Gandhara burial culture

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Cultures associated with the Indo-Iranian migrations are, according to EIEC, the Andronovo , the oasis culture (BMAC) and the Yaz culture . The Gandhara grave culture (marked as Swat ) as well as the copper hoard and PGW culture can be traced back to Indo-Aryan movements.

The Gandhara grave culture , English Gandhara grave culture , also known as Swat culture , was a Bronze and Iron Age culture in Pakistan and Afghanistan , which in the period from 1600 to 500 BC. Chr. Had existed.

Type locality

The Gandhara burial culture was named after its type locality , the region of Gandhara in northern Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan. Culturally relevant finds were mainly made in graves , hence the name. The term comes from the Pakistani archaeologist Ahmad Hasan Dani. He used it to refer to the protohistoric cemeteries that were found in the former Achaemenid satrapy of Gandhara.

The Gandhara burial culture should not be confused with the later, Buddhist - Hellenistic influenced Gandhara culture .

Distribution area

Relevant artifacts of the Gandhara burial culture were found at Swat and Dir in northern Pakistan, at Chitral in the northwest, around Taxila in the southeast and on Gomal in the south.

Starting from this core area, the distribution area of ​​the Gandhara grave culture has meanwhile been extended to the east as far as the Indus and south to the valley of Peshawar . The cemetery site of Sarai Khola in Punjab may also have to be added. Even with tombs in the Himalayas of Uttar Pradesh there seems to be an affinity. Excavations in Dir and Swat confirm that the Gandhara burial culture is a homogeneous archaeological culture with unified burial sites and burial patterns, ceramic finds and other artifacts.

Cultural connections

Ceramic finds from the Gandhara grave culture show clear connections to contemporary cultures of Central Asia such as the oasis culture and the high plateau of Iran . Simple terracotta figures were buried together with ceramic objects, while other objects were decorated with characteristic dot patterns.

Divergent interpretations

Most experts associate the carriers of the Gandhara grave culture with invading Indo-Aryans . This association is based on the not unproblematic combination of modern linguistic patterns, hypothetical language families, the Rigveda and the widespread notion of a cultural decline after the heyday of Harappa .

The alternative explanation for this is an independent, continuous and site-specific development, which is apparently supported by recent excavation results and a reinterpretation of existing finds. This is also advocated by Stacul, who in the Swat Valley a continuous development from 1700 to 400 BC. Chr. Recognizes. For him, the characteristic tombs have developed in response to intensification of agriculture and growing population pressure. Ali (1998) was also able to establish a continuity from the Gandhara burial culture - characterized by rectangular stone boxes set in circular depressions, red polished ceramics and vessels with wavy edges - to the first historical cities such as Bala Hisar (dated to the early first millennium BC). BC) and Hathial.

Physiological affinities with the Neolithic population of Mehrgarh appear to be evident. This makes a "biological continuum" between the early inhabitants of Timergara - a former necropolis of the Gandhara burial culture - and those of Mehrgarh very likely. However, this view is not shared by Elena E. Kuz'mina, as she found remains that resembled those of Central Asian populations.

Asko Parpola (1993) is of the opinion that the Gandhara burial culture is by no means to be equated with the Bronze Age oasis culture of Bactria and Margiana .

Tusa (1977) already stated that the Gandhara burial culture, despite its cultural innovations, was in continuity with the traditions of the previous period. He also took the position that "it would be a mistake to give historical importance to the sparse relations with northwest Iran and northern Afghanistan". In addition, the alleged relationships are based only on material found objects, the distribution of which could have taken place even without real cultural contact.

Similarly, Antonini (1973), Stacul and others do not see any kinship between the Gandhara burial culture and the Beshkent culture in Kyrgyzstan and also not with the Vakhsh culture in Tajikistan .

Elena Kuz'mina disagrees with this in her book The origin of the Indo-Iranians, volume 3 from 2007. Based on archaeological details and the human remains in the graves, she believes that she can very well recognize a correspondence with these cultures.

