Geography of the Rigveda, with river names; the extent of the Swat and Cemetery H cultures is indicated.
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC, and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC (Swat), Cemetery H, Copper Hoard, and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan migrations.

The Gandhara grave culture of present-day Pakistan is known by its "protohistoric graves", which were spread mainly in the middle Swat River valley and named the Swat Protohistoric Graveyards Complex, dated in that region to c. 1200–800 BCE.[1] The Italian Archaeological Mission to Pakistan (MAIP) holds that there are no burials with these features after 800 BCE.[2] More recent studies by Pakistani scholars, such as Muhammad Zahir, consider that these protohistoric graves extended over a much wider geography and continued in existence from the 8th century BCE until the historic period.[3] The core region was in the middle of the Swat River course and expanded to the valleys of Dir, Kunar, Chitral, and Peshawar.[4] Protohistoric graves were present in north, central, and southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as well as in north-western tribal areas, including Gilgit-Baltistan province, Taxila, and Salt Range in Punjab, Pakistan, along with their presence in Indian Kashmir, Ladakh, and Uttarakhand.[5]

The grave culture has been regarded as a token of the Indo-Aryan migrations but has also been explained by local cultural continuity. Estimates, based on ancient DNA analyses, suggest ancestors of middle Swat valley people mixed with a population coming from the Inner Asian Mountain Corridor, which carried Steppe ancestry, sometime between 1900 and 1500 BCE.[6]

Location and characteristics

Close to the end of the second millennium BCE, large graveyards appear in northern Gandhara (middle Swat River valley), featuring mainly inhumations (c. 1200–900 BCE), the so-called Gandhara grave culture by earlier scholars, a period in which iron technology was introduced.[7] These graveyard types expanded to the northwest into Chitral, around Singoor, featuring burial traditions similar to protohistoric graves between the 8th century BCE and 17th century CE.[8]

A constant funeral tradition with pottery and similar artifacts can be found along the banks of the Swat and Dir rivers in the north, Chitral, and the Vale of Peshawar.[9] Simply-made terracotta figurines were buried with the pottery, and other items are decorated with simple dot designs.[citation needed]

Re-evaluation of the findings suggests this so-called Gandhara Grave Culture was actually a burial tradition, spread across a wide geographical area, rather than a specific culture.[10] There are more than thirty cemeteries of this tradition found in Swat and the surrounding valleys of Dir, Buner, Malakand, Chitral, and in the Valley of Peshawar to the south, featuring cist graves, where large stone slabs were used to line the pit, above which another large flat stone was laid, forming a roof. Related settlement sites have also been found, increasing our knowledge of the culture.[11]

Anthropomorphic urns with cremation remains were not frequently found in graves, and the most common pottery within these graves is Burnished Grey Ware and Burnished Red Ware, along with human terracotta figurines. However, later graves are more elaborate, featuring more items, including horse remains and horse furniture.[12]

Origins

Northern Gandhara, in the middle region of the Swat River, presents deposits of Black Burnished Ware, prior to the Gandhara grave culture, during the Ghalegay IV period, c. 1700–1400 BCE.[13] New research, based on 34 excavated graves in Udegram, and in the nearby site of Gogdhara, has uncovered two Gandhara grave culture burial phases, the first between 1400 and 1100 BCE, and the second from 1000 to 800 BCE, with an inter-phase in Gogdhara, from 1200 to 900 BCE.[14]

Single burials are characteristic of the early phase of Gandhara grave culture, along with bronze objects and pottery within the graves. Cremation is distinctive in the middle phase, and ashes were laid in large jars, often bearing a human-like face design. These jars were frequently placed in circular pits, surrounded by objects of bronze, gold, and pottery. Multiple burials and fractional remains are found in the later phase, along with iron objects, coeval with the beginning of urban centers of Taxila and Charsadda.[15]

Indo-Aryan migrations

The polished black-gray pottery has been associated with that of other BMAC sites, like Dashly in Afghanistan, Tepe Hissar, and Tureng Tepe. According to Asko Parpola, the presence of black-red pottery also suggests links with Cemetery H culture in Punjab. The burial of bodies, the metal pins used for fastening clothes, and the terracotta statuettes of females, says Parpola, are similar to those found at BMAC. Graves during the Ghalegay V period, c. 1400–1000 BCE, may be connected with those in Vakhsh and Bishkent Valley. Parpola adds that these graves represent a mix of the practices found in the northern Bactrian portion of BMAC, during the period of 1700–1400 BCE and the Fedorovo Andronovo culture.[16]

According to Upinder Singh, the Gandhara grave culture is similar to the one in the Ghalegay caves during their V, VI, and VII phases.[17] Rajesh Kochhar says it may be associated with early Indo-Aryan speakers as well as the Indo-Aryan migration into the Indian Subcontinent,[18] which came from the Bactria–Margiana region. According to Kochhar, the Indo-Aryan culture fused with indigenous elements of the remnants of the Indus Valley civilization (OCP, Cemetery H) and gave rise to the Vedic Civilization.[18]

