The Ahar people had a rich ceramic tradition consisting of several
fine and coarse wares. The fine wares include Tan ware, Thin Red ware and
Black-and-Red ware, and the coarse wares include Thick Red ware and Grey
ware. The fine wares are made of well-levigated clay, have a slipped
and burnished surface, and are well baked and sturdy.
These wares were meant for eating and drinking. In the Tan ware, which has
a close affinity, in its fabric and shapes, with Harappan pottery, the main
shapes are carinated dishes, dishes-on-stand of various sizes, and globular
jars with deep grooves between tall applique ridges on the outside. The
Thin Red ware mainly consists of convex-sided bowls and lota-like vessels.
In the Black-and-Red ware the main shapes are straight-sided as well
as carinated shallow and deep bowls. They are painted on both surfaces in
white pigment with geometric motifs. The coarse wares are made of
coarse clay and are poorly fired. They comprise jars and handis of various
sizes for storage and cooking.
The upper part of the vessels is treated with a thick bright red or grey
slip and is burnished. The vessels are decorated with shallow grooves below
the neck and with a variety of incised, applique and cut designs below the
grooves on the external surface.
Nearly thirty-five radiocarbon dates, mainly from Balathal, clearly
establish the duration of the Ahar culture from 3000 B.C. to 1500 B.C. They
show Balathal to be the oldest village in India outside the Indus Civilization.
The Northern Vindhyas and the Ganga Valley-
Geographical Extent -
The Neolithic culture of the northern Vindhyas and the middle Ganga valley
was succeeded by Chalcolithic culture. During this period the number of
settlements increased considerably and extended eastward into the lower
Ganga valley in Bihar and West Bengal.
The new features are increase in the size of settlements, improvement in
architecture, appearance of wheel-made pottery, diversification of
wares, profuse decoration of vessels with painted and incised designs, addition
of copper to technology, and appearance of beads of semi-precious stones,
copper, steatite and terracotta and of terracotta animal and human figurines.
A large number of Chalcolithic sites have been excavated.
These include Kakoria (B.B. Misra 1989), Magha (IAR 1980-81: 72-3), Koldihwa
(V.D. Misra 1989), Banimilia-Bahera (IAR 1971-72: 39-40), Takiapar (IAR
1971-72: 49), Raja Nal Ka Tila (Tiwari and Srivastava 1997-98) in the Vindhyas
and Jhusi (V.D. Misra et al. 1995), Kausambi (G.R. Sharma 1960), Sringverapura
(Lal and Dikshit 1981), Prahladpur (Narain and Roy 1968), Rajghat (Narain
and Roy 1977).
Masondih (IAR 1963-64: 57-58), Sohagaura (Chaturvedi 1985), Narhan (P. Singh
1994), Imlidih (P. Singh 1993; P. Singh et al. 1992), Khairadih (B.P. Singh
1988), Chirand (S.R. Roy 1989), Chechar (IAR 1977-78: 17-18), Maner (IAR
1984-85: 11-12), Oriup (IAR 1967-68:6), Champa (IAR 1982-83: 15-16), Sonpur
(Sinha and Verma 1970), Taradih (Prasad 1981), Manjhi (T.N. Roy 1986), Senuwar
(B.P. Singh 1990) and Agiabir (P. Singh 1999), Mahisdal (Mukherjee 1989),
Mangalkot (Mukherjee 1989) and Pandu Rajar Dhibi (Das Gupta 1964) in the
The chief characteristic of the Chalcolithic culture represented at these
sites are given below:
The houses were generally made of wattle-and-daub as represented by postholes,
burnt lumps of clay with bamboo and reed impressions, and compact mud floors.
They were usually of rectangular shape. At several sites the houses contained
hearths and chulhas and kitchen equipment like querns and mullers.
