Excavations – Important – Karnataka
Brahmagiri, Dt. Chitradurga, Karnataka
Brahmagiri is located close to Siddapur where two Minor Rock-edicts of Ashoka were discovered in 1891. These inscriptions, besides indicating the southern most extent by the Mauryan empire, also mentions the locality known as Isila, the headquarters of the Mahamatras of Suvarnagiri. A habitation site was discovered here in 1940 M.H. Krishna (IAR Mysore Arch. Dept. for 1940, p. 63). He excavated 16 trenches in different parts of the site and recognized five cultural strata: Microlithic, Neolithic, Iron Age, Mauryan, and Chalukya-Hoysala. The Microlithic culture was designated by him as ‘Roppa culture’, the trench wherein it was identified being located within the limits of the village Roppa.R.E.M. Wheeler discovering Rouletted Ware in Krishna’s collections .
At the habitation site, he established a sequence of three cultures: Period I, Neolithic or Neolithic-Chalcolithic; Period II, the Megalithic culture; and Period III, early historical culture. Seshadri, 1956, re-explored the site and collected flake tools of jasper, chert, etc., such as scrapers, and assigned them to Pre-I A phase of Wheeler. Later in 1965 two copper objects from the sieved debris and black-painted red ware sherds of the late Jorwe fabric from the surface were discovered; in 1978 similar painted sherds from the overlapping layers of Period I B and the Megalithic were found.
In Period I, the Neolithic Culture is characterised by the abundance of polished stone axes made of dolerite. The other lithic tools include parallel-sided blades and microliths such as crescents, beaked gravers, backed blades, blades with crested ridge, but strangely enough without fluted cores, made on jasper, agate, carnelian, flint, common opal and rock crystal are considerably large in number. Period I B indicates an extremely limited use of the metal. The main types of pottery vessels, mostly handmade, generally of coarse grey fabric and in its varying shades, burnished or unburnished, Besides the painted decoration on pottery some have simple incised designs including the herring-bone pattern. Two kinds of burial practices have been encountered: infant urn burial and adult inhumation burial.
The prominent feature of Pd.II is the use of iron of offensive and agricultural use, along with polished stone axes and microlithics as survival.The pottery, entirely different from that of the preceding culture, is of mainly three fabrics: highly polished Black-and-red Ware; all-black ware; and bright as well as coarse dull-red ware.
The peculiar feature of the culture is the disposal of the dead in a specially constructed stone cist or excavated pit, each enclosed by a circle of boulders on the surface or rarely two concentric circles measuring from 4.8 to 6.3 m in diameter. In one of the Megaliths, 33 gold and two carnelian beads, four copper bangles and a conch shell have been found. The excavator suggests that the pit circles might have been specialised tombs for a particular and restricted social grade or that were macerating pits in which human.
Period III, the early Historic Period, is characterized by a far more sophisticated pottery made on the fast wheel, with white-painted geometrical designs under russet colour [Russet-coated Painted Ware]. The most distinct types are the shallow dish with an internally beaked edge and straight-sided bowl and the frequent use of glass for ornaments being noteworthy. The fragment of a terracotta round medallion with a row of elephants at the edge testifies to the popular art of the period.
Considering the datable evidence of pottery with rouletted design, occurrence of Roman denarii of Augustus (c. 2nd B.C.-A.D. ) and of Tiberius (minted c. A.D. 27-37) .Wheeler dated the three cultures respectively from the early 1st millennium to the beginning of the 2nd century B.C.; 2nd century B.C to the middle of the 1st century A.D.; and the middle of the. 1st century to the 3rd century A.D. He also regarded the Asokan edicts of Brahmagiri as having been addressed to the people of the last phase of Period I.