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Ahar – Banas Culture of Rajasthan

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Ahar – Banas Culture of Rajasthan

A number of Chalcolithic cultures have been discovered in northern, central and western India. The Ochre-Colored Pottery (OCP) culture in the Punjab, Haryana, north-east Rajasthan and upper Ganga-Yamuna doab

  •  The Narhan culture and its variants in the northern Vindhyas and the middle and lower Ganga valley.
  • The Ahar culture in the Mewar region of Rajasthan.
  • The Kayatha and Malwa cultures in the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh.
  • The Jorwe culture in western Maharashtra.

The Ahar culture, also known as the Banas culture, is a Chalcolithic Culture of southeastern, Rajasthan, lasting from 3000 to 1500 BCE, contemporary and adjacent to the Indus Valley Civilization. The Main distribution of this culture seems to be concentrated in the river valleys of Banas and its tributaries namely Berach and Ahar. More than 90 sites of the culture have been identified till date, out of which, Gilund, Ahar, Ojiyana and Balathal are prominent sites. These sites of Ahar culture provide important information about the transformation of life from hunting-gathering to agriculture in the Mewar region.

Features of Ahar-Banas Culture:

Houses: People lived in single, double & multi-roomed rectangular, square or circular houses and the houses were made of stones, mud bricks, the walls being plastered with mud.

Pottery: Typical Ahar pottery is a Black-and-Red ware (BRW) with linear and dotted designs painted on it in white pigment and has limited range of shapes, which include bowls, bowls-on-stands, elongated vases and globular vases.

Economy & Subsistence: The subsistence of Ahar-Banas people was based on cultivation, animal rearing and hunting. They sustained on a number of crops, including wheat and barley. The people of Ahar culture had trade links with the Harappans.

Technology: The technology of Ahar people was mostly based on copper. They exploited the copper ores of the Aravalli Range to make axes and other artefacts.However, the Neolithic trend of using polished stone tools continued in this period also and Microlithic tools of Silicious material were also very common.

Important Sites of Ahar-Banas Culture:

  1. Gilund
  2. Ahar
  3. Ojiyana
  4. Balathal
  5. Pachamta (Because, Excavation done in 2015)

Ahar-Banas is Culture and not Civilization. So what is the difference between Civilization & Culture?

  • Culture is by definition smaller than a civilization. Civilization includes (technology, forms of government etc, and even culture)
  •  Culture can grow and exist without residing in a formal civilization whereas a civilization will never grow and exist without the element of culture. Hence, Culture is earlier or a pre-condition for civilization to develop.
  • All Societies have culture but only a few have Civilization (example, Indus Valley Civilization).

1. Gilund (Rajsamand):

Gilund is an archaeological site in Rajsamand district. There are three major rivers in the area which include the Kothari, Banas, and Berach. Excavation carried out at the site during 1959-60 by

B.B.Lal revealed two mounds labeled as ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ mounds. The site is part of Ahar-Banas Chalcolithic culture. The archaeological site is also known as “Modiya Mangari“. Gilund is also famous for its celebration of “Khehkhara Utsav” (Next day of Diwali).

Features of Ahar-Banas Culture at Gilund: Gilund was occupied from approximately 3000-1700 BCE. These years of occupation can be divided into two Periods: Early Ahar-Banas 3000-2000 BCE and Late Ahar-Banas 2000-1700 BCE

Period I:

  • Period I is Chalcolithic in character on account of the presence of a few Microlith along with copper.
  •  All through the period the residential houses are made of mud brick, the walls being plastered with mud. Within the houses are noticed circular clay-lined ovens and open mouthed chulhas.
  • The characteristic Pottery of Period-I is Black-and-Red Ware, painted over with linear and curvilinear designs in a creamish-white pigment, other wares include plain and painted black, burnished grey and red wares.
  •  Among the Terracotta figurines particularly noteworthy are the bull figurines with a prominent hump and long horns.