The ceramic assemblage consists of Red, Black-and-Red, and Black-Slipped
wares. All these were made on wheel from well-levigated clay. The shapes
comprise bowls of various sizes, including pedestalled and channel spouted,
flat platters, dishes, basins, perforated vessels, jars and vases. The Black-and-Red
and Black-Slipped wares were painted in white with a variety of geometric
designs on both faces.
The technology of the Chalcolithic people comprised tools and weapons of
copper, stone, bone and antler. Copper objects include knives, spearheads
and arrowheads. Bone and antler tools comprise awls, points, tanged arrowheads
and barbed arrowheads with socketed base. Microliths and blade tools have
been found at almost all the sites. They include lunates, triangles, trapezes,
blunted back blades, serrated blades, retouched blades, plain blades and
The ornaments of these people comprise beads, pendants, bangles,
rings and earstuds. Beads are made of semi-precious stones, terracotta,
bone, shell, faience, steatite, copper and occasionally gold. Bangles are
made of copper, terracotta and bone.
Other objects comprise saddle querns, mullers, rubbers, hammerstones, discs
of stone and terracotta, fishhooks, pins, needles and gamesmen. The economy
of these people was based on a combination of plant cultivation, animal
domestication and hunting and gathering. Cultivated plants include wheat,
barley, rice, jowar, mung, gram, kodo, lentil, til, linseed and pea. Domesticated
animals include buffalo, sheep/goat, pig and dog, and wild animals include
several species of deer and antelopes, and boar. Remains of birds and acquatic
creatures like fish and tortoise have also been found at several sites.
Evidence of disposal of the dead in the form of burial comes only from three
sides, Kakoria and Magha in the Vindhyas and Sonpur in the Ganga valley.
A number of radiocarbon dates from several sites both in the Vindhyas
and the Ganga valley range from 1500 B.C. to 700 B.C. They clearly show
that the colonization of the Ganga valley by farmers took place much later
than that of the western, central and south India.
Malwa or Western Madhya Pradesh-
In the Malwa region of western Madhya Pradesh, drained by the Chambal, Narmada,
Betwa and their tributaries, two Chalcolithic cultures, namely Kayatha
and Malwa, have been found.
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| Kayatha Culture-
Over 40 settlements of the Kayatha culture have been found in the
northern part of Malwa, adjoining the Mewar region of Rajasthan, in the
valleys of the tributaries of river Chambal. Two of them, namely Kayatha
(Ansari and Dhavalikar 1973; Wakankar 1967) and Dangwada (Wakankar and Khare
1981) have been excavated.
The Kayatha culture people lived in small huts having well-rammed
floors. They cultivated wheat and probably barley and other crops although
unfortunately no attempt was made to recover the plant remains. They domesticated
cattle, sheep and goat. The presence of horse bones in the layers
of the Kayatha and succeeding Chalcolithic cultures as also a terracotta
figurine of mare at Kayatha is interesting because it takes back the
antiquity of this controversial animal to the late third millennium B.C.
The typical ceramic of the Kayatha culture is the Chocolate-slipped, sturdy
and well-baked Kayatha ware. The shapes in this ware are convex-sided jars
and carinated dishes, similar to those of the Tan ware of the Ahar
culture. Occasionally the pots were decorated with linear designs in
black pigment. Other wares of this culture are Buff ware with paintings
in red and Combed ware in which the decoration consists of groups
of incised wavy lines. In addition, there is a handmade grey ware in which
the main shapes are handis, basins and storage jars.
The Kayatha people used both copper and stone tools. Elongated
axes represent copper tools and stone tools comprise microliths and blades.
Kayatha has also provided copper bangles, beads of semi-precious stones
and micro beads of steatite. Radiocarbon dates suggest a period of 2000
to 1800 B.C. for this culture. After a break in occupation, the site of
Kayatha was reoccupied by people whose culture was similar to that of Ahar
Malwa Culture -
More than a hundred settlements of this culture have been located
in the valleys of the Chambal, Narmada, Betwa and their tributaries. Of
these, Nagda (Banerjee 1986), Kayatha, Navdatoli (Sankalia et al. 1958;
Sankalia et al. 1971) and Eran (U.V. Singh 1962) have been excavated. Navdatoli
was horizontally excavated and has provided the best evidence.
