Article


FROM THE KNOWN TO THE UNKNOWN: REAPPRAISING THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL LANDSCAPE OF THE KALI NADI – GANGES INTERFLUVE




Abstract

The paper discusses the results of a reconnaissance survey carried out in an area between the Kali Nadi and the Ganges rivers, which was aimed at re-visiting previously reported sites and also for locating new sites in the area. Another aim was to ascertain the extent to which archaeological sites have survived in an intensively inhabited zone and the impact of various natural and cultural factors acting upon the sites. The paper briefly discusses the ceramics and other artifacts recovered during the survey as well as about the spatial patterning and distribution of archaeological settlements in the area.

 



Keywords
Content

Archaeology has long depended on two primary strategies for generating data regarding the past, which are excavation and exploration. Both have different purposes, excavation for gaining in depth knowledge regarding the nature of a particular site, while exploration provides information on a larger spatial level. It is increasingly being realized in archaeology that interesting data for understanding the nature of archaeological sites, related to sites in a landscape, can actually be recovered through survey rather than excavation.

The area that comprises the subject of analysis in this paper is a tract of land located between Kali Nadi and Ganga rivers, which, in turn, form a part of the Upper Ganga-Yamuna Doab. The area is delimited by coordinates 28° 4’ to 28° 43’ N and 77° 18’ to 78° 28’ E and falls within the modern administrative jurisdiction of District Bulandshahr of Uttar Pradesh. The area has a well-developed and an integrated drainage system comprising of both perennial and seasonal rivers as well as small streams, creeks and ponds or Tals. The major rivers that drain the area are the Ganga, Yamuna and Kali Nadi along with some seasonal streams like the Chhoiya or Nim Nadi. The area exhibits a uniform topography with a gentle gradient from north-west to south-east and has rich and fertile soils, making it one of the most important and agriculturally advanced districts of Uttar Pradesh.

The region has been investigated before, right from the time of Alexander Cunningham till recently, by several scholars, each of them working with prevailing methodologies of the time. In most cases, surveys noted only certain details, such as the name of the nearest village, and the kinds of artefacts and pottery found that could provide an idea of the cultural occupation of the sites. However, these earlier surveys were exploratory in nature rather than systematic, aimed at identification and cataloguing of prominent and accessible archaeological sites. 

The datasets generated during the previous surveys and explorations in the area have certain shortcomings as the information contained is very limited, providing brief information in a tabular format with the main focus being the ceramics recovered. This is to some extent understandable as archaeology depends on ceramic typology to be able to date occupations at sites. However, in many cases, vital information such as exact location, site dimensions, and geo-spatial coordinates have not been included which are necessary for site records.  There is also hardly any discussion of the way surveys were carried out or the methodology adopted. These surveys have not seriously engaged with surface archaeology of these sites as a key tool with which more meaningful and crucial information about the sites being surveyed can be generated. The absence of these details ultimately creates problems in understanding the distributional patterning of archaeological sites in the area.

METHODOLOGY OF THE PRESENT SURVEY

Owing to the vastness of the survey area and due to logistical constraints, it was difficult to carry out a full coverage survey or a systematic transect survey. Therefore, a restricted region, covering approximately an area off 45 x 30 sq.km, lying between the Kali Nadi and Ganges rivers, comprising the present day administrative blocks of Danpur, Anupshahr, Dibai, Pahasu, Khurja, and a portion of Shikarpur block of the Bulandshahr District were selected for reconnaissance (Fig. 1).

The survey programme primarily focused on re-visiting all the previously reported archaeological sites in the area and recording them in a more thorough manner as well as to explore the rest of the landscape for new sites to be added to the archaeological map of the area. The aim was to locate sites within the landscape as well as to understand their patterning and distribution. After making all the necessary preparations, it was decided to carry out a conventional “village to village” survey in order to re-examine and study all the previously reported sites as well as to explore the rest of the area for new sites. The area was largely traversed on foot or using a bullock-cart, as most of the villages in the survey area are connected only by narrow muddy tracks and some sites were very difficult to approach due to the highly damaged nature of the roads. In order to locate archaeological sites in the villages, the local inhabitants helped in detecting and surveying the sites.

