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Home > Excavations  > Andhra Pradesh
Excavations - Important - Andhra Pradesh
Dharanikota, (160 34'; 800 17), Dt Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
The site of Dharanikota is situated on the right bank of the Krishna and known as Dhana-Kataka, and also covered the Buddhist by site of Amarawati. Excavations conducted by M. Venkataraprmayya and during 1963-65 by ASI (IAR 1963- 4, p. 2; 1964-5, p. 2) brought to light three Periods of with dates ranging from c. 400 B.C. and c. A.D. 400. 

Period I A is characterized mainly by the Black-and-Red Ware, besides the red and black ware. Period I B had a few sherds of the NBPW besides the Black-and-red Ware and the red and black wares. Among the other interesting finds is a well- preserved ear ring of plain leaf. All these ornaments find a place on the sculptures of the Amarawati stupa. Another interesting object is a rectangular piece of a glass seal of violet colour with the emblem of a lion in relief, stratigraphically dated to the 1st century B.C. 

Sub-Period II A extends. Instead of the wooden wharf a brick structure was constructed all along the channel on its inner side and an earthen embankment was raised at the back. The pottery is the Black- and -red Ware and red and black wares, besides Rouletted Ware, Arretine sherds, handle pieces of Roman amphora.

During Sub-Period II B the plan of the port was slightly modified, the previous brick wharf being superimposed by a brick revetment with alternate gradients and landings were provided at different levels of the water and a similar brick revetment was constructed on the opposite side as well Glass objects, some copper and lead coins with lion and elephant emblems recognizable as late Satavahana issues of the 3rd century A.D.

Period III marks the abandonment of the navigational channel, its gradual silting up and its deliberate closing: Some of the materials from this debris include an inscribed potsherd of 3rd and 4th century AD. an inscribed broken stone marble piece of the Iksvaku period. Probably the conversion of the entire embankment as a land-fort without a channel ora moat might have taken place in the post-Iksvaku period. 



Nagarjunakonda, Nagarjunikonda, (1631'; 79 14'), Dt Guntur, Andhra Pradesh
On the right bank of the Krishna, the valley now submerged, first brought to light in 1926 by A.R. Saraswati of the ASI. Explorations by Kuraishi and Sastri in the same year and excavations carried out subsequently by Longhurst (1927-31) and then by Ramachandran (1938) indicates an extensive Buddhist settlement that came up during the rule of the Iksvakus who had their capital Vijayapuri in this valley itself. But the large-scale excavations, which commenced in 1954 consequent on the decision of turning the hill-girt valley into a reservoir of the Nagar- junasagar Dam across the Krishna, revealed the cultural sequence from the Lower Palaeolithic to the medieval times, besides unearthing the remains of the city of Vijayapuri, which flourished mainly in the 3rd and the 4th centuries A.D. 

Sites numbering more than 130 were spread over an area of 23 sq km inside the valley, closed on all sides by the hills of the Nallamalai Range. These sites may broadly be divided into seven Periods: Period I, Lower Palaeolithic; Period II, Middle Palaeolithic; Period III, Mesolithic; Period IV, Neolithic; Period V, Megalithic; Period VI, early historical; and Period VII, medieval. Though Lower Palaeolithic tools could be picked up from any part of the valley, it was Site 129 that exposed an advanced Acheulian industry in a stratigraphical context since tools in good state of preservation were found overlying the pebble bed resting on a fossil river-bank. The pebble bed was followed by a thick talus deposit of shingies over which was discovered a Middle Palaeolithic assemblage dominated by blade flakes made mostly on quartze.

