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Excavations – Important – Punjab


Bara (30°17′; 76°47′), Dt Rupnagar, Punjab.
Bara is located 6 km east of Ropar and was excavated in 1955 and 1971 by Y.D.Sharma on behalf of the ASI. The 4 m thick accumulation here revealed a single culture throughout, although the deposit has been divided into lower, middle and upper levels.

The site is extremely rich in a distinct class of pottery made of well-levigated clay, the pottery is wheel-turned and possesses a fine and consistent texture. It is self-slipped or slipped with a brown-coloured clay which gets burnt to shades of brown-red. The designs consist of either painted in black or chocolate-brown or are incised with wooden points or brushes. Some of the basic pottery types bring to mind Harappan parallels, such as the dish-on-stand, large basin or bowl with flaring sides and large jar with a bulging convex profile, all possessing a thick and sturdy section. There are however certain features in these shapes where the correspondence breaks down; for instance, most of the Bara ware is embellished with painted or incised patterns, while a large proportion of the Harappa Ware is plain. The stem of the Bara dish-on-stand is generally short and wide, as distinct from the long and slender stem of the Harappa counterpart. The long stem of Bara has a projecting ledge below the dish. Among diagnostic shapes or features of the Bara pottery are: the large bulbous jar with long neck and flaring rim, jar with collared rim, the body being bulbous or bluntly carinated at the belly, cooking utensil or water jar incised on shoulder and rusticated at the bottom with ‘honeycombed’ ridges, brush-made spirals or fingered patch-work-all executed in Wet Ware technique.

Conversely such characteristic Harappa designs as intersecting circles, horizontally drawn opposed loops enclosing cross-shaped motif, pipal leaf, peacock and fish-scales are absent in the Bara paintings. Wavy, zigzag or looped lines form a basic element both in painted and incised Bara decoration. Characteristic among the painted motifs are: ‘horn’ like curve crowned by an arrowhead or some other motif; opposed triangles or semicircles; willow leaves in vertical or horizontal series; parallel wavy lines enclosing ‘eyes’ or lozenges; hatched ‘net’; loops with humps surmounted by lines; grouped triangles; squares or rectangles with alternate hatching in different directions; series of solid dots enclosed by horizontal bands; ‘eyes’ fringed by vertical lines; ‘wings’ surmounted by lines; square with ‘bastions’ or scrolls at corners; chain; and plain wide band on neck. Among fauna the fish is common, but other animals are rare. Several of these designs are absent from the Harappa repertoire but occur op the pottery of pre-Harappan Kalibangan, Kot-Diji, Amri (both in Pakistan), Mundigak (Afghanistan) and sites in north Baluchistan. All the characteristic elements of the Bara ware are present at the site right from the lowest levels.

Among the animal bones were those of Elephas maximus Linn. (Indian elephant), Bos indicus. Linn. (zebu or domesticated humped cattle of India), Bubalus bubalis Linn. (Indian domesticated buffalo), Capra hircus aegagrus Erxleben (domesticated goat), Ovis aries dolichura Duerst (domestic sheep), Axis axis Erxieben (chital or spotted deer) and Sus scrota cristatus wagner (domestic pig). Bara has given four C-14 dates,among the other three dates, two, 1890 + 95 and 1845 +155 B.C., come from the middle levels and the third, 1645+90 B.C., from the upper levels. Considering that there is a substantial deposit of 1.8 m below the level yielding the date of 1890 + 95 B.C., Bara would date at least to a span of 2000 to 1600 B.C.

Kotla Nihang Khan (30°57′; 76°32′), Dt Rupnagar, Punjab
Lying about 2 km s.-e. of Ropar on the eroded and flat SiwaIik formations. The mound is badely destroyed by modern construction and agricultural activities. Vats (1929) surmised that the value of his discovery lay in extending the zone of the Indus civilization to the Sutlej- Yamuna doab.

Kotla Nihang Khan continued to be regarded as an outpost of the Harappa culture till the excavation of Roper. The site was again excavated in 1955 by Y.D. Sharma on behalf of the ASI and three Periods: Harappa, Kushan and medieval were identified. Period I suggests two phases. The e. sector, with typical mature Harappa deposit while in the w. sector the Harappa deposit the Harappa pottery is interlocked here with some quantity of the Bara ware from the bottom to the top of Period I, suggesting that in Phase I the Harappans occupied the e. sector and subsequently in Phase 2 they spread also to the w. sector where the Bara people also joined them.