During the survey, the sites were re-visited and surveyed in order to obtain details, such as dimensions, location, and the nature of the landscape surrounding them. Another aim was to assess the impact of environmental and cultural factors that had operated on the sites, in some cases over more than a century. The surface of the archaeological sites was scanned for archaeological remains and grab samples of cultural material (i.e. pottery and other artefacts) strewn over the surface and from the section cuts of the sites were collected for each site separately for further analysis. Materials like brickbats and other heavier objects were not collected, but their presence at the site was documented. The areas around the sites were also surveyed for archaeological remains and it was found that the material was scattered to a large extent, making it, in some cases, difficult to obtain actual dimensions. In order to determine or calculate the spatial extent of a site, thus, the area in which pottery was scattered was taken into consideration and was estimated using measuring tapes or pacing technique. The geo-spatial locations of the sites were established by using a handheld Global Positioning System (GPS – Garmin Etrex Vista HCX) by recording the coordinates, which were later on transferred into Satellite Imagery Software “Google Earth” and “ArcMap 10.2” to produce a base map of the area. Other details obtained included the current condition of the sites, available water sources, the distance from the village, current land use strategies, and other additional information, which were recorded for each site separately, on pre-printed recording forms. The recording process was facilitated by photographs of the sites and associated features.

During the course of the survey, sixteen sites were located and studied. Twelve out the sixteen were previously reported and four new sites were located. These sites range from Ochre Coloured Pottery culture to the Medieval period. Some are single-period while some are multi-period sites with different dimensions and cultural affinities. However, in some cases, previously reported sites could not be located due to inaccuracies in reporting. It is also likely that modification of the landscape in the recent past owing to ever augmenting need for agricultural lands and rapid urbanization has led to destruction and obliteration of a number of archaeological sites in the area.  All these factors are liable to create a bias while attempting to understand the patterning and distribution of archaeological sites in the area.

Table 1: Sites visited and documented during the present survey

Site

Tehsil/Block

Latitude

Longitude

Reported Cultural Assemblage

Ahar*

Anupshahr

28° 27’ 55’’ N

78° 14’ 54” E

GW, RW, M

Ahmadgarh

Pahasu

28° 14’ 21”N

78° 07’ 15” E

PGW, BR, GW, BSW, RW, M

Akrabas

Dibai

28° 10’ 03’’N

78° 13’ 30’’E

OCP, RW, M

Barner

Pahasu

28° 08’ 24” N

78° 10’ 22” E

PGW, BR, BSW, RW, M

Danpur

Dibai

28° 11’ 36” N

78° 11’ 37” E

RW, M

Darau*

Pahasu

28° 07’ 01” N

78° 10’ 17” E

PGW, NBPW, GW, BSW, RW, M

Daulatpur*

Dibai

28° 14’ 43” N

78° 10’ 56” E

OCP

Dharampur

Dibai

28° 08’ 18” N

78° 17’ 26” E

Not reported earlier

Indor Khera*

Dibai

28° 14’ 56” N

78° 12’ 40” E

EH, M

Kiratpur*

Pahasu

28° 10’ 35” N

78° 09’ 17” E

OCP, Copper Hoard

Lal Qila*

Dibai

28° 09’ 44” N

78° 11’ 10” E

OCP

Narayanpur

Dibai

28° 10’ 11” N

78° 11’ 16” E

Not reported earlier

Pandrawal

Pahasu

28° 06’ 30” N

78° 11’ 40” E

GW, RW, M

Pipehara

Anupshahr

28° 21’ 20” N

78° 16’ 02” E

Not reported earlier

Shakoorganj Khera

Dibai

28° 10’59” N

78° 16’ 22” E

BR, PGW, GW, BSW, RW, M

Shakoorganj Kothi

Dibai

28° 11’ 27” N

78° 16’ 01” E

Not reported earlier

Index to the table:

OCP- Ochre Colour Pottery, PGW- Painted Grey Ware, GW- Grey Ware, NBP- Northern Black Polished Ware, BS- Black Slipped Ware, BR- Black and Red Ware, RW- Red Ware (Sunga- Kushana), EH- Early Historic, M- Medieval Ware, *- Excavated Sites

 

A DIRECTORY OF SITES COVERED IN THE SURVEY

The sites visited and documented during the survey are discussed below in an alphabetical manner and according to the numbers assigned to the sites in the following map (Fig. 2). The sites visited and documented during the survey are as follows:

AHAR (28° 27’ 55’’ N; 78° 14’ 54” E)

