Adam, Dt.-Nagpur, Maharashtra

1987 to 1996 Go to Gallery
  • 1987-1996, Dr. A. Nath, Retd. As Dir.
  • 21° 00' N; 79° 27' E

Adam (21° 00' N; 79° 27' E) situated on the left bank of the Waghor of the Wainganga drainage system. The site is situated about 60 km south-east of Nagpur. The site measures approximately eight hundred metres east-west and five hundred metres north-south and rises over a height of eight metres from the surrounding plains. The excavation revealed a fivefold cultural sequence.

  • Period-I
  • was represented by fifty cm thick deposit, It yielded below the pre-defence levels microlithic industry, free from pottery, represented by parallel-sided blades, lunates, points, flake blades and scrapers made of chert, chalcedony, agate and quartz. Tentatively, the period has been dated between circa third and second millennuim BC.
  • Period-II
  • Has been termed as 'Vidarbha Chalcolithic' as the ceramic industry of this period did not correspond either in form or in description with any of the contemporary chalcolithic cultures of the regions adjoining Vidarbha. The deposit, approximately one metre in thickness, There were noted as many as six pottery types from medium to coarse fabric, invariably of inadequate firing.
  • The types were
    • Red ware with a chocolate slip and painted in white,
    • Red ware, with a red slip and painted in white,
    • Red ware with a red slip and painted in black,
    • Unslipped red ware with painting in black,
    • Unslipped red ware with painting in white, and
    • Black-and-red ware with red slip and painted in black.
  • The painted designs on them were limited to
    • hatched diamonds,
    • comb pattern,
    • series of short horizontal wavy strokes ('Z' pattern),
    • group of vertical strokes of varying number occurring both externally and internally on the rim. Among the plain pottery an average of about 64% constituted red ware while 26% formed black-slipped ware and 10% black-and-red ware.
  • Structures
  • Evidence of structures in the form of post-holes and mud-floors was noticed, the microlithic industry of the preceding period however continued thus indicating a chalcolithic stage in the archaeological chronology of Vidarbha. The other finds of the period included a copper ring, circular in section, a crucible, bone stylus of cylindrical shape with an oblique cut end, and an engraver with finely finished pointed end. A notable discovery was of a Neolithic celt made on schist. It was found over a mud floor adjacent to two circular pits containing ash and charcoal. The period has roughly been dated to the first quarter of the second millennium BC.
  • Period-III
  • Was characterized by the introduction of iron; however, the painted pottery of earlier period continued with the addition of a few new designs. A notable introduction was that of the coarse micaceous red ware painted with thick brush over a chocolate-slipped base. The other new design-elements met with were (i) chequer-board pattern, and (ii) series of horizontally, occasionally obliquely inclined coma-like strokes or dots arranged vertically. The horizontally or obliquely inclined coma-like strokes were noticed in red ware painted sometimes in white or black; occasionally, the strokes painted in black occur on the base of some table wares like dish or bowl. Towards the later phase of this period, the frequency of white painted pottery got reduced as compared to the black on red ware. Some of the Black-and-red pottery of this period bore graffiti marks, comparable to those found in the proto-historic context. In the lower phase, Traces of structure in the form of post-holes and semi-circular mud-floor were noticed. A pot-burial in upright position, of secondary nature, was noticed in the habitation area. The medium-sized vase of red ware contained a deep bowl of Black-and-red ware filled with soiled charcoal and earth.
    The introduction of iron made copper a subordinate metal at Adam. The artefacts in iron included a tanged point and nail fragments and indeterminate and rusted pieces. Other important antiquities reported from this period were copper ring, short barrel-shaped carnelian bead etched with dots, annular terracotta beads, hopscotches dressed in pottery and stone, terracotta head of a bird and oblong-shaped spool, bone points and stylus and a shell bangle fragment. Tentatively, the period has been assigned between circa 1000 BC and 500 BC.
  • Period-IV
