The Deccan Chalcolithic and its sites
Systematic archaeological research began in the Deccan after 1950 when a Chalcolithic settlement was discovered at Jorwe near Sangamner in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra state. The Deccan, which includes the present states of Maharashtra, (except for the western coast and some parts of Vidarbha in the east) and northern Karnataka, falls in a semi-arid zone with a precipitation ranging between 400 and 900 mm. There are three major river valleys in the Deccan, the Tapi in the north, the Godavari in the centre and the Bhima in the south. Microecological variations in each valley have considerably affected the settlement patterns of the early farmers. Altogether 150 Chalcolithic settlements have so far been discovered in this part of India. The Tapi valley in the north, considered to be one of the most fertile tracts in the country and well watered by the Tapi and several of its perennial tributaries, was extensively occupied, for over 100 Chalcolithic settlements have so far been discovered there (Shinde in press). It was also observed that there was a general tendency to locate a settlement away from the main river because of the danger posed by the severe monsoon floodings. Most of the settlements were located along the banks of its tributaries, which are safe. In the Godavari and Bhima basins, on the other hand, because of the inadequate perennial water supply and limited availability of fertile soil, there were sporadic settlements (Shinde 1989) (FIGURE1 ). On the basis of environmental studies, surface finds, site location, the extent and thickness of habitation deposits, the Chalcolithic sites in the Deccan have been divided into different categories such as a regional centre, a farming village, a farmstead, a herding unit, and a camp to exploit localized resources (Shinde in press).