The present day town of Ahar is located about 17 km north of Anupshahr town and about 45 km east of Bulandshahr. The present habitation is perched on the top of a large mound and along its fringes on the right bank of the Ganges River. The main mound of Ahar measures c.740 m (NS) x 825 m (EW) i.e. in size an rises about 10-12 m above the surrounding areas. The mound is completely inhabited except for certain portions, which are used either for agricultural purposes or as dumping places for garbage as well as for drying and stacking dung cakes. Pottery, brickbats and fragments of stone sculpture can be seen scattered all over the surface of the mound and surrounding areas. To the south-west of the village or the main mound, lie a group of shallow still-surviving mounds or elevations marked by an average relief of 3-4 m above the surrounding plain, which are generally covered by thick vegetation and grass. Some of these mounds show structural activity with a thin scatter of pottery and other archaeological material scattered on their surface, while some appear to be natural formations composed of sediments deposited by the river or aeolian processes and are devoid of any cultural material. A shallow oval shaped mound measuring 45 m (NS) x 38 m (EW) with a very low relief of 2 m above the surrounding area lies to the south of the village. This mound was excavated by M S Vats during the 1920s. Close to this mound is a large dried up water body locally known as Rukmini Kund. The area between these smaller mounds is divided into arable patches, which are subjected to intensive agricultural activities throughout the year (Fig. 3).

The landscape of Ahar has attracted the attention of visitors, researchers and archaeologists from the 19th century onwards. A C L Carlleyle first reported the site and identified it with the ancient city of “Kundilpur” (Carlleyle 1879 [2000]: 27-36. Those who visited the site after Carlleyle, such as Growse (1884: 35), Nevill (1922: 73) and Fuhrer (1891 [1969]: 3), give almost verbatim descriptions of the site and its environs with almost no new information. M S Vats (Vats 1928 [1990]: 56-58) carried-out small scale excavations at Ahar in 1924-25. R C Gaur and his team, in  subsequent explorations, reported the site as containing deposits of Grey Ware, Red Ware (Sunga-Kushana period) and Medieval Pottery (IAR 1970-71: 37). B D Chattopadhyaya (1997: 134-135), identified Ahar with Tattanandapura – a fully developed Early Medieval town of the Upper Ganga Basin. Similarly, Chakrabarti (Chakrabarti et al.2004; Chakrabarti 2007: 119) provided a brief account of the site’s morphology and layout and referred to the presence of Kushana period bricks on the mound. During the present survey, predominantly oxidized or Red Ware of medium to coarse fabric along with a small percentage of reduced sherds (mainly Grey Ware of medium fabric) were collected.

AHMADGARH (280 14’ 21” N; 780 07’ 15” E)

The site of Ahmadgarh is located on the Dibai-Shikarpur Road at a distance of about 14 km from Dibai and about 10 km southeast of Shikarpur town. It is a mounded site measuring about 570 m (NS) x 700 m (EW) rising to about 2 to 3 m in height. The mound is divided by a metalled road into two parts and is almost completely habited. A large part of the mound has also been levelled for agricultural purposes. For both reasons, it was not possible to survey the whole mound. However, a small portion of the mound to the north, which is uninhabited, was scrutinized for archaeological remains. There is a medieval period ruined structure at the northern fringe of the mound, locally known as Qila. During the survey, potsherds were noticed on the surface and in the exposed sections of the mound and samples were collected. There are three water bodies in the town, locally known as Pokhars. The nearest river is Chhoiya to the east about 4 km away from the town. Kali Nadi is about 10 km away to the west of the settlement.  During the previous explorations, sherds of BRW, PGW, GW, BS, and RW (Sunga-Kushana) had been reported from the site (IAR 1970-71: 37). However, no mention has been made of this medieval or late – medieval structure at the site. In the current survey, predominantly red ware was found along with a small number of sherds belonging to the reduced category of fine to coarse fabric. The major shapes include jars, pots, bowls, and basins.