  • Termed as pre-Mauryan and Mauryan, witnessed some fundamental change in the cultural content, perhaps due to the developed iron technology. An abrupt transformation, in the total outlay of the house plan from circular or oval to square or rectangular and use of stone, brick and tiles as building materials indicated a departure from the rural to urban settlement pattern. The deposit consisted of light brown earth of medium compactness, occasionally ash mixed with streaks of murrum. The ceramic industry was represented by micaceous red ware and the Black-and-red ware of medium to coarse fabric, generally associated with the NBP ware. The micaceous red ware was painted with linear bands of varying thickness below the neck. The types met with were vases, jars and bowls. The Black-and-red ware bowl with a featureless rim, occasionally out-turned and slightly expanding sides and carinated to flattish base was an important type. The frequency of red ware (73%) was more than that of the Black-and-red ware (27%). No complete house plan could be exposed; however, in one of the cuttings (Bl) an undressed shale stone wall running east-west (8 x 0-80 m) was noticed with a right angle to the north (2 X 0.50 m). The other structure was in the form of a fine murrum floor, rectangular in shape, with post-holes of 15 cm diameter. The available extent of the floor was 3-85 x 2-25 m.
    The outstanding discovery of this period was the fragmentary legged querns and mullers in sandstone with typical Mauryan polish. Two of the legged querns were engraved towards the shorter axis with auspicious symbols like svastika, nandipada (taurine) and mina (fish). Other antiquities of this period were included beads of crystal, agate, carnelian and terracotta; amulet and ring; iron arrowhead; and engravers both of bone and antler. Terracotta figurines, both of human and animals, terracotta fragments of hand-modelled female figures of 'ageless' mother goddess types with wide open legs shown without toe details were also recorded from this period. The period has been assigned date between circa 500 BC and 150 BC.
  • Period-V
  • Attributed to the Bhadras, Mitras, Satavahanas and Maratha rulers on the basis of numismatic and epigraphical evidence. The deposit belonged to one compositional class of clay, medium to hard in compactness and dark brown to black in colour. With the exception of grey and kaolin wares, the ceramic industry predominantly remained confined to red ware of medium to coarse fabric. The shapes included bowls, basins, dishes, jars, vases, lids and lid-cum-bowls. Devoid of paintings, the red ware had occasionally red slip on the exterior, and at times jars and basins were either treated externally with mica dust or it formed part of clay paste. Decoration on the pottery was introduced in this period by way of stamping, incision, pinch, cording, applique, etc. Of all the decorative elements, triratna of different types, rosettes, swastika, birds, hollow roundels and herringbone pattern were common. Spouts of plain and decorated varieties were also encountered. A sherd of delux variety of the rouletted ware was also noticed.
    Both shale-stone and brick structures were known to the people though the former material was preferred because it could be locally quarried. The burnt brick structures, worth mentioning, included a three-coursed wall, running north-south with a door opening (80 cm) and postholes (dia. 35 and 25 cm) cut into the wall. The stone structure was in the form of a compound wall of elliptical shape, with an entrance towards the east, encircling four circular structures perhaps memorial or votive in nature. Outside this complex, especially towards east, remains of several burials purely of secondary nature were noticed.
  • Burials
  • Different types of burials viz. (i) pot burial, (ii) terracotta ring burial, and (iii) pit burial, including their sub-types were noticed. In case of pit burial, pits of oval and circular shapes of varying depths, occasionally lined with stones, were noticed. The pottery found in the burials included bowls, basins and vases of medium size, invariably battered, without following any uniform pattern.
    In case of pot-burials, bowls and vases were laid independently to form the burial chamber inside a pit of required shape and size. The most outstanding was a sealing bearing the legend Asaka Janapada; the other was that of an etched carnelian bead depicting a bull before a tree within railing. In all, many coins were recovered from the site of which, silver-based punch-marked coins, copper, lead, and brass. Among inscribed coins, significant were Bhadra, Mitra, Maharathi and Satavahana coins from stratified deposits. The lead portrait coins of the later Satavahana rulers were unique. Both handmade and moulded terracottas, such as human and animal figurines, votive tanks, spindles and wheels and crucibles were recovered. Other antiquities included four decorated ivory pendants; beads in terracotta, glass, bone, ivory, copper, agate, carnelian, chert, chalcedony, etc.; multigrooved sandstone slab fragments of bead polishers; lead spools; copper pendants; and copper implements; iron objects viz. ploughshares, chisels, knives, arrowheads and an intact shear. The discovery of a broken but rare bone comb with carved handle depicting on one side two pairs of seated mithuna couples and on the other a row of elephants coming out of pond is one of the outstanding finds at the site. The period has been dated from circa 150 BC to AD 200. The cutting across the rampart and moat revealed different phases of construction of the rampart. It was believed that the iron-using people raised a low rampart and dug a small moat around their settlement; it was subsequently reinforced by a stone battlement perhaps coated with mud plaster.