This is the first in a series of posts on the upcoming SAA meetings in Vancouver for the session entitled, “Archaeology of India”. Supriya Varma’s paper focuses on the landscapes and seascapes of Saurashtra in western India.
Supriya Varma teaches courses on archaeology at the Centre for Historical Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India. Her research on ancient South Asia examines topics ranging from pastoral nomadism, material culture and everyday life to childhood and crafting households.
Unsettling a Region: Archaeological Landscapes and Seascapes of Saurashtra, Western India
The peninsula of Saurashtra is a distinctive physiographical region in western India that is surrounded by the sea on all sides except the east, where it is attached to the mainland of South Asia. This square peninsula, virtually a cul-de-sac, is somewhat isolated when compared to the Gujarat plains that are located to its east. Farmers, pastoralists, crafters and traders have left behind their signatures through settling and unsettling in a region, which is characterized by shallow, unproductive soils, high seasonality, recurrent droughts and crop failures. In my paper, I will explore the region of Saurashtra to shift focus of archaeological studies from both North India as well as the Indus Valley Civilization. I examine the archaeology of places, sites and non-sites, as mediated by economic, environmental or physical conditions as well as by social and cultural practices of past communities that have inscribed, both intentionally and unintentionally, the landscapes and seascapes of Saurashtra in the period between the third and first millennia BCE. I use the concept of “trace” to explore the residues of ordinary people that have been inadvertently left behind and now form part of the archaeological contexts.
Image courtesy: Supriya Varma
Abstracts are also available here: SAA 2017 Session Abstracts (opens new window)