 AKRABAS(28° 10’ 03’’N; 78° 13’ 30’’E)

Akrabas or Akbarbas is a small village located at a distance of about 6 km from Dibai town and about 4 km towards east of Narayanpur village. The mound is located to the west of the village and is locally known as Qila. A large portion of the mound has been levelled for agricultural purposes and the remaining portion, measuring c. 65 m (EW) x 90 m (NS) is also being cultivated and is, thus, highly disturbed. A very thin scatter of pottery was noticed on the surface of the mound, but there was a huge scatter of brickbats found all over the surface. Pottery was also noticed in the adjacent fields. Remains of a medieval or late medieval period structure were also found at the site, which according to the locals was a Qila (fort), which is now completely dismantled with its bricks being utilized by people for construction. The mound is about 3 to 4 meters high above the surrounding areas and just near the mound is a large water body or pond locally called as Pokhar, which may have been the only source of water for the inhabitants in the past as no river flows near the settlement. The site has been reported as containing cultural materials belonging to OCP and medieval periods (IAR 1970-71: 37).

The pottery collected from the site is entirely Red Ware of medium fabric. The pottery assemblage from Akrabas is quite similar to pottery from Early- Medieval and Medieval levels at various sites like Sonkh, Hastinapura, and Ahar. It should be mentioned here that not a single sherd resembling OCP was found at the site during the present survey.

 BARNER SHARIF (28° 08’ 24” N; 78° 10’ 22” E)

Barner Sharif or Barner is about 1.5 km away from the Aligarh - Anupshahr road and can be reached by a metalled road. It is relatively a shallow mound, occupied by a shrine (dargah) and a graveyard. The mounded area measures about 200 m (NS) x 300 m (EW) and is markedly low relief of about 1-2 m above the surrounding landscape. The site is strategically located as it is on the left bank of Kali Nadi, which is about 50 m away from the mound. The mound is highly disturbed and certain parts of it are covered by thick vegetation and modern trash dumps. The potsherd scatter at the mound is very thin, but potsherds can be seen scattered all over the surface in the surroundings fields. The site had been earlier reported as containing the deposit of PGW, BR, BS, RW, and medieval pottery (IAR 1966-67: 33).

The pottery assemblage collected from Barner can be divided in oxidized and reduced categories of fine to medium fabric. A single PGW sherd of fine fabric with smooth slipped surfaces and black painted design (bands) on exterior was collected from the site. However, no sherds akin to BSW or BRW were found at the site during the survey. The typical or characteristic pottery shapes of Sunga-Kushana period are also absent from the assemblage.

 DANPUR (28° 11’ 36” N; 78° 11’ 37” E)

The site of Danpur is located on the Aligarh - Pahasu road, about 1 km away to the southwest of the main town of Danpur.The site is locally known as Chamand Khera and can be approached by a narrow pathway through the fields. The site is totally under cultivation and a small portion of it measuring about 80 m (NS) x 45 m (EW) was left fallow, but was under heavy vegetation. During the present survey, potsherds were found scattered over the entire place and in the adjacent fields, especially in the irrigational channels. The average thickness of the deposit varies from 25 - 30 cm at places. Sherds of RW (Sunga-Kushana) and medieval pottery have been reported from the site earlier (IAR 1970-71: 37).

The pottery from Danpur falls within the Red Ware category and is of medium fabric. The site had been earlier reported as containing the deposits from Sunga-Kushana and Medieval levels. However, the pottery collected during the present survey does not bear any similarities with the Kushana period pottery from other excavated sites in the area. No typical or characteristic pottery belonging to Kushana or Gupta period was found at the site.

 DARAU (28° 07’ 01” N; 78° 10’ 17” E)

The site is located on the left side of Aligarh-Anupshahr road on the right bank of the Kali Nadi. The site was discovered by Gaur during his explorations in the area, after which a small scale excavation was carried out by him in 1985-86 (IAR 1985-86: 78-9). The excavations revealed the cultural material belonging to the PGW, NBPW, Sunga-Kushana and Medieval periods. Apart from the ceramics, the excavations also revealed structural remains belonging to the post-PGW and Sunga-Kushana levels. The artefacts and antiquities recovered during the excavation are bone arrowheads, iron spearheads, terracotta figurines, wheels, beads and a seal bearing characters in Brahmi.

At present, the mound rises about 2-3 meters above the surrounding plain and measures 60 m (NS) x 50 m (EW). The site is highly disturbed, as a large part of it has been reduced to the present ground level for agricultural purposes. A very small portion of the mound is left which is under vegetation and used for drying cow dung cakes (Fig. 4).During the survey, pottery was seen scattered all over the area surrounding the mound. However, a very thin scatter was found on the mound itself, probably due to dense vegetation and other obstructions. The pottery collected can be divided into oxidized and reduced categories with fine to coarse fabric. However, during the present survey, no sherds belonging to NBPW or BSW categories were collected.

