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Dating the Hissar Sequence—the Indian Evidence

  • Stuart Piggott

In a recent number of ANTIQUITY (1) Prof. V. Gordon Childe discussed Mr Donald I McCown's study of the Iranian prehistoric sequence published last year by the Oriental Institute of Chicago (2), and in his article raised the question of the dating of the Hissar settlements, for which McCown argues a higher antiquity than that hitherto assigned. The dating of such a site must necessarily depend ultimately on correlations made with the centres of civilization to the southwest, but I hope to show that synchronisms and parallels may usefully be made from the opposite direction, and from that viewpoint in which the Middle East has to be studied as geographically the Middle West.

Apart from the Harappa Culture of the Indus Valley and the Punjab, with its famous brick-built cities, its undeciphered script and its individual glyptic art, the prehistory of western India and the Iranian borderlands has been an uncomfortable enigma to the majority of archaeologists owing to the combined causes of insufficient excavation, inadequate publication, and the inaccessibility of the actual finds to the western world, concentrated as they are in local site-museums or in the Central Asian Museum in New Delhi (3). The accident of war has enabled me to study most of this material at first hand, and in the notes which follow certain points bearing on McCown's thesis and Childe's commentary are given, with the arguments, especially those concerned with stylistic considerations, necessarily in an abbreviated form. Full publication of the evidence for the Indian sequence, and a detailed examination of the relations between prehistoric India and the lands to the west must await the end of the war.

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1 ANTIQUITY, 1942, XVI, 353–58.

2 The Comparative Stratigraphy of Early Iran (Oriental Inst, of Chicago, 1942).

3 The main publications, cited in subsequent footnotes by the abbreviation given in brackets, are as follows :—J. Marshall, and others, Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Culture (MIC); E. Mackay, Further Excavations at Mohenjo-daro (FEM); M. S. Vats, Excavations at Harappa (EH); A. Stein, An Archaeological Tour in Waziristan and North Baluchistan (WNB); ibid. An Archaeological Tour in Gedrosia (G); N. C. Majumdar, Explorations in Sind (ES); E. Mackay, Chanhu-daro Excavations 1935–36 (CDE). The first Mohenjo-daro report was published in London, but the remaining works were published in India by the Archaeological Survey, the last three constituting nos. 37, 43 and 48 of its Memoirs, save for Chanhu-daro published by American Oriental Society, Newhaven, 1943.

4 McCown, op. cit. 5–13.

5 His paper in Ancient Egypt, 1933, 15 ff, the main points of which were summarized in New Light on the Most Ancient East, 269 ff, and his lecture to the Warburg Institute printed in ANTIQUITY, 1939, XIII, 5–15 are still practically the only general treatments of the Indus and Baluchistan material in their wider archaeological setting. It will be noticed that I attach greater importance to the local sub-divisions of the Baluchistan Cultures than Childe found space to emphasize, but detailed study has forced this view on me.

6 WNB, 73–77, pls. XX, XXI.

7 WNB, 33–41, pls. V-IX.

8 In litt. 1942. The sherds were found by Major M. F. C. Martin and are in the British Museum.

9 ES, 24–33, pls. XVIII, XXXVIII.

9A Speiser has compared Amri ware with that from Gawra XIII, ANTIQUITY, 1941, XV, 164.

10 ES, pl. XVIII, 13 and unpublished sherds in Central Asian Museum.

10A CDE, 195.

11 e.g. MIC and FEM, passim, ANTIQUITY, 1931, V, 459–73.

12 G, 118–27, Pl. XXI-XXIII (Kulli; 154–163, pls. XXVII-XXXI (Mehi), and minor sites passim.

13 e.g. G, pl. XXIII, Kul. VII, 1; XXX, Meh. IV, 11 (cattle); XXIII, Kul. VII 4 (feline). The animals represented on Nal ware (H. Hargreaves, Excav. in Baluchistan, 1925, (Arch. Survey Mem. 1929), and G, passim) are in a totally different technique. I regard Nal ware as derived with Amri from a common south Baluchistan stock but evolving, through a Nundara phase, to the elaboration of the type-site. Amri ware, cut off from the Nal developments by the hills, retained its primitive character of geometric and non-representational ornament intact.

