Nagda (1955-57)
Look Inside

Nagda (1955-57)

FREE Delivery
(20% off)
Ships in 1-3 days
Item Code: NAL670
Author: N. R. Banerjee
Publisher: Archaeological Survey of India
Language: English
Edition: 1986
Pages: 312 (Throughtout B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 10.5 inch X 8.5 inch
Weight 1.10 kg
23 years in business
23 years in business
Shipped to 153 countries
Shipped to 153 countries
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
More than 1M+ customers worldwide
Fair trade
Fair trade
Fully insured
Fully insured

In its drive to clear the backlog of pending Reports on the Excavations, Archaeological Survey of India, has pleasure in presenting the Report of Excavations at Nagda, by Dr. N.R. Banerjee, an esteemed former colleague in the Archaeological Survey of India. Dr. Banerjee has spared no pains to come to Delhi a couple of times, and to take meticulous care in seeing the volume through the Press. The volume speaks volumes of his efforts.

Although Nagda was excavated in mid-fifties, we felt that the Report should be placed before the scholarly world, for the results of excavations are quite relevant even to this day in interpreting the chalcolithic culture of our country. In fact, we feel that all the unpublished Reports should be printed irrespective of when the sites were excavated, for scholars to use the findings and to draw their own conclusions. Dr. Banerjee, however, has ensured that the results of the excavations, are put in their proper perspective in his lengthy introductory Preface. In this he has analyzed the results of researches, ever since Nagda was excavated, and how Nagda has still retained its important place in the chalcolithic horizon of India. We do hope that this publication will be well received by the scholars.

Archaeological Survey is indeed grateful to Dr. Banerjee for taking immense pains in going through the text and illustrations once again, and seeing the volume through the press. I am particularly grateful to him for sparing the time, even in his retirement, and for staying in Delhi to check the proofs. My own colleagues, Shri K.N. Dikshit, Director (Publications), Shri Dorjee, and Shri Padhy of the Publication Branch have put in a great deal of effort. M/S. YAP Enterprises deserve to be congratulated for bringing out the book in an attractive form.


I am glad that the report on the excavations at Nagda, which was written by me and submitted to Shri A. Ghosh, the then Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, in 1961, more than 25 years ago, is at last seeing the light of day. Though it was made almost ready for the press as far back as 1967 by the late A. Ghosh, his then impending retirement in March 1968 probably have stood in the way of its being sent to press during his tenure as Director General. Thanks to the drive and perspicacity of Dr. M.S. Nagaraja Rao, the present Director General, the report was retrieved from limbo and now it is before the public.

In fact, it was indeed necessary to place the finds discovered by the excavations on the site before the public for whatever they are worth, to enable them, particulary the scholars in the field of archaeology, to study them and to evaluate and assess the conclusions drawn in the light of the growing volume of archaeological evidence. This lacuna has at long been filled.

Nagda was the third major chalcolithic site, other than those of Harappan association, to be excavated by the Survey, the other two, namely, Maski, District Raichur, Karnataka, and Prakash, District East Khandesh, Maharashtra, having been earlier excavated under B.K. Thapar. The reports of the excavations were published in the Survey's bulletin, Ancient India, nos. 13 and 20 & 21, respectively.

In the fitness of things I had written a chapter on previous work done on the problems of the chalcolithic culture in central India and the Deccan as well as the associated cultures elsewhere in India, both preceding and succeeding them, with a view to placing Nagda in a proper chronological and cultural perspective. I learnt, however, upon my return to India, after a six-year long deputation in Nepal as Archaeological Adviser to His Majesty's Government of Nepal, between 1966 and 1972, that Shri Ghosh had desired this chapter to be some what reduced in volume and re-written, and the part on the other associated cultures to be omitted. I felt on reconsideration that the entire chapter could be dropped altogether as it was not very essential to include such details in an excavation report and informed the Survey accordingly. The chapter, therefore, was dropped from the present report in the interest and hope of an early publication of the basic parts of the report.

