India Excavations

India Excavations in Historic Locations

The renewed awareness of the tradition which India has reached with the conquest of independence and through the tasks it poses, together with the advancement made in the last decade by indological studies, have imposed both in India and outside India, a critical review of the whole history of the subcontinent. In this sense, the following should be noted: KM Panikkar, A survey of Indian history, Bombay-Calcutta 1954; D. Dh. Kosambi, An introduction to the study of Indian History, Bombay 1956; L. Petech, in The civilizations of the East, I, Rome 1956, pp. 593-741; VA Smith, The Oxford history of India, 3rd ed. edited by Perceval Spear, Oxford 1958; M. Bussagli, Profiles of ancient and modern India, Turin 1959.

Excavations in historic locations. – At Rupar, on the Sutlej (Panjab), an excavation conducted in 1953 revealed an almost continuous succession of occupations, starting with the phase of the Harappa civilization, followed by a second phase characterized by painted gray pottery. The III phase, the first historical (600-200 BC circa), is that of northern black polished ware, found in abundance associated with unpainted red pottery, punch marked coins and fused coins; the contacts with the nearby Taxila are documented by coins bearing symbols of that city and must have been very frequent in the Maurya age. The next phase (IV), which includes the Śuṅga, Kuṣāṇa, Gupta and post-Gupta periods up to 600 AD. C., is rich in coins, including Indo-Greek, Indo-Parthian and tribal issues. Among the exhibits of artistic interest are some terracotta figurines of the Śuṅga style and a splendid figure of a female musician, also in terracotta, from the Gupta age. In the upper basin of the Ganges and the Yamuna, where the most ancient Indo-European civilization flourished, the excavations of Ahichchhatrā and those already mentioned of Hastināpura are particularly noteworthy. Ahichchhatrā already known for the Cunningham excavations, was the subject of a new investigation in 1940-44. In the eighth of the nine strata that appeared (period II: 300-200 a. northern black polished ware along with adobe constructions. The following period (about 200-100 BC) did not abandon the use of unfired bricks and the relative layer produced beautiful clay statuettes comparable to those of Rupar. Only in the IV period (1st century BC) do the fired bricks appear, and the city is enriched with perimeter brick fortifications that replace older ones of earth. Of the following periods we remember the VII (350-750 AD), which includes a beautiful temple complex with large terracotta Brahmanic images. The same period is characterized in the most ancient phases by coins of Achyu, identified with Achyuta, defeated by Samudragupta around 350 AD. C. For India 2007, please check

Other recent investigations have been conducted in Kauśāmbī (today Kosam, not far from Allāhābād), which – according to the pur āṇ a – followed Hastināpura in the role of capital of the Pāṇḍavas, and in Rājghāṭ, near Benares. The excavations of Bāngarh, on Punarbhavā (Bengal), carried out in 1937-41 and then in 1951, thanks to the findings of northern black polished ware, have shown, together with those of Tamluk and Gaur, that the widespread opinion that the first historical remains of Bengal are of the Maurya age cannot be accepted without further examination. Bāngarh also returned good specimens of Śuṅga clay plastic. Tamluk (Bengal) has given a harvest of terracotta statuettes of considerable artistic value ranging from the 3rd-2nd century. to. C. until the Gupta age. For the history of post-Gupta art, the excavation of Sirpur (distr. Raipur) is of great importance, which has brought to light two great Buddhist monasteries: in one of them a splendid group of the Buddha in bhūmisparśamudrā with Padmapāṇi was found, datable to the 8th century. Maheśwar (Madhya Bharat) revealed three ancient historical periods (400 BC -500 AD approximately) with interesting succession in the finds; to Navḍā Ṭolī, northern black polished ware. Rang Mahal, in Rājasthān, which had already returned some interesting terracotta plaques with scenes stylistically similar to the Gandhāra reliefs, was the field of investigation of the Swedish archaeological expedition to India. Excavations have provided new material, mainly ceramic, which clarifies various aspects of the late-kuṣāṇa period in north-west India.

Contacts with the West are well illuminated by the findings of Brahmapurī, near Kolhapur, where, after the accidental discovery of a bronze statuette of Neptune, excavations have returned a bronze vase and terracotta bullae imitating Roman prototypes. Imports and imitations are also witnessed in the field of ceramics. In southern India, at Chandravalli (Mysore), Sir Mortimer Wheeler found Andhra pottery (Sātavāhana) associated with Augustus and Tiberius’ coins.

Little known is the region of south-east, where it was excavated only in Śiśupālgarh, near Bhuvaneswar (Orissa): the locality seems to have infiltration of ceramic material both from the north and from the south. Finally, we mention the important excavations of Mathurā and Nāgārjunakoṇḍa and those of Ujjain, conducted by NR Banerjee.

India Excavations

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