The evidence of Period II is provided by a very thin but unmistakably identifiable deposit of Kushan pottery overlying the Harappa levels in the w. sector. No structures or other objects of this Period have been noticed. Period III, medieval, is however substantial, with an average thickness of 2 m. The deposits are fairly rich in fragments of medieval glazed ware and Well-planned structures of lakhauri brick Archaeological importance of Kotla Nihang Khanlies in the fact that it is the only site

known so far on the Sutlej where mature Harappa pottery is prolific, with the Bara Ware accounting for not more than 5% of the total. Apparently it represents an earlier phase than that of the Harappa levels of ROPAR, where the characteristic shapes like the Indus goblet and flat thall are very scarce and where the Bara ware vies with the Harappa.

Rupar, Ropar (300 58; 76O 32′),Dt Rupnagar, Punjab
Lying on the left bank of the Sutlej. The excavations yielded a sequence of six Periods: I (Harappa, c. 2100 to 14OOB.C,); II (PGW, c. 1000 to 600 B.C.); III (NBPW or early historical, c. 600 to 200B.C.); IV (middle to late historical, c. 200 B.C. to A.D. 700); V (late historical, c. 700-1200); and VI (medieval, c.l200-1700). Some of these Periods are divided into-Sub Periods. There are three mounds at Ropar, n., S., and w. The s mound is occupied by the present-day town. Excavations were confined to the n. and w. mounds, the latter concealing a Harappa cemetery. Ropar has the distinction of being the site where the remains of the Harappa civilization were excavated for the first time in post-partition India.

Apart from mature Harappa objects named above, mention may also be made of beads and bangles of faience triangular terracotta cakes and chert weights. Compared with the mature Harappa as asemblage at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, it is the absence of the goblet with pointed base and terracotta figurines including the mother goddess which strikes one most. In I A levels only one mud-brick wall of three

courses has been encountered. The bricks are irregular in size but have a uniform thickness of 10 cm. The only wall noticed in I B at RPR-2 is built of river pebbles. Phase I C is however rich in housing remains with seven structures assignable to five phases. The building material consists of kankar stone, mud brick and kiln-burnt brick. One of the well-built houses has foundations of kankar stone and superstructure of mud brick. The kiln burnt bricks measure 20x 10×40 cm.

A single Harappa seal found in RPR-1 in I C levels is made of steatite and bears three familiar symbols on the obverse and two concentric circles on the reverse. It is thin and small without any holding device. Another burnt clay lump with a hole to pass a string through bears impressions of three typical seals with bull motif and legend in the familiar script. Graffiti on pottery include the Indus script.

A cemetery of the Harappa, recalling Cemetery R-37 of Harappa, lies to the w. of the n. mound. It has been considerably disturbed by later occupants, mainly by the users of the row, but some of the burials are sufficiently intact to give an adequate idea of the method of burial. The body is laid in a grave pit, measuring 2.45 x .91 m and 60 cm in depth. The head is placed usually on the n.-w. Most of the burials contain an assemblage of typical pots, and some of them also reveal personal ornaments, such as bangles of faience or shell, beads of faience and semiprecious stones and ring of copper. A faience bangle was intact on the left wrist of the wearer and a copper ring on the middle finger of the right hand. A single grave pit contained the skeleton of a dog at the bottom and that of a human being, presumably its master, above it. There is very little Bara pottery in the the graves and it is not known if the cemetery was common for both the Harappa and the Bara folks.

Among the animal bones of Period I are Chitra indica Gray, Gallus sp., Canis familiaris Linn. (the Domestic Dog), Rattus rattus Linn. (the common Indian Rat), Elephas maximus Linn. (the Indian Elephant), Bos indicus Linn. (the Zebu or Domesticated Humped Cattle of India), Bubalus bubalis Linn. (the Indian Domesticated Buffalo), Capra hircus aegagrus Em. (the Domestic Goat), Ovis aries dolichura Duerst (the Domestic Sheep) and Sus scrofa cristatus Wagner (the Domestic Pig).