Though a substantial volume of work has since been done on a number of chalcolithic sites in central India and the Deccan during the intervening years after the excavations at Nagda, I have not made any attempt, except marginally, often in foot notes, to revise the report for more than one reason. First of all, there is no change in the basic data from Nagda, and there is, therefore, no scope for revision in the concerned parts. The part dealing with a comparision of painted designs on pottery could, however, be revised, but that would not have changed the basic character of the data, though such a treatment would have enlarged the body of the report. Already the chapter on pottery is the largest, and I felt that it need not be made more ponderous. It would also have further delayed the publication of the report. There are, however, some aspects of interpretation which have indeed been affected by recent discoveries, especially the Carbon-14 determinations of chronology on several associated sites. Without a reference to some of these matters and without a discussion of some basic issues in the light of recent finds, the report would indeed be incomplete. The following pages are, therefore, addressed to this task. I have seen no reason, however, to change the chronological table as originally formulated by me earlier on empirical and conventional grounds.

Some of the problems that remain to be solved in regard to the post-Harappan or the so-called (in the absence of a better appelation) later chalcolithic cultures, particularly the Malwa phase, which the chalcolithic remains at Nagda represent, are who the people are behind the culture phase, where they came from, on the presumption that they may represent a new people, and the source or sources of inspiration of the various strains that constitute the web of the chalcolithic cultures of the successive phases. The subsequent excavations, principally, at Ahar and Gilund in the Banas valley, Rajasthan, Kayatha in Malwa, not far from Nagda, in Madhya Pradesh, and Daimabad, in Maharastha, have helped to establish firmly the sequence of cultures in western and central India and the Deccan. The sequence found at Daimabad is as follows (S.A. Sali, Daimabad, 1976-79, New Delhi, 1986):

PERIOD I. Savalda Culture,

PERIOD II. Late Harappan Culture,

PERIOD III. Daimabad Culture, dominated by stuff and cream coloured pottery,

PERIOD IV. Malwa Culture, and

PERIOD V. Jorwe Culture.

The Carbon - 14 dates presently available for the successive cultures are as follows:

Sample no. PRL - 429 from Savalda has given the date for the earliest cultural phase at Daimabad as 3490 ± 220 B.P., working out to circa 1540 ± 220 B.C. The earliest date for the succeeding Late Harappan cultural phase at Daimabad is yielded by sample no. PRL - 426, and it has given the date as 3710 ± 210 B.P. or 1760 ± 210 B.C. The earliest date of the Daimabad phase yielded by PRL - 428 is 3500 ± 140 B.P. or 1550 B.C. ± 140 B.C. The Daimabad phase overlaps with the succeeding Malwa culture at the site, and the Carbon - 14 date yielded by sample no. PRL - 412 is 3250 ± 110 B.P. or 1390 ± 110 B.C. It is also observed that the Malwa phase overlaps with the succeeding Jorwe phase, and the sample no. PRL - 411 has yielded the date of 3320 ± 100 B.P. or 1370 ± 100 B.C. for this phase.

There are of course several other dates available. For instance, the earliest date available for Savalda Culture is B.S. 3590 ± 90 (3695 ± 95) B.P., working out to 1745 B.C. and, with Masca correction, to 2110 B.C.

Thus on the basis of the PRL set of dates obtained from Daimabad we obtain a time bracket of 1390 ± 110 B.C. - 1370 ± 100 B.C. for the Malwa phase at the site. This is too short a time span for the Malwa phase to be generally applicable to the time span of the Malwa culture in general, or even to the phase of this culture at Nagda.

Robert H. Brunswing, as pointed out by Sali, has sought to date the Mature Harappa and the Late Harappa cultures to circa 2500 - 2200 B.C., and 2200 - 2000 B.C. respectively ("Radio-Carbon dating and the Indus Civilization", East and West, 1975, Vol. 25, 1-2, pp. 111-45).

A perusal of the chapter on Chronology in S.A. Sali's recent report on Daimabad (Daimabad 1976-79, New Delhi, 1986) indicates that there is a discrepancy between the thermo-luminiscence dates and the Carbon - 14 dates for the Late Harappan phase at Daimabad; and, even among the Carbon dates some of the dates of the earlier levels of the Malwa phase are found to be later than the dates of the later levels of the succeeding Malwa phase. This only points to the anomalies and hazards of absolute reliance on the modem methods of dating archaeological cultures. Nevertheless, steering clear of controversy, Sali has sought to assign the following dates to the different cultural phases revealed by the latest excavations at Daimabad.