 DAULATPUR (28° 14’ 43” N; 78° 10’ 56” E)

The site of Daulatpur is located at a distance of about 5 km from the Bhimpur Doraha, on the left side of Dibai - Jahangirabad road. The site is located about 1.5km to the northwest of the village in the midst of agricultural fields and can be reached by a cart-road. It is located at a distance of about 10 km away from the famous OCP site of Lal Qila. It is a flat shallow mound with the thickness of the deposit ranging between 0.50 - 1.5 meters. Gaur (IAR 1984-85: 86-88; Gaur 1995: 215-219) had carried out small-scale excavations at the site. He (Gaur 1995: 215-219) had suggested that the site was a campsite or a seasonal settlement and was a refuge for people living on the banks of Kali Nadi during floods. The excavations at the site revealed structural remains in the form of floors with post-holes, mud clods, pieces of plaster, and fire places. The pottery assemblage according to the excavator is devoid of any Harappan influence and bears close affinity with the pottery from Lal Qila. Apart from that, were also found artefacts such as weights, querns and pestles of stone, beads, terracotta wheels and pottery discs. The site has been tentatively dated between c. 2500 and 1500 BCE by Gaur, based on the similarities in the materials excavated with that of Lal Qila, Atranjikhera and other OCP sites in the region.

The present survey found the morphology of the site to be badly disturbed by agricultural activities with a large part of it converted into agricultural fields. The mounded area measures about 230 m (NS) x 180 m (EW).There is a large water body or lake to the north-west of the settlement, which occupies an area of about 8 bighas (1.28 ha) as per revenue records. According to Gaur (1995: 217), the water body would have been an important source of water for the people in the past. While pottery, brickbats and pebbles were found scattered at the site, no other artefacts or antiquities were noticed. The pottery collected from the site during the survey comprises of sturdy red ware with diagnostic and decorated sherds of medium to coarse fabric representing vessel shapes like jars/ vases, pots, bowls, basins, dishes and fragments of a dish-on-stand.

 DHARAMPUR (28° 08’ 18” N; 78° 16’ 01” E)

Dharampur is a village located about 8 km from Dibai and can be reached by a metalled road and railway as well. In the village (Harijan Mohalla), there is a mound, locally called as Garhi, about 8-9 m high containing a late medieval/colonial period structure that is in a dilapidated state. A mosque, probably of the same period, is at the foot of the mound. On the top of the mound, a very thin scatter of potsherds was noticed. However, in the sections and at the bottom of the mound, potsherds were present. The site has not been reported earlier. Pottery collected from the site belongs to Red Ware category and is represented by rims and body sherds of various vessel shapes like jars, pots, bowls and basins, etc.

 INDOR KHERA (28° 14’ 56” N; 78° 12’ 40” E)

The site of Indor Khera or ancient Indrapura is located about 0.5 km off the Aligarh-Anupshahr road. It is on the right bank of Chhoiya (Nim Nadi). The present day village is located on the top of the mound, measuring 285 m (NS) x 428 m (EW), and rises about 17 min height from the surrounding areas (Menon, et al. 2005; 2008).There are three other small mounds lying in a radius of about 500 to 600 m from the main mound. Archaeologists have known the site since the 1870s, when A C L Carlleyle first investigated it in 1874-75. Carlleyle conducted limited excavations at the site and at three of the adjoining mounds, which he named Kundanpura, Ahirpura and Vaidyapura. He was also able to expose several architectural features and structures and recovered artefacts such as coins, seals, terracotta objects and figurines, bricks of various shapes and sizes, pottery of various shapes (designed, stamped and glazed) as well as the important copper plate inscription belonging to the Gupta period. Based on the datable material (inscribed and numismatic evidence), he tried to devise a rough chronological sequence for the site and also tried to give the dimensions of the site.Carlleyle’s work at the site provided a platform from which later archaeologists could carry out further investigations in the area. The copper plate inscription has also been mentioned by Nevill (1922: 142) and Fuhrer (1891 [1969]: 6) in their respective accounts (Fig. 5).

