Volume: II, Issue I, January-June 2011
EVERYDAY OBJECTS, POTTERY PRODUCTION AND NON-ELITE HOUSES IN THE MEDIEVAL PERIOD AT INDOR KHERA
In this article, we intend to focus on two test trenches, A1 and A2, at Indor Khera, a site located in the Upper Ganga plains. These test trenches have provided us with an understanding of occupations in the medieval period that we have tentatively dated from the 10th/11th to 13th/14th centuries CE. Though a very small area was investigated, certain interesting issues have come to the fore in relation to everyday objects, pottery production and non-elite houses in the medieval period at Indor Khera. What is particularly significant is the use of space and changes taking place in orientation of structures over relatively short periods of time, perhaps as little as from fifty to hundred years.
The site of Indor Khera (28°14’57”N, 78°12’48”E) is located in Tehsil Debai, in District Bulandshahr of Uttar Pradesh on a small rivulet, Chhoiya Nadi, also called Nim Nadi. Indor Khera lies between the rivers Kali Nadi and Ganges (see Figure 1). The village of Indor is located 0.5 km off the Aligarh-Anupshahr Road and is about 10 km from the Ganges River. The present day village is located on top of the mound, which measures 285 m (north-south) x 428 m (east-west). The maximum height of the mound is now 17 m. As mentioned in our earlier article [Menon et.al. 2005], A.C.L. Carlleyle had first investigated the site in 1874-75. He [Carlleyle 1879 : 56] had then mentioned that the village occupied an area of 152 m x 152 m in the east-north-eastern side of the mound. Today, the village extends over the entire eastern, northwestern and southeastern portions of the mound and the adjacent area (see Figure 2).
We opened three test trenches at Indor Khera in May-June 2006. Out of these, two 4 x 4 m trenches (A1 and A2 of Operation 1) were cut at about the 196 m contour line on the southern edge of the mound (see Figures 2 and 3). Another trench, A3 (Operation 2), which had a cutting area of 4 x 2 m, was located about 100 m east of A1 and A2 and was at a lower level (193 m contour line) than the other two trenches. While we excavated A1 and A2 up to 2.10 m and 1.55 m respectively, A3 was dug till 4.26 m. After examination, we have tentatively dated the material assemblage of A1 and A2 between the 10th/11th and 13th/14th centuries CE (see below). Trench A3 has been roughly dated between 1000 BCE and 100 CE [Menon et.al. 2008]. From this, it should not be deduced that there was a gap in occupation between the 1st and 10th centuries CE, as the intervening deposits have not yet been excavated.i Further, as can be seen from Figure 2, the highest part of the mound is at 207 m. Thus, there are considerably more occupation deposits of periods later than the 13th/14th centuries that remain to be investigated. The intention behind these preliminary soundings was to get an idea of the kind of occupations at Indor Khera. These cuttings excavated in different parts of the mound have given us an idea of the long span of occupations at the site.
In this article, we intend to focus on trenches A1 and A2 that have provided us with an understanding of occupations at the site in the medieval period.ii Though a very small area was investigated, certain interesting issues have come to the fore in relation to everyday objects, production and non-elite houses in the medieval period at Indor Khera. What is particularly significant is the use of space and changes taking place in orientation of structures over relatively short periods of time, perhaps as little as from fifty to hundred years. Not only this, we have found that aspects of the construction of identity can be usefully studied from the archaeological evidence for the medieval period, an exercise we have undertaken elsewhere [Varma and Menon 2008].
We excavated Trenches A1 and A2 largely through arbitrary units of 5-10 cm and recognized features were dug separately. The deposits were dry sieved using a mesh size of 2 x 2 mm. All archaeological material was kept, including pottery, artefacts, bones, and macro-botanical remains like seeds. Charcoal samples were collected from different depths and kept for dating. While some of the charcoal samples have been sent for radiocarbon dating to Birbal Sahni Institute for Palaeobotany, others have been retained for AMS dating.
Stratigraphically, we identified three layers in both the trenches (see Figures 4 and 5). No layers were carved on the section with a knife, and section drawings were done with consultations among the excavators. Layer 1 in both the trenches was greyish-brown, compact with a few brick nodules, brickbats and bones.
In Trench A1, layer 2 was greyish-brown in colour and extremely loose in texture, filled with potsherds, brickbats and bones. There were also vitrified terracotta and clay lumps in the same layer. About twenty eight over-vitrified terracotta lumps, light in weight and filled with holes were recovered. There were also four lumps that originally comprised pieces of clay that were probably discarded during the process of ceramic manufacture and which got accidentally burnt. There was also one lump of vitrified terracotta with coarse fraction, like chaff, as