Cultural continuity

Parpola has argued that the Gandhara grave culture is "by no means identical with the Bronze Age Culture of Bactria and Margiana".[19] According to Tusa, the Gandhara grave culture and its new contributions are "in line with the cultural traditions of the previous period".[20] According to Parpola, in the centuries preceding the Gandhara culture, during the Early Harappan period (roughly 3200–2600 BCE), similarities in pottery, seals, figurines, ornaments, etc. document intensive caravan trade between the Indian Subcontinent, Central Asia, and the Iranian plateau.[21] Tusa remarks that

... to attribute a historical value to [...] the slender links with northwestern Iran and northern Afghanistan [...] is a mistake[, since] it could well be the spread of particular objects and, as such, objects that could circulate more easily quite apart from any real contacts.[20]

Cremation urn

According to Kennedy, who argues for local cultural continuity, Gandhara grave culture people shared biological affinities with the population of Neolithic Mehrgarh. This suggests a "biological continuum" between the ancient populations of Timargarha and Mehrgarh.[22] This is contested by Elena E. Kuz'mina, who notes remains that are similar to some from Central Asian populations.[23]

Antonini,[24] Stacul,[25] and other scholars argue that this culture is also not related to the Bishkent culture and Vakhsh culture of Tajikistan.[26] However, Kuz'mina argues the opposite on the basis of both archaeology and the human remains from the separate cultures.[27]

Genetics

Narasimhan et al., 2018, analyzed DNA of 362 ancient skeletons from Central and South Asia, including those from the Iron Age grave sites discovered in the Swat valley of Pakistan (between 1200 BCE and 1 CE from Aligrama, Barikot, Butkara, Katelai, Loe Banr, and Udegram). According to them, "there is no evidence that the main BMAC population contributed genetically to later South Asians", and that "Indus Periphery-related people are the single most important source of ancestry" in the Indus Valley Civilization and South Asia. They further state that the Swat valley grave DNA analysis provides further evidence of "connections between [Central Asian] Steppe population and early Vedic culture in India".[28]