After a hiatus of more than hundred years, the main mound of Indor Khera and a 2 x 2 km area around it was systematically surveyed and documented in 2005-05 (Menon et al. 2005). Following the survey, trial trenches were taken at the site in 2005-06, which gave the stratigraphic profile for a part of the site (Menon et al. 2008). During the subsequent three years, full-scale excavations were undertaken at the site, using vertical and horizontal methods of excavation. The pottery recovered during the excavations includes sherds of Black Slipped Ware, Fine Grey Ware, Painted Grey Ware, Northern Black Polished Ware and Red Ware of different types. The excavations provided valuable information about the nature of the settlement and its occupational history. Based on the ceramics, artefacts and structures recovered during the course of excavations, the occupational sequence at the site has been tentatively dated between c. 1200 BCE and 1200/1300 CE (Menon & Varma 2010). Chakrabarti (2007: 119) also refers to the site of Indor Khera and has largely followed Carlleyle in his discussion. However, at certain points he disagrees with Carlleyle for giving more importance to Indor Khera than Ahar. Out of all the sites in this paper, Indor Khera is the most recently investigated.

 KIRATPUR (28° 10’ 35” N; 78° 09’ 17” E)

Kiratpur is a small village located at a distance of about 3 km from the archaeological site of Lal Qila in the northwest direction. Kali Nadi is the nearest river to the settlement at a distance of about 4 km towards the west. The village is known for the discovery of a copper hoard, which was found by a local woman in a mango grove in 1970. The locals informed Gaur who was excavating the site of Lal Qila at that time, about the discovery. He was able to salvage some of the copper objects, which included an anthropomorphic figure, celts, bangles or rings and a small piece of slag. Subsequently, trial trenches were laid at the find-spot, which yielded OCP sherds resembling the pottery from Lal Qila, Atranjikhera, and Saipai (Gaur 1995: 184-188). The site was visited during the course of the present survey, but the precise location or find-spot from where the hoard was recovered was not located.

 LAL QILA (28° 10’ 23” N; 78° 10’ 33” E)

The famous OCP site of Lal Qila is located about 2 km off the Aligarh-Anupshahr road and about 1 km from Narayanpur village towards northwest. The site can be reached from Narayanpur village by a small cart-road and lies in the midst of agricultural fields. The site was first reported by Gaur during his explorations in the area (IAR 1966-67: 33) and was later on excavated by him over several seasons (IAR 1968-69: 35-36; 1969-70: 38-40; 1971-72: 45-46; Gaur 1995).During the excavations, pottery, artefacts, and structural remains were recovered or exposed, which, according to the excavator, provide sufficient evidence to designate Lal Qila as a habitational site of OCP period (Gaur 1995). Chronologically, the site has been dated between 2030 and 1730 BCE, based on thermoluminiscence dating of ceramic sherds.

At present, the site is highly disturbed with a large portion of it destroyed and turned into agricultural fields in which pottery can be seen scattered. The site is flat and almost at the level of the surrounding fields; certain areas are slightly elevated with an average thickness of the deposit varying between 0.5 to 1.5 m.  A small portion of the site, which is left unaltered measures 75 m (NS) x 50 m (EW) and usually remains covered with thick grass. During the survey, potsherds and brickbats were seen scattered all over the surface of the mound.Kali Nadi flows at a distance of about 3 km towards southwest of the site. The pottery collected during the survey entirely belongs to Red Ware category. Generally, the pottery is wheel made and the basic shapes include vases, jars, bowls, basins, and a broken handle (handmade).

 NARAYANPUR (28° 10’ 11” N; 78° 11’ 16” E)

Narayanpur is located about 0.5 km off the  - Anupshahr road. It is a large mounded site with an average height of about 9-10 m above the surroundings. The mound is completely under habitation with large portions of it having been levelled. Potsherds and brickbats can be seen scattered all over the surface of the mound. Structures of baked and mud-bricks are clearly seen in the exposed sections of the mound (Fig. 6).The mound covers an area of about 300 m (NS) x 280 m (EW). The nearest water source is Kali Nadi about 2 km away towards south, but there are three water bodies (ponds) surrounding the village and a canal nearby. The site has not been mentioned earlier and has been added to the archaeological map of the area for the first time. The ceramic assemblage from the site is predominantly Red Ware along with a single Grey Ware sherd.