I. Savalda Culture - 2200-2000 B.C.,

II. Late Harappan Culture - 2000-1800 B.C.,

III. Daimabad Culture - 1800 - 1600 B.C.,

IV. Malwa Culture - 1600 - 1400 B.C., and

V. Jorwe Culture - 1400 - 1000 B.C.

Kayatha, a site in the Malwa region, in the neighbourhood of Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, has been excavated quite intensively, first by V.S. Wakankar and later by M.K. Dhavalikar and Z.D. Ansari, and as a result of these extensive works we are now in a better position to consider the chronological position of the successive cultures that flourished on the site from the earliest occupation onward. Dhavalikar and Ansari {Excavations at Kayatha, Poona, 1975) have indicated the following cultural and chronological sequence at Kayatha (see also D.P. Agrawal and Sheela Kusumgar, Prehistoric Chronology and Radiocarbon Dating in India, Delhi, 1974).

I. Kayatha Culture -c. 2000-1800 B.C.,

II. Ahar Culture -c. 1700-1500 B.C.,

III. Malwa Culture -c.1500-1200 B.C.,

IV. Early Historic Culture -c. 600-200 B.C., and

V. Sunga - Kushana - Gupta Cultures - c. 200 B.C. - A.D. 600.

Incidentally, it may be pointed out that the Kayatha culture at Kayatha, which is also the earliest cultural level on the site, is different from any other chalcolithic culture on the subcontinent. It is also entirely, but strangely, absent from Nagda.

The Ahar culture which is dated on this site (Kayatha) between 1700 and 1500 B.C. (or 2000-1400 B.C. according to Agrawal and Kusumgar) has been dated by Sankalia, on the site bearing the name (Excavation at Ahar, 1961-62, Poona, 1979 and Sankalia, Prehistory and Protohistory in India and Pakistan, Poona, 1963), between 1900 (or 1800) and 1200 B.C. It is followed immediately by the Iron Age culture, without the intervention of Malwa or Jorwe cultures on this site, though Malwa and Jorwe cultures are observed on many sites such as Daimabad and Inamgaon. But at Ahar there is a long gap between the Malwa culture and the next succeeding early historic period.

Navdatoli on the Narmada in the Malwa zone has a long Malwa phase in Period III and it has been dated to circa 1500 - 1300 B.C. The Malwa culture at Eran in District Sagar in Madhya Pradesh has been dated to circa 1500 and 1000 B.C., with a possible extension up to 800 B.C. (Agrawal and Kusumgar, op. cit.) or even 600 B.C. Some Jorwe elements have also infiltrated into Nagda justifying its continuance till a late date as assigned and explained below.

Nagda was excavated at a time when it had not become customary to collect materials for Carbon - 14 dating, and hence we have no means of dating the various cultural horizons at Nagda on the basis of scientific analysis now in vogue. The earliest date suggested for the chalcolithic Period I at the site is, however, in consonance with the dating arrived at for the commencement of Malwa culture on other sites on the grounds of similarity of cultural materials and the thickness of cultural strata. Reasons must now be adduced for assigning a date as late as 800 B.C. for the end of the Malwa phase at Nagda in addition to those stated in the chapter on Chronology. It may be observed that the deposits of Period I were capped by a black sticky layer which has been hesitantly attributed by Dr. B.B. Lal to waterlogging. The succeeding phase of cultural life at Nagda (Period II) is characterized by several features which were common to Period I. This would indicate that there was continuity of occupation and the time-lag between the two was short, though a new element, namely, iron was introduced at the very beginning of the Period II. The date of the introduction of iron in northern India, in spite of rather tall claims to the contrary, could not have been very much earlier than about 750 B.C., as the evidence of the author's excavations Ujjain has shown (The Iron Age in India, Delhi, 1965). In view of the availability of divergent dates of the earliest occurrences of iron in different cultures and parts of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent, the old theory of a single centre of its origin and diffusion there from in space and time over the entire region has had to be given up. If, therefore, the beginning of Period II at Nagda, marking also the introduction of iron on the site, has to be pushed back to, say, 1200 or 1300 B.C., the difficulty of explaining the stagnation of the pattern of living over a period of 800 years from circa 1300 B.C. to 500 B.C., even after the discovery or invention of iron, cannot be overcome or wished away. Furthermore, regardless of some of the inconsistencies of the dates as obtained from Carbon -14 determination, it may be pointed out that the time bracket for the chalcolithic or any other culture for that matter on anyone site may not be applicable to the concerned cultural phase on all other sites as the duration of occupation may vary. In this context attention may be drawn to Sankalia's caution upon the methods of dating to be used in archaeology (Indian Archaeology To-day, Delhi, 1979, p. 96) indicating the necessity of an all-sided study involving 1) archaeomagnetism, (2) racemixation, (3) study of grains and (4) ethno-archaeological study together and in co-ordination.

