GLOSSARY OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL TERMS
Ancient India Glossary
Named after the type-site Ahar in Rajasthan. Also known as the Banas Culture, after the river of the same name.
Mounds formed by cycles of accu-mulation and conflagration of dung and stockade in cattle-pens, associated with the Southern Neolithic Culture (about 2000-1000 BC).
Pointed tool of stone, bone or metal, used for piercing holes in leather, wood, etc. It is also known as borer
Pottery whose interior and the top pan of the exterior are black and, the lower part of the exterior is red. In India, such pottery appeared as early as 2000 BC and continued, with modifications, up to the beginning of the Christian era
Pottery of red color with paint-ings in black
Tool usually made with a stone blade by flaking its sides at one end, so that it forms a narrow chisel-edge at the meeting point. Used for engraving.
Tool of varying material used for pro-viding lustrous finish to pottery.
A method of dating the past. It is based on the fact that Carbon-14, a radioactive form of carbon, is being continuously produced in the atmosphere and becomes a part of all living organisms. A living organism contains radioactive carbon (Carbon-14) and normal car- bon (Carbon-12) atoms in a fixed proportion. Once an organism is dead, it does not receive any fresh supply of Carbon-14. On the other hand, the Carbon-14 content of the material begins to diminish with time, according to known radioactive disintegration laws. The known rate of decay of Carbon-14, combined with the facts that all living matter contains Carbon-14 and Carbon-12 in a fixed proportion and that the latter does not decay, forms the basis of the method of radiocarbon dating
Axe of stone, bronze or iron. The one in stone is a type-tool of the Neolithic times. Used either by holding it directly in the hand or by hafting it to a wooden handle.
An Early Stone Age tool made with pebbles by flaking a part of the periphery on the upper face. Used for cutting of scraping.
An Early Stone Age tool having a wide chisel-edge formed by the intersection of two large flake-scars.
Name given, for convenience, to a characteristic group of copper objects, found mostly in hoards. They comprise flat, shouldered and bar-like celts, rings, harpoons, antennae swords, anthropomorphic figures, etc.
mainly Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh, but extending up to Gujarat and Mysore.
Date: about 1900-1300 BC.
Almond or pear-shaped tool made by removing flakes usually from both upper and lower faces. Mostly found in Early Stone Age context.
Missile of bone, antler or metal, comprising a barbed, pointed head and a barbed shaft. Used for capturing under-water mammals and fish.
Geological period following the Pleistocene and extending up to the present. It began about 10,000 years ago.
Named after site of the same name in Maharashtra. Red pottery, often with matt surface, bearing paintings in black. It forms a char- acteristic industry of the Northern Deccan Chalcolithic Culture.
Date: about 1600-1000 BC.
A script prevalent in the northwestern parts of the subcontinent from the third century BC to the third century AD. In the neighboring countries, it seems to have persisted all even later. It was written from right to left.
Early Stone Age culture of southern India, characterised by bifacial handaxes and cleavers. So called due to the first discovery of such tools near Madras.
Named after the region, Malwa (southwestern part of Madhya Pradesh), where this typical pottery is found. It has a pale-brown to red surface and is painted with designs in black or chocolate color. It forms a characteristic industry of the Central Indian Chalcolithic Culture,
Date: about 1700-1000 BC.
Funerary or commemorative monuments characterised by the use of large stones in their make-up. They are of various types. For example, dolmens dolmenoid cists, pit-burials, um or sarcophagus-burials, menhir, etc. Many of them are superficially demarcated by the circle or circles of stone. While the cultural association of megaliths in eastern and northeastern India has yet to be worked out, those in the south are associated with iron implements and Black-and-Red pottery and are datable approximately to 1000 BC-100 AD.
Tiny tools made on fine-grained stones. On the basis of shape, these are classified into two categories: non-geometric (comprising lades, borers, points, etc.) and geometric (marked out by trapezes and triangles). Available evidence indicates that the former category might be earlier, going back to about 6000 BC.
