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Excavations at Gilund

Excavations at Gilund: The Artifacts and Other Studies

Vasant Shinde
Teresa P. Raczek
Gregory L. Possehl
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Excavations at Gilund
    Book Description:

    Located in the Mewar region of Rajasthan, India, Gilund is the largest known site of the Ahar-Banas Cultural Complex, a large agropastoral group that was contemporaneous with and flanked by the Indus Civilization. Occupied during the Chalcolithic and Early Historic periods, the ancient site of Gilund holds significant clues to understanding third millennium B.C.E cultural interactions in South Asia and beyond.Excavations at Gilundprovides a full analysis of the artifacts recovered during the five-year excavation project conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and Deccan College. The excavators investigated the regional development of early farming villages, their shifting subsistence practices, their economy and trade with other cultures, and the traces of Gilund's transition from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Age. Their findings shed light on the extent and nature of early trade networks, the rise of early complex societies, and the symbolic and ideological beliefs of this region. This volume synthesizes new discoveries with previous findings and considers Gilund in a broader regional and global context, making it the most comprehensive presentation of archaeological data for this region to date.Contributors:Marta Ameri, Shweta Sinha Deshpande, Debasri Dasgupta Ghosh, Lorena Giorgio, Praveena Gullapalli, Julie Hanlon, Peter Johansen, Matthew Landt, Gregory L. Possehl, Teresa P. Raczek, Vasant Shinde.

    eISBN: 978-1-934536-67-4
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Contributors
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Foreword
    (pp. xv-xvi)
    B.B. Lal

    I feel somewhat flattered to have been requested by Professor Gregory L. Possehl to write a Foreword to the report on the excavations at Gilund which he, Professor Vasant Shinde, and their colleagues have carried out at this site from 1999 to 2005. What seems to have impelled Professor Possehl to do so is very likely the fact that a little over a decade ago, prior to the planning of his work at this site, he asked me if I had any objection to his carrying out further excavation there, since it had been excavated by me in 1959–60....

  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
    Vasant Shinde and Teresa P. Raczek
  8. 1 Excavations at Gilund 1999–2005: The Artifacts and Other Studies
    (pp. 1-10)
    Vasant Shinde, Teresa P. Raczek and Gregory L. Possehl

    As the largest known Chalcolithic settlement in its region, the site of Gilund played an important role in the development of early social, political, and economic forms of the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC in northwest India. The site was home to an ancient community of farmers and artisans who engaged in extensive inter- and intra-regional networks of interaction. The presence of monumental architecture in the form of a large parallel walled mudbrick structure, along with a circumference wall, workshops, and a diverse body of material culture make Gilund an excellent site for studying early social complexity. Moreover, its location...

  9. 2 Excavation Methods and Stratigraphy
    (pp. 11-24)
    Vasant Shinde and Gregory L. Possehl

    The site of Gilund measures roughly 500 m (E–W) by 450 m (N–S) and is comprised of two prominent mounds. The top of the eastern mound, GLD-1, rises 15 m higher than the surrounding area while the top of the western mound, GLD-2, rises 8 m higher than the surrounding area. However, as both mounds were built on top of an existing stabilized sand dune, the depth of the habitation deposit of GLD-1 is 9.40 m and that of GLD-2 is 5.40 m. The two mounds are somewhat elliptically shaped, oriented roughly north-south, and separated by a gap...

  10. 3 Chalcolithic Structures and Features
    (pp. 25-44)
    Vasant Shinde and Gregory L. Possehl

    A total of 17 structures were identified during the excavations at Gilund.¹ Five Middle Chalcolithic structures were partially exposed in the Index Trench on GLD-1. Six Middle Chalcolithic structures were unearthed on GLD-2, including three domestic structures (in Area I and Area III), two workshops (in Area IV), and a large mud-brick parallel-walled complex (in Area I). Six additional structures were found in Late Chalcolithic contexts on GLD-2, all from Area I: four domestic, one storage, and one of uncertain function. In addition to these structures, a circumference wall was identified on both GLD-1 and GLD-2. No structures were found...

  11. 4 Excavation of Early Historic Deposits, Gilund 1999–2001
    (pp. 45-52)
    Praveena Gullapalli and Peter Johansen

    Early Historic archaeological remains at Gilund are located on the eastern mound (GLD-1) and are confined to approximately the top 1.5 m of excavated deposits. Early Historic period deposits have been disturbed by an abundance of postdepositional activities including those associated with the construction of a small temple on top of the mound and the erosion of the mound surface. Excavations in the upper three squares of the GLD-1 step trench (Trenches 4A, 4B, and 4C) and an adjacent side square (Trench 5B) exposed deposits of Early Historic period artifacts (e.g., ceramics, metal artifacts, “slags”) and features (stone walls and...

  12. 5 Site Catchment Analysis
    (pp. 53-60)
    Debasri Dasgupta Ghosh

    The reconstruction of human culture in archaeology requires the employment of multiple approaches. Site catchment analysis provides archaeologists with important insights about the relationship between technology and the natural resources that lie in the catchment area: land within a reasonable walking distance from the site that can be exploited for its natural resources (Vita-Finzi and Higgs 1970). Using the data provided by site catchment analysis, archaeologists can reconstruct the relationship between humans and their environment. In India very few studies on site catchment analysis have been conducted, with the exceptions of the work of R.S. Pappu at Inamgaon (1988), Shinde...