14 McCown, op. cit. 46–7 with refs. I have not entered here into the connexions with the ‘Susa 11’ styles at large, the Indian features in which were noted by Frankfort in 1932 (Arch. and the Sumerian Problem, 69–71). He has also suggested an ultimately Indian influence at work in Scarlet ware (Ill. Lond. News, 6 Nov. 1937), and some cultural continuity with the Musyan area is of course implicit in the rows of caprids on Kulli ware.

15 Mehi—G, pl. XXVIII, Mehi, 1,6, 4, pl. XXX, Mehi 11,1, 3 (and additional unpublished examples all stone and some unfinished, in Central Asian Museum); Shahi-tump—G, pl. XIII, Sh. t. 111, 9 (pottery); Bampur—A. Stein, Arch. Reconnaissances in NW. India and SE. Iran (1937), pl. VIII, IX, XXXI (pottery); Katukan—ibid. pl. XXXII, 12 (pottery); Khurab—ibid. pl. XXXII, 13 (stone); Seistan—A. Stein, Innermost Asia, pl. CXIII, RR. 111.015, VII.01, 111.011 and other unpublished fragments in Central Asian Museum (stone and pottery). There is an unlocated sherd, almost certainly from Seistan, in the material from the defunct Museum at Quetta, now in Delhi.

16 H. Frankfort, Oriental Inst. Comms. 19 (Chicago, 1935), 53 and fig. 56 (stone).

17 G. Conteneau, Manuel a”Arch. Orientale, 276; E. Mackay, ANTIQUITY, 1932, VI, 356–7 (stone); Mem. Deleg. en Perse, XIII, fig. 116 (pottery).

18 L. Woolley, Ur Excavations, 11—The Royal Cemetery, pl. 178, a.

19 Unpublished, in Central Asian Museum (ex Quetta Mus.).

20 ANTIQUITY, 1933, VII, 84.

20A (1) From Telloh, with ‘house’ pattern, undated but presumably temp. Gudea or earlier. G. Cros, Nouvelles fouilles de Tello, p. 41; (2) from Mari in Syria, with ‘house’ pattern, dated as Early Dynastic. Syria, 1935, XVI, XXVII, 3.

21 Conteneau, op. cit. 11, figs. 447–8. The steatite cup from Tell Agrab, although carved with an Indian humped bull, does not strictly belong to this group. It is of Early Dynastic date. (III. Land. News, 12 Sept. 1936).

22 G, pl. XXX, Mehi, 11, 4, 5. The Harappa connexions of the pipai leaves on this sherd were noted by Frankfort (Arch, and the Sumerian Problem, 71) but not the ‘brazier’

23 ES, pl. XXVI, 12, 22, 26; XXVII, 26, 37, 38, 43.

24 FEM, pl. CXLII, 45; ANTIQUITY, 1932, VI, 356–57. It should be noted however that compartraented stone boxes of types closely paralleled at Mehi were found at Mohenjo-daro in late contexts, in room 76, house XIII of the vs area (MIC, 369, pl. CXXXI, 36, 37). These may however relate to reflex movements from south Baluchistan after the establishment of Harappa settlements there.

25 Both from Ur, C. J. Gadd, in Proc. Brit. Academy, XVIII, nos. 1 and 16.

26 Ur (Gadd, loc. cit. no. 15); Kish (a) (Journ. Royal Asiatic Soc. 1925, 697–701); Kish (b) (ibid. 1931, 593–6); Tell Asmar (a) (H. Frankfort, Cylinder Seals, 305); Tell Asmar (b) (Oriental Inst. Comms. 16, 1933); Susa (Mem. Deleg en Perse 11, 129); Tepe Gawra (Speiser, Excav. at Tepe Gawra, 1935, p. 163).

