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Key Points: Prehistoric Archaeology of Kashmir

Discovery

Helmut De Terra and T.T. Patterson were the first to report Neolithic finds from Burzahom in 1939. H.D. Sankalia reported Palaeolithic tools from Lidar valley in 1969. This was followed by excavations at Burzahom in the 1960s by the Archaeological Survey of India and at Gufkral in 1981. Knispur was recently excavated by B.R. Mani of the Archaeological Survey of India.

Sources

The prehistoric archaeology of Kashmir is well attested by material finds from explorations of many archaeological sites. Burzahom, Gufkral and Kanispur are the only three sites excavated till date. Dwelling pits, stone and bone tools, pottery of different fabrics and shapes, and copper artefacts are noteworthy sources.

Antiquity

Regarding the origin and expansion of the Neolithic cultures of Kashmir, it is generally stated that Kashmir Neolithic culture shares certain traits with the Neolithic cultures of Sarai Khola in the Potwar plateau, Ghalighai and Loebanr in the Swat and Yang-Shao of the Huang Ho valley in China. The similarity, however, extends only to the technique of potting to produce mat-impressions on the bases and strew scratching on the body of the pots and to the use of celts and bone objects. However, Kashmir Neolithic culture stands unparalleled as far as the pit dwellings, ceramics, stone and bone tools are concerned.

Periods

3000–2500 BCE Neolithic-I

2500–1700 BCE Neolithic-II

1700–1000 BCE ​Megalithic

(On the basis of radiocarbon dating)

Prominent Sites

Burzahom (Srinagar), Gufkral (Pulwama) and Kanispora (Baramulla)

Other Settlements

Begagund, Gufkral, Hariparigom, Jayadevi-Udar, Olchibag, Pampur, Panzgom, Sombur, Thajiwor, Manasbal, etc.

Communication and Trade Networks

Striking cultural similarities across the Neolithic sites generates interest for the study of links and communications across these settlements within and outside the geographical region of Kashmir. The discovery of Kot Dijian type pottery and carnelian beads from Burzahom indicate trade links. The similarities of settlement patterning data like pit dwellings across the China and Swat hints at their interaction with Neolithic Kashmir.

Contemporary Cultures

Harappan civilization (3300–1500 BCE), Kulli culture (prehistoric culture of southern Balochistan (2500–2000 BCE), Sothi-Siswal cultures of Haryana (3800–3000 BCE).