The Malwa culture people lived in wattle-and-daub houses of rectangular
and round shape the evidence of which is preserved in the form of burnt
wooden posts and clay plaster with bamboo and reed impressions. Round huts
have diameters varying from 2. 40 to 3. 60 m and with walls from 30 to 60
The rectangular structures were more spacious, ranging in size from 3 x
3 m to 6 x 4.5 m. Both the type of houses had mud walls with wooden posts
supporting a thatched roof. At Nagda a rampart made of mud and mud-bricks
has been reported, probably constructed for protection against floods of
the Chambal River.
A defence wall made of mud and having a width of 30 m at the base and a
height of 6.4 m, and with a moat running parallel to it has been reported
from Eran. Nagda had multi-roomed houses made of mud and sun-baked
as well as kiln-baked bricks. One house contained a four-armed chulha with
provision for three cooking vessels. The floors of the houses were rammed
hard and multiple floor levels indicate that they were periodically repaired
At Nagda a drain built of mud -bricks and measuring 2. 28 x 2. 13 m and
with a height of about 1 m have been reported. At Navdatoli a squarish
pit enclosed by mud walls and containing ash and burnt logs of wood has
been identified as a sacrificial pit or yajnya kunda (Sankalia et al. 1971:
49).The Malwa people cultivated cereals, legumes, oil seeds and fruits.
Cereals comprise bread wheat (Triticum compactum) and rice (Oryza sativa
Among the pulses and legumes are lentil (Lens esculenta), black gram or
urid (Vigna mungo), green gram (Phaseolus mungo) and khesari (Lathyrus sativus).
Oil seed is represented by linseed (Linum usitatissimum) and fruit is represented
by ber (Zizyphus jujube). The Malwa people domesticated cattle,
sheep, goat and pig. They also consumed the flesh of wild animals like
barasingha (Cervus duvauceli), rat, fish, turtle and molluscs.
The Malwa people used several ceramics. Their main pottery was Malwa
ware. It is made on wheel and has a buff or cream slip and bears painted
patterns in dark brown or black pigment. The main vessel forms are lota,
storage jars, bowls and dishes. Of particular interest are channel spouted
bowls and pedestalled goblets from Navdatoli.
They have significant parallels at Iranian sites and Sankalia (1964: 315-17)
interpreted them as evidence of Aryan migration from Iran into India. The
painted designs are primarily geometric such as triangles and lozenges
but naturalistic designs of animals, birds, dancing human figures
and plants are also found. In addition, Black-and-Red ware with paintings
in white and Buff ware with paintings in red colour are also found at Malwa
The technology of the Malwa people consisted of copper and stone tools.
Copper tools comprise flat celts and spearhead or sword with a mid rib.
Such a sword also has affinities with specimens from Bronze Age sites
in Iran, particularly Tepe Hissar and has been interpreted by Sankalia (1963:
329, Fig. 23-24) as another evidence of Aryan migration into India. Malwa
culture sites, particularly Navdatoli, have provided an impressive quantity
of chalcedony blades and a variety of microliths.
The blades were produced by crested guiding ridge technique. The ornaments
of the Malwa people included beads of semi-precious stones and rings and
bangles of copper. Navdatoli has produced a large quantity of beads
as also evidence of their manufacture on the site. Other technological items
are saddle querns, elongated rubbing stones and hammerstones.
Terracotta female figurines found at several sites may be representations
of mother goddess. A painted male human figure with dishevelled hair and
holding a spear in his right hand has been interpreted by Sankalia as a
proto Siva. Terracotta bull figurines found at Malwa sites may be
associated with religious beliefs.Radiocarbon dates from Navdatoli suggest
a period of 1700 B.C. to 1450 B.C. for the duration of the Malwa culture.