  13. 6 Ceramic Assemblages at Gilund
    (pp. 61-72)
    Shweta Sinha Deshpande

    The most common artifacts found among the sedentary agriculturist and pastoralist communities of Chalcolithic South Asia are ceramics. Previously, most ceramic studies in South Asia emphasized typological categorization in reports and articles. In recent years, however, archaeologists have begun to use ceramics to answer questions of a social nature with a goal of better understanding cultures and their interactions. Such studies also reveal the life of ancient people who have left us nothing but their broken pottery, structures, tools, and small objects in the form of a three-dimensional puzzle.

    The Chalcolithic pottery at Gilund is very similar to the assemblage...

  14. 7 Ceramic Sequence of Gilund (Index Trench 4F)
    (pp. 73-88)
    Lorena Giorgio

    Trench 4F, situated on the western side of the higher mound of GLD-1, was excavated in part to provide an index of the pottery sequences at Gilund (see Chapter 3 for a summary of the Index Trench excavation). Studying pottery from an Index Trench can indicate the changes that took place in the life of a settlement, shifts in technology, and local and long-distance exchange. Each layer was assigned two numbers: one unique to Trench 4F, and another that connected the layers to the sequences in the rest of the mound. The lowest layers of the trench are aceramic, appear...

  15. 8 The Gilund Antiquities
    (pp. 89-156)
    Julie A. Hanlon

    The first excavations at Gilund conducted by B.B. Lal yielded a handful of antiquities including terracotta animal figurines and gamesmen, beads of terracotta and semiprecious stone, terracotta spheres, and stone saddle querns, and rubbers (IAR 1959–60:41-46). The 1999 to 2005 excavations unearthed a significantly larger assemblage of antiquities representing a longer range of occupation and material production at the site.

    The Gilund cultural assemblage recovered during the 1999 to 2005 excavations is comprised of objects of terracotta, clay, reused pottery, stone (predominantly quartzite) and semiprecious stone, metal, shell, bone, and steatite. Terracotta and clay objects constitute the bulk of...

  16. 9 Report on the Seal Impressions and Related Small Finds
    (pp. 157-210)
    Marta Ameri

    In the 1960s, Indian archaeologists began to more intensively explore and define the areas to the east of the Indus heartland. In the early stages of exploration, the consensus among South Asian scholars had been that the geographical barrier imposed by the Thar Desert and the Aravalli mountain range was too great to allow contact between eastern cultures such as those of the Ahar River Basin, and areas further to the west. In fact, in describing the area around the site of Ahar in his 1969 excavation report, H.D. Sankalia wrote that “unlike many of the other regions in India...

  17. 10 Lithics at Gilund
    (pp. 211-226)
    Teresa P. Raczek

    Lithics of the 3rd and 2nd millennium BC have been well documented and analyzed in many parts of South Asia including the Indus region, the Deccan, and Southern India. In contrast, until recently little was known about the lithics from the early farming settlements of southeastern Rajasthan. However, tens of thousands of chipped stone artifacts were recovered during the 1999–2005 excavations at Gilund. The unexpected presence of such a high number of lithics provided the unique opportunity to study the lithic technology used during the early farming days of southeastern Rajasthan. A thorough analysis of the Gilund lithics was...

  18. 11 Faunal Remains from Gilund
    (pp. 227-230)
    Matthew J. Landt

    Between 1999 and 2005, numerous bone, teeth, and shell fragments were recovered during excavations at the Chalcolithic site of Gilund. As the faunal remains were being recovered from both GLD-1 and GLD-2, they were placed in paper bags and marked with the appropriate unit and level information. At the end of each excavation season these bags were gathered and cached in burlap sacks that were then stored with other artifacts recovered during the Gilund excavations. The collection is currently housed in trunks at Deccan College.

    In 2005 the burlap bags containing faunal material were opened and their contents inventoried. During...

  19. 12 Synthesizing Gilund: A Summary and Discussion of Excavation Finds
    (pp. 231-236)
    Vasant Shinde, Teresa P. Raczek and Gregory L. Possehl

    Prior to re-excavating the site at Gilund, the joint research team from the University of Pennsylvania and Deccan College posed a series of questions about early sedentism, early social complexity, and economic interaction in the Mewar region, as well as transitions between the Ahar-Banas and Early Historic periods (see Chapter 1). Through five seasons of excavation and several additional years of artifact analysis, the excavators and analysts have been able to address various aspects of these questions and enhance our understanding of social life in this region in the first few millennia BC. This chapter brings together the finds presented...

  20. Appendix 1: Radiocarbon Dates for Gilund
    (pp. 237-238)
  21. Appendix 2: List of Supervisors and Student Participants in the Gilund Excavations
    (pp. 239-242)
  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 243-252)
  23. Index
    (pp. 253-254)