeologists have found pottery and articles of Harappan period.[1] Excavations discovered many mud brick houses from early Harappan(3300-2600 BCE) to mature Harappan (2600-1900 BCE) periods.
Within the site, Harappan pottery, terracotta bangles, grinding stone fragments, beads of agate, and a terracotta figurine have been excavated.[2] Using the artifacts discovered at the site, trade routes have been linked that reach as far as Afghanistan during the Harappan civilization. Despite being small in size compared to other Harappan sites, the ancient city was a major long-distance trading hub.
Within the site, a rare discovery of 4 complete rhino bones was found, suggesting that the surrounding area was inhabitable with rhino.
A copper mirror was also found at the site, a rarity in Harappan culture, but more evidence of their extensive trading.
Pottery preceding Harappan culture has also been found within the site.[3] Continuous findings within the site for up to 3 meters suggest a continuous occupation roughly since 2800 BCE.
Early Harappan findings of copper and lapis lazuli indicate long-standing acquisition and trade of raw materials up to the mature Harappan period. Steatite seals and an abundance of graffiti was also discovered within the mature Harappan portion of the site.[4]
Terracota like pottery and bangles which are similar with findings at other Harappan sites were found. On January 2013 a skeleton of child has been found. Seals similar to other Harppan sites also has been found in 2013–2014.[5]
See also
Balu, Haryana Indus Valley Civilization site
Banawali Indus Valley Civilization site
Baror Indus Valley Civilization site
Bhirrana Indus Valley Civilization site
Ganeriwala Indus Valley Civilization site
Kalibangan Indus Valley Civilization site
Kunal, Haryana Indus Valley Civilization site
Mitathal Indus Valley Civilization site
Rakhigarhi Indus Valley Civilization site
Sothi Indus Valley Civilization site
Rakhigarhi, Rakhi Garhi (Rakhi Shahpur + Rakhi Khas), is a village in Hisar District in the state of Haryana in India, situated 150 kilometers to the northwest of Delhi. It is the site of a pre-Indus Valley Civilisation settlement going back to about 6500 BCE.[2] Later, it was also part of the mature Indus Valley Civilisation, dating to 2600-1900 BCE.[3] The site is located in the Sarasvati river plain,[4] some 27 km from the seasonal Ghaggar river.
Rakhigarhi encompasses a set of seven mounds, and there are many more settlement mounds in the immediate vicinity.[5] Not all of them were occupied at the same time. Depending on which mounds to include, the estimates of the size of Rakhigarhi have been given variously as between 80 and 550 hectares.[6][7][8] In January 2014, the discovery of additional mounds resulted in it becoming the largest Indus Valley Civilization site, overtaking Mohenjodaro (300 Hectares) by almost 50 hectares, resulting in almost 350 hectares.[9]
The size and uniqueness of Rakhigarhi has drawn much attention of archaeologists all over the world. It is nearer to Delhi than other major sites, indicating the spread of the Indus Valley Civilization east across North India. Much of the area is yet to be excavated[10] and published.[11]:215 Another related site in the area is Mitathal, which is still awaiting excavation.
In May 2012, the Global Heritage Fund, declared Rakhigarhi one of the 10 most endangered heritage sites in Asia.[12] A study by the Sunday Times, found that the site is not being looked after, the iron boundary wall is broken, and villagers sell the artefacts they dig out of the site and parts of site are now being encroached by private houses.[13]
1 Location
2 Excavations
2.1 Dating
3 Area
4 Discoveries
5 Granary
5.1 Cemetery
6 Museum
7 See also
8 Notes
9 External links
10 References
It is located in the Ghaggar-Hakra river plain,[14] some 27 km from the seasonal Ghaggar river. Today, Rakhigarhi is a small village in Haryana State, India.[15]
There are many other important archaeological sites in this area, in the old river valley to the east of the Ghaggar Plain. Among them are Kalibangan, Kunal, Haryana, Balu, Haryana, Bhirrana, and Banawali.[5]
According to Jane McIntosh, Rakhigarhi is located in the valley of the prehistoric Drishadvati River that originated in Siwalik Hills.[16] Chautang is a tributary of Sarsuti river which in turn is tributary of Ghaggar river (Drishadvati River).[17][18]}
Lohari Ragho is a smaller site nearby.
The ASI excavated the place for three winters, starting from 1997. The excavation has been stopped for years because of a CBI investigation on the misuse of funds.[19] Much of the findings are donated to the National Museum, New Delhi.
In 1963, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) began excavations at this site, and, though little has been published about the excavations.[20][21] Further excavations were conducted the ASI headed by the archaeologist, Amarendra Nath, between 1997 and 2000.[22][note 1] The more recent excavations have been performed by Vasant Shinde, an archaeologist from the Deccan College, Pune, Maharashtra.[23]
The ASI’s detailed excavation of the site revealed the size of the lost city and recovered numerous artefacts, some over 5,000 years old. Rakhigarhi was occupied at Early Harappan times.[10][24] Evidence of paved roads, drainage system, large rainwater collection, storage system, terracotta bricks, statue production, and skilled working of bronze and precious metals have been uncovered.[citation needed] Jewellery, including bangles made from terracotta, conch shells, gold, and semi-precious stones, have also been found.[25]
There are nine mounds in Rakhigarhi which are named RGR-1 to RGR-9, of which RGR-5 is thickly populated by establishment of Rakhishahpur village and is not available for excavations. RGR-1 to RGR-3, RGR6 to RGR9 and some part of RGR-4 are available for excavations.[24][26][27]
In 2014 six radiocarbon datings from excavations al Rakhigarhi between 1997 and 2000 were published, corresponding to the three periods at the site as per archaeologist Amarendra Nath (Pre-formative, Early Harappan, and Mature Harappan). Mound RGR-6 revealed a Pre-formative stage designated as Sothi Phase with the following two datings: {\displaystyle 6420\pm 110}{\displaystyle 6420\pm 110} and {\displaystyle 6230\pm 320}{\displaystyle 6230\pm 320} years before present, converted to {\displaystyle 4470\pm 110}{\displaystyle 4470\pm 110} B.C.E. and {\displaystyle 4280\pm 320}{\displaystyle 4280\pm 320} B.C.E.[5]
Most scholars, including Gregory Possehl, Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, Raymond Allchin and Rita P. Wright believe it to be between 80 hectares and 100+ hectares in area.[4][6][28][29][30][31] Furthermore, Possehl did not believe that all mounds in Rakhigarhi belong to the same Indus Valley settlement, stating, “RGR-6, a Sothi-Siswal site known as Arda, was probably a separate settlement.”[6]
Amarendra Nath’s who did excavations between 1997 and 2000, reported that the site covers more than 300 hectares (3.0 km2) in size with 7 mounds, five of which are integrated.[8] With new find of two additional mounds of 25 hectares each in 2014-15 during joint excavations conducted by the Haryana Archaeological Department, Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute and Seoul National University, the site has now been found much larger to be over 350 hectares (3.5 km2), making it the largest Indus Valley Civilization site and town in the world.[1]
A skeleton from Rakhigarhi on display in the National Museum.
Digging so far reveals a well planned city with 1.92 m wide roads, a bit wider than in Kalibangan. The pottery is similar to Kalibangan and Banawali. Pits surrounded by walls have been found, which are thought to be for sacrificial or some religious ceremonies. There are brick lined drains to handle sewage from the houses. Terracotta statues, weights, bronze artefacts, comb, copper fish hooks, needles and terracotta seals have also been found. A bronze vessel has been found which is decorated with gold and silver. A gold foundry with about 3000 unpolished semi-precious stones has been found. Many tools used for polishing these stones and a furnace were found there. A burial site has been found with 11 skeletons, with their heads in the north direction. Near the heads of these skeletons, utensils for everyday use were kept. The three female skeletons have shell bangles on their left wrists. Near one female skeleton, a gold armlet has been found. In addition semi precious stones have been found lying near the head, suggesting that they were part of some sort of necklace.
In April 2015, four complete human skeletons were excavated from mound RGR-7. These skeletons belonged to two male adults, one female adult and one child. Pottery with grains of food as well as shell bangles were found around these skeletons.[32]
As the skeletons were excavated scientifically without any contamination, archaeologists think that with the help of latest technology on these skeletons and DNA obtained,[33] it is possible to determine how Harappans looked like 4500 years ago.[34] DNA tests have been carried out on a single skeleton. Results announced in September 2018 showed that the skeleton had no Steppe DNA which may support the idea that Steppe DNA was introduced to India later by the Indo-Aryans.[35][36][37][38]
Fire altars and apsidal structures were revealed in Rakhigarhi.[26]
Hunting tools like copper hafts and fish hooks have been found here. Presence of various toys like mini wheels, miniature lids, sling balls, animal figurines indicates a prevalence of toy culture. Signs of flourishing trade can be seen by the excavation of stamps, jewelry and ‘chert’ weights. Weights found here are similar to weights found at many other IVC sites confirming presence of standardized weight systems.[39]
Cotton cloth traces preserved on silver or bronze objects were known from Rakhigarhi, Chanhudaro and Harappa.[11]:333 An impressive number of stamps seals were also found at this site.[10]
So far 53 burial sites with 46 skeletons have been discovered. Anthropological examination done on 37 skeletons revealed 17 to be of adults, 8 to be of subadults while the age of 12 skeletons could not be verified. Sex detection of 17 skeletons was successful out of which 7 were Male and 10 Female skeletons. Most of the burials were typical burials with skeletons in a supine position. Atypical burials had skeletons in a prone position. Some graves are just pits while some are brick lined with lots of pottery in it. Some of them also had votive pots with Animal remains symbolizing offerings to the dead. Bone remains of secondary burials were not charred hence ruling out the possibility of cremation practices. While these burials retained many of the Harappan features, group burials and prone position burials are distinct. Paleo-parasitical studies and DNA analysis to determine the lineage is being undertaken.[40][41]
A granary belonging to mature Harappan phase (2600 BCE to 2000 BCE) has been found here. Granary is made up of mud-bricks with a floor of ramped earth plastered with mud. It has 7 rectangular or square chambers. Significant traces of lime & decomposed grass are found on the lower portion of the granary wall indicating that it can also be the storehouse of grains with lime used as insecticide & grass used to prevent entry of moisture. Looking at the size, it appears to be a public granary or a private granary of elites.[42]
A cemetery of Mature Harappan period is discovered at Rakhigarhi, with eight graves found. Often brick covered grave pits had wooden coffin in one case.[10] Different type of grave pits were undercut to form an earthen overhang and body was placed below this; and then top of grave was filled with bricks to form a roof structure over the grave.[11]:293
Parasite eggs which were once existed in the stomach of those buried were found in the burial sites along with human skeletons. Analysis of Human aDNA obtained from human bones as well as analysis of parasite and animal DNA will be done to assert origins of these people.[43][44]
Main article: Rakhigarhi Indus Valley Civilisation Museum
See also: Haryana Rural Antique Museum and Jahaj Kothi Museum
Rakhigarhi, which is an Indus Valley Civilisation site, also has a museum developed by the state government.[45]
There is also Haryana Rural Antique Museum 60 km away, which is maintained by CCS HAU in its Gandhi Bhawan, exhibits evolution of agriculture and vanishing antiques.[46] Jahaj Kothi Museum, named after George Thomas, is located inside Firoz Shah Palace Complex and maintained by Archaeological Survey of India.[47]
See also
flag India portal
List of Indus Valley Civilization sites
List of Monuments of National Importance in Haryana
Ahar culture
The Ahar culture, also known as the Banas culture is a Chalcolithic archaeological culture on the banks of Ahar River of southeastern Rajasthan state in India,[1] lasting from c. 3000 to 1500 BCE, contemporary and adjacent to the Indus Valley Civilization. Situated along the Banas and Berach Rivers, as well as the Ahar River, the Ahar–Banas people were exploiting the copper ores of the Aravalli Range to make axes and other artefacts. They were sustained on a number of crops, including wheat and barley.
More than 90 sites of the Ahar culture have been identified to date. The main distribution seems to be concentrated in the river valleys of Banas and its tributaries. A number of sites with Ahar culture level are also found from Jawad, Mandsaur, Kayatha and Dangwada in Madhya Pradesh state. In Rajasthan, most of the sites are located in Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Dungarpur, Banswara, Ajmer, Tonk and Bhilwara districts, which include, Ahar, Gilund, Bansen, Keli, Balathal, Alod, Palod, Khor, Amoda, Nangauli, Champakheri, Tarawat, Fachar, Phinodra, Joera, Darauli, Gadriwas, Purani Marmi, Aguncha and Ojiyana.[1]
In 2003 excavations at Gilund, archaeologists discovered a large cache of seal impressions dating to 2100–1700 BC. A large bin filled with more than 100 seal impressions was found by a team led by archaeologists from the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the Deccan College (Pune).
The design motifs of the seals are generally quite simple, with wide-ranging parallels from various Indus Civilization sites. But also, there are parallels with seals from the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) in Central Asia and northern Afghanistan, 1,000 miles to the northwest.[2]
Ceramic assemblage
Typical Ahar pottery is a Black-and-Red ware (BRW) with linear and dotted designs painted on it in white pigment[3] and has a limited range of shapes, which include bowls, bowls-on-stands, elongated vases and globular vases. The Ahar culture also had equally distinctive brightly slipped Red Ware, a Tan ware, ceramics in Burnished Black that were incised Thin Red ware, as well as incised and otherwise decorated Gray ware fabrics.[1]
The pottery had a black top and reddish bottom, with paintings in white on the black surface. Because of these distinctive features, Ahar, when it was first noticed by R C Agrawal, was called the “black and red ware culture”.[citation needed] This is in a way true, because this was primarily the pottery used by the inhabitants of Ahar for drinking and eating. They used fine and deluxe table-ware like the china-ware or stainless steel we use today. However, a subsequent and more extensive excavation showed that the Ahar people produced other kinds of fine and distinctive pottery as well.
Harappa (Punjabi pronunciation: [ɦəɽəppaː]; Urdu/Punjabi: ہڑپّہ) is an archaeological site in Punjab, Pakistan, about 24 km (15 mi) west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River which now runs 8 km (5.0 mi) to the north. The current village of Harappa is less than 1 km (0.62 mi) from the ancient site. Although modern Harappa has a legacy railway station from the British Raj period, it is a small crossroads town of 15,000 people today.
The site of the ancient city contains the ruins of a Bronze Age fortified city, which was part of the Indus Valley Civilisation centred in Sindh and the Punjab, and then the Cemetery H culture.[1] The city is believed to have had as many as 23,500 residents and occupied about 150 hectares (370 acres) with clay brick houses at its greatest extent during the Mature Harappan phase (2600 BC – 1900 BC), which is considered large for its time.[2][3] Per archaeological convention of naming a previously unknown civilisation by its first excavated site, the Indus Valley Civilisation is also called the Harappan Civilisation.
The ancient city of Harappa was heavily damaged under British rule, when bricks from the ruins were used as track ballast in the construction of the Lahore–Multan Railway. In 2005, a controversial amusement park scheme at the site was abandoned when builders unearthed many archaeological artifacts during the early stages of building work.[4] A plea from the Pakistani archaeologist Mohit Prem Kumar to the Ministry of Culture resulted in a restoration of the site.
Map showing the sites and extent of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Harappa was the center of one of the core regions of the Indus Valley Civilization, located in central Punjab. The Harappan architecture and Harappan Civilisation was one of the most developed in the old Bronze Age.
The Harappan Civilisation has its earliest roots in cultures such as that of Mehrgarh, approximately 6000 BC. The two greatest cities, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, emerged circa 2600 BC along the Indus River valley in Punjab and Sindh.[5] The civilisation, with a possible writing system, urban centers, and diversified social and economic system, was rediscovered in the 1920s also after excavations at Mohenjo-daro in Sindh near Larkana, and Harappa, in west Punjab south of Lahore. A number of other sites stretching from the Himalayan foothills in east Punjab, India in the north, to Gujarat in the south and east, and to Pakistani Balochistan in the west have also been discovered and studied. Although the archaeological site at Harappa was damaged in 1857[6] when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artifacts have nevertheless been found.[7] The bricks discovered were made of red sand, clay, stones and were baked at very high temperature. As early as 1826 Harappa, located in west Punjab, attracted the attention of Daya Ram Sahni, who gets credit for preliminary excavations of Harappa.
Culture and economy
The Indus Valley civilisation was mainly an urban culture sustained by surplus agricultural production and commerce, the latter including trade with Sumer in southern Mesopotamia. Both Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa are generally characterized as having “differentiated living quarters, flat-roofed brick houses, and fortified administrative or religious centers.”[8] Although such similarities have given rise to arguments for the existence of a standardized system of urban layout and planning, the similarities are largely due to the presence of a semi-orthogonal type of civic layout, and a comparison of the layouts of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa shows that they are in fact, arranged in a quite dissimilar fashion.
The weights and measures of the Indus Valley Civilisation, on the other hand, were highly standardized, and conform to a set scale of gradations. Distinctive seals were used, among other applications, perhaps for identification of property and shipment of goods. Although copper and bronze were in use, iron was not yet employed. “Cotton was woven and dyed for clothing; wheat, rice, and a variety of vegetables and fruits were cultivated; and a number of animals, including the humped bull, were domesticated,”[8] as well as “fowl for fighting”.[9] Wheel-made pottery—some of it adorned with animal and geometric motifs—has been found in profusion at all the major Indus sites. A centralized administration for each city, though not the whole civilisation, has been inferred from the revealed cultural uniformity; however, it remains uncertain whether authority lay with a commercial oligarchy. Harappans had many trade routes along the Indus River that went as far as the Persian Gulf, Mesopotamia, and Egypt. Some of the most valuable things traded were carnelian and lapis lazuli.[10]
What is clear is that Harappan society was not entirely peaceful, with the human skeletal remains demonstrating some of the highest rates of injury (15.5%) found in South Asian prehistory.[11] Paleopathological analysis demonstrated that leprosy and tuberculosis were present at Harappa, with the highest prevalence of both disease and trauma present in the skeletons from Area G (an ossuary located south-east of the city walls).[12] Furthermore, rates of cranio-facial trauma and infection increased through time demonstrating that the civilisation collapsed amid illness and injury. The bioarchaeologists who examined the remains have suggested that the combined evidence for differences in mortuary treatment and epidemiology indicate that some individuals and communities at Harappa were excluded from access to basic resources like health and safety, a basic feature of hierarchical societies worldwide.[12]
A map of the excavations at Harappa
Miniature Votive Images or Toy Models from Harappa, ca. 2500. Hand-modeled terra-cotta figurines with polychromy.
The excavators of the site have proposed the following chronology of Harappa’s occupation:[3]
Ravi Aspect of the Hakra phase, c. 3300 – 2800 BC.
Kot Dijian (Early Harappan) phase, c. 2800 – 2600 BC.
Harappan Phase, c. 2600 – 1900 BC.
Transitional Phase, c. 1900 – 1800 BC.
Late Harappan Phase, c. 1800 – 1300 BC.
By far the most exquisite and obscure artifacts unearthed to date are the small, square steatite (soapstone) seals engraved with human or animal motifs. A large number of seals have been found at such sites as Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Many bear pictographic inscriptions generally thought to be a form of writing or script.[citation needed] Despite the efforts of philologists from all parts of the world, and despite the use of modern cryptographic analysis, the signs remain undeciphered. It is also unknown if they reflect proto-Dravidian or other non-Vedic language(s). The ascribing of Indus Valley Civilisation iconography and epigraphy to historically known cultures is extremely problematic, in part due to the rather tenuous archaeological evidence for such claims, as well as the projection of modern South Asian political concerns onto the archaeological record of the area. This is especially evident in the radically varying interpretations of Harappan material culture as seen from both Pakistan- and India-based scholars.[original research?][citation needed]
In February 2006 a school teacher in the village of Sembian-Kandiyur in Tamil Nadu discovered a stone celt (tool) with an inscription estimated to be up to 3,500 years old.[13] [14] Indian epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan postulated that the four signs were in the Indus script and called the find “the greatest archaeological discovery of a century in Tamil Nadu”.[13] Based on this evidence he goes on to suggest that the language used in the Indus Valley was of Dravidian origin. However, the absence of a Bronze Age in South India, contrasted with the knowledge of bronze making techniques in the Indus Valley cultures, calls into question the validity of this hypothesis.
Early symbols similar to Indus script
Clay and stone tablets unearthed at Harappa, which were carbon dated 3300–3200 BC., contain trident-shaped and plant-like markings. “It is a big question as to if we can call what we have found true writing, but we have found symbols that have similarities to what became Indus script” said Dr. Richard Meadow of Harvard University, Director of the Harappa Archeological Research Project.[15] This primitive writing is placed slightly earlier than primitive writings of the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, dated c.3100 BC.[15] These markings have similarities to what later became Indus Script.[15]
Harappa. Fragment of Large Deep Vessel, circa 2500 B.C. Red pottery with red and black slip-painted decoration, 4 15/16 × 6 1/8 in. (12.5 × 15.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum
Statuettes from Harappa
The controversial Harappa male torso (left). The discoverer, Madho Sarup Vats, claimed a Harappan date, but Marshall dated the statuette to Gupta period.[16] Another famous statuette from the site is the Harappa grey stone male dancer (right).
The earliest radiocarbon dating mentioned on the web is 2725±185 BC (uncalibrated) or 3338, 3213, 3203 BC calibrated, giving a midpoint of 3251 BC. Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark (1991) Urban process in the Indus Tradition: A preliminary report. In Harappa Excavations, 1986–1990: A multidisciplinary approach to Second Millennium urbanism, edited by Richard H. Meadow: 29–59. Monographs in World Archaeology No.3. Prehistory Press, Madison Wisconsin.
Periods 4 and 5 are not dated at Harappa. The termination of the Harappan tradition at Harappa falls between 1900 and 1500 BC.
Mohenjo-daro is another major city of the same period, located in Sindh province of Pakistan. One of its most well-known structures is the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro.
See also
Charles Masson – First European explorer of Harappa
Harappan architecture
Mandi, Uttar Pradesh, India
Sheri Khan Tarakai
Sokhta Koh
Kankali Tila