 PANDRAWAL (28° 06’ 30” N; 78° 11’ 40” E)

The site of Pandrawal is located at a distance of about 3 km from Pandrawal Doraha on Aligarh - Atrauli Road. The site is located on the outskirts of the village about 500 m to the southwest and can be reached by a narrow pathway. The site is in a highly disturbed state and comprises of nine shallow oval shaped mounds forming a girdle, which are possibly parts of one big mound that had been cut down for agricultural purposes. The mounds are relatively low with an average height of 2 to 2.5 m above the surrounding areas and the total area occupied by the mounds and in which the ceramic scatter was found measures c. 210 m (NS) x 220 m (EW).The site is located on the left bank of Kali Nadi, which flows at a distance of less than 300 meters to the west (Fig.7). The site has been earlier reported in IAR 1970-71: 37 with sherds of GW, RW (Sunga-Kushana) and medieval ware having been found. During the present survey, apart from pottery, a broken terracotta object (probably part of an animal figurine) was also collected from the site. Pottery from the site is completely Red Ware of medium fabric.

 PIPEHRA (28° 21’ 20” N; 78° 16’ 02” E)

The village of Pipehara is located at a distance of about 6 km from the town of Jahangirabad in the southeast direction on Jahangirabad - Anupshahr road. A thick scatter of pottery was found in a field, just outside the village which appears to form the part of a shallow mound, but has been levelled for agricultural purposes. The field in which the pottery was found measures about 230 m (NS) x 210 m (EW). Pottery was noticed in the nearby fields as well, but cropping prevented survey. The Chhoiya flows about 1.5 km towards the northeast. Ceramics collected from the site fall completely under the Red Ware category of medium fabric.

 SHAKOORGANJ KHERA (28° 10’59” N; 78° 16’ 22” E)

The site is located at a distance of about 3 km from Dibai on Dibai-Dharampur road. The site is highly disturbed, as 80% of the mound has been bulldozed flat by the owner who sells the material dug out from the mound. A small portion of the mound that is left measures 85 m (NS) x 46 m (EW) and rises about 4 to 4.5 m above the surrounding plain. The original area occupied by the mound probably measured about 250 m (NS) x 210 m (EW) as indicated by the pottery scatter. The exposed sections of the mound also contained potsherds; however, no structural remains were seen. The site is located on the right bank of Chhoiya (Nim Nadi), which is the nearest possible water source. The site is on the verge of extinction and if the present trend continues, it will be soon disappear. A previous exploration of the site has yielded sherds of BRW, PGW, GW, BSW, and RW (Sunga-Kushana) (IAR 1970-71: 37). The majority of the sherds found belong to the oxidized category of medium to coarse fabric and the reduced wares include different shades of Grey Ware of fine fabric.

SHAKOORGANJ KOTHI (28° 11’ 27” N; 78° 16’ 01” E)

The site is located at a distance of about 3 km from Dibai on the left side of Dibai-Dharampur road. It is a flat, levelled ground with a late medieval/colonial period structure (Kothi) in the middle of it. The building is made of burnt bricks measuring 13 x 8 x 3 cm and is in a very fragile condition, mainly due to the damage caused by locals by robbing bricks and other materials, which they reuse. The area occupied by the site measures about 135 m (NS) x 140 m (EW), with a very thin scatter of pottery on the surface. The site has not been reported earlier and Chhoiya, the nearest river, is about 500 meters towards the east. A large lake was also located during the present survey to the north of the site, which has almost dried-up. The pottery from the site is predominantly Red Ware of medium fabric along with a single sherd of Grey Ware.

 CONCLUSION

The data generated during the present survey provides a basic framework to gain an insight into the landscape and the placement of archaeological settlements across it as well as to understand the various natural and cultural processes that have played a part in the fashioning of these settlements in the past and continue to do so in the present. The earlier surveys had primarily recorded the ceramics found at various sites. While this has been important in giving an idea of the chronology of the sites, less importance was given to the placement of sites in the landscape. The present survey has been able to map the known sites more accurately with the help of Global Positioning System coordinates, as well as in relation to the nearest water sources to each of the sites. The present survey has also been able to obtain an estimate of the site sizes, as well as recover data for sites not noticed earlier.

 The reconnaissance in the study area revealed that the archaeological sites in the area have been heavily modified or transformed over time largely by human action, the main reason being the ever increasing population and the need for more agricultural land. Owing to these demands, a large number of archaeological sites have been destroyed and in some cases completely erased from the surface in order to create level ground for agricultural purposes and also to recover valuable materials from buried structures such as bricks to be re-used for constructional purposes. The archaeological site of Shakoorganj Khera is one such example, which has been obliterated in order to make the land suitable for agriculture. Several other sites in the area such as Lal Qila, Daulatpur, Akrabas, and Pandrawal, are also on the verge of being completely destroyed in the near future. In addition, various natural factors such as floods and gully erosion have also affected the archaeological sites. However, the effects of these processes are very minimal as only those sites which are located on or near the banks of rivers and are subjected to inundation during the annual floods, such as Ahar, Darau and Barner, are affected by these processes. Other factors such as aeolian erosion and bioturbation have also had less impact on the archaeological sites in the area.