Trade relations

In the early Harappa phase (approx. 3200 to 2600 BC) that preceded the Gandhara culture, similarities in ceramic seals, figurines, jewelry, etc. prove that at that time there was already intensive caravan trade between the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia and the Iranian highlands had passed.

Sites and chronology

  • Aligrama - Protohistoric (1540 to 655 BC)
  • Aligrama - Chalcolithic (1360 to 1090 BC)
  • Bala Hisar (10th century BC)
  • Balambat
  • Bir-kot-ghundai
  • Kalakoderay
  • Kolo Gree
  • Lashtotak
  • Loebanr I
  • Loebanr III - Chalcolithic (1730 to 1225 BC)
  • Sarai Khola in Punjab
  • Timergara - prehistoric necropolis (1590 to 1470 BC)
  • Timergara - protohistoric, Achaemenid necropolis (1000 to 800 BC)
  • Zarif Karuna near Peshawar

The ages used are based on radiocarbon dating . They show that the Gandhara burial culture dates back to 1730 BC. In Loebanr III and then in Aligrama until 655 BC. Lasted.


Individual evidence

  1. James P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture. Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, London / Chicago 1997.
  2. AH Dani: Pastoral-agricultural tribes of Pakistan in the post-Indus period . In: AH Dani, VM Masson (ed.): History of civilizarions of Central Asia . Volume I: the dawn of civilization: earliest times to 700 BC. UNESCO, Paris 1992, p. 395-417 .
  3. a b Stacul, G .: Prehistoric and protohistoric Swat, Pakistan (c. 3000-1400 BC) . IsMEO, Rome 1987.
  4. ^ Khan, MA: Excavation at Zarif Karuna . In: Pakistan Archeology . 1973, p. 1-94 .
  5. ^ Allchin, FR: The archeology of Early Historic South Asia . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1995.
  6. Agrawal, DP et al: Cist burials of the Kumaun Himalayas . In: Antiquity . tape 69 , 1995, pp. 550-554 .
  7. Stacul, G .: Continuity of forms and traditions at Bir-khot-ghundai, Swat . In: Frifolt, F. and Sorensen, P. (Eds.): South Asian Archeology 1985 . Curzon Press, London 1989, pp. 321-326 .
  8. Allchin, B. and Allchin, FR: The rise of civilization in India and Pakistan . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1982.
  9. ^ Parpola, A .: Deciphering the Indus script . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 1994.
  10. Coningham, RAE: Dark age or continuum? An archaeological analysis of the second emergence of urbanism in South Asia . Ed .: Allchin. 1995, p. 54-72 .
  11. ^ Ali, T. et al.: Preliminary report of two seasons of archaeological investigations at the Bala Hisar of Charsadda, NWFP, Pakistan . In: Ancient Pakistan . tape 12 , 1998, pp. 1-34 .
  12. Kenneth AR Kennedy: God-Apes and Fossil Men: Palaeoanthropology of South Asia . University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor 2000, pp. 339 .
  13. a b Elena E. Kuz'mina: The origin of the Indo-iranians . tape 3 , 2007, p. 318 .
  14. ^ Parpola, Asko: Margiana and the Aryan Problem . In: International Association for the Study of the Cultures of Central Asia Information Bulletin . tape 19 , 1993, pp. 41-62 .
  15. ^ Tusa, Sebastiano: The Swat Valley in the 2nd and 1st Millennia BC: A Question of Marginality . In: South Asian Archeology . tape 6 , 1977, pp. 675-695 .
  16. ^ Bryant, Edwin: The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2001, ISBN 0-19-513777-9 .
  17. ^ Parpola, Asko: Study of the Indus Script . 2005, p. 2 and following .
  18. ^ Ali, I. et al.: New exploration in the Chitral Valley, Pakistan: an extension of the Gandharan grave culture . In: Antiquity . tape 76 (293) , 2002, pp. 647-653 .