Bara culture was a culture that emerged in the eastern region of the Indus Valley Civilization around 2000 BCE. It developed in the doab between the Yamuna and Sutlej rivers, hemmed on its eastern periphery by the Shivalik ranges of the lower Himalayas. This territory corresponds to modern-day Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh in North India. Baran culture is believed to have initially developed independently of the Harappan culture branch of the Indus Valley Civilization from a pre-Harappan tradition, although the two cultures later intermingled in locations such as Kotla Nihang Khan. In the conventional timeline demarcations of the Indus Valley Tradition, the Bara culture is usually placed in the Late Harappan period.
Bara culture is so-named because initial evidence for its existence was discovered from archeological digs at the site in Bara, Punjab. Dher Majra and Sanghol are other important Bara culture sites that have been excavated.
Pottery remnants of the Bara culture reveal a style that is consistently differentiable from that of the Harappan culture, though there are some shared features as well. Specific forms quintessentially associated with the Harappans, such as "perforated jar, S shaped jar, tall dish-on-stand with drum, goblet, beaker and handled-cup" are absent. Instead, other forms unique to the Barans are found, including jars and vessels "incised on shoulder and rusticated at the bottom", jars with bulbous bodies, long necks and flaring rims, and collared-rim jars. Harappan dishes-on-stand (i.e. dishes with a stand beneath) have long and slender necks, whereas Baran dishes-on-stand have short and thick ones. Harappan wares tend to be plain, while Baran ware is usually embellished with painted patterns (such as brush-made spirals) and decorative incisions, often on the interior side of vessels and jars.
Possible role in propagating citrus cultivation
Lemon seeds were found at the excavations at the Baran settlement at Sanghol, which remains the only evidence for citrus cultivation this far west at that time. Citrus is thought to have been domesticated first in a region centered on Northeastern India, South China and the northern regions of Southeast Asia, and diffused outwards from there. The finding at Sanghol suggests that westward diffusion may have occurred along the Ganges Valley where the Barans may have gained knowledge of citrus cultivation in the early second millennium BCE period and then contributed to westwards propagation. Citrus cultivation is believed to have arrived in Southwest Asia in the 1200 BCE period and lemons more specifically in the first millennium CE.
- Arundhati Banerji, Early Indian terracotta art, circa 2000-300 B.C., northern and western India, Harman Pub. House, 1994, ISBN 978-81-85151-81-6, "... 2000 BC Bara Culture : Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh ... In the post-Harappan context, Bara is considered as a distinct culture, that dominates the entire Sutlej-Yamuna divide ... The jars, water vessels are incised on shoulder and rusticated at the bottom. The typical classical Harappan shapes such as perforated jar, S shaped jar, tall dish-on-stand with drum, goblet, beaker and handled-cup disappear ... the Bara tradition in the north appears to be parallel to the Harappa tradition at least along the Sutlej ... early phase is usually assignable to a period earlier than the classical Harappan phase ..."
- Satya Prakash, Vijai Shankar Shrivastava, Cultural contours of India, Abhinav Publications, 1981, ISBN 978-0-391-02358-1, "... Bara culture would appear to be related rather directly to a pre-Harappan tradition without the inter-medium of Harappan culture. The concomitance of Bara and Harappa cultures in the Sutlej area also lends support to this view ..."
- Shadaksharappa Settar, Ravi Korisettar, Indian Archaeology in Retrospect: Prehistory, archaeology of South Asia, Indian Council of Historical Research, 2002, ISBN 978-81-7304-319-2, "... The mound at Kotla Nihang Khan is divided into two sectors: eastern and western. The eastern sector mainly has Urban Harappan pottery like the dish-on-stand, goblets with pointed base, shallow flat dish with flaring sides ... The western part has Urban Harappan elements mixed with Bara Ware from the lower levels. Sharma (1982: 141) thinks that ... initially, in Phase I, the Harappans occupied the eastern area, but with the advent of the Barans ..."
- Romila Thapar, Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations, Orient Blackswan, 1978, ISBN 978-81-250-0808-8, "... there appears to be a continuity of pre-Harappan cultures into the second millennium B.C. at sites in the Sutlej valley and the upper Saraswati (e.g. Bara and Siswal A) ..."
- Amalananda Ghosh, Archaeology and history, Agam Kala Prakashan, 1987, "... Dher Majra, Bara and Sanghol are all mainly Bara culture sites (Sharma, 1982a, 141-43, 154-57). Bhagwanpura, Dadheri, Nagar and Katpalon (Joshi et al, 1982, pp. 191-94), where Bara and Painted Grey Ware are found interlocked ..."
- A. Ghosh, An encyclopaedia of Indian archaeology, BRILL, ISBN 978-90-04-09264-8, "... most of the Bara ware is embellished with painted or incised patterns while a large proportion of the Harappa Ware is plain ... stem of the Bara dish-on-stand is generally short and wide ... long and slender stem of the Harappa counterpart ... incised designs on the interior sides ... bulbous jar with long neck and flaring rim, jar with collared rim ..."
- Shadaksharappa Settar, Ravi Korisettar, Indian Archaeology in Retrospect: Protohistory, archaeology of the Harappan civilization, Indian Council of Historical Research, 2002, ISBN 978-81-7304-320-8, "... The only early archaeobotanical evidence for Citrus fruits comes from the Late Harappan (Bara phase) site of Sanghol in Punjab where seeds of lemon (C. limon (L.) Burm. f.) have been reported (Saraswat and Chanchala 1997). This is of great interest as these fruits are thought to have been domesticated somewhere in the area spanning from north-eastern India to south China and South-East Asia, although there remains no firm evidence for precisely where or when ... suggests that lemons diffused westwards, presumably along the Ganga Valley in the early second millennium BC. Further west, in South-West Asia, the citron (C. medical L.) occurs as early as c. 1200 BC, while the lemon arrives later in the first millennium AD ..."