SAA2017 | Jaya Menon: Domestic Space in the Upper Ganga Plains

Jaya Menon

Jaya Menon’s paper focuses on the histories of ‘ordinary houses’ at the archaeological site of Indor Khera, Uttar Pradesh, India. Her examination challenges traditional scholarly focus on public and elite spaces.

Jaya Menon has taught history and archaeology at several universities in India and presently teaches archaeology at the Shiv Nadar University in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. She is interested in the Bronze Age and early historic periods of South Asia. She has co-directed the excavations at Indor Khera in Bulandshar District of Uttar Pradesh and Rohana Khurd in Muzaffarnagar District of Uttar Pradesh in North India. She has published in Asian PerspectivesStudies in HistoryIndian Historical Review, and Ethnoarchaeology. Her research foci lie in ancient technology, more specifically with ceramic production, as well as with the social organization of space.

The Materiality of Domestic Space: Indor Khera, North India, 200 BCE- 500 CE

Most State and University-sponsored excavations in India have tended to focus on public and elite spaces, in keeping with nationalistic aims of projecting a grandiose view of the past. This has led to the inevitable marginalization of non-elite domestic spaces. One of the few cases of household archaeology in the Indian subcontinent has come from Indor Khera in the Upper Ganga Plains in northern India. Archaeological data recovered during the excavations has given valuable information on the intersecting histories of ordinary houses and households dated between 200 BCE and 500 CE in this peripheral neighbourhood in a small town. The current paper is an attempt to assess and map the materiality of everyday practices of a household through a micro-study of a single house, analyzing through its various episodes of construction, use, alterations, and adjustments, the patterns illustrative of an everyday life. It is possible to do a ‘close reading’ of the excavated data (micro-stratigraphies, features, and contextually recovered artefacts,) within a house, that will enable the identification of the location and nature of individual activities undertaken by ordinary people, as well as the flexible and changing uses of space over time.

Image courtesy: Jaya Menon

Abstracts are also available here: SAA 2017 Session Abstracts (opens new window)

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