Period II

  • Period II of Gilund seems to have begun about the middle of the 1st millennium B.C., as indicated by the presence of bowls and dishes of grey ware.
  •  In the successive strata have been found Sunga and Kushana bowls in red ware, sprinklers in the Red Polished Ware, and bowls in kaolin ware and knife-edged bowls in red ware, indicating that this occupation continued up to the end of the 1st millennium A.D.

2. Balathal (Udaipur)

Balathal is an archaeological site of Ahar-Banas Culture located in Vallabhnagar Tehsil of Udaipur district of Rajasthan. It is located on banks of Katar River. The site was discovered by V. N. Misra during a survey in 1962-63. There were various ethno botanical remains recovered at Balathal and these include wheat, barley, Indian jujube, okra and Job’s tears as well as several varieties of millet, lentils and peas. The excavated remains also included domesticated animals such as sheep, goat and cattle. Archaeologists also discovered several burial sites where the earliest evidence of leprosy in South Asia was found. Apart from manufacturing of

Iron objects, Balathal people cultivated rice, Kodo millet and Bengal gram. They also bred animals, but their reliance over on wild animal was less. The Early Historic pottery of Balathal is generally drab and poor quality in comparison to Chalcolithic pottery. It consists four wares, namely Red, Grey, Black and Red, and Black. A number of stone objects made of locally available quartz or granite, and comprising saddle querns, rotary querns, hammer stones, mullers, pounders and sling balls have been found. Ornaments of the Balathal people included glass, terracotta and copper bangles and beads of terracotta, glass, shell and steatite and semi precious stones, including etched ones. A tiny piece of cotton cloth with matting-type weaving pattern was found. A number of terracotta human and animal figurines, the latter comprising bull, dog, goat and tortoise have been found. Other terracotta objects included weights, lamps, wheels and discs.

This was identified in the remains of an adult male buried sometime between 2500 and 2000 B.C. Balathal was occupied during two cultural periods: the Chalcolithic and the Early Historic.

This ancient site was occupied during two cultural periods: the Chalcolithic and the early historic. Excavation at Balathal revealed a Chalcolithic period stretching from 3000 to 1500 BC and an early historic period dated to 5-3 century BC.

Chalcolithic Phase (3000 -1500 BC): Balathal was part of the Ahar-Banas Complex and can be connected to other Ahar-Banas culture sites through artifacts that have been discovered.

  •  The period is characterized by well-planned structures. The houses found at the site are square or rectangular made of mud brick and stones.
  •  Stone objects including saddle querns, mullers, rubber stone, hammer stone and copper objects including choppers, knives, razors, chisels and tanged arrowhead have been found.
  •  It has been determined that the people practiced agro-pastoralism, which is a mixture of both farming and herding animals. Pottery at the site has been thoroughly analyzed and tells much about life at this ancient site.

After the Chalcolithic period the site was abandoned for a long time till the early historic period.

Early Historic Phase (5 – 3 BC):

  • Excavation of early historic phase produced the evidence of large-scale use of iron implements, suggesting its important role in the economy of that period.
  • The people lived in wattle and daub houses and the floors were made of mud and stone rammed together.
  • Iron working in the form of furnaces with iron slags and abundant objects like nails, arrow head, lamps, needle, hoe, spatula, knife etc. are found on site.

Most peculiar item: A skeleton was found buried at Balathal believed to be 4,000 year old skeleton of a man believed to be 37 years when he died. The skeleton it provides the oldest evidence of leprosy in human beings.

3. Pachamta:

Recently in 2015, excavation was carried out at Pachamta, a village 100 km from Udaipur in Rajasthan, under a project called the Mewar Plains Archaeological Assessment.

Pachamta belongs to the Ahar-Banas culture in the Mewar region, which was contemporaneous with the early and mature Harappan culture. The Ahar culture, datable to 3,000-1,700 BCE, was Chalcolithic and its people had trade links with the Harappans.

Artefacts such as perforated jars, shell bangles, terracotta beads, shells and the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli, different types of pottery and two hearths have been found during excavation.

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