27 Ur (Gadd, no. 6, Frankfort, op. cit. 305); Lagash (Rev. d’Assyr, XXVII, 177).

28 Ur (Gadd, no. 12).

29 Mackay’s full report on his Chanhu-daro (CDE) had not reached India when this paper was written. Interim accounts are in Arch. Survey India Ann. Report 1935–36 (1938), 38–44; Bulletin, Boston Museum Fine Arts, 1936, XXXIV, 83–92; Journ. Royal Soc. Arts, 1937, LXXXV, 527–45; Ill. London News, 14 and 21 Nov. 1936. The pin in question is illustrated in CDE, pl. LXXV, 6.

30 FEM, 539, pl. C, 4.

31 ES, 5 ff.

32 FEM, pl. CXX, 27; Schmidt, Excav. Tepe Hissar, 1937, 204–5.

33 G, pl. 1, Z.N. 7. The applied incised cordons on this sherd are probably to be considered a late feature.

34 e.g. EH, pl. LXII, 1, 5, 11. Note the degenerated flanking trees on 11, and the filling of the background with ‘sigmas’ and other motifs. For the man between two animals cf. a ‘Susa 11’ sherd, Mem. Deleg. en Perse, XIII, fig. 177.

35 Burials of the same culture as the ‘H’ Cemetery were found high up at Mohenjo-daro, e.g. that with a vessel paralleling EH, pl. LXI, type J. (MIC, 323, pl. LXXXIX, 2).

36 Schmidt, op. cit. pl. XXVIII, H. 1785 (Hissar IIA); Ill. Lond. News, 21 Nov. 1936, 908 fig. 1 right (Chanhu-daro il); CDE, XLIX, 2.

37 In the Central Asian Museum.

38 G, pl. XIV.

39 Museums Journal, Philadelphia, XXIII, pl. CVII, a.

40 Schmidt, op. cit. fig. 118, H. 2697.

41 McCown, op. cit. 60.

42 R. W. Pumpelly, Explorations in Turkestan (Washington 1908), 1, figs. 256, 258.

43 Mem. Deleg. en Perse I, fig. 353. For the sherd cf. H. Frankfort, Studies in Early Pottery, I, 69 and cf. Mem. Deleg. en Perse XXV, fig. 79 (attributed to III Dynasty).

44 G, pl. XIV, Sh. T. 11, 12.

45 The published photograph gives the misleading impression of a flat axe. (G, pl. XIII, St. T. VII, 135).

46 CDE, pl. LXXII, 25; Ill. Lond. News, 21 Nov. 1936, 909 fig. 5.

47 loc. cit, fig. 11; Schmidt op. cit. pl. LIII, H. 3141.

48 The Chanhu-daro axe can in fact be paralleled accurately in the Royal Tombs at Ur— Woolley, op. cit., pl. 223, type A 11.

49 Schmidt, op. cit. fig. 118, H. 116.

50 ibid. 223–6.

51 MIC, pl. CXLVI, 34 and 38; EH, pl. CXXXIN, fig. 3.

52 G, pl. XXIII, Kul. 1, X, 1.

53 Schmidt, op. cit. pl. LII, H. 771.

54 Bull. Boston Mus. Fine Arts XXXIV, 83–92, fig. g; 77/. Lond. News, 21 Nov. 1936, 909, fig. 8; CDE, pl. LXXIII, 39.

55 FEM, pl. C, 4, 10; EH, pl. CXXV, 36.

56 Stein, Arch. Reconnaissances in north-western India and south-eastern Iran, pl. XVIII, E, 1, 258.

57 EH, pl. XCI, 253.

58 New Light on the Most Ancient East, 280.

59 Mem. Deleg. en Perse, XXV, 197 and fig. 34, McCown, op. cit. 55.

60 WNB, 55 ff.

61 e.g. WNB, pl. X, M.M.d. and unpublished material collected in 1942 from Kaudani and adjacent sites by Mr J. Reid Dick. The remarkable ‘encrusted’ ware from Dabar Kot (WNB, pl. XV) should also be noted.

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