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Neolithic Ashmounds of the Deccan, India: A Posthumanist Perspective


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Article

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Authors

Paddayya, K 

Abstract

It is now four full decades since Andrew Sherratt (1981) coined the interesting concept of the ‘Secondary Products Revolution’. He developed it for highlighting how, proceeding from the use of cattle and sheep/goats primarily as meat-giving sources in the initial phase of the Neolithic in Eurasian areas, secondary products of these domesticates began to play a dominant role and, in fact, effected a revolutionary change in the later Neolithic stage. In particular, Sherratt drew attention to the role played by milk and wool in daily life and the use of cattle for traction in tillage and transport. This concept has been very helpful to researchers in understanding the developmental trajectories of various early agro-pastoral communities in the Old World. Sherratt (1981: 263) even felt persuaded to state that “[t]he secondary products revolution marked the birth of the kinds of society characteristic of modern Eurasia.”

In this paper I intend to broaden the scope of the concept of secondary products and add cattle-dung to the list, which is a waste product resulting from animal-keeping. Taking a cue from posthumanist thought, I have recently hinted at the possibility of considering ashmounds representing burnt cow-dung formations as an agentive power that actively shaped the life-world of the Neolithic pastoralists of the Deccan region in India (Paddayya 2019: 120). In this paper I want to expatiate upon this observation. First of all, I will briefly introduce readers to the topic of ashmounds and the different views and opinions offered over a long period of time about their age and origin. I will then explore the possibility of bringing the whole theme within the fold of posthumanist conceptions of the very nature of archaeological record.

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Journal Title

Archaeological Review from Cambridge

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Journal ISSN

0261-4332

Volume Title

34

Publisher

Archaeological Review from Cambridge

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