Mehrgarh is a Neolithic (7000-3200 BC) site on the Kachi plain of Balochistan, Pakistan, and one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in south Asia. The site is located on the principal route between what is now Afghanistan and the Indus Valley.
A number of terracotta figurines have been found from sites in Mehrgarh dating from the 4th millennium BC. These represent the earliest forms of female imagery (formerly believed to represent the ‘mother goddess’) found in the subcontinent.
Indo-Iranian peoples, also known as Indo-Iranic peoples by scholars, and sometimes as Arya or Aryans from their self-designation, were a group of Indo-European peoples who brought the Indo-Iranian languages, a major branch of the Indo-European language family, to major parts of Eurasia in the second part of the 3rd millennium BCE. They eventually branched out into Iranian peoples and Indo-Aryan peoples.
The term Aryan has been used historically to denote the Indo-Iranians, because Arya is the self designation of the ancient speakers of the Indo-Iranian languages, specifically the Iranian and the Indo-Aryan peoples, collectively known as the Indo-Iranians.
Some scholars now use the term Indo-Iranian to refer to this group, while the term “Aryan” is used to mean “Indo-Iranian” by other scholars such as Josef Wiesehofer, Will Durant, and Jaakko Häkkinen. Population geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza, in his 1994 book The History and Geography of Human Genes, also uses the term Aryan to describe the Indo-Iranians.
The early Indo-Iranians are commonly identified with the descendants of the Proto-Indo-Europeans known as the Sintashta culture and the subsequent Andronovo culture within the broader Andronovo horizon, and their homeland with an area of the Eurasian steppe that borders the Ural River on the west, the Tian Shan on the east (where the Indo-Iranians took over the area occupied by the earlier Afanasevo culture), and Transoxiana and the Hindu Kush on the south.
Based on its use by Indo-Aryans in Mitanni and Vedic India, its prior absence in the Near East and Harappan India, and its 19th–20th century BC attestation at the Andronovo site of Sintashta, Kuzmina (1994) argues that the chariot corroborates the identification of Andronovo as Indo-Iranian.
Anthony & Vinogradov (1995) dated a chariot burial at Krivoye Lake to about 2000 BC, and a Bactria-Margiana burial that also contains a foal has recently been found, indicating further links with the steppes.
Historical linguists broadly estimate that a continuum of Indo-Iranian languages probably began to diverge by 2000 BC, if not earlier, preceding both the Vedic and Iranian cultures.
The earliest recorded forms of these languages, Vedic Sanskrit and Gathic Avestan, are remarkably similar, descended from the common Proto-Indo-Iranian language. The origin and earliest relationship between the Nuristani languages and that of the Iranian and Indo-Aryan groups is not completely clear.
Scheme of Indo-European migrations from c. 4000 to 1000 BC according to the Kurgan hypothesis. The magenta area corresponds to the assumed Urheimat (Samara culture, Sredny Stog culture). The red area corresponds to the area which may have been settled by Indo-European-speaking peoples up to c. 2500 BC; the orange area to 1000 BC.
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan movements.
Two-wave models of Indo-Iranian expansion have been proposed by Burrow (1973) and Parpola (1999). The Indo-Iranians and their expansion are strongly associated with the Proto-Indo-European invention of the chariot.
It is assumed that this expansion spread from the Proto-Indo-European homeland north of the Caspian sea south to the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Iranian plateau, and Northern India. They also expanded into Mesopotamia and Syria and introduced the horse and chariot culture to this part of the world.
The Mitanni, a people known in eastern Anatolia from about 1500 BC, were of mixed origins: a Hurrian-speaking majority was dominated by a non-Anatolian, Indo-Aryan elite.
There is linguistic evidence for such a superstrate, in the form of: a horse training manual written by a Mitanni man named Kikkuli, which was used by the Hittites, an Indo-European Anatolian people; the names of Mitanni rulers and; the names of gods invoked by these rulers in treaties.
In particular, Kikkuli’s text includes words such as aika “one” (i.e. a cognate of the Indo-Aryan eka), tera “three” (tri), panza “five” (pancha), satta “seven”, (sapta), na “nine” (nava), and vartana “turn around”, in the context of a horse race (Indo-Aryan vartana).
In a treaty between the Hittites and the Mitanni, the Ashvin deities Mitra, Varuna, Indra, and Nasatya are invoked. These loanwords tend to connect the Mitanni superstrate to Indo-Aryan rather than Iranian languages – i.e. the early Iranian word for “one” was aiva.
The standard model for the entry of the Indo-European languages into the Indian subcontinent is that this first wave went over the Hindu Kush, either into the headwaters of the Indus and later the Ganges. The earliest stratum of Vedic Sanskrit, preserved only in the Rigveda, is assigned to roughly 1500 BC.
From the Indus, the Indo-Aryan languages spread from c. 1500 BC to c. 500 BC, over the northern and central parts of the subcontinent, sparing the extreme south. The Indo-Aryans in these areas established several powerful kingdoms and principalities in the region, from south eastern Afghanistan to the doorstep of Bengal.
The most powerful of these kingdoms were the post-Rigvedic Kuru (in Kurukshetra and the Delhi area) and their allies the Pañcālas further east, as well as Gandhara and later on, about the time of the Buddha, the kingdom of Kosala and the quickly expanding realm of Magadha. The latter lasted until the 4th century BC, when it was conquered by Chandragupta Maurya and formed the center of the Mauryan empire.
In eastern Afghanistan and southwestern Pakistan, whatever Indo-Aryan languages were spoken there were eventually pushed out by the Iranian languages. Most Indo-Aryan languages, however, were and still are prominent in the rest of the Indian subcontinent. Today, Indo-Aryan languages are spoken in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Suriname and the Maldives.
The second wave is interpreted as the Iranian wave. The first Iranians to reach the Black Sea may have been the Cimmerians in the 8th century BC, although their linguistic affiliation is uncertain. They were followed by the Scythians, who are considered a western branch of the Central Asian Sakas.
Sarmatian tribes, of whom the best known are the Roxolani (Rhoxolani), Iazyges (Jazyges) and the Alani (Alans), followed the Scythians westwards into Europe in the late centuries BC and the 1st and 2nd centuries AD (The Age of Migrations).
The populous Sarmatian tribe of the Massagetae, dwelling near the Caspian Sea, were known to the early rulers of Persia in the Achaemenid Period. At their greatest reported extent, around 1st century AD, the Sarmatian tribes ranged from the Vistula River to the mouth of the Danube and eastward to the Volga, bordering the shores of the Black and Caspian seas as well as the Caucasus to the south. In the east, the Saka occupied several areas in Xinjiang, from Khotan to Tumshuq.
The Medians, Persians and Parthians begin to appear on the Iranian plateau from c. 800 BC, and the Achaemenids replaced Elamite rule from 559 BC. Around the first millennium AD, Iranian groups began to settle on the eastern edge of the Iranian plateau, on the mountainous frontier of northwestern and western Pakistan, displacing the earlier Indo-Aryans from the area.
In Eastern Europe, the Iranians were eventually decisively assimilated (e.g. Slavicisation) and absorbed by the Proto-Slavic population of the region, while in Central Asia, the Turkic languages marginalized the Iranian languages as a result of the Turkic expansion of the early centuries AD.
Extant major Iranian languages are Persian, Pashto, Kurdish, and Balochi besides numerous smaller ones. Ossetian, primarily spoken in North Ossetia and South Ossetia, is a direct descendant of Alanic, and by that the only surviving Sarmatian language of the once wide-ranging East Iranian dialect continuum that stretched from Eastern Europe to the eastern parts of Central Asia.
The Indo-European language spoken by the Indo-Iranians in the late 3rd millennium BC was a Satem language still not removed very far from the Proto-Indo-European language, and in turn only removed by a few centuries from Vedic Sanskrit of the Rigveda. The main phonological change separating Proto–Indo-Iranian from Proto–Indo-European is the collapse of the ablauting vowels *e, *o, *a into a single vowel, Proto–Indo-Iranian *a (but see Brugmann’s law). Grassmann’s law and Bartholomae’s law were also complete in Proto–Indo-Iranian, as well as the loss of the labiovelars (kw, etc.) to k, and the Eastern Indo-European (Satem) shift from palatized k’ to ć, as in Proto–Indo-European *k’ṃto- > Indo-Iran. *ćata- > Sanskrit śata-, Old Iran. sata “100”.
Among the sound changes from Proto–Indo-Iranian to Indo-Aryan is the loss of the voiced sibilant *z, among those to Iranian is the de-aspiration of the PIE voiced aspirates.
Despite the introduction of later Hindu and Zoroastrian scriptures, Indo-Iranians shared a common inheritance of concepts including the universal force *Hṛta- (Sanskrit rta, Avestan asha), the sacred plant and drink *sawHma- (Sanskrit Soma, Avestan Haoma) and gods of social order such as *mitra- (Sanskrit Mitra, Avestan and Old Persian Mithra, Miϑra) and *bʰaga- (Sanskrit Bhaga, Avestan and Old Persian Baga). Proto-Indo-Iranian religion is an archaic offshoot of Indo-European religion. From the various and dispersed Indo-Iranian cultures, a set of common ideas may be reconstructed from which a common, unattested proto-Indo-Iranian source may be deduced.
The pre-Islamic religion of the Nuristani people was mostly based on the original religion of the Indo-Iranians, some of which are shared with Shinto, one of the national religions of Japan, which has some Indo-Iranian influence owing to contact presumably in the steppes of Central Asia at around 2000 BCE. In Shinto, traces of these can be seen in the myth of the storm god Susanoo slaying a serpent Yamata-no-Orochi and in the myth of the dawn goddess Ame-no-Uzume.
Beliefs developed in different ways as cultures separated and evolved. For example, the cosmo-mythology of the peoples that remained on the Central Asian steppes and the Iranian plateau is to a great degree unlike that of the Indians, focused more on groups of deities (*daiva and *asura) and less on the divinities individually.[citation needed] Indians were less conservative[citation needed] than Iranians in their treatment of their divinities, so that some deities were conflated with others or, conversely, aspects of a single divinity developed into divinities in their own right. By the time of Zoroaster, Iranian culture had also been subject to the upheavals of the Iranian Heroic Age (late Iranian Bronze Age, 1800–800 BC), an influence that the Indians were not subject to.
Sometimes certain myths developed in altogether different ways. The Rig-Vedic Sarasvati is linguistically and functionally cognate with Avestan *Haraxvaitī Ārəduuī Sūrā Anāhitā. In the Rig-Veda (6,61,5–7) she battles a serpent called Vritra, who has hoarded all of the Earth’s water. In contrast, in early portions of the Avesta, Iranian *Harahvati is the world-river that flows down from the mythical central Mount Hara. But *Harahvati does no battle — she is blocked by an obstacle (Avestan for obstacle: vərəϑra) placed there by Angra Mainyu.
The following is a list of cognate terms that may be gleaned from comparative linguistic analysis of the Rigveda and Avesta. Both collections are from the period after the proposed date of separation (c. 2nd millennium BC) of the Proto-Indo-Iranians into their respective Indic and Iranian branches.
Indo-Iranian Vedic Sanskrit Avestan Common meaning:
*Hāpš āp āp “water,” āpas “the Waters”
*Hapām Napāts Apam Napat, Apām Napāt Apām Napāt the “water’s offspring”
*aryaman aryaman airyaman “Arya-hood” (lit:** “member of Arya community”)
*Hr̥tas rta asha/arta “active truth”, extending to “order” & “righteousness”
*atharwan atharvan āϑrauuan, aϑaurun “priest”
*Haǰʰiš ahi azhi, (aži) “dragon, snake”, “serpent”
*daywas daiva, deva daeva, (daēuua) a class of divinities
*manu manu manu “man”
*mitra mitra mithra, miϑra “oath, covenant”
*Hasuras asura ahura another class of spirits
*sarwatāt sarvatat Hauruuatāt “intactness”, “perfection”
*SaraswatiH Sarasvatī Haraxvaitī (Ārəduuī Sūrā Anāhitā) a controversial (generally considered mythological) river, a river goddess
*sawmas sauma, soma haoma a plant, deified
*suHar ~ *suHr̥ svar hvar, xvar the Sun, also cognate to Greek helios, Latin sol, Engl. Sun
*top ~ *tep Tapati tapaiti Possible fire/solar goddess; see Tabiti (a possibly Hellenised Scythian theonym). Cognate with Latin tepeo and several other terms.
*wr̥tras Vrtra- verethra, vərəϑra (cf. Verethragna, Vərəϑraγna) “obstacle”
*Yamas Yama Yima son of the solar deity Vivasvant/Vīuuahuuant
*yaĵnas yajña yasna, object: yazata “worship, sacrifice, oblation”
R1a1a (R-M17 or R-M198) is the sub-clade most commonly associated with Indo-European speakers. Most discussions purportedly of R1a origins are actually about the origins of the dominant R1a1a (R-M17 or R-M198) sub-clade. Data so far collected indicates that there are two widely separated areas of high frequency, one in the northern Indian subcontinent, and the other in Eastern Europe, around Poland and Ukraine.
The historical and prehistoric possible reasons for this are the subject of on-going discussion and attention amongst population geneticists and genetic genealogists, and are considered to be of potential interest to linguists and archaeologists also.
Out of 10 human male remains assigned to the Andronovo horizon from the Krasnoyarsk region, 9 possessed the R1a Y-chromosome haplogroup and one C-M130 haplogroup (xC3). mtDNA haplogroups of nine individuals assigned to the same Andronovo horizon and region were as follows: U4 (2 individuals), U2e, U5a1, Z, T1, T4, H, and K2b.
A 2004 study also established that during the Bronze Age/Iron Age period, the majority of the population of Kazakhstan (part of the Andronovo culture during Bronze Age), was of west Eurasian origin (with mtDNA haplogroups such as U, H, HV, T, I and W), and that prior to the 13th–7th century BC, all Kazakh samples belonged to European lineages.
Klejn (1974), as cited in Bryant 2001:206, acknowledges the Iranian identification of the Andronovo culture, but finds the Andronovo culture too late for an Indo-Iranian identification, giving a later date for the start of the Andronovo culture “in the 16th or 17th century BC, whereas the Aryans appeared in the Near East not later than the 15th to 16th century BCE. Klejn (1974, p.58) further argues that “these [latter] regions contain nothing reminiscent of Timber-Frame Andronovo materials.”
Brentjes (1981) also gives a later dating for the Andronovo culture. Bryant further refers to Lyonnet (1993) and Francfort (1989), who point to the absence of archaeological remains of the Andronovans south of the Hindu Kush.
Bosch-Gimpera (1973) and Hiebert (1998) argue that there also no Andronovo remains in Iran, but Hiebert “agrees that the expansion of the BMAC people to the Iranian plateau and the Indus Valley borderlands at the beginning of the second millennium BCE is ‘the best candidate for an archaeological correlate of the introduction of Indo-Iranian speakers to Iran and South Asia’ (Hiebert 1995:192)”. Sarianidi states that the Andronovo tribes “penetrated to a minimum extent”.
Indo-Aryan peoples
The Indo-Aryan peoples, or Indic peoples, are a diverse collection of ethnolinguistic groups speaking Indo-Aryan languages, a subgroup of the Indo-European language family. Indo-Aryan peoples are native to the northern Indian subcontinent, and presently found all across South Asia, where they form the majority.
A recent Indo-Aryan migration theory[note 2]—proposed by anthropologist David W. Anthony (in The Horse, The Wheel and Language) and by archaeologists Elena Efimovna Kuzmina and J. P. Mallory—claims that the introduction of the Indo-Aryan languages in the Indian subcontinent was a result of a migration of people from the Sintashta culture through the Bactria-Margiana Culture and into the northern Indian subcontinent (modern day India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). These migrations started approximately 1,800 BCE, after the invention of the war chariot, and also brought Indo-Aryan languages into the Levant and possibly Inner Asia and western China.
The Indo-Aryan migration was part of the diffusion of Indo-European languages from the Proto-Indo-European homeland, either at the Pontic steppe or from a region between Armenia and Iran, which started in the 7th to 4th millennia BCE.
The theory posits that these Indo-Aryan speaking people may have been a genetically diverse group of people who were united by shared cultural norms and language, referred to as aryā, “noble.” Diffusion of this culture and language took place by patron-client systems, which allowed for the absorption and acculturalisation of other groups into this culture, and explains the strong influence on other cultures with which it interacted. The Proto-Indo-Iranians, from which the Indo-Aryans developed, are identified with the Sintashta culture (2100–1800 BCE),[11] and the Andronovo culture,[12] which flourished ca. 1800–1400 BCE in the steppes around the Aral sea, present-day Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The proto-Indo-Iranians were influenced by the Bactria-Margiana Culture, south of the Andronovo culture, from which they borrowed their distinctive religious beliefs and practices. The Indo-Aryans split off around 1800-1600 BCE from the Iranians,[13] whereafter the Indo-Aryans migrated into the Levant and north-western India.
The alternate Indigenous Aryans theory places the Indo-Aryans languages as being entirely indigenous to the Indian subcontinent and later they spread outside the subcontinent; this theory is currently rejected by mainstream scholarship.
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan migrations.
According to Reich et. al (2009), while the Indo-Aryan linguistic group occupies mainly northern parts of India, genetically, all South Asians across the Indian subcontinent are a mix of two genetically divergent ancient populations namely Ancestral North Indian (ANI) population and Ancestral South Indian (ASI) population. ‘Ancestral North Indians’ (ANI) is genetically close to Middle Easterners, Central Asians, and Europeans, whereas the other, the ‘Ancestral South Indians’ (ASI) is not close to any large modern group outside the Indian subcontinent. The mixing occurred between substructured populations instead of homogeneous populations, and at multiple times and at multiple geographic locations within a span of over thousands of years to produce the current South Asian population. Indo-Aryan speakers and traditionally upper castes have higher ANI ancestry than Dravidian speakers and traditionally middle, lower castes.
The term “invasion” is only being used by opponents of the Indo-Aryan Migration theory.[6] The term “invasion” does not reflect the contemporary scholarly understanding of the Indo-Aryan migrations,[6] and is merely being used in a polemical and distractive way.

