Excavations at Gilund: The Artifacts and Other Studies

Excavations at Gilund: The Artifacts and Other Studies

Excavations at Gilund: The Artifacts and Other Studies

Excavations at Gilund: The Artifacts and Other Studies


Located in the Mewar region of Rajasthan, India, Gilund is the largest known site of the Ahar-Banas Cultural Complex, a large agropastoral group that was contemporaneous with and flanked by the Indus Civilization. Occupied during the Chalcolithic and Early Historic periods, the ancient site of Gilund holds significant clues to understanding third millennium B.C.E cultural interactions in South Asia and beyond.

Excavations at Gilund provides a full analysis of the artifacts recovered during the five-year excavation project conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and Deccan College. The excavators investigated the regional development of early farming villages, their shifting subsistence practices, their economy and trade with other cultures, and the traces of Gilund's transition from the Chalcolithic to the Iron Age. Their findings shed light on the extent and nature of early trade networks, the rise of early complex societies, and the symbolic and ideological beliefs of this region. This volume synthesizes new discoveries with previous findings and considers Gilund in a broader regional and global context, making it the most comprehensive presentation of archaeological data for this region to date.

Contributors: Marta Ameri, Shweta Sinha Deshpande, Debasri Dasgupta Ghosh, Lorena Giorgio, Praveena Gullapalli, Julie Hanlon, Peter Johansen, Matthew Landt, Gregory L. Possehl, Teresa P. Raczek, Vasant Shinde.

University Museum Monograph, 138


Vasant Shinde, Teresa P. Raczek, and Gregory L. Possehl

As the largest known Chalcolithic settlement in its region, the site of Gilund played an important role in the development of early social, political, and economic forms of the 3rd and 2nd millennia bc in northwest India. the site was home to an ancient community of farmers and artisans who engaged in extensive inter- and intra-regional networks of interaction. the presence of monumental architecture in the form of a large parallel walled mudbrick structure, along with a circumference wall, workshops, and a diverse body of material culture make Gilund an excellent site for studying early social complexity. Moreover, its location on the margins of the Indus Civilization provides a distinctive vantage point for viewing social, political, and economic processes more broadly.

Gilund was first excavated over half of a century ago by B.B. Lal of the Archaeological Survey of India (IAR 1959–60). in order to follow up on his initial finds, new multi-disciplinary excavations were undertaken from 1999–2005 by the University of Pennsylvania and Deccan College, Post-Graduate and Research Institute. These new excavations investigated the role that Gilund played in ongoing regional social processes including increased sedentism, the spread of farming, and the development of trade and exchange networks. in this volume, we present an overview of the artifacts recovered from the new excavations, together with an overview of related studies and significant discoveries. in order to situate these studies, a summary of previous research in the region is presented here.

The Mewar Plain and the
Ahar-Banas Complex

The ancient habitation mound of Gilund (25°01 ‘56” N and 74°15’45” E, 485 m above sea level, Rajsamand District, Rajasthan) is locally known as Modiya Magari (“bald habitation mound”). Although it was referred to as Bhagwanpura in Lal’s first excavation report, it is currently called Gilund after the nearby contemporary village of that name. the site sits in the middle of the Banas Basin in the Mewar Plain, a geological extension of central India’s Malwa Plateau. the region is bounded on the west by the Aravalli Mountains, which form the watershed for this part of the subcontinent. the Banas/Berach River and several of its tributaries drain from here to the northeast, eventually emptying into the Chambal River in Madhya Pradesh. the site is located approximately 1.20 km south of the Banas River, which served the occupants of ancient Gilund as a source of water, fish, stone, and potentially reeds and transport. a nulla, or creek, that connects to the Banas passes just south of the site, potentially providing more immediate access to water. Additional water and water-based flora and fauna may also have been obtained from a now dry lake located 2 km to the west.

The region has a semi-arid environment characterized by hot, dry summers (over 45° C); cold, dry winters (under 15° C); and an unpredictable monsoon with an average rainfall of 500 to 800 mm. Until recently, much of the region was covered by thorny scrub forests; some varieties of trees including babul, banyan, tamarind, mango, papal, and neem are still commonly found. Wild animals present . . .

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