Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday Archaeology Blogging

Bangla citadel found
Wari (Bangladesh), March 15 (Reuters): Archaeologists in Bangladesh say they have uncovered part of a fortified citadel dating back to 450 BC that could have been a stopping off point along an ancient trade route.

So far, a moat round the citadel has been uncovered along with parts of an ancient road at Wari, 85 km northeast of the capital Dhaka.

Nifty! The archaeology of that period and area is not well understoon, and any addition to the body of data is very useful.

[Sufi Mostafizur Rahman, head of the department of archaeology at Jahangirnagar University] said the citadel was believed to be a part of Harappan civilisation and a prime trade centre might have flourished there, possibly serving as a link between contemporary South Asian and Roman civilisations.

Ok, this may be a bit of a stretch, especially given the early date of the citadel. Rome in 450 B.C. was a small, relatively insignificant farming town, although it had recently begun to flex its muscle on the Italian peninsula, against the Samnites, Etruscans, Celts, and others. Rome had only recently thrown out the monarchy, and was still trying to settle a fairly chronic class war. So, the likelihood of their trading with South Asia at that time is remote, although such trade certainly did occur in later times.

Nor should the citadel at Wari be construed as having anything to do with the famous Silk Road from China to the West. As can be seen from the map below (click on it for the full-size version), the silk road passed well to the north of what is now Bangladesh.

So what is this citadel? Well, in my opinion, if it had anything to do with long range trade, it was as waystation on a north-south overland trade route (Wari is nowhere near the sea) originating at the Bay of Bengal. Goods would be brought from the West (Egypt, say, or the Greek cities), shipped by sea via the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to the mouth of the Ganges, and from there by river or overland to Wari. From the East the route would be similar in nature, involving a sea voyage followed by overland travel. Where the route went after Wari (or before, for goods being exported), I couldn't say, although it is entirely possible that it diffused into the surrounding area, leaving Wari as a sort of emporium city. All very interesting, in any case, and I'll be very interested to hear if they find material from other cultures in this citadel!


Bazz said...

The sidebar seems to have gone away. How odd... We are looking into this.

Bazz said...

And now it's back again. Hello sidebar!