Togolok is an archaeological site in the Murghab Delta, Turkmenistan, located about 10–15 km south of Gonur (or about 40 km north of Mary, Turkmenistan).
Most notably, Togolok 21 is an Indo-Iranian[1] temple and fortress dated to the first half of the 2nd millennium BC, belonging to the late phase of the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC).
Painted Grey Ware culture

The Painted Grey Ware culture (PGW) is an Iron Age Indian culture of the western Gangetic plain and the Ghaggar-Hakra valley on the Indian subcontinent, lasting from roughly 1200 BCE to 600 BCE,[1][2][3] or, as the new concensus states, from 1300 BCE to 300 BCE.[4] It is a successor of the Black and red ware culture (BRW) within this region, and contemporary with the continuation of the BRW culture in the eastern Gangetic plain and Central India.[5]
Characterized by a style of fine, grey pottery painted with geometric patterns in black,[6] the PGW culture is associated with village and town settlements, domesticated horses, ivory-working, and the advent of iron metallurgy.[7] Total number of PGW sites discovered so far is more than 1100.[8] Although most PGW sites were small farming villages, “several dozen” PGW sites emerged as relatively large settlements that can be characterized as towns; the largest of these were fortified by ditches or moats and embankments made of piled earth with wooden palisades, albeit smaller and simpler than the elaborate fortifications which emerged in large cities after 600 BCE.[9]
The PGW Culture probably corresponds to the middle and late Vedic period, i.e., the Kuru-Panchala kingdom, the first large state in the Indian subcontinent after the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization.[10][11] The later vedic literature provides a mass of information on the life and culture of the times. It is succeeded by Northern Black Polished Ware from c.700-500 BCE, associated with the rise of the great mahajanapada states and of the Magadha Empire.
1 Overview
2 Chronology
3 Interpretations
4 Recent Research
5 See also
6 Notes
7 References
8 External links
Painted Grey Ware – Sonkh (Uttar Pradesh) – 1000-600 BCE. Government Museum, Mathura
Shards of Painted Grey Ware (right) and Harappan red pottery (left) from Rupnagar, Punjab.
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC (Swat), Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan migrations.
The PGW culture cultivated rice, wheat, millet and barley, and domesticated cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses. Houses were built of wattle-and-daub, mud, or bricks, ranging in size from small huts to large houses with many rooms. There is a clear settlement hierarchy, with a few central towns that stand out amongst numerous small villages. Some sites, including Jakhera in Uttar Pradesh, demonstrate a “fairly evolved, proto-urban or semi-urban stage” of this culture, with evidence of social organization and trade, including ornaments of gold, copper, ivory, and semi-precious stones, storage bins for surplus grain, stone weights, paved streets, water channels and embankments.[12]
The plough was used for cultivation. There are also indications of growing complexity of society and the formation of ‘castes’. The old tribal groups must have disappeared as population increased and the size and number of settlements multiplied.
Arts and crafts of the PGW people are represented by ornaments (made from terracotta, stone, faience, and glass), human and animal figurines (made from terracotta) as well as “incised terracotta discs with decorated edges and geometric motifs” which probably had “ritual meaning,” perhaps representing symbols of deities.[13] There are a few stamp seals with geometric designs but no inscription, contrasting with both the prior Harappan seals and the subsequent Brahmi-inscribed seals of the Northern Black Polished Ware culture.[14]
The PGW pottery shows a remarkable degree of standardization. It is dominated by bowls of two shapes, a shallow tray and a deeper bowl, often with a sharp angle between the walls and base. The range of decoration is limited – vertical, oblique or criss-cross lines, rows of dots, spiral chains and concentric circles being common.[15]
At Bhagwanpura in the Kurukshetra district of Haryana, excavations have revealed an overlap between the late Harappan and Painted Grey Ware cultures, large houses that may have been elite residences, and fired bricks that may have been used in Vedic altars.[16]
Fresh surveys by archaeologist Vinay Kumar Gupta suggest Mathura was the largest PGW site around 375 hectares in area.[17] Among the largest sites is also the recently excavated Ahichatra, with at least 40 hectares of area in PGW times along with evidence of early construction of the fortification which goes back to PGW levels.[18] Towards the end of the period, many of the PGW settlements grew into the large towns and cities of the Northern Black Polished Ware period.[19]
Two periods of PGW were identified recently at Ahichhatra, the earliest from 1500 to 800 BCE, and the Late from 800 to 400 BCE.[20] On the other hand, Akinori Uesugi regards PGW as having three periods within North Indian Iron Age which are: Period I (1300-1000 BCE) when it makes its appearance in the Ghaggar valley and the upper Ganga region, Period II (1000-600 BCE) when it spreads into the western part of the Ganga valley, and Period III (600-300 BCE) with interactions to the east.[21]
In the 1950s, archaeologist B.B. Lal associated Hastinapura, Mathura, Ahichatra, Kampilya, Barnava, Kurukshetra and other sites of PGW culture with the Mahabharata period. Furthermore, he pointed out that the Mahabharata mentions a flood and a layer of flooding debris was found in Hastinapura. However, B.B. Lal considered his theories to be provisional and based upon a limited body of evidence, and he later reconsidered his statements on the nature of this culture (Kenneth Kennedy 1995). B.B. Lal confirmed that Mahabharata is associated with PGW sites in a recent 2012 presentation at the International Seminar on Mahabharata held by Draupadi Trust and gives a date to c. 900 BCE for the War recounted in the Mahabharata.[22]
The pottery style of this culture is different from the pottery of the Iranian Plateau and Afghanistan (Bryant 2001). In some sites, PGW pottery and Late Harappan pottery are contemporaneous.[23] The archaeologist Jim Shaffer (1984:84-85) has noted that “at present, the archaeological record indicates no cultural discontinuities separating Painted Grey Ware from the indigenous protohistoric culture.” However, the continuity of pottery styles may be explained by the fact that pottery was generally made by indigenous craftsmen even after the Indo-Aryan migration.[24] According to Chakrabarti (1968) and other scholars, the origins of the subsistence patterns (e.g. rice use) and most other characteristics of the Painted Grey Ware culture are in eastern India or even Southeast Asia.[note 1]
Recent Research
In 2013, the University of Cambridge and Banaras Hindu University excavated at Alamgirpur near Delhi, where they found a period overlap between the later part of the Harappan phase (with a “noticeable slow decline in quality”) and the earliest PGW levels; Sample OxA-21882 showed a calibrated radiocarbon dating from 2136 BCE to 1948 BCE, but seven other samples from the overlap phase that were submitted for dating failed to give a result.[25] A team of the Archaeological Survey of India led by B.R. Mani and Vinay Kumar Gupta collected charcoal samples from Gosna, a site 6 km east of Mathura across the Yamuna river, where two of the radiocarbon dates from the PGW deposit came out to be 2160 BCE and 2170 BCE, but they mention that “there is a possibility that the cultural horizon which is now regarded as belonging to the P.G.W. period might turn out to be as belonging to a period with only plain grey ware.”[26] However, later on, other two datings confirming early PGW horizon in Kampil excavations were published as 2310 +/- 120 BCE and 1360 +/- 90 BCE by archaeologist D.P. Tewari.[27]

Northern Black Polished Ware culture

The Northern Black Polished Ware culture (abbreviated NBPW or NBP) is an urban Iron Age Indian culture of the Indian Subcontinent, lasting c. 700–200 BCE, succeeding the Painted Grey Ware culture and Black and red ware culture. It developed beginning around 700 BC, in the late Vedic period, and peaked from c. 500–300 BC, coinciding with the emergence of 16 great states or mahajanapadas in Northern India, and the subsequent rise of the Mauryan Empire.
Recent archaeological evidences have pushed back NBPW date to 1200 BC at Nalanda where its earliest occurrences have been recorded and carbon dated from the site of Juafardih.[1] Similarly sites at Akra and Ter Kala Dheri from Bannu have provided carbon dated of 900-790 BC and 1000-400 BC[2] and at Ayodhya of 1003 BC[3]
1 Overview
2 Sites
3 References
4 Sources
5 External links
Fragment of Northern Black Polished Ware, 500-100 BCE, Sonkh, Uttar Pradesh. Government Museum, Mathura
The diagnostic artifact and namesake of this culture is the Northern Black Polished Ware, a luxury style of burnished pottery used by elites. This period is associated with the emergence of Indian subcontinent’s first large cities since the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization; this re-urbanization was accompanied by massive embankments and fortifications, significant population growth, increased social stratification, wide-ranging trade networks, specialized craft industries (e.g., carving of ivory, conch shells, and semi-precious stones), a system of weights, punch-marked coins, and writing (in the form of Brahmi and Kharosthi scripts, including inscribed stamp seals).[4]
Scholars have noted similarities between NBP and the much earlier Harappan cultures, among them the ivory dice and combs and a similar system of weights. Other similarities include the utilization of mud, baked bricks and stone in architecture, the construction of large units of public architecture, the systematic development of hydraulic features and a similar craft industry.[5] There are also, however, important differences between these two cultures; for example, rice, millet and sorghum became more important in the NBP culture.[5] The NBP culture may reflect the first state-level organization in the Indian Subcontinent.[5]
According to Geoffrey Samuel, following Tim Hopkins, the Central Gangetic Plain, which was the center of the NBP, was culturally distinct from the Painted Grey Ware culture of the Vedic Aryans of Kuru-Pancala west of it, and saw an independent development toward urbanisation and the use of iron.[6]
The end of the NBP culture around 200 BCE was marked by the replacement of the NBP ware with a different style of pottery, namely red ware decorated with stamped and incised designs.[7] However, the same cities continued to be inhabited, and the period from c. 200 BCE to c. 300 CE was still “marked by urban prosperity all over the subcontinent,” corresponding to the Shunga and Satavahana Dynasties, and the Kushan Empire.[8]
Some notable NBPW sites, associated with the mahajanapadas, are as follows:[9]
Charsada (ancient Pushkalavati) and Taxila, in Pakistan
Delhi or ancient Indraprastha
Hastinapura, Mathura, Kampil/Kampilya, Ahichatra, Ayodhya, Sravasti, Kausambi, Varanasi, all in Uttar Pradesh
Vaishali, Rajgir, Pataliputra, and Champa in Bihar
Ujjain and Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh.
Other sites where Northern Black Polished Ware have been found are Mahasthangarh, Chandraketugarh, Wari-Bateshwar, Bangarh and Mangalkot (all in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India).
A number of ancient sites where the NBPW has been found, such as Ayodhya and Sringaverapura, are mentioned in the Hindu epic, the Ramayana.[4]
Ochre Coloured Pottery culture
The Ochre Coloured Pottery culture (OCP) is a 4th millennium BC to 2nd millennium BC Bronze Age culture of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, extending from eastern Punjab to northeastern Rajasthan and western Uttar Pradesh.[1][2] It is considered a candidate for association with the early Indo-Aryan or Vedic culture.
The pottery had a red slip but gave off an ochre color on the fingers of archaeologists who excavated it, hence the name. It was sometimes decorated with black painted bands and incised patterns. It is often found in association with copper hoards, which are assemblages of copper weapons and other artifacts such as anthropomorphic figures. OCP culture was rural and agricultural, characterized by cultivation of rice, barley, and legumes, and domestication of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses, and dogs. Most sites were small villages in size, but densely distributed. Houses were typically made of wattle-and-daub. Other artifacts include animal and human figurines, and ornaments made of copper and terracotta.[3]
OCP culture was a contemporary neighbor to Harappan civilization, and between 2500 BC and 2000 BC, the people of Upper Ganga valley were using Indus script. While the eastern OCP did not use Indus script, the whole of OCP had nearly the same material culture and likely spoke the same language throughout its expanse.[4][5] The OCP marked the last stage of the North Indian Bronze Age and was succeeded by the Iron Age black and red ware culture and the Painted Grey Ware culture.
1 Geography
2 Copper hoards
3 See also
4 References
Woman Riding Two Bulls (bronze), from Kausambi, c.2000-1750 BCE
Early specimens of the characteristic ceramics found near Jodhpura, Rajasthan, date from the 3rd millennium (this Jodhpura is located in the district of Jaipur and should not be confused with the city of Jodhpur). Several sites of culture flourish along the banks of Sahibi River and its tributaries such as Krishnavati river and Soti river, all originating from the Aravalli range and flowing from south to north-east direction towards Yamuna before disappearing in Mahendragarh district of Haryana.[6]
The culture reached the Gangetic plain in the early 2nd millennium. Recently, the Archaeological Survey of India discovered copper axes and some pieces of pottery in its excavation at the Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh. The Ochre Coloured Pottery culture has the potential to be called a proper civilisation (e.g., the North Indian Ochre civilisation) like the Harappan civilisation, but is termed only as a culture pending further discoveries.[7]
Copper hoards
Main article: Copper Hoard Culture
The term copper hoards refers to different assemblages of copper-based artefacts in the northern areas of the Indian Subcontinent that are believed to date from the 2nd millennium BC. Few derive from controlled excavations and several different regional groups are identifiable: southern Haryana/northern Rajasthan, the Ganges-Yamuna plain, Chota Nagpur, and Madhya Pradesh, each with their characteristic artefact types. Initially, the copper hoards were known mostly from the Ganges-Yamuna doab and most characterizations dwell on this material.
Characteristic hoard artefacts from southern Haryana/northern Rajasthan include flat axes (celts), harpoons, double axes, and antenna-hilted swords. The doab has a related repertory. Artefacts from the Chota Nagpur area are very different; they seem to resemble ingots and are votive in character.
The raw material may have been derived from a variety of sources in Rajasthan (Khetri), Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha (especially Singhbhum), and Madhya Pradesh (Malanjkhand).
See also
Gandhara grave culture,
The Gandhara grave culture, also called Swat culture, emerged c. 1600 BC, and flourished c. 1500 BC to 500 BC in Gandhara, which lies in modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has been regarded as a token of the Indo-Aryan migrations, but has also been explained by local cultural continuity.
1 Location and characteristics
2 Origins
2.1 Indo-Aryan migrations
2.2 Cultural continuity
3 Genetics
4 See also
5 References
6 Sources
7 External links
Location and characteristics
Relevant finds, artifacts found primarily in graves, were distributed along the banks of the Swat and Dir rivers in the north, Taxila in the southeast, along the Gomal River to the south. Simply made terracotta figurines were buried with the pottery, and other items are decorated with simple dot designs. Horse remains were found in at least one burial.
The Gandhara grave culture may be an artifact of the Indo-Aryan migrations, but it may also be explained by regional cultural continuity.
Indo-Aryan migrations
The polished black-gray pottery of Gandhara grave culture during the Ghalegay IV period, considered to run from 1700-1400 BCE, has been associated with that of other BMAC sites like Dashly in Afghanistan, Tepe Hissar and Tureng Teppe. According to Asko Parpola, the presence of black-red pottery also suggests links with Cemetery H culture in Punjab. The burial of bodies, the metal pins used got fastening clothes and the terracotta statuettes of females, says Parpola, are similar to those found to the BMAC. The graves during the Ghalegay V period, considered to run from 1400-1000 BCE, are connected with those in Vakhsh and Beshkent Valley. Parpola adds that these graves represent a mix of the practices found in northern Bactrian portion of BMAC during the period of 1700-1400 BCE and the Fedorovo Andronovo culture.[1]
According to Upinder Singh, the Gandhara grave culture is similar to the one in the Ghalegay caves during their V, VI and VII phases.[2] Rajesh Kochhar says it may be associated with early Indo-Aryan speakers as well as the Indo-Aryan migration into the Indian Subcontinent,[3] which came from the Bactria–Margiana region. According to Kochhar, the Indo-Aryan culture fused with indigenous elements of the remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization (OCP, Cemetery H) and gave rise to the Vedic Civilization.[3]
Cultural continuity
Asko Parpola argues that the Gandhara grave culture is “by no means identical with the Bronze Age Culture of Bactria and Margiana”.[4] According to Tusa, the Gandhara grave culture and its new contributions are “in line with the cultural traditions of the previous period”.[5] According to Parpola, in the centuries preceding the Gandhara culture, during the Early Harappan period (roughly 3200–2600 BCE), similarities in pottery, seals, figurines, ornaments etc. document intensive caravan trade between the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia and the Iranian plateau.[6] Tusa remarks that
… to attribute a historical value to […] the slender links with northwestern Iran and northern Afghanistan […] is a mistake[, since] it could well be the spread of particular objects and, as such, objects that could circulate more easily quite apart from any real contacts.[5]
Cremation urn
According to Kennedy, who argues for a local cultural continuity, the Gandhara grave culture people shared biological affinities with the population of Neolithic Mehrgarh. This suggests a “biological continuum” between the ancient populations of Timargarha and Mehrgarh.[7] This is contested by Elena E. Kuz’mina, who notes remains that are similar to some from Central Asian populations.[8]
Antonini,[9] Stacul and other scholars argue that this culture is also not related to the Bishkent culture and Vakhsh culture of Tajikistan.[10] However, E. Kuz’mina argues the opposite on the basis of both archaeology and the human remains from the separate cultures.[11]
Narasimhan et al. 2018 analyzed DNA of 362 ancient skeletons from Central and South Asia, including those from the Iron Age grave sites discovered in the Swat valley of Pakistan (between 1200 BCE and 1 CE from Aligrama, Barikot, Butkara, Katelai, Loe Banr, and Udegram). According to them, “there is no evidence that the main BMAC population contributed genetically to later South Asians”, and that “Indus Periphery-related people are the single most important source of ancestry” in Indus Valley Civilization and South Asia. They further state that the Swat valley grave DNA analysis provides further evidence of “connections between [Central Asian] Steppe population and early Vedic culture in India”.[12]

