Excavations – Important – Gujarat


Lothal (22°31′; 72°15′), Dt Ahmadabad, Gujarat
A mound in village Saragwala sandwiched between the Sabarmati and the Bhogavo, 10 km up the Gulf of Cambay, though the distance might have been shorter in ancient times. The compact mound rising about 6 m was discovered by S.R. Rao in 1954 and excavated by him on behalf of the ASI from 1954 -55 to 1962-63

The 7 m thick occupational debris has been divided by the excavator into two Periods, A and B, the first belonging to the mature Harappa culture and the second to a decadent stage thereof. The lower town provided accommodation for craftsmen-coppersmiths, goldsmiths, shell-workers and bead-makers, their shops and working-places marked by the remains of their craft. Thus, two coppersmiths had a brick-lined

furnace, a cubical stone anvil, terracotta crucibles and copper implements; a bead factory had hundreds of carnelian beads in different stages of manufacture including finished ones and a circular kiln for the heating of the raw material. The technological skill of the people is attested by bronze drills of the auger type with twisted grooves, besides flanged ones, needles etc.

The acropolis was trapezoid on plan, 117 m e.-w., 136 m on the n. and 111 m on the s. The main residence, of which no trace is left, stood on a 3.5 m high podium, 126 x 30 m, with three streets and three lanes, and had a brick-lined well and elaborate drainage system attached to the baths Lothal had two other notable features distinguishing it from earilier Indus cities-a dock and a warehouse. The former, a trapezoid baked-brick enclosure measuring on an average 214 x 36 m and flanking and running along practically the whole length of the e. city-wall, has been taken to be a dock to berth ships sailing into it at high tide through a 12 m wide gap in the e. flank; in the s. wall at the opposite end was a spill.way for excess water to escape and to lock water when necessary by a (wooden) shutter in the vertical grooves provided in the flanking walls.

The top of the city-wall flanking its e., wider here than elsewhere, has been taken to be a wharf or loading-platform standing on a 4 m high platform with floor-area of 1930 sq m, originally with 64 cubical mud-brick blocks, each 3.6 m square on plan and 1 m high, separated from each other by a 1 m wide passage. As many as 65 terracotta sealings recovered from the warehouse bore impressions of Indus seals on th obverse and of packing material such as bamboo matting, reed, woven cloth and cord on the reverse. substantial part of the warehouse was destroyed in P,III and was never rebuilt. All this elaborate infrastructure for external trade amply reflected in other finds from Lothal. A circular steatite seal of the class known as Persian Gulf seal (Bibby, 1958, pp. 243-4; Wheeler, 1958, p. 246; Rao 1963, p. 37), found aqundantly at Failaka and Rasal Qaila (Bahrain) on the Persian Gillf, is a surface find at Lothal, evidently the Persain Gulf sites were inter mediary in the Indus trade with Mesopotamia. Conversely some of the Indus-like seals found it Mesopotamia may have been imports from Lothal. A bun-shaped copper ingot, weighing 1.438 kg follows the shape, size and weight of Susa ingots, with which tht Lothal specimen shares the lack of arsenic in its composition. In addition to the Indus stone cubes of standard weights. Lothal had another series of weights conforming to the Heavy Assyrian standard for international trade.

Lothal might also have been the intermediary station for the import to the Indus valley of gold from Kolar (Mysore) gold-fields, some semiprecious stones from the Deccan plateau and shell from the w. coast and in turn might have depended on the Indus valley of such items as copper and chert, their sources being nearer the Indus then Lothal.

The cemetery of Lothal lay t,o the n.-w. of the lower city beyond the peripheral wall. Twenty graves-each a rectangular n.-s. pit-were identified. The bodies were kept in an extended position, except three which hild the bodies lying on the side. One of the graves contained two bodies, but in view of the difference among anthropologists whether one was a male and other a emale, these graves being illustrative of the practice of an would remain an open question. One of the skulls as trephined, “either shortly before death or post ortem. The graves were poorly furnished with pottery. One of them had bones of goat besides human remains and another a bovine jaw-bone. The graves belonged to Phase III, the earlier cemeteries remaining identified and the later one being washed away by floods. Considering the limited number of burials it would appear that other methods of the disposal of the dead might have been in vogue. The excavator’s date for the mature Harappa culture, Period I, of Lothal is from 2450 to 1900 B.C., and for the decadent phase, Period II, 1900 to 1600 B.C.