Middie Stone Age
Part of the Stone Age falling between the Early and the Late. It is characterized by medium-sized tools made of fine-grained stones, and comprising points, borers, a variety of scrapers and occasional blades and burins.
A decorative style of the Arabic script. It came into being in the fourteenth century AD, having evolved from the Naskh and Taliq styles. The letters in it are more round than those in the Naskh.
Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW)
A dis-tinctive pottery with a highly lustrous surface, usually black but sometimes steel-grey, silvery or golden. It is wheel-made, normally thin-sec- tioned and well-fired, giving a metallic ring. The more common shapes are bowls and dishes, though lids, etc., also occur.
Distribution: main concentration in northern India but found as far away as Afghanistan, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh.
Date: about 600-200 BC.
Ochre Colour Ware
Orange to deep-red pottery, the extent that the surface rubs off by mere han- found so far mostly in a worn-out condition to dling, leaving an ochre colour on the fingers. Hence the name
Distribution: upper Ganga Valley.
Date: prior to 1200 BC.
Painted Grey Ware
Pottery of the grey colour painted with linear and dotted patterns in black. It is wheel made, thin-sectioned and well fired, the
Distribution: mainly Punjab, Delhi, Uttar more common shapes being bowls and dishes.” Pradesh and northern Rajasthan.
Date: about 1100-600 BC.
Named, for convenience, after the ware. Distinctive cultural traits and the Painted Grey Ware; copper in early stages, but soon supplemented by iron; wattle-and-daub houses; rice and horses.
Distribution: mainly Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and northern Rajasthan.
Date: about 1100-600 BC.
Geological period immediately preceding the present (Holocene). It was in the earlier part of this period that man appeared. This period is also marked by the appearance of the true ox, true elephant and true horse.
Tool Stone tool having a sharp, usually convex, cutting edge and pointed butt. Made by chipping, pecking and grinding, the last-named process giving the tool a smooth (polished) surface. Characteristic tool of the Neolithic times.
Burial of charred human bones after cremation
Literally, the first or earliest period of history. In India the term is vaguely but usually applied to the period falling between the end of the Late Stone Age (which itself is not a well-defined point but might be around 4000 BC) and the beginning of regular history with the Mahajanapadas in the sixth century BC. Thus, it included not only the Indus Civilisation, in which the art of writing (leading to documentation) was known, but also other cultures, though materially less advanced, which preceded the historical period.
Squarish or oblong coins of silver or copper characterised by a series of punched symbols.
Date: 600-200 BC.
Places sheltered by overhanging rocks, including natural large-sized cavities in rock-faces, used as dwelling by pre-historic man.
Pottery characterised by concentric dotted bands produced with the help of a roulette (a toothed wheel). The characteristic shape is a dish with an incurved rim, the rouletted pattern occur- ring on the interior of the base. This Ware is wheel- made, fine-grained, and grey to black in colour. It is well-fired, often giving a metallic ring. The rouletted design was probably copied from its counterpart on contemporary Mediterranean wares.
Distribution: mainly south India, but examples found along the coast up to West Bengal.
Date: from about the beginning of the Christian era to AD 200.’
Russetcoated Painted Wars
Pottery having rectlinear or curvilinear designs in lime over which a coating of russet-coloured ochre was applied. The main shapes are bowls and dishes.
Distribution: mainly south India.
Date: about 50-200 AD.
Implement of stone, bone or metal having a specially prepared scraping-edge. Used for scraping hides, smoothening wood, etc.
Liquid clay of the creamy consistency applied as a coating on pottery before firing. Hence, the term slipped pottery.
Sites associated with dunes of reddened sand, located in the coastal district of Tinnevelly,
Tamil Nadu. On the dunes microliths of the Late Stone Age were found.
The term connotes statuettes and figurines made of baked clay.