Yaz culture

The Yaz culture (named after the type site Yaz-depe, Yaz Depe, or Yaz Tepe, near Baýramaly, Turkmenistan[1]) was an early Iron Age culture of Margiana, Bactria and Sogdia (ca. 1500–500 BC).[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] It emerges at the top of late Bronze Age sites (BMAC), sometimes as stone towers and sizeable houses associated with irrigation systems. Ceramics were mostly hand-made, but there was increasing use of wheel-thrown ware. There have been found bronze or iron arrowheads, also iron sickles or carpet knives among other artifacts.[9][10][11]
With the farming citadels, steppe-derived metallurgy and ceramics, and absence of burials it has been regarded as a likely archaeological reflection of early East Iranian culture as described in the Avesta.[12][13] So far, no burials related to the culture have been found, and this is taken as possible evidence of the Zoroastrian practice of exposure or sky burial.[2][14][15][16]
1 Overview
1.1 Yaz I
1.2 Yaz II
1.3 Yaz III
2 Research
2.1 Burials
3 Legacy
4 See also
5 Notes
6 Sources
Yaz I
In the region of Central Asia, the Bronze Age Oxus civilization (or BMAC) was characteristic for irrigation and proto-state society based on long distance trade of raw materials and goods. However, it suddenly disappeared in the Late Bronze Age (c. 1900–1500 BCE), and in its place emerged the Early Iron Age (c. 1500/1300 – 1000 BCE) Yaz I culture with rural settlements based around fortified structures, control of irrigation systems, with specific hand-made ceramic type, as well as the almost complete disappearance of graves, compared to thousands of kurgans in the north.[17] The ceramics, and spherical stone maces, show continuity and contemporaneity between Yaz Depe and Ulug Depe of the Early Iron Age and Tekkem Depe among others of the Namazga-Tepe VI period.[11]
Yaz I culture is argued to be related to the sedentarisation of the nomadic Indo-Iranians in the Eurasian Steppe, a synthesis with autochthonous traits.[2][18][19][20][21][22] It extended from the central part of the Kopet Dag mountains to the fertile delta of the Murghab River.[5] It is characterised for total lack of necropolises and tombs, as well as painted ceramic with triangle and ladder patterns. Recent research shows four groups of patterns, the triangular (triangles and chevrons), lozenges, bands, and of additional elements.[23] It seems to be connected to the Chust culture of Fergana Valley, Mundigak V-VI in Sistan, and Pirak I-III on the Kacchi Plain. Compared to the Chust culture, no tombs from the Yaz culture have been found.[2][24] Asko Parpola and Fred Hiebert argued that these cultures seemingly derived from the Haladun culture (1750–1200 BCE) of Xinjiang, and some Andronovo culture contacts, indicating a Europid upper strata who spoke East Aryan.[25][26] The introduction of the culture is seemingly related to the sound change *s > h when Iranian language came in the Indo-Iranian borderlands of Rgvedic tribes around 1500 BCE, seen in the change of the Vedic river Sindhu into Avestan Hindu (Indus River), Sarasvati into Haraxhvaiti.[27]
Yaz II
It is dated circa 1100–700 or 1000–550 BCE in Middle Iron Age, however some recent research consider no accurate boundary between the Yaz I and Yaz II.[7] It moved to the north and northeast.[28] It is characterized by wheel-made pottery type (reappearance of the wheel like in Namazga-Tepe V[29]), iron metallurgy, large fortified sites, as well as the occupation of previous sites and the continuation of the funerary practices.[30][17]
The Yaz II complex seemingly correlates with the Airyanem Vaejah, homeland of those tribes who spoke Avestan language, different from both Western and Eastern Iranian languages, to be replaced in Bactria by the former at the end of the 1st millennium BCE.[31] Asko Parpola associated the change from Yaz I to Yaz II around 1000 BCE with the migration of the Western Iranians (Medians, Persians).[32] He considered that the Yaz I people spoke Proto-Eastern Iranian or Proto-Saka.[22][better source needed]
The ruins of the ancient city of Nad-i Ali (9th-8th century BCE) which has been identified with the capital of the Kayanian dynasty kingdom which coincides with the Yaz II/A (10th-8th century BCE), while date of the late Kayanian capital Balkh to Yaz II/B period (7th-6th century BCE).[31]
At the end of Yaz II/B (8th-7th/6th century BCE) the Murghab oasis (Yaz Depe, Aravali Depe, Takhirbay Depe) became deserted. It is probably explained by the bloody revolt of Frada (521 BCE) mentioned in Behistun Inscription in which reportedly 55,243 Margians were killed and 6,972 taken as prisoners, and the conquest of Bactria.[33][34][35]
It is dated circa 700–400 BCE or second half of the 6th and end of the 4th century BCE (c. 540–329 BCE) in the Late Iron Age, part of the Achaemenid Empire period, but is still characterized by the same cultural and funerary continuity.[36][37][38] The beak-shaped rim is replaced in form of a flattened roller, vessels are cylindrical-conical,[39] and were discovered bronze three-bladed arrow, iron axes and adzes.[40]
The Yaz Tepe large settlement was the central district in the then metropolitan part of Margiana.[41][42] It covered 16 ha, and stood on brick platform mound 8 m high, while the stratigraphic excavations in the area revealed Yaz I (900–650 BCE) complex (with bronze arrowheads and iron artefacts), Yaz II (650–450 BCE) and Yaz III (450–350 BCE) house remains.[43] The Yaz I complex was similar to those in northern Bactria, thus the culture was noted for the development of large settlements (sometime small[44]) centred around fortified keeps built on massive platforms, but the excavations failed to locate the transition from the Late Bronze Age unlike other cultures.[45] Other Margian well known sites with Yaz I ceramics are Gonur Tepe, Togoluk, Uch Tepe, Adam Basan, Taip, Garaoj Tepe, Takhirbaj Tepe.[2]
Kuchuk Tepe settlement in Bactria (today Uzbekistan) is also related to the Yaz I culture.[2][46] It looked like a flattened circular hill with an area of 0.5 hectares and height 8 m. The structures were built on a clay platform surrounded by a defensive wall. At the end of the first period (10th to mid-8th centuries BCE) the building had twenty-five chambers; apparently it was a large fortified house, while towns start appearing in the region towards the end of that period.[42] Other Bactrian well known sites with Yaz I ceramics are Tillya Tepe in northeastern Afghanistan, and Kyzyl Tepe, Dzharkutan, Kangurt-Tut, and Teguzak in Tajikistan.[2][47] The single purely Yaz I site in Tajikistan is Karim-berdy which measures 500 x 300 m.[48] Along the Kunduz River are located oasis Naibabad and Farukabad.[49] The settlements at Bandykhan, between Shirabad and Denov in Uzbekistan, show Yaz I (14th-11th century BCE), Yaz II/A (10th-9th/8th century BCE), Yaz II/B (8th-7th/6th century BCE), and Yaz III (6th-4th century BCE).[50]
Some Yaz I hand-made decorated pottery sites were investigated in southern Turkmenistan (previously northern Parthia). Some Yaz I strata was found in Parthia at Elken Depe, Ulug Depe and the northern mound at Anau, and all complexes overlie Namazga-Tepe VI type of Late Bronze Age strata. Unlike the Bronze Age centres, the Early Iron Age Yaz I settlements were much larger, in Elken Depe c. 12 ha, ringed with ramparts, while the citadel stood on a 6 m platform. At the site in Anau was found iron sickle from Yaz I period dated to the beginning of the 1st millennium BC.[51][11] Askarov argued that it cannot be excluded that the Elken Depe was then the capital of northern Parthia.[45]
There 20 Iron Age sites of Yaz I-III culture (1400–300 BCE) in Serakhs oasis, the sub delta of Tedjen River in southern Turkmenistan.[52] The sites follow the irrigation system, with average distance of 123 m between sites and rivers, however there is some scientific uncertainty about the irrigations in the Iron Age. The average distance between Yaz sites is 879 m. Most of them are dated to Yaz II-III periods, but once was found Yaz I decorated pottery. In the northern cluster of the sites mostly there is no trace of later occupation, indicating they were abandoned in the Iron Age.[53]
At the village Anaw east of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan are two mounds (kurgans), of which the south kurgan’s Iron Age materials (Anaw IV) from ca. 900 to 650 BCE, like ceramics and metals, are related to those of Yaz I.[42][54]
Regarding Turkmenistan, many notable archaeologist investigated Yaz ceramic assemblage; A. F. Ganialin and A. A. Maruschenko considered northern pastoralist influence, V. M. Masson it is connected to the Namazga-Tepe VI, but with a break of 100–150 years in-between, while V. Sarianidi that the Yaz I assemblage arrived from eastern Khorasan.[55][56] There three groups of hand-made ware in shape, color of sherd, and the admixture of crushed ceramics into the body of vessels.[55] Recent research confirmed of the three the Masson’s thesis that the Yaz I type ceramics in the foothill of Kopet Dag mountain are a natural development of the Late Bronze Age assemblage from Namazga VI period, but without any time lapse and external influence.[57]
Several recent 2008–2012 discoveries of Early Iron Age burials on the sites of Dzharkutan in Surxondaryo Region of Uzbekistan, and Ulug Depe in Turkmenistan shown diverse funerary practices of the Iron Age in Central Asia.[58] It shows burials still existed, but were not numerous. They were primary, secondary, multiple burials, and silo tombs, divided on seasonal and permanent dwellings.[59] In the silos were buried mostly adult females, while in the others the head was mostly removed, indicating symbolic, cult or social reason.[60]
A lack of graves and excarnations emerged in the Early Iron Age, especially in Yaz I and II cultures,[61] the same period in which Zoroastrianism developed (works such as the Gathas often being dated to the second half or end of the 2nd millennium BC); the contemporary occurrence falls in line with certain traditions (see Tower of Silence) and cultural schools of thought, but there is ongoing scholarly debate surrounding such a connection [2][62][63][64] There is evidence for excarnation in non-Zoroastrian cultures like those in Siberia and Mongolia, as well excarnation and dakhmas in some Bronze Age sites like Gonur Tepe and Altyndepe, thus in could have persisted into Early Iron Age as a notion for the long process of formation of the Proto-Zoroastrianism and Avesta.[65][66][16]
Some sites which had Yaz culture layers like the Yaz Depe, Takhirbaj Depe, Taip, Gonur, Togoluk are on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List of the State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv” (1999).[67][68]

Bishkent culture

The Bishkent culture or Beshkent culture is a late Bronze Age archaeological culture of southern Tajikistan, dating to c. 1700 – 1500 BC. It is primarily known from its cemeteries, which appear to have been used by mobile pastoralists.
The Bishkent culture has been seen as a possible contributor to the Swat culture, which in turn is often associated with early Indo-Aryan movements into northwest India.