The Middle Palaeolithic industry encountered at Nagarjunakonda appears to be later than that of Veerla Bodu. The Middle Palaeolithic tradition with its blades, blade flakes, points, scrapers, etc. seems to have con- tinued even in the Mesolithic cultures. Like the Lower Palaeolithic tools Mesolithic microliths abounded in the valley 

There were at least five Neolithic sites-Sites 45, 46, 46 A, 47 and 68-the last-mentioned being a cemetery ,with two strata of burials. All these sites, except Site 68, were situated along the foot of a doleritic dyke that traversed along the centre of the valley. Site 45, representing the earliest Neolithic phase (earlier than 2500 B.C.), revealed a short-blade microlithic industry accompanied by a crude reddish-brown handmade pottery, basaltic or quartzite flakes and a few crudely fashioned neoliths probably used for tillage operation. Phase II of the Neolithic culture, which did not evolve out of the earlier one, was characterized by the higher frequency of red ware over the burnished grey ware, besides the occurrence of pits, animal bones, microliths on chert and rock crystal, flake tools on greyish quartzite and disc beads. The occupants seem to have lived in some sort of semisubterranean dwellings, and one such pit contained the skeleton of an adult male, tall and robust and having a dolichocephalic head. The evolved phase (c. 1500 B.C.) at Site 46, which again did not develop out of the earlier tradition in the valley, showed predominance of the burnished grey ware over the red ware, occurrence of Neolithic tools of various types, microliths on rock crystal, quartzite flakes, disc beads of paste, steatite and shell, workings on bone or horn, large quantities of animal bones, pits of various sizes and urn burials for infants at the habitation site. The semisubterranean dwellings were in vogue alongside houses, mostly rectangular on plan, built on thick poles. The Neolithic tool types, which included axes, adzes, elongated celts, shoe-last celts. weeding hoes, picks, sometimes with twin work-ing ends, chisels, axe-cum-hammers, side-choppers, fabricators, etc., showed that these were used not merely for carpentry but also for tillage operatioJls. That the people stock-breeding is evident from the Ianimal bones. including those of cattle.

The only other cist, at Site 64, produced two human femurs and an armlet. Site 63 was a cluster of 18 megaliths, of which all the examples except one were pit: circles. At this site 13 megaliths were opened, but barf ring two, Megs. XIV and XV which disclosed primary extended inhumation burials, all of them entombed the remains of post-excamation burials. The dead were laid I in a n.-s. orientation as in the Neolithic cemetery but the skeletal remains in Meg. XV were placed in an e.-w. orientation. Very often animal bones were also found; in fact the evidence from Meg. XII proved beyond doubt that the actual interment was preceded or succeeded by elaborate rituals including anjrnal sacrifice.

A time interval has again jo be assumed between the,Megalithic culture and the early historical phase commencing in about A.D. 200. Indeed the written history of Nagarjunakonda is ushered in at the time of the later Satavahanas whose archaeological vestiges are represented by coins of Gautami-putra Satakarni, Pulumavi, Yajria Satakarnti, etc., and the pillar-inscription, perhaps coming from one of the earliest Buddhist establishments of the valley, of Gautamiputra Vijaya Satakanrti, dated in his 6th regnal year. The name Vijayapuri, which became later the capital of the Iksvakus,was after Vijaya Satakanrni, who might have been the real founder of the city. It was the Ikshvaku king Vasisthiputra Camtamula who had snatched a portion of the kingdom of the tottering Satavahanas sometime in the second quarter of the 3rd century. So far the names of the four Iksvaku rulers-Vasisthaputra Camtamula, Mathanputra Viraapurushadatta, Vasishiputra Ehuvala, Camtamola and Vasishthputra Rudrapurusadatta-are known from epigraphs, which, in addition to their coins, are the main sources of their dynastic history. These kings, who were worshippers of Mahasena, though many of their queens and princesses were patrons of Buddhism, ruled for about 100 years or so. 

