South Asian Archaeology: the role of Marshall and Wheeler

  • Created by: Lauriie
  • Created on: 18-04-18 12:29
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  • Mortimer Wheeler and John Marshall's role in south asian archaeology
    • Wheeler
      • bringing scientific techniques into common use
        • techniques of Pitt Rivers-stratigraphy, careful recording. compare this to large scale horizontal excavations of Indus sites
          • scathing critic of Marshall's leadership and methods
          • vertical excavations used to find long stratigraphic sequences
          • developed the use of Box grids as an innovation in archaeology at large
        • use of pottery typology, introducing one of the most widely used tools in South asian archaology
          • stratified ceramic material was used for determining the cultural sequence of a site and comparing it with other sites
        • encourages precise techniques adapted from the natural sciences
          • many of his students such as BB Lal criticised his conclusions without rejecting his methodology
        • emphasis on careful planning- shown in practice in excavations at Taxila, Harappa and Arikamedu
      • obtaining a master chronology for the entire country
        • broad view- from the paleolithic onwards
      • Education of Indian students, encouraged Indian Universities to begin training archaologists
        • Field school at Taxila
      • prepared the way for post-partition archaeology in India and Pakistan
        • gave archaeology credibility as a scientific discipline at a time when the new Indian government was strongly pushing science
          • Guha 2003
        • chakrabarti : 'He prepared the archaeology of the subcontinent for its transition to Modernity in the post-partition period.'
      • criticised for colonial attitude towards the work
      • jumping to conclusions too quickly- legacy of incorrect information
        • dating of the bala hisar at charsadda
        • theory of Aryan invaders destringthe Indus civilisatiin
    • Marshall
      • experience of excavations at Knossos under sir Arthur Evans
        • western techniques of horizontal excavation
        • production of detailed site plans
      • Excavations at Taxila, Harappa, Mohenjo-daro
        • Established cautious chronologies and inferences, many of which still hold
        • 'Marshall exposed an entire civilisation where we might have added a chapter to our book of 'cultures' ' (Wheeler, 1950)
          • a lot of detailed evidence lost
          • in a very short time, uncovered a massive city, giving us broad understanding of town plans, size, etc
        • the discovery of the indus civilisation really revolutionised the perspectives of Indian archaeology
      • prioritised conservation of sites and artefacts
      • encouraged survey and excavation of the whole country
      • excavations of taxila, Bhita, Sarnath etc gave important perspective and life to the view of Early Historic\Bhuddist South Asia


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