See also

References

  1. ^ Olivieri, Luca M., (2019). "The early-historic funerary monuments of Butkara IV. New evidence on a forgotten excavation in outer Gandhara", in: Rivista Degli Studi Orientali, Nuova Serie, Volume XCII, Fasc. 1-2, Sapienza Università di Roma, Pisa-Roma, p. 231: "[T]he Swat Protohistoric Graveyards complex (henceforth: SPG), {was] first published by Chiara Silvi Antonini and Giorgio Stacul (1972). More recent studies and fieldwork, though, have changed the SPG chronologies (c. 1200-800 BCE) demonstrating that there are no SPG features posterior to 800 BCE (Vidale, Micheli and Olivieri 2016; Narasimhan et al. 2019)."
  2. ^ Olivieri, Luca M., (2019). "The Early-Historic Funerary Monuments of Butkara IV: New Evidence on a Forgotten Excavation in Outer Gandhara", in Rivista Degli Studi Orientali, Nuova Serie, Volume XCII, Fasc. 1-2, Sapienza Universitá di Roma, Instituto Italiano di Studi Orientali, Pisa-Rome, p. 231: "...More recent studies and fieldwork, though, have changed the SPG [Swat Protohistoric Graveyards] chronologies (c. 1200-800 BCE) demonstrating that there are no SPG features posterior to 800 BCE..."
  3. ^ Zahir, Muhammad, (2022). "The Distribution and Contextualization of Protohistoric and Historic Cemeteries around Singoor Village, Chitral, Pakistan", Journal of Asian Civilizations, Vol. 45, No. 1, June 2022, pp. 1-37.
  4. ^ Coningham, Robin, and Mark Manuel, (2008). "Kashmir and the Northwest Frontier", Asia, South, in Encyclopedia of Archaeology 2008, Elsevier, p. 740.
  5. ^ Zahir, Muhammad, (2017). "The Geographical Distribution of Gandhara Grave Culture or Protohistoric Cemeteries in Northern and North-Western South Asia", Gandharan Studies, Vol. 10, pp. 1-30.
  6. ^ Narasimhan, Vagheesh M., et al. (2019). "The formation of human populations in South and Central Asia", in Science 365 (6 September 2019), p. 11: "...we estimate the date of admixture into the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age individuals from the Swat District of northernmost South Asia to be, on average, 26 generations before the date that they lived, corresponding to a 95% confidence interval of ~1900 to 1500 BCE..."
  7. ^ Olivieri, Luca Maria, (2022). "The Archaeology of Gandhāra", in: Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology 2022, Oxford University Press, Summary: "...Toward the end of the 2nd millennium, northern Gandhāra features a rather coherent settlement phenomenon marked by large graveyards, mainly with inhumations, which were labeled by previous scholarship as the 'Gandhāra Grave Culture' (1200–900 BCE). In this phase among the major cultural markers, the introduction of iron technology is noteworthy..."
  8. ^ Zahir, Muhammad, 2022. "The Distribution and Contextualization of Protohistoric and Historic Cemeteries around Singoor Village, Chitral, Pakistan", Journal of Asian Civilizations, Vol. 45, No. 1, June 2022, pp. 1-73.
  9. ^ Coningham, Robin, and Mark Manuel, (2008). "Kashmir and the Northwest Frontier", Asia, South, in Deborah M. Pearsall (ed.), Encyclopedia of Archaeology, Elsevier, p. 740: "...A homogenous tradition of burial practices with associated ceramic and artifact assemblages, it appears to have emerged in the upper Indus Valley...and then spread across the Valleys of Swat, Dir and Chitral, and into the Vale of Peshawar..."
  10. ^ Coningham, Robin, and Ruth Young, (2015). The Archaeology of South Asia: From the Indus to Asoka, c. 6500 BCE - 200 CE, Cambridge University Press, New York, p. 287.
  11. ^ Coningham, Robin, and Ruth Young, (2015). The Archaeology of South Asia: From the Indus to Asoka, c. 6500 BCE - 200 CE, Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 290 and 293.
  12. ^ Coningham, Robin, and Mark Manuel, (2008). "Kashmir and the Northwest Frontier", Asia, South, in (ed.) Deborah M. Pearsall, Encyclopedia of Archaeology, Elsevier, p. 740.
  13. ^ Yatoo, Mumtaz A., (2019). "Kashmir and Swat During Neolithic Times – A Comparative Analysis of Material Culture Between the Sites of Two Distinct Regions", in: Ancient Asia, Vol 10, (30 Aug 2019): "...Stacul (1987: 45–48, 1993: 71–78, 1997: 369) and Lahiri (1992: 150) mention that the black burnished ware, fine gray ware and gritty red or buff ware from the Swat region of Pakistan from period III (1950–1920 cal. BC) and period IV (1730–1690 to 1500 cal. BC) are similar to types found at Burzahom..."
  14. ^ Olivieri, Luca M., Roberto Micheli, Massimo Vidale, and Muhammad Zahir, (2019). 'Late Bronze - Iron Age Swat Protohistoric Graves (Gandhara Grave Culture), Swat Valley, Pakistan (n-99)', in Narasimhan, Vagheesh M., et al., "Supplementary Materials for the formation of human populations in South and Central Asia", Science 365 (6 September 2019), pp. 137–164.
  15. ^ Coningham, Robin, and Ruth Young, (2015). The Archaeology of South Asia: From the Indus to Asoka, c. 6500 BCE – 200 CE, Cambridge University Press, New York, p. 293.
  16. ^ Parpola, Asko, (2015). The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization, Oxford University Press, p. 80–81.
  17. ^ Singh, Upinder, (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, Pearson Education, Delhi, p. 212.
  18. ^ a b Kochhar 2000, pp. 185–186.
  19. ^ Parpola 1993, p. 54.
  20. ^ a b Tusa 1977, p. 690-692.
  21. ^ Asko Parpola, Study of the Indus Script, May 2005 p. 2f.
  22. ^ Kenneth A.R. Kennedy. 2000, God-Apes and Fossil Men: Palaeoanthropology of South Asia Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. p. 339.
  23. ^ "The origin of the Indo-iranians, volume 3" Elena E. Kuz'mina p. 318
  24. ^ Antonini, Chiara Silvi (1973). "More about Swāt and Central Asia". East and West. 23 (3/4): 235–244. ISSN 0012-8376. JSTOR 29755885.
  25. ^ Stacul, Giorgio (1975). "The Fractional Burial Custom in the Swāt Valley and Some Connected Problems". East and West. 25 (3/4): 323–332. JSTOR 29756090.
  26. ^ Bryant 2001.
  27. ^ E. Kuz'mina, The origin of the Indo-Iranians, volume 3 (2007)
  28. ^ Narasimhan, Vagheesh M.; Patterson, Nick J.; Moorjani, Priya; Lazaridis, Iosif; Mark, Lipson; Mallick, Swapan; Rohland, Nadin; Bernardos, Rebecca; Kim, Alexander M. (31 March 2018). "The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia". bioRxiv: 292581. doi:10.1101/292581. hdl:21.11116/0000-0001-E7B3-0.

Sources

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  • Kochhar, Rajesh (2000), The Vedic People: Their History and Geography, Sangam Books
  • Müller-Karpe, Hermann (1983), Jungbronzezeitlich-früheisenzeitliche Gräberfelder der Swat-Kultur in Nord-Pakistan, Beck, ISBN 3406301541
  • Parpola, Asko (1993), "Margiana and the Aryan Problem", International Association for the Study of the Cultures of Central Asia Information Bulletin 19:41-62
  • Tusa, Sebastiano (1977), "The Swat Valley in the 2nd and 1st Millennia BC: A Question of Marginality", South Asian Archaeology 6:675-695