Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

Relations of Neolithic Kashmir with South and Central Asia a Comparative Analysis of Material Culture from New Sites in Kashmir

Academic journal article The Journal of Central Asian Studies

Relations of Neolithic Kashmir with South and Central Asia a Comparative Analysis of Material Culture from New Sites in Kashmir

Article excerpt

Analysis of Material Culture

Pottery

Majority of the material culture from the six Neolithic sites consists of pottery that can be grouped in four types i.e. Coarse Ware, Fine Ware, Burnished Ware and Gritty Ware. These four wares are considered to be the diagnostic wares of the Neolithic period in Kashmir.1 Among the four wares, coarse ware (also known as rippled rim ware) is noted in shades of black and gray with both pedestal and ring bases with decorations of wavy lines or dots running over the surfaces. Fine ware (sometimes called combed gray ware due to striations on its surface), has been found in two shades of gray and buff. Its design hallmark is the mat or basket impression that has been found on the base of the majority of examples. Burnished ware also comes in two shades of black and steel gray with carved triangular designs on the stem and rim area of the pots and with pedestal and flat bases. Gritty ware comes in shades of buff and red and there are many examples with pedestal bases, and without any design.

These four pottery types were found not only from the excavations at Burzahom, Gufkral and Kanispora but also from many other places in Kashmir during later explorations to gauge the distribution of the Neolithic material culture in Kashmir.2 The description of these types of pottery by Saar (1992) and Pant (1981) and their subsequent analysis by Bandey,3 provided the relative date range of each type in Kashmir. They found that coarse gray and fine gray wares appear around 2500-2000 BC and 2000-1700 BC respectively, while burnished ware appears around 2000-1700 BC, and gritty red or buff ware from 1700-1000 BC, thus, suggesting a general time bracket of 3000-1000 BC for the Neolithic culture in Kashmir.

Among the shapes coarse gray ware comes in the form of basins, bowls and spherical cooking pots with rippled rims and pedestal or flat bases. Fine gray ware has been noted in the form of bowls, jars and spherical bodied pots with out-turned collars with rippled rims. Burnished gray or buff ware took the form of high necked jars with flaring rims, globular bodies and fiat bases, bowls with or without stand, dish-on-stand, spherical pots and vases and miniature pots. Gritty red or buff ware has been recorded in the form of bowls with pedestal bases and small miniature pots. These forms correspond to those reported in the four pottery types at Burzahom, Gufkral and Kanispora.

Stone Tools

Among the stone tools a harvester, a shouldered celt, grounded celts, pounders, mace heads, a muller and sling balls were found. These tools are largely made from Panjal trap, a volcanic type of rock commonly found in Kashmir, specimens of which are also reported from both Burzahom and Gufkral.4

Wattle and Daub

Mud plaster pieces of wattle and daub, with reed impressions, were also found at three of the six sites. Earlier, wattle and daub pieces were found at Burzahom and Gufkral, suggesting their use for plastering wall surfaces5 of the habitations for the settlement purposes during the Neolithic period. The wattle and daub pieces from the Baramulla sites were part of the Neolithic assemblage suggesting construction of similar habitations of timber with reinforcement by twigs and reeds and plastered on both sides with mud.

Terracotta

A sole specimen of a terracotta bobbin was found at a site in the present systematic transect survey. Nothing similar has been reported from Burzahom and Gufkral, though spindle whorls were reported there. However, similar type of bobbins were found during excavations at Aligrama (Swat, Pakistan) dating from 2000 BC to the 4th century BC.6 Furthermore, a single specimen of unknown terracotta object resembling an oyster shell was found at a site with no comparators in Kashmir or elsewhere.

Schist

A schist disk with a central perforation was collected from one site. Such schist disks are not reported from the excavated Kashmir Neolithic sites. …

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