 Thus, the major threat to archaeological sites has been cultural factors. At the same time, the degree of survival of archaeological sites is also interesting. Sites with heavy usage of brick or which are completely structural (such as those outside the village of Ahar) still survive, perhaps due to difficulties of razing them to the ground or because they lie further away from the habitations. However, in many cases, sites have been consistently chipped away at their margins. The archaeological picture in this region is bound to change with ongoing developmental activities in many parts of the region. Thus, it becomes all the more imperative to record the archaeological landscape before it is altered even further.

 

REFERENCES

Carlleyle, A.C.L. 1879 (2000). Reports of Tours in the Central Doab and Gorakhpur in 1874-75 and 1875-76. Vol. XII. New Delhi: ASI, pp. 27-36.

 

Chakrabarti, D. K. 2007. Archaeological Geography of the Ganga Plain: The Upper Ganga (Oudh, Rohilkhand and the Doab). New Delhi, Munshiram Manoharlal, p. 119.

 

Chakrabarti, D.K., Tewari, R., and Singh, R.N. 2004. ‘Bateswar, Mathura and Ahar: Sites in the Agra-Mathura-Aligarh-Bulandshahr Sector of the UpperGanga-Yamuna Doab in Uttar Pradesh’, in South Asian Studies 20 (1) : 57-69.

 

Chattopadhyaya, B. D. 1994. The Making of Early Medieval India. New Delhi, Oxford University Press, pp. 134-135.

 

Fuhrer, A. 1969.  The Monumental Antiquities and Inscriptions, in the North-Western Provinces and Oudh, Delhi, ASI, p. 3.

 

Growse, F.S. 1884. Bulandshahr: Sketches of an Indian district: social, historical and architectural.Benares: Medical Hall Press, 1884, p. 35.

 

Gaur R.C. 1995. Excavations at Lal Qila: A Habitational OCP Site and a Unique Copper-Hoard from Kiratpur. Jaipur, Publication Scheme.

 

Indian Archaeology – A Review 1966-67; 1968-69; 1969-70; 1970-71; 1971-72; 1984-85; 1985-86.

 

Menon, J. S. Varma. 2010. ‘Reading Archaeological Evidence: Ceramic and Terracotta Production at Indor Khera, Uttar Pradesh (200 BCE- 500 CE)’, Indian Historical Review 37 (2): 187-216.

 

Menon, J. S.Varma, P.B. Sidhu, S.Dayal, M.Abid and Z.Ahmed.  2005. ‘Investigations of an Early Historic Site in Uttar Pradesh: Indor Khera’,Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in History and Archaeology2 (1) : 157-60.

 

Menon, J. S. Varma, S. Dayal, P. B.Sidhu. 2008. ‘Indor Khera Revisited: Excavating a Site in the Upper Ganga Plains’, Man and Environment XXXIII (2): 88-98.

 

Nevill, H. R. 1922. Bulandshahr: A Gazetteer, being Volume V of the District Gazetteers of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. Lucknow, Government Branch Press, p. 73.

Vats, M S. 1928 [1990]. ‘Ahar’, in J F Blankinston (ed.). Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India 1925-26. Delhi, pp. 56-58. 

 

List of Figures

Fig.1. Map Showing the Study Area

Fig.2. Map showing the location of sites visited

Fig.3. Exposed Section of the main mound at Ahar

Fig.4. General View of the mound of Darau

Fig.5. The main mound of Indor Khera

Fig.6. Exposed section of the mound at Narayanpur

Fig.7. General View of the mound at Pandrawal

 

Fig.1. Map Showing the Study Area

 

Fig.2. Map showing the location of sites visited

 

 

Fig.3. Exposed Section of the main mound at Ahar

 

Fig.4. General View of the mound of Darau

 

Fig.5. The main mound of Indor Khera

 

Fig.6. Exposed section of the mound at Narayanpur

 

Fig.7. General View of the mound at Pandrawal



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