As to who the Malwa chalcolithic people were and where they came from, we have as yet no answer. M.K. Dhavalikar who has made an intensive study of the subject in recent years, expresses his helplessness in the following words (Essays in Indian Protohistory, Delhi, 1979, edited by D.P. Agrawal and D.K. Chakrabarti, pp. 242 - 243) :

"We absolutely do not know anything about the authors of the Malwa Culture. They too appear to have come from outside", and he repeats the views of H.D. Sankalia, S.B. Deo and Z.D. Ansari (Chalcolithic Chandoli, Poona, 1971), identifying them with any of the following people: (a) people from West Asia, or Iran, (b) the Bhils and other aboriginal tribes and Sanskrit speaking people, (c) an hitherto unidentified people and (4 )yet another group of primitive people. The suggestions are, to say the least, entirely speculative. It is not understood why we have always to think of settlers en masse from elsewhere for any new cultural trait, and why the established dwellers at a site cannot pick up ideas from other sources, which are existing contemporaneously with them, or even long afterwards, as ideas have also been stated to have a capacity for lying dormant in human mind for long periods before coming to flower again. Dhavalikar has gone ahead and hazarded, speculatively again, to attribute the Malwa and other chalcolithic cultures of central and western India and the Deccan to influences from Western Asia such as may have infiltrated through the north-westen regions of the sub-continent, if not along with the Vedic Aryans. We have no' concrete evidence so far for such a movement to have taken place.

That the ideas float in the air and are transmitted to distant areas long after they have sprouted at one source through trade and other contacts, if not actual migration of people, is known. The phenomenon of the violin-shaped terracotta mother goddess described on pages 225, 227, 229, 268-69 below can only be cited in support of the theorizing attempted here. While the characteristic form occurs first in the neolithic context in Europe, and would go back to circa 6000 B.C. at the earliest, it appears in the upper levels of Period I at Nagda for the first time, as far as known till to-day, in the Indian context. We would not, however, be justified in attributing the phenomenon to any kind of folk movement from the direction of Europe en masse, or establishing a chronological equation either. In any case the chronological incompatibility itself would only point to the mode of transmission of the idea and form as suggested above, if the original idea and visual form are indeed to be traced to neolithic Europe.


IIElements of the Later Chalcolithic Cultures as Revealed by Excavations3
IIIObservations on the Chalcolithic Culture at Nagda7
IVThe Site and its Environments10
VSummary of the Results14
VIIThe Cultural Equipments of Different Periods 24
APeriod I,24
BPeriod II, 27
CPeriod III, 31
VIIIThe Cuttings35
IXThe Pottery57
1Introductory, 57
2Period I, 58
3Period II, 111
4Period III, 136
5Painted Designs, 171
6Decorative Designs, 188
XOther Finds203
1Microliths, 203
2Beads, 211
3Bangles, 218
4Ear Ornaments, 220
5Terracotta objects, 225
6Ivory and Bone Objects, 241
7Copper Objects, 241
8Iron Objects, 250
9Stone Objects, 258
XI Animal Remains274
XIISoil Analysis276
1Brick Measurement, 278
2Meteorological Report, 279
AList of Illustrations281
BList of Tables287
CSelect Bibliography288
Sample Pages

Add a review
Have A Question

For privacy concerns, please view our Privacy Policy