The Indo-Aryans represent the eastern section of the great dispersal of Indo-European-speaking nomadic herders toward the beginning of the 2d millennium B.C. that resulted in the replacement of the older cultures in the region of northern Iran and southern Turkmenistan. Their further advance into the South Asian subcontinent was characterized by a lengthy and discontinuous series of movements, in the course of which cultural mingling and replacement again occurred (plate III.3, map (c)). A complicating factor in the reading of the archae- ological record is that the term "Indo-Aryan" should be under- stood to refer to a loose association of tribes that, though joined by language, may have differed in other significant cultural and even physical characteristics. It is probable that these tribes inhabited the hills of Baluchistan for a considerable time be- fore some of them enter history as &Rtod;g Vedic Aryans.
But there were other unrelated and simpler peoples existing on the periphery of the Indus Valley Civilization. In the Vale of Kashmir, the site of Burzahom, near Srinagar, was exca- vated to reveal a very primitive settlement that began c. 2375 B.C. (uncorrected) (plate II.2, map (a)). The only polished stone axes found in the north of the subcontinent belong to this and neighboring settlements. Other unusual features there were the pit-dwellings of the earliest phase, trepanned human skulls, canine burials, and cleaverlike knives, all foreign to the sub- continent but vaguely reminiscent of Inner Asia.
The Post-Harappan Period in the North
The Post-Harappan Period (plate II.3, map (d)) remains truly a "dark age." Several disparate and little-known archaeo- logical assemblages—they hardly merit being called "cultures" —now appear. General, and sometimes specific, resemblances to objects from the Iranian Plateau can be recognized in each of them, pointing to a continuing western influence. The more important of these finds are:
1. The Cemetery Assemblage at Harappa
The hallmark of this assemblage is a highly distinctive pot- tery tradition in which urns, footed jars, and plates are deco- rated with an open, fluid style of painting (plate II.5, panel (e)). Gazelles, sunbursts, and peacocks recall motifs at Susa and Tepe Giyan in south Iran. This pottery occurs scattered over the citadel mound at Harappa among simple huts that incorporate bricks of the older period. In the nearby cemetery (Cemetery H) these urns accompany first extended burials and then, in a later phase, fractional burials. Elsewhere this pottery has been reported only from the Bahawalpur District of Pakistan, some 150 miles to the south.
2. The Jhukar and Jhangar Assemblages
Jhukar pottery is found at several places in Sind, includ- ing Amri, Lohumjo-daro, Chanhu-daro, and Jhukar itself. Its forms and sweeping painted decorations possibly derive from the preceding Harappan ceramic tradition at these sites. Here too the later settlement was made directly over the rubble of the earlier one and has a "squatter" character similar to that of Cemetery H. Beads and several stamp seals of the Jhukar assemblage have approximate north Iranian and south Ba- luchistan analogies. The successor assemblage to the Jhukar phase at Chanhu-daro is represented by indifferently made gray black pottery bearing incised lines. This so-called Jhangar pottery is said to resemble late finds in Saurashtra; but it also establishes links with Baluchistan.
3. Copper Hoards
Another artifact group that has received considerable atten- tion is the so-called copper hoards (plate II.5, map and panel (i)) consisting mainly of celts, daggers, harpoons, and rings. Although they came to public notice as early as 1822, they existed until recently in an archaeological limbo devoid of meaningful contextual linkages. A fragmentary "anthropo- morphic" object has now, however, been recovered from the Harappan period at Lothal, and at a site in Etawah District, Uttar Pradesh, a hoard was shown to be associated with wattle and daub houses, stone pestles, painted pottery, and a plain ocher ware. The thirty-seven reported hoards come from places centering in the Gangetic Doab; but the distribution map shown here is expanded southward to accommodate other finds that are typologically comparable to the Gangetic hoards. In particular, a group of swords with antenna hilts from Kallur in Raichur District seem to fall into this category, thus extend- ing the spread of a uniform, pre-Iron Age technology well into the south of the peninsula. While trade alone might account for this wide circulation, the possibility that itinerant copper- smiths were directly involved merits serious consideration.
Early Village Farming Cultures of Peninsular India and the Gangetic Plain
It is now necessary to consider developments in regions ly- ing generally to the southeast of the Harappan Civilization, for
Nearly all the early peninsular settlements were made in a fertile black soil that is highly retentive of moisture. Such a soil greatly facilitated farming, since summer rainfall in the area is unreliable and the situation of the rivers is not condu- cive to irrigation.
Ahar and Gilund (plate II.2, map (b)), on the sheltered eastern flank of the Aravalli Mountain Range, are the refer- ence sites for the Banas Culture, as this early period is called in Rajasthan. The rectangular houses there were made either of bamboo and mud or of mud bricks resting on stone foun- dations. From many of the hearths, grinding slabs and terra- cotta bull figurines were recovered. Large quantities of deer bones show that hunting remained economically important, and there is evidence that smelting was done locally. The ex- ploitation of native copper deposits on the western side of the mountains may have begun at this time. Each settlement con- tains a larger structure (at Gilund its measurements were 100 × 80 feet) representative of collective activity of some kind.
In central India a group of settlements contiguous to the western limits of the Banas Culture are essentially of the same type. Differences in certain features, however, signify another cultural province, to which the name "Malwa" or "Navdatoli" is assigned. The ancient type-site, with both round and rectan- gular mud dwellings, was situated on the south bank of the Narmada River. Wheat, various leguminous plants, and oil seeds were cultivated by the inhabitants, largely replacing hunt- ing and fishing in their economy. Rice, too, has been reported from the excavations, as it was from Lothal in Saurashtra, but this crop can have been of only marginal utility since both places lack sufficient moisture. At Navdatoli a few copper im- plements occur; but they had not yet superseded the wide use of microliths made of locally obtained agates and chalcedony. The pottery was sometimes painted with geometric designs, and the chalice was its most distinctive form. A proposed Aryan origin for both the Banas and Malwa Cultures has not been generally accepted.