Vakhsh culture

The Vakhsh culture is a late Bronze Age culture which flourished along the lower Vakhsh River in southern Tajikistan from ca. 1700 BC to 1500 BC.
The Vakhsh culture seems to have appeared somewhat later than the Bishkent culture, with which is shares many similarities.
Evidence of settlements in the Vakhsh culture is scant. They made stone walls and mud-brick constructions. Houses on the site at Kangurt Tut in the Vaksh valley contained storage pits for grain and hearths. The grain storages had barley and wheat. Faunal remains have revealed dogs, deer, camels, donkeys, horses, sheep and goats.
The Vaksh culture is known chiefly for its burials. These were catacomb graves covered entirely over with a mound, and entrance shafts blocked by earth and stones. A quarter of the tombs was associated with the ritual of fire. Males were buried on their right side while females females were generally buried on their left. Both male and female remains were oriented to the north. Graves sometimes served as cenotaphs. On occasion, clay figurines would replace the remains of the deceased. Vakhsh graves are typically poor in grave goods. 30 % of the vessels are wheel-thrown, while hand-made pottery predominated. This is typical of a pastoral society. Metal remains are scant, but include razor-like knives and mirrors. Arrowheads were made of bone and flint.
Vakhsh culture ceramics are a mixture of steppe wares and those ascribed to the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex. Some have interpreted this as a sign that the Vakhsh culture represented a mixture of settled agriculturalists and steppe populations originating in the north. Some have identified the Vakhsh culture as a southern extension of the Andronovo culture. Like the Bishkent culture, the Vakhsh culture has been linked with the southward migration of the Indo-Aryans.

