Centre Of Advanced Study In Archaeology

With generous financial assistance from the UGC, New Delhi, Department of Archaeology, Deccan College Post-graduate and Research Institute has made multi-fold progress with leaps and bound. The enormous inputs have come from several research projects over the last more than forty years. Initially the funding was granted as part of Special Assistance Programme (1972, 1977 and 1982) for infrastructure and faculty development programmes. It was in year 1985 that UGC recognised the Department of Archaeology as Centre of Advanced Study in Archaeology, which has continued uninterrupted till today. Prehistory and Protohistory including Geoarchaeology, Palaeoecology, Palaeontology, Archaeozoology, Palaeobotany, Palynology, Archaeological Chemistry, Biological Anthropology and Ethno-archaeology are the thrust areas and in view of the status of research in Indian Archaeology, the UGC is pleased to continue the status as Advanced Study Centre for yet another term of five years from 2014 to 2019.

The Department of Archaeology of Deccan College has been the most active centre of research in the field as well as in the laboratories. With the appointment of several experts of Archaeological sciences since the first SAP of 1972; it has emerged as the only centre of Scientific Archaeology in entire South Asia. Research projects undertaken by the faculty of this department have covered the span from prehistory to medieval Archaeology, providing significant clues to our understanding of palaeoenvironment, human evolution and its cultural manifestations with reference to subsistence, settlement systems, human migrations and socio-political and religious history of India.


Research Projects undertaken during the CAS Phase- IV (2007-2012).
  1. Excavations at Moregaon, Karha River Basin, Dist Pune (Duration: 2000 to 2009)

    Morgaon (18 17' N. 74 18'E) is located on the Karha river in Pune District. The major features of the site are the presence of tephra, Acheulian artefacts and microblades. . The Acheulian is associated with the oldest units and is rich in cleavers and giant cores. Two separate locations were excavated and systemic surface collection made of a horizon exposed by levelling of a field. Cleavers occur in channel gravel, mostly as isolated finds while giant cores are associated with large flake debitage and few tools. The Acheulian artefacts are found in units directly resting on bedrock at from 605-615 m above sea level. This bedrock was incised upto 15 m and the tephra is associated with the upper part of the fill which followed this bedrock incision. Therefore there may be a significant time gap between the Acheulian and the tephra with the Acheulian earlier than the tephra. Considerable erosion of these older units occurred and both are overlain by minor gravels containing microblades. The earlier of these units was radiocarbon dated to around 26 kyr and is associated with abraded microblades and bivalve shells. The younger of these units is muddy gravel with reworked calcrete nodules and rich in abraded ostrich eggshells. Evidence for the presence of humans in the form of artefacts is very sparse in this unit and it dates to the more severe phase of Pleistocene aridity, around 22 kyr.

    Projects contribution to Indian Prehistory: The Acheulian at Morgaon is one of the rare sites in which the large flake debitage is well represented. There is also a good sample of almost 40 cleavers. The study of this assemblage has contributed to a great extent to the development of the concept of Large Flake Acheulian. The presence of laterite in the gravels associated with the Acheulian at Morgaon shows that major geomorphological changes have occurred since that time, as laterite is no longer present in the Karha basin. On the other hand the finding of a cleaver on a fissure in a vertisol shows that environmental conditions were not very different from the present.

  2. Palaeontological Excavations in the Manjra valley (2003-2011).

    Palaeontological excavations in the Manjra valley have been Institutes one of the major projects in Bioarchaeology that highlights the formation processes of fossil record and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction using several sets of biological materias like vertebrate, invertebrate and palynomorphs in the Late Pleistocene fluvial settings. Excavations were carried out for several seasons between 2003 to 2011 and the fossil assemblage retrieved stands as a unique set of data for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. The fossil site of Harwadi (182812N: 763658E) is located 14km north of the city of Latur on the left bank of river Manjra, Tal. Renapur, Dist. Latur, Maharashtra. A large number of well preserved fossilised remains of several large mammalian taxa have been discovered in the ancient alluvial deposits along the left bank of the Manjra. The fossil concentrations prompted a number of field seasons which have been highly rewarding with respect to our understanding of the formation of the fossil record in a fluviatile context in western Maharashtra. The animals identified so far include tiger (Panthera tigris), rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), horse (Equus namadicus), primitive and true elephants (Stegodon insignis ganesa, Elephas hysudricus and Elephas namadicus), hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon spp.), deer (Axis axis, Cervus spp.) cattle (Bos namadicus), buffaloes (Bubalus palaeindicus), black buck (Antilpoe cervicapra), Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus), turtle (Trionyx sp.) and a large number of molluscs have been recovered insitu.