Under the Iksvakus Vijayapuri became an important centre of political and cultural activities. It had a weIl thoughtout plan, within which civic needs and security received equal consideration. The citadel proper enclosing the king's area had rampart walls with moats on the three sides save partially on the w., i.e. towards the river. Structures (Sites 90-92,94-95, 100-104, etc.) inside included, residential buildings, barracks, stables, cisterns, baths and square wells or soak-pits. Unfortunately it has not been possible to identify with certainty the palace but the building-complex, part of which was known as the Asvamedha site (Site 93) was in fact the bathing establishment attached to the palace-complex. The site had two ornamental tanks connected with uderground drains, apart from wells and paved cisterns. One of them was tortoise-shaped, while the other, square and stepped, had originally a wooden superstructure that was destroyed in fire. The bulk of the population had its residence (Sites 58,69,72,89, 1(1), 112, U5, 117-119) outside the citadel

Far more impressive edifices were the Brahmanical temples and the Buddhist establishments built mostly in burnt brick. There were about 18 Brahmanical temples (Sites 29, 34-35, 39, 56-57,64,74,78,80,82-84,97,99, 122, 126-127) situated mostly along the n.-flowing Krishna and around the citadel. Four of them wert,undoubtedly Saiva, meant for either Siva or Karttikeya; inscriptions give us the names of two Siva temples of Puspabhadrasvamin (Site 34), built on apsidal plan, and of Nodagisvarasvamin (Site 127)-having a square sanctum, while two temples of Karttikeya-one with a -square sanctum, (Site 82) and the other oblong (Site 34) on plan-were identified on the basis of discovered icons. An inscribed image of the mother goddess from Site 126 and terracotta plaques depicting the same form may show the presence of such a temple. There was also a temple (Site 39), rectangular on plan, for Devi though the image found at this site has been identified as Devasena, the consort of Karttikeya or Mahasena. The only Vaisnava temple (Site 29) was that of Astabhu-jasvamin whose wooden image having eight arms might have been fixed on a stone pedestal containing the inscription of Abhira Vasusea

More than 30 Buddhist establishments (Sites 1.-9, 14- 15, 15A, 16, 20-24, 26-28, 30, 32A, 32B, 36, 38, 43,51-52,54,59,85-86,105-106, 108) belonging to various sects like the Aparamahavinaseliya (Sites 1, 9) and Bahusrutiya (Site 5) of the Mahasanghika Order and Mahisaka (Sites 7, 8) and Mahaviharavasin (Site 38) of the Theravadin Order were exposed. These monasteries were spread throughout the valley except the riverbank. The earliest of them was the maha-caitya, Site 1, built in the 6th regnal year of Virapurusadatta, for the monks of the Aparamahavinaseliya sect

Most of the stUpas were wheel-shaped on plan, the number of spokes varying from four, six, eight to ten, and had ayaka platforms surmounted by five ayaka pillars at four cardinal directions. The wheel-shaped plan, which may be the outcome of a long series of experiments in different parts of, India, including Andhra, reached its perfection here. In the construction of such stupas, the like of which is the Dharmarajika Stupa at Taxila of the first century A

The medieval hill fort that came up on the hill, Nagarjunakonda, because of its strategic location near the fordable point, contains three medieval temples which have escaped submergence. It may be mentioned here that the name Nagarjunakonda occurs only in medieval records and does not seem to have any connection with Nagarjuna, the Buddhist philosopher of the second century A.D. Anyway it is on this hill, now transformed into an island, that some of the reconstructed monuments like the Bathing Ghat, Sites 4, 93, etc., have been built; the museum on this island contains not only the salvaged relics but also scale-models of the sites, now under water. A few reconstructed monuments, include Iring the open-air theatre, may also be seen on the e. bank of the modern reservoir near the jetty. The programme of reconstruction of transplantation of ruins of monuments has been a unique venture, the first in India.


Satanikota (1555'; 7814'), Dt Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh 
Located on the right bank of the Tungabhadra in Taluka Nandikotkur, excavated in 1978 by N.C. Ghosh, ASI to find out the cultural sequence before the submergence of the area under the Shrishailam hydroelectric project. The cultural deposits of the site are divisible into three Periods. 

Period I, Mesolithic, is characterized by microliths comprising scrapers, blades, backed blades, a burin and a large number of flakes and flake tools. Unassociated with pottery or any other objects they have been recovered from the top of a red patinated gravel bed lying over the decomposed rock which in turn rests up on the basal gneissic complex. The Mesolithic people must have appeared on the scene long after the formation of the gravel bed. 

