Exploring Indus crop processing: combining phytolith and macrobotanical analyses to consider the organisation of agriculture in northwest India c. 3200–1500 BC
Vegetation History and Archaeobotany
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Bates, J., Singh, R., & Petrie, C. (2017). Exploring Indus crop processing: combining phytolith and macrobotanical analyses to consider the organisation of agriculture in northwest India c. 3200–1500 BC. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 26 (1), 25-41. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-016-0576-9
This paper presents a preliminary study combining macrobotanical and phytolith analyses to explore crop processing at archaeological sites in Haryana and Rajasthan, northwest India. Current understanding of the agricultural strategies in use by populations associated with South Asia’s Indus Civilisation (3200–1900 bc) has been derived from a small number of systematic macrobotanical studies focusing on a small number of sites, with little use of multi-proxy analysis. In this study both phytolith and macrobotanical analyses are used to explore the organisation of crop processing at five small Indus settlements with a view to understanding the impact of urban development and decline on village agriculture. The differing preservation potential of the two proxies has allowed for greater insights into the different stages of processing represented at these sites: with macrobotanical remains allowing for more species-level specific analysis, though due to poor chaff presentation the early stages of processing were missed; however these early stages of processing were evident in the less highly resolved but better preserved phytolith remains. The combined analyses suggests that crop processing aims and organisation differed according to the season of cereal growth, contrary to current models of Indus Civilisation labour organisation that suggest change over time. The study shows that the agricultural strategies of these frequently overlooked smaller sites question the simplistic models that have traditionally been assumed for the time period, and that both multi-proxy analysis and rural settlements are deserving of further exploration.
Indus Civilisation, Crop processing, Phytoliths, Plant macro-remains, South Asia, Bronze Age
This research was carried out as part of JB’s Doctoral Research funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, in the GPR Laboratory in the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge. Samples were provided by the Land, Water, Settlement Project, co-directed by CAP and RNS, between the University of Cambridge and Banaras Hindu University, with the support of the Archaeological Survey of India. The project was funded by the UK India Education Research Initiative, British Academy Stein Arnold Fund, Isaac Newton Trust, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and the Research Councils UK. Additional fieldwork funding for JB was provided by the AHRC, Rouse-Ball Research Fund, Cambridge India Partnership Fund, Division of Archaeology Fieldwork Fund and Trinity College Projects Fund.
British Academy (PM120008)
ECH2020 EUROPEAN RESEARCH COUNCIL (ERC) (648609)
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External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00334-016-0576-9
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/255397
Attribution 4.0 International, Attribution 4.0 International
Licence URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/