    Project's contribution to prehistoric faunal studies in Peninsular India: The question of as to "how and why the bones of several animals are together and yet so well preserved despite a prolonged history of burial (of 50 thousand years) and possible reworking?" has come up to its larger applications to several fossil localities in other river basins in Peninsular India and render palaeoenvironmental reconstruction a meaningful endeavour. No other fossil site has ever yielded such complete skeletal elements and their taphonomic coordinates render them of primary context, thereby offering types site parameters to compare and assess other Pleistocene sites in Peninsular India. The prehistoric human presence in terms of Acheulian artifacts is yet another evidence of rich biological environment that early man exploited in and around the vicinity of Harwadi for its survival. The data on taphonomic, palynological, molluscan and large mammalian assemblages display a type site which is emerging a major parameter for palaeontological research in Peninsular India.





  3. Excavations at Farmana. Dist Rohtak, Haryana (2008-2011)

    The Harappan culture site Farmana excavated by Prof. V. S. Shinde, Professor, Deccan College, Post-Graduate and research Institute Pune, as a part of the Indus Project of the Research Institute of Humanity and Nature, Japan, the project entitled Climate and Culture: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Harappan Archaeology in the Ghaggar Basin was initiated in 2006. As a part of the study of the Harappan Culture, extensive and intensive archaeological survey was initiated to discover new sites and study already known sites in the Ghaggar Basin and some potential locations were selected for the collection of samples for climate reconstruction. Three sites were initially selected for excavation, namely Girawad, Farmana (Rohtak District) and Mitathal (Bhiwani District) in the state of Haryana. This was the work of a reconnaissance nature to identify potential site for further large-scale work.

    The site of Farmana, an extensive site that has both Early Harappan and Mature Harappan deposits, was found suitable for large-scale work. Such a site allowed for the study of both the socio-economic aspects as well as the evolution of Urban Harappan features from their formative stage. It is believed that climate played an important role in the growth of urban life in the middle of third millennium BCE, but until now we have hardly any data to substantiate this view. The results of this work will have numerous implications for scholars interested in the growth and decline of this great civilization of the Indian Subcontinent. The major findings are Steatite seals, sealing, beads of semiprecious stones and other minor antiquities.



  4. Excavations at Karsola Kheda, District Jind, Haryana 2010-11

    The village Karsola, in whose jurisdiction an archaeological site is located, lies in the Julana Tehsil of Jind District, Haryana. The village is about 2 km northeast of the town of Julana and about 25 km southeast of Jind, the District Headquarters. The village is connected to Julana town by metal road. It is one of the largest and most prosperous villages in Jind District due to the presence of fertile arable land in its catchment area. The village of Karsola is inhabited by a number of different communities, but is dominated by the Jats.

    Earlier exploration carried out around of the village Karsola reported the locations of two previously unknown archaeological sites (Amar Singh 1981, Dangi 2009). We chose the site of Karsola- 1 (29°09'02.9"N, 76°25'36.3"E) for systematic excavation. The ceramic industries reported during initial explorations included the Painted Grey Ware (PGW), Black Slipped ware, and Stamped Ware of the Early Historic period (Amar Singh 1981: 86-87). The recent explorations carried out by Tejas Garge (2011) confirmed the presence of Late Harappan pottery at the site.





    The site of Karsola is located about 1.5 km east of the village on the right side of the Julana-Fategarh Road. It is spread over an area of about 7 ha and stands to a height of about 5 m above the surrounding ground level. Toward the centre of the mound is a Hanuman temple of Baba Madhu Nath, which covers an area of about 1 ha. The portion of the mound that is intact and in the possession of village Panchayat is around 3 ha, whereas the periphery portions of the mound (c. 4 ha) distributed amongst a number of farmers who live in the village. Many of these peripheral areas have been flattened completely for the agricultural purposes. The presence of the temple has protected the intact portions of the mound. A detail survey of the site carried out by this team revealed the presence of pottery belonging to three different cultural phases, including the Late Harappan, PGW, and Early historic (Kushana/Gupta). On the basis of ceramic distribution it was presumed that the entire site was occupied during the Late Harappan and PGW period, whereas the Early Historic pottery was found confined towards the western half of the site.