Period ll, midlle of the 1st century B.C. to the middle of the 3rd century A.D., represents the main occupation riod of the site. At certain places a sterile layer setes Periods I and II. The elaborate gateway complex facing s. has a flight of five steps of 3 m width and flanked by 45 cm wide n.-s. parapet walls, partly of burnt brick and partly of stone. Each tread measures 1.10 m with risers of 23 cm.Three pairs of sockets, each 37 cm in ameter, cut into blocks of stones and distributed enly on either side of the gate have been found in the following arrangement. The first set, one on each side of flanking stones inside the gate, was to carry two levels of the door. Another set of two sockets on either of the outer edge of the gateway complex almost touches the inner edge of the moat. These were probably meant for heavy posts of a drawbridge, perhaps used as a means for crossing the moat. No evidence of any permanent arrangement connecting the gate and the other side the moat is available. 

The structural activity within the fort commences from nearly 12 m away from the fort-wall. An extensive structural complex covering an area of about 300 sq. m comprising a couple of rectangular rooms and enclores measuring on an average 1.95 x 2.65 m and 3.20 x5 m respectively is evidenced only from robber's trenches or burnt brick, 50 x 26 x 8 cm have been practically obliterated due to systematic brick robbing except at a few spots where truncated walls arelvailable. The width of the walls ranges between 52 to 68 cm. For these walls deep and wide foundation trenches lave been dug in the underlying deposit of red painted gravels and then packed with gravels in the matrix of lard clay. 

The structural activity of Phase 2a of Period II is repesented mainly by a series of burnt-brick, 50 x 26 x 8 cm, structures, all connected with each other by a deep foundation cut into the hard ground of red patinated gravels. Most of the structures are below the ground level and are internally tapering due to offsets provided or each row of brick in the walls. The bottom is either aved with full brick or is founded on bed rock. The roofs of these structures appear to have been of overlapping tiles fixed by iron nails. The tiles are mainly of three varieties, viz. flat, with eaves and ridged, be ides finials. The flat ones carry a pair of holes in the upper edge to drive nails into wooden rafters, besides leafing traces of whitewash. 

Phase 2b has remained of a brick-paved platform, 1.36 X 1.5 m in a damaged condition with post-holes and a room, 2.52 x 2.22 m with a partly paved drain. The walls of the latter carry a number of post-holes. A huge stone lab covering the brick floor has been found in the centre of this structure. 

The ceramic contents of this Period are characteristic of he Satavahana sites of comparable times. The principal ceramics include the Black-and-red Ware, Rouletted Ware, Russet-coated Painted Ware, kaolin, Red Polished Ware and chocolate-slipped wares, besides the usual slipped and unslipped red and black wares. 

Amongst terracotta objects a solitary example of female head, with its head-dress, typical of the Satavahana period, knotted in the foml of crocodile heads on either side over the top is interesting. It is made in the double mould technique. As many as 200 beads have been found. Of these glass alone accounts for nearly 50%, followed closely by terracotta which constitutes nearly 25%. Shell, carnelian, agate, jasper, bloodstone, chert, opel and bone are the other materials for beads of different shapes.Amongst the semiprecious stones the largest representation is that of jasper,followed by carnelian, eight, and agate, six. Bloodstone is represented by two beads and opal, chert and bone only by a single sepcimen each. A noteworthy discovery is a turtle-shaped pendant of shell. 

Period III, medieval, is recognized by pottery, two copper coins and other assoicated antiquities. However the habitational deposits of this Period have been subjected to such extensive spoilage that the ceramics and antiquities have got mixed up with those of the preceding Period, as a result of which a clear picture has not emerged. 

About 2 km. of the site on a high ground not far away from the bank of the Tungabhadra clusters of Megalithic burials have been noticed, mostly in a damaged condition . 

 
 

 

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