Haplogroup J2 is thought to have appeared somewhere in the Middle East towards the end of the last glaciation, between 15,000 and 22,000 years ago. Its present geographic distribution argue in favour of a Neolithic expansion from the Fertile Crescent. This expansion probably correlated with the diffusion of domesticated of cattle and goats (starting c. 8000-9000 BCE) from the Zagros mountains and northern Mesopotamia, rather than with the development of agriculture in the Levant (which seems to have been linked to haplogroup G and perhaps also E1b1b). A second expansion of J2 could have occured with the advent of metallurgy (also from Anatolia and Mesopotamia) and the rise of some of the oldest civilisations.
Quite a few ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern civilisations flourished in territories where J2 lineages were preponderant. This is the case of the Hattians, the Hurrians, the Etruscans, the Minoans, the Greeks, the Phoenicians (and their Carthaginian offshoot), the Israelites, and to a lower extent also the Romans, the Assyrians and the Persians. All the great seafaring civilisations from the middle Bronze Age to the Iron Age were dominated by J2 men.
There is a distinct association of ancient J2 civilisations with bull worship. The oldest evidence of a cult of the bull can be traced back to Neolithic central Anatolia, notably at the sites of Çatalhöyük and Alaca Höyük. Bull depictions are omnipresent in Minoan frescos and ceramics in Crete. Bull-masked terracotta figurines and bull-horned stone altars have been found in Cyprus (dating back as far as the Neolithic, the first presumed expansion of J2 from West Asia). The Hattians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Canaaites, and Carthaginians all had bull deities (in contrast with Indo-European or East Asian religions).
The presence of Haplogroup J2 in India, including the subclades M410 and M241 has been an often overlooked clue to the origins of M172. Sengupta et al, in 2005 worked to explain the presence of M172 in India. Their paper provides an immediate acknowledgement of the proposed spread of proto-Elamo-Dravidian speaking peoples into India originating from the Indus Valley and southwest Persia.
The idea that M172 may have been carried into India with proto-Elamo-Dravidian groups is supported by the frequencies of Haplogroup J in one of the only remaining Dravidian Speaking ethnic groups in the Iranian Plateau, the Brahui. 28% of the Brahui, an ethnic Dravidian speaking group from Western Pakistan were found to carry the mutation defining Haplogroup J. Overall Haplogroup J2 in India represented 9.1% of this very populous nation.
In Pakistan, M172 accounted for 11.9% of the Y-Chromosomes typed. Sengupta’s paper broke down the frequencies of Haplogroup J2 into various caste and language groups. J2 was found to be significantly higher among Dravidian castes at 19% than among Indo-European castes at 11%.
J2a-M410 in particular may be a strong candidate for a proposed migration of proto-Dravidian peoples from the Iranian Plateau or the Indus Valley since J2a M410 is a very high component of the haplogroup J2 chromosomes found in Pakistan. Over 71% of the M172 found in Pakistan was M410+.
Another interesting characteristic in the distribution of M172 and more specifically, M410, in India was its higher frequencies in Upper Caste Dravidians. M410+ chromosomes were found in 13% of Upper Caste Dravidians. Sengupta goes on to suggest an Indian origin of Dravidian speakers but from a Y chromosome perspective, the paper seems to acknowledge M172 arriving in India from Middle Eastern and Indus Valley Civilizations.
Despite an apparent exogenous frequency spread pattern of J2a toward North and Central India from the west, it is premature to attribute the spread to a simplistic demic expansion of early agriculturists from the Middle East….it may also reflect subsequent Bronze Age Harappans of uncertain provenance.
Subclades of M172 such as M67 and M92 were not found in either Indian or Pakistani samples which also might hint at a partial common origin. And while there may be multiple events and origins for M172 lineages in India, it does seem likely that the Indus Valley and Elamo-Dravidian speaking groups may be the origin of some of the M172 found in India today.
The sacred bull of Hinduism, Nandi, present in all temples dedicated to Shiva or Parvati, does not have an Indo-European origin, but can be traced back to Indus Valley civilisation. Minoan Crete, Hittite Anatolia, the Levant, Bactria and the Indus Valley also shared a tradition of bull leaping, the ritual of dodging the charge of a bull. It survives today in the traditional bullfighting of Andalusia in Spain and Provence in France, two regions with a high percentage of J2 lineages.
The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly present-day Pakistan and northwest India. Flourishing around the Indus River basin, the civilization extended east into the Ghaggar-Hakra River valley and the upper reaches Ganges-Yamuna Doab; it extended west to the Makran coast of Balochistan, north to northeastern Afghanistan and south to Daimabad in Maharashtra. The civilization was spread over some 1,260,000 km², making it the largest known ancient civilization.
The Indus Valley is one of the world’s earliest urban civilizations, along with its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. At its peak, the Indus Civilization may have had a population of well over five million. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin). The civilization is noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system, and multistoried houses.
The Indus Valley Civilization is also known as the Harappan Civilization, as the first of its cities to be unearthed was located at Harappa, excavated in the 1920s in what was at the time the Punjab province of British India (now in Pakistan). Excavation of Harappan sites has been ongoing since 1920, with important breakthroughs occurring as recently as 1999. There were earlier and later cultures, often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan, in the same area of the Harappan Civilization. The Harappan civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to distinguish it from these cultures. Up to 1999, over 1,056 cities and settlements have been found, out of which 96 have been excavated, mainly in the general region of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra river and its tributaries. Among the settlements were the major urban centres of Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Dholavira, Kalibanga, and Rakhigarhi.
The Harappan language is not directly attested and its affiliation is uncertain since the Indus script is still undeciphered. A relationship with the Dravidian or Elamo-Dravidian language family is favored by a section of scholars.
The IVC has been tentatively identified with the toponym Meluhha known from Sumerian records. It has been compared in particular with the civilizations of Elam (also in the context of the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis) and with Minoan Crete (because of isolated cultural parallels such as the ubiquitous goddess worship and depictions of bull-leaping). The mature (Harappan) phase of the IVC is contemporary to the Early to Middle Bronze Age in the Ancient Near East, in particular the Old Elamite period, Early Dynastic to Ur III Mesopotamia, Prepalatial Minoan Crete and Old Kingdom to First Intermediate Period Egypt.
After the discovery of the IVC in the 1920s, it was immediately associated with the indigenous Dasyu inimical to the Rigvedic tribes in numerous hymns of the Rigveda. Mortimer Wheeler interpreted the presence of many unburied corpses found in the top levels of Mohenjo-Daro as the victims of a warlike conquest, and famously stated that “Indra stands accused” of the destruction of the IVC. The association of the IVC with the city-dwelling Dasyus remains alluring because the assumed timeframe of the first Indo-Aryan migration into India corresponds neatly with the period of decline of the IVC seen in the archaeological record. The discovery of the advanced, urban IVC however changed the 19th century view of early Indo-Aryan migration as an “invasion” of an advanced culture at the expense of a “primitive” aboriginal population to a gradual acculturation of nomadic “barbarians” on an advanced urban civilization, comparable to the Germanic migrations after the Fall of Rome, or the Kassite invasion of Babylonia. This move away from simplistic “invasionist” scenarios parallels similar developments in thinking about language transfer and population movement in general, such as in the case of the migration of the proto-Greek speakers into Greece, or the Indo-Europeanization of Western Europe.
The Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (or BMAC, also known as the Oxus civilization) is the modern archaeological designation for a Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia, dated to ca. 2300–1700 BCE, located in present day northern Afghanistan, eastern Turkmenistan, southern Uzbekistan and western Tajikistan, centered on the upper Amu Darya (Oxus River). Its sites were discovered and named by the Soviet archaeologist Viktor Sarianidi (1976). Bactria was the Greek name for the area of Bactra (modern Balkh), in what is now northern Afghanistan, and Margiana was the Greek name for the Persian satrapy of Margu, the capital of which was Merv, in modern-day southeastern Turkmenistan.
Sarianidi’s excavations from the late 1970s onward revealed numerous monumental structures in many sites, fortified by impressive walls and gates. Reports on the BMAC were mostly confined to Soviet journals, until the last years of the Soviet Union, so the findings were largely unknown to the West until Sarianidi’s work began to be translated in the 1990s.
There is archaeological evidence of previous settlement in the well-watered northern foothills of the Kopet Dag from the Neolithic period. This region is dotted with the multi-period tells characteristic of the ancient Near East, similar to those south west of the Kopet Dag in the Gorgan Plain in Iran.
At Jeitun (or Djeitun) mudbrick houses were first occupied c. 6000 cal. BCE. These farming people were herding domesticated goats and sheep and growing wheat and barley, all with origins in South-West Asia. Jeitun has given its name to the whole Neolithic of the northern foothills of the Kopet Dag. At the late Neolithic site of Chagylly Depe, farmers increasingly grew crops associated with irrigation in an arid environment, such as hexaploid bread wheat, which became predominant in the Chalcolithic.
During the Copper Age there was a growth of population in this region. Vadim Mikhaĭlovich Masson, who led the South Turkmenistan Complex Archaeological Expedition from 1946, sees signs of a movement from Central Iran at this time, bringing metallurgy and other innovations, but feels that the newcomers soon blended with the Jeitun farmers. By contrast a re-excavation of Monjukli Depe in 2010 found a distinct break in settlement history between the late Neolithic and early Chalcolithic eras there.
Major Chalcolithic settlements sprang up at Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe. In addition there were smaller settlements at Anau, Dashlyji and Yassy-depe. Settlements similar to the early level at Anau also appeared further east – in the ancient Delta of the River Tedzen, the site of the Geoksiur Oasis. About 3500 BCE the cultural unity of the culture split into two pottery styles: colourful in the west (Anau, Kara-Depe and Namazga-Depe) and more austere in the east at Altyn-Depe and the Geoksiur Oasis settlements. This may reflect the formation of two tribal groups. Around 3000 BCE it seems that people from Geoksiur migrated into the Murghab Delta, where small, scattered settlements appeared, and reached further east into the Zerafshan Valley in Transoxiana. In both areas pottery typical of Geoksiur was in use. In Transoxiana they settled at Sarazm near Pendjikent. To the south the foundation layers of Shahr-i Shōkhta on the bank of the Helmand River in south-eastern Iran contained pottery of the Altyn-Depe and Geoksiur type. Thus the farmers of Iran, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan were connected by a scattering of farming settlements.
In the Early Bronze Age the culture of the Kopet Dag oases and Altyn-Depe developed a proto-urban society. This corresponds to level IV at Namazga-Depe. Altyn-Depe was a major centre even then. Pottery was wheel-turned. Grapes were grown. The height of this urban development was reached in the Middle Bronze Age c. 2300 BCE, corresponding to level V at Namazga-Depe. It is this Bronze Age culture which has been given the BMAC name.
The inhabitants of the BMAC were sedentary people who practised irrigation farming of wheat and barley. With their impressive material culture including monumental architecture, bronze tools, ceramics, and jewellery of semiprecious stones, the complex exhibits many of the hallmarks of civilization. The complex can be compared to proto-urban settlements in the Helmand basin at Mundigak in western Afghanistan and Shahr-i Shōkhta in eastern Iran, or at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley.
Sarianidi regards Gonur as the “capital” of the complex in Margiana throughout the Bronze Age. The palace of North Gonur measures 150 metres by 140 metres, the temple at Togolok 140 metres by 100 metres, the fort at Kelleli 3 125 metres by 125 metres, and the house of a local ruler at Adji Kui 25 metres by 25 metres. Each of these formidable structures has been extensively excavated. While they all have impressive fortification walls, gates, and buttresses, it is not always clear why one structure is identified as a temple and another as a palace. Mallory points out that the BMAC fortified settlements such as Gonur and Togolok resemble the qala, the type of fort known in this region in the historical period. They may be circular or rectangular and have up to three encircling walls. Within the forts are residential quarters, workshops and temples.
Models of two-wheeled carts from c. 3000 BCE found at Altyn-Depe are the earliest complete evidence of wheeled transport in Central Asia, though model wheels have come from contexts possibly somewhat earlier. Judging by the type of harness, carts were initially pulled by oxen, or a bull. However camels were domesticated within the BMAC. A model of a cart drawn by a camel of c. 2200 BCE was found at Altyn-Depe.
The discovery of a single tiny stone seal (known as the “Anau seal”) with geometric markings from the BMAC site at Anau in Turkmenistan in 2000 led some to claim that the Bactria-Margiana complex had also developed writing, and thus may indeed be considered a literate civilization. It bears five markings strikingly similar to Chinese “small seal” characters, but such characters date from the Qin reforms of roughly 100 AD, while the Anau seal is dated by context to 2,300 BCE. It is therefore an unexplained anomaly. The only match to the Anau seal is a small jet seal of almost identical shape from Niyä (near modern Minfeng) along the southern Silk Road in Xinjiang, assumed to be from the Western Han dynasty.
BMAC materials have been found in the Indus civilisation, on the Iranian plateau, and in the Persian Gulf. Finds within BMAC sites provide further evidence of trade and cultural contacts. They include an Elamite-type cylinder seal and an Harappan seal stamped with an elephant and Indus script found at Gonur-depe. The relationship between Altyn-Depe and the Indus Valley seems to have been particularly strong. Among the finds there were two Harappan seals and ivory objects. The Harappan settlement of Shortugai in Northern Afghanistan on the banks of the Amu Darya probably served as a trading station.
There is evidence of sustained contact between the BMAC and the Eurasian steppes to the north, intensifying c. 2000 BCE. In the delta of the River Amu Darya where it reaches the Aral Sea, its waters were channeled for irrigation agriculture by people whose remains resemble those of the nomads of the Andronovo Culture. This is interpreted as nomads settling down to agriculture, after contact with the BMAC. The culture they created is known as Tazabag’yad. About 1800 BCE the walled BMAC centres decreased sharply in size. Each oasis developed its own types of pottery and other objects. Also pottery of the Andronovo-Tazabag’yab culture to the north appeared widely in the Bactrian and Margian countryside. Many BMAC strongholds continued to be occupied and Andronovo-Tazabagyab coarse incised pottery occurs within them (along with the previous BMAC pottery) as well as in pastoral camps outside the mudbrick walls. In the highlands above the Bactrian oases in Tajikistan, kurgan cemeteries of the Vaksh and Bishkent type appeared with pottery that mixed elements of the late BMAC and Andronovo-Tazabagyab traditions.