Information on town layout and house-plans is lacking at Ropar, since the concerned levels were reached overan extremely limited area. The s. mound with its present habitation could not be probed, and one does not know if Ropar too did have twin settlements in the Harappa days as at Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi and Banavali. The excavators of Kalibangan date Kalibangan I to c. 2400-2250 B.C. on uncorrected 14C basis. With Kalibangan I pottery lying overlapped with the Harappa at the bottom layers of Ropar, c. 2100 B.C. could be thought of as the safest date for the beginning of Period I with an average thickness of over 2 m a span of 700 years, ending at c. 1400 B.C. appears reasonable. The evidence of Bhagawanpura where Bara and PGW cultures are found interlocked would also lend an indirect support to this date, for the Bara complex at Bhagawanpura appears to be only a devolution of the Sutlej complex.

Period II. After a long break the site was occupied by the users of the row, identified with the early Aryans by some and with the contemporaries of the later Vedic texts by others. Wheel-turned from well-levigated fine- grained clay, the PGW is sometimes self-slipped orcovered with grey wash, but often it seems to have no surface treatment. After it is painted with designs in black it is subjected to even and gradually reduced tem- perature. The sagger-based dish with incurved side and deep bowl with straight side are the most common shapes in the PGW. The painted designs comprise bands, grouped verticals, oblique and criss-cross lines, Z sigmas, svastikas, apirals, chains, rows of dots and dashes and concentric circles or semicircles. Apparently; the PGW was mainly used for purposes of dining. The discovery of a PGW water-pot (lotii) at Ropar completes ,the normal set of dining utensils, consisting of a plate or dish (thali) bowl (katori) and a water-pot (loti). The design is sometimes whitish-grey, which is obtained by blocking the design from the application of the slip. Other associated wares in these levels are plain grey ware, Black-slipped Ware and dusty-red ware. The former two cover the same shapes as the PGW, but the vessels of the dusty-red ware are largely used for cooking and storage, such as the frying pan, cooking pot (handi), large bowl basin, water pitchers and storage jar.

Period. III The introduction and disappearance of the NBPW define the span of Period III. Ropar was sufficiently removed from the Ganga plains of e. U.P. and Bihar, where the NBPW had its beginnings, yet over 450 sherds recovered from the limited excavated depths here proclaim its great popularity. It must have reached here obviously through pilgrinls and traders. That it was not locally manufactured and was a treasured piece of pottery is clear from the fact that broken NBPW vessels are often found joined with copper wire.Period III may be divided into Sub-Periods, m A and m B. In trench RPR-2, out of nearly 300 NBPW sherds 85% occur in III A and only 15% in m B, which, however, is richer in structural remains.

Period IV. The beginnings of Period IV are identified more easily by the terracotta art forms than by new fabrics and types in pottery, although these do exist. The long span of Period IV, from c. 200 B.C. to A.D. 700, is divided into four Sub-Periods corresponding roughly to the rule of the Sungas (IV A), Saka-Kushans (IV B), Guptas (IV C) and the post-Guptas (IV D). Nude yaksha figures with wearing rich ornaments and beautifully modelled figures of yakhas standing under trees are among the terracotta cult images of the the Sunga period. Plain red ware and some grey ware are typical of Period IV A. The pear-shaped vase with rim section approximating to a vertical lozenge and pitcher with fluted neck and out-rurned rim are among the popular ceramic types. Potter stamped with motifs like svastika, nandi-pada, tri-ratna, human figure, fish, conch, etc., appears but becomes more prolific in the succeeding Sub-Period. Coinage now comes fully onto its own. A coin of the Indo-Bactrian Antialcidas, another of the nameless, possibly Indo-Parthian,ruler with the title of Soter Megas and a clay mould made from a coin of Apollodotus II bespeak at least contact with the dominions of the Indo-Bactrians and Indo-Parthians. Contemporary tribal coinage is represented by the coins of the Kudindas and Audumbaras, the latter in a fair frequency, suggesting that Ropar may have been a centre of the Audumbara authority.

The remains of Periods V and VI have been probed on a limited scale by sinking a trench in the courtyard of a house in the town. The excavation laid bare several houses of kiln-burnt brick one above the other bespeaking considerable prosperity. Among the pottery types of Period V are the jar with mace-headed or internally beaked rim and ribbed neck; carinated cooking pot (handi) with out-turned rim; bowl-cum-lid with internal carination; and handled incense-burner. Glazed polychrome ware is found in top fillings. Walls of lakhauri bricks,dated to the Mughal times, peep out of the exposed sections of the s.mound. A kiln of the lakhauri bricks is located at then.w. corner of the n. mound. A coin from the top fillings belongs to Mubarak-Shah, Sultan of Delhi (died 1434), while another coin from the surface belongs to Ibrahim Lodhi (1517-26).

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