Balathal) have been properly excavated so far. Sites that belong to the Ahar
or Banas culture, which now number more than ninety, occur in the districts
of Udaipur, Chittorgarh, Bhilwara, Ajmer, Jaipur and Tonk in Rajasthan and
Mandasore in Madhya Pradesh.
The general movement of the culture was from southwest to northeast up
the course of the Berach and the Banas. The Ahar sites were located along
rivers, ranged in size from a couple of acres to over 10 acres and were
frequently sited within five to ten miles of each other.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of the Ahar culture is its effective
knowledge of copper metallurgy. The occurrence of etched carnelian beads, a
single bead of lapis lazuli and the Rangpur-type lustrous red ware in Ahar all
underline an element of connection with the Harappans in Gujarat. On the
other hand, this culture expanded towards Malwa with some links as far south
as the Deccan (e.g. the Jorwe ware of Maharashtra at Ahar).
The two sites of Ahar and Gilund were excavated much earlier (Ahar in
1953–54 and Gilund in 1959–60), but it is the recent work at Balathal (1994–
98) that has provided more convincing evidence. The early historic period at
the site followed its protomstoric habitation after a long gap. The
protohistoric chronology of Balathal has added a new, if not revolutionary,
dimension to our understanding of the Ahar culture. There should not be any
doubt about the beginning of protohistoric occupation at Balathal towards the
closing centuries of the fourth millennium BC.
Metallurgically, and from the point of view of its contribution to craft
specialisation as a major factor leading to the growth of the mature Indus
civilisation, the growth in northeastern Rajasthan has a very distinct character
of its own. It also highlights the role played by the Aravalli region as a whole
in protohistoric India.
The protohistoric archaeology of Madhya Pradesh is dominated by that of the
Malwa region which is a large fertile plateau drained by the Chambal, Kali
Sindh, Narmada, Sipra, Betwa and other rivers and has some trunk routes
from the north to the Deccan and west India passing through it. The area is
dotted with Chalcolithic sites but there is no comprehensive study of their