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Excavations at Ahar (South Rajasthan)

Something like what happened in Northern Rajasthan also took place in South eastern Rajasthan, in the Banas Valley. It was colonization by a people from outside: from where exactly, we do not know. For the moment we are unable (or rather we have not enough, evidence) to discern its development from earlier beginning in the Banas Valley itself. Very probably a people using microliths, and possibly some pottery, but for all practical purposes, nomadic hunters, having temporary camps on the flanks of the Aravallis, did live in this region.

Then at Ahar, Gilund and some 50 other sites, a distinctive pottery, and remains of houses with stone plinths and mud or mud-brick walls with huge boat shaped stones, known as saddle querns (pata or silbatta), came to light. The pottery had black top and a reddish bottom, with paintings in white on the black surface. Because of this distinctive feature, Ahar, where it was first noticed by Shri. R.C. Agrawal was called the Black and Red Ware culture. This

Excavations in Ahar Rajasthan

is in a way true, because this was primarily the pottery which the inhabitants of Ahar used for eating and drinking. It was a fine, deluxe table-ware, like the china-ware or stainless steel ware we use today. However, a subsequent more extensive excavation showed that the Ahar people produced other fine and distinctive kinds of pottery as well. Above all, we got some insight into the economy of this people.

No doubt, the region is beautiful, and the man-made lakes and place within it have made the Udaipur region still more beautiful. This problem has to be studied from various points of view historical, archaeological, geographical, environment and economic. Of these, the geographical is quite important.

Udaipur and its environs are surrounded on there sides by hills; only the north-east side is comparatively open, which through Chittor leads one on to the Chambal and Yamuna valleys. Otherwise, the only other routes for coming in and going out are the various ghats of which Haldighat is justly famous. It is through these ghats and the open area in the north-east that various ruling dynasties entered this region, generally as refugees or conquerors. The earliest known historically are the Guhilas who came here in the 8th century A.D-, probably from Valabhi in Saurashtra. After nearly 700 years the Sisodiyas took advantage of this naturally fortified region when pressed by Akbar.

This is known history. But excavations at Ahar and Gilund, and the discovery of 50 other sites in the Banas Valley tell us that man was here from at least 2000 B.C. and the question is why ? The region is fairly fertile, though the soil cover is not much, because unlike Western and Northern Rajasthan, it receives regular rains. The forests provide game, some fruits and vegetables particularly mahua flowers and good wood for building houses. But more than that, the ancient hills around Udaipur contain copper and, other minerals. How man discovered this fact, we do not know, but we can tell you the time when he probably did so. And once he had discovered copper he continued to live here for centuries until his successors made another important discovery, like of iron. Thus, according to interpretation of the evidence from the Ahar excavations, it was copper which served as a magnet to attract man to this beautiful hill-girt valley of the Banas.

This early man settled down on the banks of Ahar, not on the rock. But on the fine silt which the river had laid down, when it flowed in the distant past some 20 ft. above its present bed. And hed made full use of environment, his surroundings. Instead of making simple mud-walled houses, he made a plinth of schist stones which were at his doorstep, just under his feet. This plinth was nearly 3 ft. high, quite smooth and regular from outside. On these stone plinths were built the walls of houses. These houses again were fairly large, with a leas one or more rooms by partition walls. The one peculiarity about these pre-historic houses that we have noticed is that the longer axis of these houses was from north to south and the shorter from east to west. (Suryavedha of historical times).

Though the plans of houses changed, the inhabitants continued to live on at the same place for nearly 1500 years, from 2,000 B.C. to 500 B.C. on the ruins of the earlier houses. Thus a mound was being formed, for the level of the habitation, which was formerly about 15 ft. above the river, gradually rose to 50 ft.

These pre-historic houses at Ahar were furnished with the most essential things that any house of this period, Indian or otherwise, would be. Thus, there was a large two-mouthed chula, a huge broad shaped stone slab called saddle quern (silbatta) for grinding grain (and not Masala), and a large variety of pots and pans. Possibly there was some wooden furniture, which has now perished.

 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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