Sunday, May 27, 2007

Recent finds support cultural spread from south to north in ancient India

Adichanallur is an Iron Age site in southern India. The Iron Age in south India is dated from 1,000 to 300 B.C. Alexander Rea, Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India, excavated in Adichanallur between 1889 and 1905 and found artefacts including bronze figurines, gold diadems and pottery.

In Jorwe, in Ahmadnagar district in the Deccan, H.D. Sankalia in northern India, Professor of Proto-Indian and Ancient Indian History, Deccan College Research Institute, Pune, undertook excavations in the 1950s and found pottery including thin-walled pots, pots with spouts, and flat bronze axes.


The ASI, Chennai Circle, took up excavation again at Adichanallur in 2003 and 2004 when T. Satyamurthy was Superintending Archaeologist. The exercise yielded a spectacular range of pottery and artefacts including big urns carrying skeletons, black and red ware, pots, vases, thin-walled beakers, bowls, pot lids with white dots in linear design, black ware, pots with spouts, miniature pottery, copper bangles, iron knives, beads and so on. Thousands of potsherds were found at Adichanallur. Among these was one that had stunning motifs of a woman in a knee-length dress, a deer with big horns, crocodiles, standing paddy and a crane.

A pot stands out

The ASI also found for the first time at Adichanallur black and red urns — black inside and red outside. What stood out was a pot with a long neck, flared rim, bulging belly at a 60-degrees angle and truncated bottom.

Dr. Satyamurthy said the long-necked, flared-rim pot was typical Jorwe-ware. Pot lids with white dots in linear design had been found up to the Deccan. Thin-walled pots occurred not only at Adichanallur but Jorwe, Hallur, Tekkalalota and other sites.

So Dr. Satyamurthy, who was the director of excavation at Adichanallur, has proposed that material culture must have travelled from Adichanallur to the Deccan. Hitherto, archaeologists believed that the spread occurred from the Deccan to south India.

Dr. Satyamurthy said: "When we first excavated this pot, we suspected the influence of Jorwe on Adichanallur. But when I analysed the Adichanallur pottery discovered by Rea, which are in the Government Museum, Chennai, and the recently excavated pottery at Adichanallur, I found that about 25 per cent of the pottery, especially those with white dots, had travelled from Adichanallur to other sites. Since... anthropological studies also show that different kinds of races lived in Adichanallur, we are tempted to conclude that the movement of culture took place from Adichanallur to the Deccan."

The people of Adichanallur had good technical knowledge of pottery-making, he said. They made black and red ware of thin fabric. They could impart plasticity to clay.

While other sites yielded miniature black and red ware, Adichanallur had big-size black and red urns. So the possibility of material culture having spread from Adichanallur to the Deccan could not be ruled out, he said.