By the 16th century B.C. the Malwa Culture also arrives in the Deccan Plateau. Inamgaon, near Poona, represents an early phase there. This is followed by the Jorwe Culture, identified by the appearance of a type of spouted pot with a sharply cari- nated shoulder. Malwa-type burials are unknown, but another site, Nevasa, provides information on mortuary practices dur- ing the Jorwe period. More than 130 child skeletons were found buried underneath the houses in the settlement area. Each had been placed in two jars laid mouth-to-mouth in a horizontal position in the earth. A few adults were also buried in this manner, but most were buried beyond the actual settle- ment. The meager grave goods frequently included copper bangles. Also noteworthy among the remains at Nevasa are traces of cotton, flax, and silk fibers.
The extension of the village food-producing way of life to the east proceeded more slowly as the limits of the black soil region were reached. In the Jabalpur uplands the site of Eran dates to the 13th century B.C.,3 and in West Bengal, at Mahisdal and Pandu Rajar Dhibi, a stage comparable to Navdatoli is reached only in the 10th century B.C. In the thickly forested Ganga-Yamuna Doab the beginnings of agricultural settle- ments are insufficiently studied; but the known dates center on the 10th century B.C. The early strata at Kosam (Kausambi), Sonepur, and Chirand show that houses were built on bamboo frames, copper was rarely used, and fish and fowl were im- portant dietary components. A major problem yet to be ad- dressed by archaeologists regards the advent of the rice-farm- ing/water-buffalo complex on the Gangetic Plain.
Farther to the south, in the now Dravidian-speaking regions,
the earliest agricultural settlements are often found in elevated
places. The characteristic artifact is a polished stone ax (plate
II.2, map (a)). Such sites have a high proportion of cattle
Although the later development of these early agricultural settlements in the South can reasonably be associated with cen- tral Indian influences, their origin remains uncertain. Both the far northwest and the northeast have provided scholars with reference points. The considerations that lead toward the Ira- nian Plateau are general rather than specific. Thus, compari- sons have been made between the early gray pottery of the South and ceramics from well-known sites in northeast Iran. Moreover, the human physical types represented in the penin- sular graves correspond to a Caucasian or Mediterranean racial type. Yet the imposing presence of polished axes at these sites remains unexplained by the hypothesis of a northwestern ori- gin. These axes are chiefly concentrated along the east coast, especially in Orissa and Bengal, whence they reach into Assam (plate II.2. map (a)). In Bihar, many axes were found in the Santal Parganas. Here again excavations are few, but at Tamluk, West Bengal, polished stone axes immediately pre- ceded the Early Historical Period, and in the Cachar Hills some cultural context is given them through association with a local cord-marked pottery. Most of these axes are subrectan- gular or triangular in outline and ovoid in cross section. Some, however, are shouldered and look much like Southeast Asian and Chinese specimens. While the process is by no means clear, it appears for the time being that these two streams of influence—one northeastern, the other northwestern—com- bined eventually with Malwan traits to result in a synthesis that led to the advent of settled life in the southern portion of the peninsula.
Sources (in addition to those in the General Bibliography)
F. R. Allchin (1960); J. M. Casal (1964a), (1964b), (1966); G. F. Dales (1962a), (1962b), (1965a), (1965b), (1966), (1973); A. H. Dani (1960); B. de Cardi (1951); F. A. Dur- rani (1964); W. A. Fairservis, Jr. (1956), (1959), (1966); B. B. Lal (1951), (1954–55); C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky (1972); L. S. Leshnik (1968a), (1973); E. J. H. Mackay (1937), (1943), (1948); J. H. Marshall (1931); H. N. Mi- chael and E. K. Ralph (1971); R. Mughal (1973); G. L. Possehl (1967); R. L. Raikes and R. H. Dyson (1961); S. R. Rao (1973); E. J. Ross (1946); H. D. Sankalia (1959); H. D. Sankalia et al. (1969), (1971); G. R. Sharma (1969); M. A. Stein (1929); B. K. Thapar (1957), (1965a), (1965b); M. Tosi and R. Wardak (1972); M. S. Vats (1940); A Zide (1970).
Map (h), photostat of a portion of J. H. Marshall (1931), vol. 3, plate 39.
Figures 1. 3, and 4 from F. A. Khan (1969), pp. 17, 36, and 37 respectively; figures 2, 6, 7 and 9 from J. H. Marshall (1931), vol. 3, plates 73, 52, 131, and 98 respectively; figures 5 and 10 from R. E. M. Wheeler (1947/48), plates 19 and 37; figure 8 from W. A. Fairservis (1971 [1975 ed. cited in bib- liography]), plate 43; figure 11 by courtesy of Archaeological Survey of India.
Indus seals from E. J. H. Mackay (1937), vol. 2, plates 82, 84, 99, and 100 and J. H. Marshall (1931), vol. 3, plates 103 and 11; beads from R. E. M. Wheeler (1968b), p. 100.
So long as the only metals of practical use remained copper and bronze, most persons derived little benefit from them as they were generally beyond their reach owing to cost. The ap- pearance of iron, the common metal, changed that and pro- vided the farmer with plowshares and axes, while making it possible to arm large numbers of men efficiently. Eventually, far-reaching social changes came about with the ready avail- ability of iron. It is this fact that validates the term "Iron Age."