Archaeology of India

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Post-colonial Indian archaeology has typically conformed to a north-centric narrative of Indian history, as is reflected in the intensity of archaeological study of the Indus Valley Civilization in northern India and in Pakistan. While fruitful, this narrative has obscured wider examination of archaeological phenomena across India. This session aims to shed light on the lesser-known archaeology of India. Since the 1970s, Indian archaeologists have increasingly thought of archaeology as a means of generating information on Indian history and have thus sought to further the documentation and collection of archaeological data across India. These interests coincided with the acceleration of natural resource extraction initiatives and the increasing frequency of road, power plant and dam construction. Large-scale building projects often resulted in the displacement of local communities and the destruction of archaeological and historical sites. To that end, this session invites papers that collectively reflect the full scope and diversity of current research on archaeological phenomena from throughout the whole of Indian history, broadly defined, and across the entire Indian Republic. Papers that employ spatial methodologies are especially welcome.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-11 of 11)

  • Documents (11)

  • Carving a Space for Jainism: Jain Rock-Cut Caves in Early Historic to Medieval Tamil Nadu, South India (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Julie Hanlon.

    The ancient temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu is flanked on the east and west by a series of granitic hill ranges and inselbergs. Upon many of these hills are caves containing rock-cut beds and inscriptions that record donations to Jain mendicants. Until recently, interest in these caves has been primarily epigraphical with exiguous analysis of their architectural features and use as Jain residences. In fact, the role of Jains in the history of Tamil Nadu, where they currently represent 0.1% of...

  • Cultural Change in Funerary Practices from Harappan to Post-Harappan Phases in Proto-Historic India (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nazim Jafri.

    Various archaeological sites in the Indian subcontinent namely, Harappa, Kalibangan, Surkotada, Lothal, Daimabad, Bhagwanpura, Navadatoli and Nevasa have been identified as settlements dated to roughly 3000 to 1000 BC. These archaeological sites present evidences of urn burials, which have generally been overlooked in favor of extended burials and cremations, not unlike contemporary funerary practices. In this paper, I examine the distribution pattern of burials and cremations at the above...

  • Current State of Megalithic Research in Kerala, India (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rajesh Vasantha. Abhayan GS. Akinori Uesugi. Ajit Kumar. Neha Gupta.

    Megalithic studies in Kerala started with the discovery, excavation and publication of burial site at Chattaparamba in Kozhikode district by James Babington in 1819. While a number of archaeological investigations on Megaliths in Kerala have been carried out since then, very few of them document the location, distribution and nature of these monuments. Megalithic burials are highly visible on the landscape and are often subject to excavation, yet, we currently lack an understanding of the...

  • Fishers and Farmers in northern Kerala: Preliminary Results from the Northern Kerala Archaeological Project (NorKAP) (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Neha Gupta. Rajesh SV. Abhyan GS.

    Conventional narratives of Indian history tend to focus on agricultural communities and have typically underestimated the role of fishing and fishers. With over 7500 km of coastline along present day India, there is great potential for examining how fishing traditions changed and continued through time, and how they might have facilitated social complexification typically associated with agricultural communities. This paper will present preliminary survey results from the Northern Kerala...

  • The Materiality of Domestic Space: Indor Khera, North India, 200 BCE- 500 CE (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jaya Menon.

    Most State and University-sponsored excavations in India have tended to focus on public and elite spaces, in keeping with nationalistic aims of projecting a grandiose view of the past. This has led to the inevitable marginalization of non-elite domestic spaces. One of the few cases of household archaeology in the Indian subcontinent has come from Indor Khera in the Upper Ganga Plains in northern India. Archaeological data recovered during the excavations has given valuable information on the...

  • Microregions and Materiality: Artifact Analysis at Panchmata, India (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Teresa Raczek.

    Regional, landscape, and spatial analyses in South Asia are often conducted at large scales in order to encompass all potential sites that share a common material culture, polity, or economic system. As these analyses often overlap with culture history designations and simultaneously span multiple geographic and environmental conditions, they can obscure material diversity and human-environment relations. This paper carefully considers scale of analysis and argues that microregions, small areas...

  • Settlement, Socio-environmental Practice and the Long Durée of Landscape Production in South India: A Regional View from Maski, Raichur District, Karnataka (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Peter Johansen. Andrew Bauer.

    For five seasons, the Maski Archaeological Research Project has been collecting new multi-period archaeological and environmental data on changing patterns in settlement, agricultural, pastoral and metallurgical land-use practices from a 64km2 study area surrounding the large multi-period site at Maski. Our research documents significant temporal changes in the size, configuration, density and location of settlements, as well as those among a myriad of other sites (e.g. pastoral camps, field...

  • "The South" as object of knowledge between archaeology and history (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Mannat Johal.

    With a focus on writing about the medieval period in southern India, this paper will interrogate how south India came to be defined as an object of knowledge, and thus, a space for representation. Narratives on the south Indian past, from the writing of the Dravidian proof in early 19th century Madras to Nilakanta Sastri’s iconic History of South India in the year of India’s independence, have engendered polyvalent inheritances for current historiographical projects. In unpacking these...

  • A Study of the Archaeological Landscape of Bairat, Jaipur district, Rajasthan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Meenakshi Vashisth.

    Bairat is a region located in the present day, Viratnagar tehsil of Jaipur district in Rajasthan. So far it is known for yielding two Ashokan inscriptions in the 19th century and being identical with the mythological Viratnagara of Mahabharata. This paper develops a larger understanding of the history of Bairat by studying its material culture which came into light after post-Independence excavations and explorations. To understand the settlement from about 7th century BCE upto 3rd century CE, I...

  • Unsettling a Region: Archaeological Landscapes and Seascapes of Saurashtra, Western India (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Supriya Varma.

    The peninsula of Saurashtra is a distinctive physiographical region in western India that is surrounded by the sea on all sides except the east, where it is attached to the mainland of South Asia. This square peninsula, virtually a cul-de-sac, is somewhat isolated when compared to the Gujarat plains that are located to its east. Farmers, pastoralists, crafters and traders have left behind their signatures through settling and unsettling in a region, which is characterized by shallow,...

  • Zooarchaeology and the Study of Human-Animal Relationships in Pre and Early Historic South India (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kelly Wilcox Black.

    The study of animal remains from archaeological sites has proven to be an invaluable approach to understanding past social, economic, and political practices. Despite the diverse behaviors and sets of relationships animal remains can index, faunal analysis has been an underutilized approach to studying Indian history and prehistory. In this paper, I present new research and zooarchaeological data to demonstrate how human-animal engagements changed throughout the Neolithic (3000-1200 BCE), Iron...