Malwan (21 71′; 72°42′), Dt Surat, Gujarat
On the lower estuary of the Tapti, e. of Dumas, and the site stands on a bank some 2 m in height. F .R. Allchin and J.P. Joshi discovered the site in 1967 while exploring the estuaries of the Gujarat coastal plain to define the s. limits of the Harappa culture. The site is greatly eroded and a large part of the ancient habitation has disappeared. Excavation was jointly conducted in 1970 by J.P.Joshi and his assistants in the ASI and Cyrus Guzder of the Univ. of Cambridge. (IAR 1969-70, p. 7).

Two Periods of cultural activities were met within a deposit of 1.3 m in an area of 15 x 30 m. Period I re- presented an essentially late Harappa to post-Harappa Chalcolithic occupation and Period II consisted of a group of late historical pits and hearths of some temporary occupation.

The principal structural remains of Period I are a ditch, first identified during the exploration, which are in an e.-w. direction and has been traced to a length of 18.30 m. It has an average depth of 1.10 m and width of 1.50 m cut into the natural soil. Its sides are inclined at an angle of 30°.

The other objects are dimunitive blades made on tiny cores of jasper, agate, chalcedony and bloodstone with an unexpectedly high ratio of cores to flakes or blades and an almost total absence of retouched specimens. A number of small objects of copper or bronze have been recovered, notably a bangle and a small rod.

The animals represented are the cattle, sheep and goat, dog, horse, hog, pig, barasingha and fish is also found.

Rangpur (22026′; 71055′), dt. Sundranagar, Gujarat
An extensive site on the Bhadar, where trial diggings were undertaken in 1935 by M.S. Vats (ASI-AR 1934-5). He declared that it was a site of the late period of Harappa culture. Later on Ghurye, (1939), Dikshit ( 1947), and S. R. Rao ( 1953-56) excavated the site. Rao has classified the occupational deposit in four Periods with three Sub-Periods in the Harappa culture, Period II with an earlier, Period I, Microlithic, and even a Middle Palaeolithic stage, the last encountered in the river section, with points, scrapers and blades of jasper. The sequential datings as given by him are as follows: Period I: Microlithic unassociated with pottery, 3000B.C.; Period II A: Harappa 2000-1500 B.C.; Period II B: late Harappa,1500-1100 B.C.; Period III C: transition phase of the Harappa, 1100-1000 B.C.; and Period Ill: Lustrous Red Ware 1000- 800 B.C.

As number of C-14 dates are available the dating of the Period of C Rangpur is based on a number of considerations, viz.thickness of deposits, changes in ceramic traditions and comparision with other sites both typologically and on the basis of 14C dates for Lothal, Navdatoli. Rao no doubt admits the arrival of new elements in Periods II C and ill but at the same time feels that they were due to contact. According to him the equipments of Period II C are an evolution from the Harappa culture. Defining the importance of Rangpur Rao says: ‘The penetration of the Harappaculture into the Kathiawadpeninsula, its survival up to the end of the 2nd millennium B.C. in a decadent form, subsequently transforming itself into the Lustrous Red Ware culture, and the establishment of a continuous cultural sequence from 2 to 800 B.C. are important contributions made by the excavation at Rangpur. But it may be difficult to regard the new elements of Periods II C and Ill, particularly the Lustrous Red Ware, as evolved from the Harappa and as such a continuity of the Harappa sequence till 800 B.C., which itself may be too Iowa date for Period III, is open to question.

Surkotada (230 7′; 700 50’), Dt Kutch, Gujarat
Brought to light by J.P.Joshi in the course of the exploration of n. Kutch between 1964 and 1968 along with 17 other Harappa sites, indicating the expansion of the Harappa culture from Sind to Gujarat by land routes. The site was excavated by them in 1970-2 (IAR 1970-1, p. 13; 1971-2, p. 13), bringing to light a threefold cultural sequence and the settlement pattern of the Harappans.

In Period I A, datable toc. 2300 B.C., the Harappans came to Surkotada and built a fortified citadel and residential annexe, made of mud brick, mud lumps and rubble, containing houses with bath-rooms and drains. A new element in the population along with the already extant Harappa is seen in c. 1900 B.C. The newcomers used a coarse red pottery. During this Period, IB, a revetment was added to the fortification of the citadel. Besides house walls the important finds are a heavy copper celt and a chisel and the usual Harappa beads, chert blades, etc.Finally, in Period I C, with the Harappa still living here,another people using the black-and-red ware and a very coarse pottery came to the site.

The available 14C dates are 2O58+95 B.C. for the earliest level of Period I A and 1970+95 B.C for the latest level thereof. Another date of 1805+90 B.P. of a mixed sample is to be discarded. The emergent picture after an evaluation of the relative and absolute chronology shows that the entire culture range at Surkotada is well within c. 2300 to 1750 B.C.

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