As argued by Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky, there is a proposed substratum in Proto-Indo-Iranian which can be plausibly identified with the original language of the BMAC. Moreover, Lubotsky points out a larger number of words apparently borrowed from the same language, which are only attested in Indo-Aryan and therefore evidence of a substratum in Vedic Sanskrit. Some BMAC words have now also been found in Tocharian. Michael Witzel points out that the borrowed vocabulary includes words from agriculture, village and town life, flora and fauna, ritual and religion, so providing evidence for the acculturation of Indo-Iranian speakers into the world of urban civilization.
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan migrations.
The Bactria-Margiana complex has attracted attention as a candidate for those looking for the material counterparts to the Indo-Iranians, a major linguistic branch that split off from the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Sarianidi himself advocates identifying the complex as Indo-Iranian, describing it as the result of a migration from southeastern Iran. Bactrian Margiana material has been found at Susa, Shahdad, and Tepe Yahya in Iran, but Lamberg-Karlovsky does not see this as evidence that the complex originated in southeastern Iran. “The limited materials of this complex are intrusive in each of the sites on the Iranian Plateau as they are in sites of the Arabian peninsula.”
Western archaeologists are more inclined to see the culture as begun by farmers in the Near Eastern Neolithic tradition, but infiltrated by Indo-Iranian speakers from the Andronovo culture in its late phase, creating a hybrid. In this perspective, Proto-Indo-Aryan developed within the composite culture before moving south into the Indian subcontinent. As James P. Mallory phrased it
It has become increasingly clear that if one wishes to argue for Indo-Iranian migrations from the steppe lands south into the historical seats of the Iranians and Indo-Aryans that these steppe cultures were transformed as they passed through a membrane of Central Asian urbanism. The fact that typical steppe wares are found on BMAC sites and that intrusive BMAC material is subsequently found further to the south in Iran, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and Pakistan, may suggest then the subsequent movement of Indo-Iranian-speakers after they had adopted the culture of the BMAC.
However, eminent archaeologists like B. B. Lal have seriously questioned the BMAC and Indo-Iranian connection, and thoroughly disputed the proclaimed relations.
While others maintain there is insufficient evidence for any ethnic or linguistic identification of the BMAC solely based on material remains, in the absence of written records.
Vedic Sanskrit has a number of linguistic features which are alien to most other Indo-European languages. Prominent examples include: phonologically, the introduction of retroflexes, which alternate with dentals; morphologically, the formation of gerunds; and syntactically, the use of a quotative marker (“iti”). Such features, as well as the presence of non-Indo-European vocabulary, are attributed to a local substratum of languages encountered by Indo-Aryan peoples in Central Asia and within the Indian subcontinent.
A substantial body of loanwords has been identified in the earliest Indian texts. Non-Indo-Aryan elements (such as -s- following -u- in Rigvedic busa) are clearly in evidence. While some loanwords are from Dravidian, and other forms are traceable to Munda[2] or Proto-Burushaski, the bulk have no sensible basis in any of these families, suggesting a source in one or more lost languages. The discovery that some loan words from one of these lost sources had also been preserved in the earliest Iranian texts, and also in Tocharian convinced Michael Witzel and Alexander Lubotsky that the source lay in Central Asia and could be associated with the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC). Another lost language is that of the Indus Valley Civilization, which Witzel initially labelled Para-Munda, but later the Kubhā-Vipāś substrate.
Retroflex phonemes are now found throughout the Burushaski, Nuristani, Dravidian and Munda families. They are reconstructed for proto-Burushaski, proto-Dravidian and (to a minimal extent) for proto-Munda, and are thus clearly an areal feature of the Indian subcontinent. They are not reconstructible for either Proto-Indo-European or Proto-Indo-Iranian, and they are also not found in Mitanni-Indo-Aryan loan words.
The acquisition of the phonological trait by early Indo-Aryan is thus unsurprising, but it does not immediately permit identification of the donor language. Since the adoption of a retroflex series does not affect poetic meter, it is impossible to say if it predates the early portions of the Rigveda or was a part of Indo-Aryan when the Rigvedic verses were being composed; however, it is certain that at the time of the redaction of the Rigveda (ca. 500 BC), the retroflex series had become part of Sanskrit phonology. There is a clear predominance of retroflexion in the Northwest (Nuristani, Dardic, Khotanese Saka, Burushaski), involving affricates, sibilants and even vowels (in Kalasha), compared to other parts of the subcontinent. It has been suggested that this points to the regional, northwestern origin of the phenomenon in Rigvedic Sanskrit.
Bertil Tikkanen is open to the idea that various syntactical developments in Indo-Aryan could have been the result of adstratum rather than the result of substrate influences. However Tikkanen states that “in view of the strictly areal implications of retroflexion and the occurrence of retroflexes in many early loanwords, it is hardly likely that Indo-Aryan retroflexion arose in a region that did not have a substratum with retroflexes.”
In 1955 Burrow listed some 500 words in Sanskrit that he considered to be loans from non-Indo-European languages. He noted that in the earliest form of the language such words are comparatively few, but they progressively become more numerous. Though mentioning the likelihood that one source was lost Indian languages extinguished by the advance of Indo-Aryan, he concentrated on finding loans from Dravidian. Kuiper identified 383 specifically Ṛgvedic words as non-Indo-Aryan — roughly 4% of its vocabulary. Oberlies prefers to consider 344-358 “secure” non-Indo European words in the Rigveda. Even if all local non-Indo-Aryan names of persons and places are subtracted from Kuiper’s list, that still leaves some 211-250 “foreign” words, around 2% of the total vocabulary of the Rigveda.
These loanwords cover local flora and fauna, agriculture and artisanship, terms of toilette, clothing and household. Dancing and music are particularly prominent, and there are some items of religion and beliefs. They only reflect village life, and not the intricate civilization of the Indus cities, befitting a post-Harappan time frame. In particular Indo-Aryan words for plants stem in large part from other language families, especially from the now lost substrate languages.
Mayrhofer identified a “prefixing” language as the source of many non-Indo-European words in the Rigveda, based on recurring prefixes like ka- or ki-, that have been compared by Michael Witzel to the Munda prefix k- for designation of persons, and the plural prefix ki seen in Khasi, though he notes that in Vedic, k- also applies to items merely connected with humans and animals.
Witzel remarks that these words span all of local village life. He considers that they were drawn from the lost language of the northern Indus Civilization and its Neolithic predecessors. As they abound in Austroasiatic-like prefixes, he initially chose to call it Para-Munda, but later the Kubhā-Vipāś substrate.
The Indo-Europeanist and Indologist Thieme has questioned Dravidian etymologies proposed for Vedic words, most of which he gives Indo-Aryan or Sanskrit etymologies, and condemned what he characterizes as a misplaced “zeal for hunting up Dravidian loans in Sanskrit”. Das even contended that there is “not a single case” in which a communis opinio has been found confirming the foreign origin of a Rigvedic word”. Kuiper answered that charge. Burrow in turn has criticized the “resort to tortuous reconstructions in order to find, by hook or by crook, Indo-European explanations for Sanskrit words”. Kuiper reasons that given the abundance of Indo-European comparative material — and the scarcity of Dravidian or Munda — the inability to clearly confirm whether the etymology of a Vedic word is Indo-European implies that it is not.
Colin Masica could not find etymologies from Indo-European or Dravidian or Munda or as loans from Persian for 31 percent of agricultural and flora terms of Hindi. He proposed an origin in unknown Language “X”. Southworth also notes that the flora terms did not come from either Dravidian or Munda. Southworth found only five terms which are shared with Munda, leading to his suggestion that “the presence of other ethnic groups, speaking other languages, must be assumed for the period in question”.
Terms borrowed from an otherwise unknown language include those relating to cereal-growing and bread-making (bread, ploughshare, seed, sheaf, yeast), water-works (canal, well), architecture (brick, house, pillar, wooden peg), tools or weapons (axe, club), textiles and garments (cloak, cloth, coarse garment, hem, needle) and plants (hemp, cannabis, mustard, Soma plant). Lubotsky pointed out that the phonological and morphological similarity of 55 loanwords in Proto-Indo-Iranian and in Sanskrit indicates that a substratum of Indo-Iranian and a substratum of Indo-Aryan represent the same language, or perhaps two dialects of the same language. He concludes that the language of the original population of the towns of Central Asia, where Indo-Iranians must have arrived in the second millennium BCE, and the language spoken in Punjab (see Harappan below) were intimately related. However an alternative interpretation is that 55 loanwords entered common Proto-Indo-Iranian during its development in the Sintashta culture in distant contact with the Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex, and then many more words with the same origin enriched Old Indic as it developed among pastoralists who integrated with and perhaps ruled over the declining BMAC.
Witzel initially used the term “Para-Munda” to denote a hypothetical language related but not ancestral to modern Munda languages, which he identified as “Harappan”, the language of the Indus Valley Civilization. To avoid confusion with Munda, he later opted for the term “Kubhā-Vipāś substrate”. He argues that the Rigveda shows signs of this hypothetical Harappan influence in the earliest level and Dravidian only in later levels, suggesting that speakers of Harappan were the original inhabitants of Punjab and that the Indo-Aryans encountered speakers of Dravidian not before middle Rigvedic times. Krishnamurti deems the evidence too meagre for this proposal. Regarding Witzel’s methodology in claiming Para-Munda origins, Krishnamurti states: “The main flaw in Witzel’s argument is his inability to show a large number of complete, unanalyzed words from Munda borrowed into the first phase of the Ṛgveda. This statement, however, confuses Proto-Munda and Para-Munda and neglects the several hundred “complete, unanalyzed words” from a prefixing language, adduced by Kuiper and Witzel.
A concern raised in the identification of the substrate is that there is a large time gap between the comparative materials, which can be seen as a serious methodological drawback. One issue is the early geographical distribution of the South Asian languages. It should not be assumed that the present-day northern location of Brahui, Kurukh, and Malto reflects the position of their ancestor languages at the time of Indo-Aryan development. Another problem is that modern literary languages may present a misleading picture of their prehistoric ancestors. The first completely intelligible, datable, and sufficiently long and complete epigraphs that might be of some use in linguistic comparison are the Tamil inscriptions of the Pallava dynasty of about 550 C.E. and the early Tamil Brahmi inscriptions starting in the second century BC. Similarly there is much less material available for comparative Munda and the interval in their case is at least three millennia. However reconstructions of Proto-Dravidian and Proto-Munda now help in distinguishing the traits of these languages from those of Indo-European in the evaluation of substrate and loan words.
A concern raised in the identification of the substrate is that there is a large time gap between the comparative materials, which can be seen as a serious methodological drawback. One issue is the early geographical distribution of the South Asian languages. It should not be assumed that the present-day northern location of Brahui, Kurukh, and Malto reflects the position of their ancestor languages at the time of Indo-Aryan development. Another problem is that modern literary languages may present a misleading picture of their prehistoric ancestors. The first completely intelligible, datable, and sufficiently long and complete epigraphs that might be of some use in linguistic comparison are the Tamil inscriptions of the Pallava dynasty of about 550 C.E. and the early Tamil Brahmi inscriptions starting in the second century BCE. Similarly there is much less material available for comparative Munda and the interval in their case is at least three millennia.
However reconstructions of Proto-Dravidian and Proto-Munda now help in distinguishing the traits of these languages from those of Indo-European in the evaluation of substrate and loan words.
There are an estimated thirty to forty Dravidian loanwords in Vedic. Those for which Dravidian etymologies are certain include kulāya “nest”, kulpha “ankle”, daṇḍa “stick”, kūla “slope”, bila “hollow”, khala “threshing floor”. However Witzel finds Dravidian loans only from the middle Rigvedic period, suggesting that linguistic contact between Indo-Aryan and Dravidian speakers only occurred as the Indo-Aryans expanded well into and beyond the Punjab.
While Dravidian languages are primarily confined to the South of India today, there is a striking exception: Brahui (which is spoken in parts of Baluchistan). It has been taken by some as the linguistic equivalent of a relict population, perhaps indicating that Dravidian languages were formerly much more widespread and were supplanted by the incoming Indo-Aryan languages. Certainly some Dravidian place-names are found in now Indo-Aryan regions of central India. However it has now been demonstrated that the Brahui could only have migrated to Balochistan from central India after 1000 CE. The absence of any older Iranian (Avestan) loanwords in Brahui supports this hypothesis. The main Iranian contributor to Brahui vocabulary, Balochi, is a western Iranian language like Kurdish, and moved to the area from the west only around 1000 CE.
As noted above, retroflex phonemes in early Indo-Aryan cannot identify the donor language as specifically Dravidian. Krishnamurti argues the Dravidian case other features: “Besides, the Ṛg Veda has used the gerund, not found in Avestan, with the same grammatical function as in Dravidian, as a non-finite verb for ‘incomplete’ action. Ṛg Vedic language also attests the use of iti as a quotative clause complementizer.” However, such features are also found in the indigenous Burushaski language of the Pamirs and cannot be attributed only to Dravidian influence on the early Rigveda.
Post-Vedic words such as nāraṅgaḥ “orange” (first attested in the Sushruta Samhita, ca. 4th century AD) are often taken to be straightforward loans from Dravidian into Sanskrit. Since they belong to a later period, they are unsuited to establish the origin of the loans in Rigvedic Sanskrit.
Kuiper identified one of the donor languages to Indo-Aryan as Proto-Munda. Munda linguist Gregory D. Anderson states: “It is surprising that nothing in the way of quotations from a Munda language turned up in (the hundreds and hundreds of) Sanskrit and middle-Indic texts. There is also a surprising lack of borrowings of names of plants/animal/bird, etc. into Sanskrit (Zide and Zide 1976). Much of what has been proposed for Munda words in older Indic (e.g. Kuiper 1948) has been rejected by careful analysis. Some possible Munda names have been proposed, for example, Savara (Sora) or Khara, but ethnonymy is notoriously messy for the identification of language groups, and a single ethnonym may be adopted and used for linguistically rather different or entirely unrelated groups”.
Aryan race
Indo-Aryan languages
Dravidian peoples
Early Indians
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian expansion include:

Poltavka culture (2700–2100 BC)
Central Asia
Andronovo horizon (2200–1000 BC)
Sintashta-Petrovka-Arkaim (2200–1600 BC)
Alakul (2100–1400 BC)
Fedorovo (1400–1200 BC)
Alekseyevka (1200–1000 BC)
Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (2200–1700 BC)
Srubna culture (2000–1100 BC)
Abashevo culture (1700–1500 BC)
Yaz culture (1500–1100 BC)
Indian subcontinent
Cemetery H culture (1900–1300 BC)
Swat culture (1600–500 BC)
Painted Gray Ware culture (1100–350 BC)
Early West Iranian Grey Ware (1500–1000 BC)
Late West Iranian Buff Ware (900–700 BC)
Parpola (1999) suggests the following identifications:
2800–2000 BC late Catacomb and Poltavka cultures late PIE to Proto–Indo-Iranian
2000–1800 BC Srubna and Abashevo cultures Proto-Iranian
2000–1800 BC Petrovka-Sintashta Proto–Indo-Aryan
1900–1700 BC BMAC “Proto-Dasa” Indo-Aryans establishing themselves in the existing BMAC settlements, defeated by “Proto-Rigvedic” Indo-Aryans around 1700
1900–1400 BC Cemetery H Indian Dasa
1800–1000 BC Alakul-Fedorovo Indo-Aryan, including “Proto–Sauma-Aryan” practicing the Soma cult
1700–1400 BC early Swat culture Proto-Rigvedic = Proto-Dardic
1700–1500 BC late BMAC “Proto–Sauma-Dasa”, assimilation of Proto-Dasa and Proto–Sauma-Aryan
1500–1000 BC Early West Iranian Grey Ware Mitanni-Aryan (offshoot of “Proto–Sauma-Dasa”)
1400–800 BC late Swat culture and Punjab, Painted Grey Ware late Rigvedic
1400–1100 BC Yaz II-III, Seistan Proto-Avestan
1100–1000 BC Gurgan Buff Ware, Late West Iranian Buff Ware Proto-Persian, Proto-Median
1000–400 BC Iron Age cultures of Xinjang Proto-Saka
The South Asian Stone Age (7000–3000 BC)

The South Asian Stone Age
Prehistoric India
Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex
Early Harappan
Neolithic Tamil Nadu
Kulli culture
The South Asian Bronze age (3000–1300 BC)
The South Asian Bronze age (3000–1300 BC)
Indus Valley Civilization
Periodization of the Indus Valley Civilization
Vedic India
Indus script
Cemetery H
Gandhara Grave

Ochre Coloured Pottery
The South Asian Iron age (1200–26 BC)
Iron Age India
Vedic Civilization
Black and Red ware culture
Painted Grey Ware culture
Copper Hoard Culture
Northern Black Polished Ware
Epic India
Ancient India and Central Asia
History of Central Asia
History of South Asia
Internet Indian History Sourcebook



The position of the Panchala kingdom in Iron Age Vedic India

Kingdoms of Ancient India

Map of ancient Indian kingdoms during Epic period

Map of Ancient India  during the time of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Buddha

Manapada – Mahājanapada 600 – 300 f.vt.










Vatsa (Vamsa)



Machcha (Matsya)


Assaka (Asmaka)





Trigarta Kingdom

The Kingdom of Kuninda (Kulinda) (- 3rd century) (Bengal)

Vanga (Bengal) Kingdom (- 3rd century) (Bengal)

Gangaridai Kingdom (- 3rd century) (Bengal)

Pundra Kingdom (- 3rd century) (Bengal)

Suhma Kingdom (- 3rd century) (Bengal)

Anga Kingdom (- 3rd century) (Bengal)

Harikela (- 3rd century) (Bengal)


Mehrgarh – Indus sivilisasjonen


The South Asian Stone Age (7000–3000 BC)

The South Asian Stone Age

Prehistoric India

Bactria–Margiana Archaeological Complex


Early Harappan

Neolithic Tamil Nadu

Kulli culture








The South Asian Bronze age (3000–1300 BC)

Indus Valley Civilization

Periodization of the Indus Valley Civilization

Vedic India

Indus script

Cemetery H

Gandhara Grave

Ochre Coloured Pottery



The South Asian Iron age (1200–26 BC)

Iron Age India

Vedic Civilization

Black and Red ware culture

Painted Grey Ware culture

Copper Hoard Culture

Northern Black Polished Ware

Epic India

Magadha 500 – 321 f.vt.

Kingdom of Magadha 500 BC–321 BC


Magadha dynastier

Magadha Dynasties

Brihadratha dynasty

Pradyota dynasty

Haryanka dynasty

Shishunaga dynasty

Shishunaga dynasty

Nanda dynasty

Maurya dynasty

Sunga dynasty

Kanva dynasty

Gupta dynasty

Konger av Magadha

Kings of Magadha

Brihadratha Dynasty

Pradyota dynasty

Nanda Dynasty (424–321 BC)

Maurya Dynasty (324–184 BC)

Shunga Dynasty (185–73 BC)

Kanva Dynasty (73–26 BC)

Gupta Dynasty (c. 240–550 AD)

Chera Kingdom (Keralaputras) (500th century BC – 1102 AD)

Pandyan Kingdom before 500 BC – 16th century AD

Chola dynasty (300s BC–1279)

The Mahameghavahana dynasty (250s BC – 400 AD)

Satavahana Empire (230 BC – 220)

Kharavela Empire 193 BC–170 BCE

Iron Age India • 1200–272 BC
Vedic Civilization • 2000–500 BCE
Black and Red ware culture • 1300–1000 BCE
Painted Grey Ware culture • 1200–600 BCE
Northern Black Polished Ware • 700–200 BCE
Maha Janapadas • 700–300 BCE
Chola Empire c. 300 BCE–1279 BCE
Nanda Empire • 424-321 BCE
Chera Kingdom c. 300 BCE–1102 BCE
Pandya Kingdom c. 300 BCE–1345 BCE
Maurya Empire • 321–184 BCE
Pallava Empire • 250 BCE–800 BCE
Sunga Empire • 185–73 BCE
Kanva Empire • 75–26 BCE
Maha-Megha-Vahana Empire • 250s BCE–400s CE
Kuninda Kingdom • 200s BCE–300s CE
Indo-Scythian Kingdom • 200 BCE–400 CE
Satavahana Empire • 230 BCE–220 CE
Indo-Greek Kingdom • 180 BCE–10 CE

Classical India
Timeline: Northwestern India Northern India Southern India Northeastern India
 6th century BCE
 5th century BCE
 4th century BCE 3rd century BCE
 2nd century BCE 1st century BCE
 1st century CE 2nd century
 3rd century
 4th century
 5th century
 6th century
 7th century
 8th century
 9th century
10th century
11th century

(Persian rule)
(Greek conquests)

(Islamic conquests)

(Islamic Empire)

File:Ancient india.png


Mehrgarh – Indus sivilisasjonen

Extent of the Indus Valley Civilization imposed over modern borders

File:IVC Map.png

Hovedsentrene for Indusdal sivilisasjonen

File:Mehrgarh figurine3000bce.jpg

A figurine from Mehrgarh, c. 3000 BC

File:IndusValleySeals swastikas.JPG



Dwaraka Kingdom

Dwarakadheesh temple

Marine archaeology in the Gulf of Cambay

File:Dwarakadhish gopura and swarg-dwar.JPG

Swarg Dwar

File:Dwarkadheesh temple.jpg

Dwarakadheesh temple in present Dwarka city, believed to have been originally built by Lord Krishna‘s grandson, Vajranabha, over the hari-griha (Lord Krishna’s residential place)


“The sacred town and temples of Dwarka,” from Grindlay’s ‘Scenery, Costumes and Architecture chiefly on the Western Side of India’, London, 1826-30

Gandhara tidlig i det første milleniet f.vt. – 1100-tallet


Nanda imperiet på sitt største 424 – 321 f.vt.

Chola dynastiet 300-tallet f.t. – 1279

File:South India in BC 300.jpg

Sør India 300 f.vt. – Chera, Pandya og Chola stammene

File:Map of Chera Kingdom.jpg

Chera kongedømmet i Sangam perioden 300-tallet f.vt. – 4-tallet

File:Kamarupa 7th-8th Century AD.jpg

Kamarupa kongedømmet i Assam (350–1140)

Kalinga i år 265 f.vt.

File:Maurya Dynasty in 265 BCE.jpg

File:Mauryan Empire Map.gif

Maurya imperiet (Asokas imperium)


Maurya imperiet


Tillya Tepe i den vestlige delen av det eldre Bactria

File:Asoka Kaart.gif

Buddhist proselytisme på Ashokas tid (260–218 f.vt.)


Satavahana imperiet (linjert) og dets erobringer (dotter) 230 f.vt. – 220


Sunga imperiet



Kampanjer og hendelser til Alexanders invasjon av India 327–326 f.vt.

File:Rome-Seleucia-Parthia 200bc.jpg

Seleucide imperiet 312 – 63 f.vt.


File:Indo-Greeks 100bc.jpg

Indo-greske kongedømmer i år 100 f.vt.


Indo-greske kongedømmer i år 100 f.vt.


Det gresk-baktriske kongedømmet, inkludert Tapuria og Traxiane i vest, Sogdiana og Ferghana i nord, Baktria og Arachosia i sør, i år 180 f.vt.

File:Standing Bodhisattva Gandhara Musee Guimet.jpg

Indo-grekerne kan ha hatt de tidligste trekkene for buddhismen i India



Territoriene (linjert) og ekspansjon (dottet) til det indo-skytiske kongedømmet 200 f.vt. – 400


Plakett som viser Cybele trukket av løver


Skytiske gullgjenstander fra Baktria (Tillia tepe)


To av menneskene funnet i Tillya Tepe gravene med korresponderende gjenstander. Gjenstandene i den kongelige graven Tillia tepe anses for å være baktriske sakere fra 100-tallet f.vt.


En skytisk ridder fra Ili elva, Pazyryk, 300-tallet f.vt.



Sakastan i år 100 f.vt.


Yuezhi (tokarernes) folkets migrasjon via Sentral Asia omkring 176 f.vt. – 30


Kushan imperiet (linjert) og dets største utstrekning under Kanishka (dottet) 30 – 375 (tokarere)

Vestlige satraper (Saka)


Vestlige satraper (35–405)


File:Parthia 001ad.jpg


Det indo-parthiske kongedømme 12 f.vt. – 100


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