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Research at this site was prompted by my interest in the motivations and mechanisms for exchange activities in the central Indian subcontinent from the early centuries B.C. to the early centuries A.D., a period when the political landscape was composed of a number of competing dynasties and short-lived political alliances. Field research was conducted at the site of Kaundinyapura and its environs, where a series of systematic surface collections was undertaken in 1994 and 1995 to document the artifacts of local trade in the Early Historic period.
Analysis of the artifacts from Kaundinyapura demonstrate that items of common use during the Early Historic period, such as sandstone implements and micaceous vessels, were widespread at the site even though the natural source areas for these materials is at least 75 kilometers away. The archaeological record thus supports a model of a thriving trade network in utilitarian and domestic-use goods even during periods of political instability. It is proposed that trade activities flourished in this period because of a widespread need for objects which served multiple roles: objects were the visible manifestation of kinship, religious and social ties across an economically-diverse landscape, as well as being symbols expressive of hierarchical social structures within towns and villages.
As with the Sisupalgarh project, the investigations were undertaken under permit from the Government of India, whose assistance during the course of the field project is gratefully acknowledged. Support was provided by the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research; and the Department of Anthropology, the Rackham School of Graduate Studies, and the International Institute, all of the University of Michigan.
More detailed conclusions about the research at Kaundinyapura can be found in the following publications:
Smith, Monica L.
____ 2006 ____ How ancient agriculturalists managed yield fluctuations through crop selection and reliance on wild plants: an example from Central India. Economic Botany 60(1):39-48.
____ 2002 ____ The role of local trade networks in the Indian subcontinent during the Early Historic period. Man and Environment 27(1):139-151.
____ 2001____ The Archaeology of an Early Historic Town in Central India. BAR International Series 1002, British Archaeological Reports, Oxford.
____ 2000 ____ Economic and social interactions at an Early Historic site: Recent fieldwork at Kaundinyapura, India. South Asian Archaeology 1997, Conference Proceedings of the European Association of South Asian Archaeologists, edited by M. Taddei and G. De Marco, pp. 793-810. Istituto per l’Africa e l’Oriente, Rome.
____ 2000 ____ Systematic surface survey at the Early Historic site of Kaundinyapura, India. Man and Environment 25(1):75-87.
____ 2000 ____(With A. Nath) Explorations in Districts Amaravati and Wardha. Indian Archaeology 1994-95 A Review, pp. 51-52. Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi.
____ 1999 ____ The role of ordinary goods in premodern exchange. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 6(2): 109-135.
Monica L. Smith
The Cotsen Institute of Archaeology
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