  5. Excavations at Kotada Bhadli, Dist Bhuj, Gujarat.

    The site of Kotada Bhadli is located in Nakhatrana Taluka of Kachchh District, Gujarat. Site was excavated in collaboration between Deccan College, Pune and Gujarat State Department of Archaeology, Gandhinagar, Gujarat. The excavation project was carried out for four seasons from 2010-11 to 2013-14. In the excavations residential complex, southern fortification wall with central and south-western bastions were opened. The most important contribution of this project as far as Harappan studies are concerned is for the first time in Kachchh region pure Sorath Harappan settlement was discovered and it focuses mainly on rural nature of Harappan civilization.



  6. Excavations at Junnar, Dist Pune.

    Junnar (19012'37" N: 73053'01"), the first capital of the Satvahana dynasty and the birth place of Chhatrapati Shivaji maharaj, the great Maratha warrior of the seventeenth century, is located in Pune district of Maharashtra. Junnar has a unique location. It is the ancient Junnanagari or Dhenukakata mentioned in periplus. The hills surrounding the town consist of fine basaltic rock and therefore there is a heavy concentration of Buddhist caves (viharas) dated to the Early Christian Era. There are over 185 caves discovered so far. As it is connected to Naneghat, Junnar acquires immense importance in the trade link between India and Rome, Kalyan to Naneghat and then to Junnar was the trade route, which further went to Paithan and other places. The research aims included: study of settlement pattern of the sites located between Junnar and Naneghat and their roles in the trade, palaeobotanical analysis of the remains to reconstruct vegetation mentioned in the inscriptions and to write a history of the lifestyle of the common people, about which very little is known as these is barely any references available in the contemporary literature.

    The excavations were carried out for four seasons (2005-9) and the material evidence entails an interesting story of an early historical site, an international trade hubbub which occupies an immense position in Indian Archaeology. On the basis of ceramic assemblages and the structural remains, the Satavahana level can be divided into two phases; Early (100 BC- 100 AD) – (characterised by the presence of huge structures of fine burnt bricks, fine pottery, evidence for regional and international contacts) and Later phase (100 AD- 200 AD) – (characterised by economic decline, which is reflected in their flimsy mud structures and coarse pottery).The excavations have yielded from the Satavahana levels numerous glass beads and bangles, shell beads and bangles, terracotta human and animal figurines, areca nut-shaped beads, doll-shaped pendants, legged querns, pounders, miscellaneous iron and copper object, etc.


    For the phase V of CAS (2014-2019), the department of Archaeology has following proposed field of research as thrust area:
    1. To develop and strengthen the fields such as Palaeogrpahy and Epigraphy, Numismatics, Iconography and Art and Architecture: These are the most indispensible branches of archaeology that have provided a strong footing to the political, religious and socio-economic history of India. However, for no particular reasons, these disciplines have been somewhat neglected in India. UGC has a special drive to develop and strengthen these branches of archaeology. The department of Archaeology of this University is well suited and equipped for addressing the task of rejuvenating these fields with the faulty of historians, archaeologists and ideologists and the onus is on their scholarships to identify and prepare a fresh generation of scholars to shoulder the responsibility of a vast amount of data that are available to revive these branches.
    2. Develop and strengthen Medieval Archaeology: with an adequate infrastructure and expertise available, the department of Archaeology plans to undertake projects in Medieval Archaeology that would develop and strengthen hitherto neglected branch of study in Indian Archaeology. With already existing projects on board we intend to pursue into the next level under the CAS Phase programme with further impetus and vigour.
    3. Develop museums and outreach programmes: The department of Archaeology is very well aware of the branch of Public Archaeology and as a result the Museums are the vibrant destinations of public education in enunciating them into the fascinating world of archaeology that eventually allows them to connect and search for their roots through the display in various galleries from prehistory to mediaeval history. There are two types of museums on the premises, viz. For research and for lay visitors as a common museum of archaeology. Heritage management and conservation are the major thrust areas as the expertise in the field of Heritage management and Conservation offers best services in education as well as professional services. Under the CAS phase V the area has received a major boost and impetus covering wider areas of its application for posterity.

 


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