Gandhara grave culture

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Geography of the Rigveda, with river names; the extent of the Swat and Cemetery H cultures are indicated.
Archaeological cultures associated with Indo-Iranian migrations (after EIEC). The Andronovo, BMAC and Yaz cultures have often been associated with Indo-Iranian migrations. The GGC, Cemetery H, Copper Hoard and PGW cultures are candidates for cultures associated with Indo-Aryan movements.

The Gandhara grave culture emerged c. 1600 BC, and flourished in Gandhara, which lies in northwestern Pakistan and northeastern Afghanistan c. 1500 BC to 500 BC (i.e. possibly up to the time of Pāṇini).

Relevant finds, artifacts found primarily in graves, were distributed along the banks of the Swat and Dir rivers in the north, Taxila in the southeast, along the Gomal River to the south. The pottery finds show clear links with contemporary finds from southern Central Asia (BMAC) and the Iranian Plateau. Simply made terracotta figurines were buried with the pottery, and other items are decorated with simple dot designs. Horse remains were found in at least one burial.

The Gandhara grave people have been associated by most scholars with Indo-Aryan speakers.

The Gandhara grave culture people shared biological affinities with the population of Neolithic Mehrgarh, which suggests a "biological continuum" between the ancient populations of Timargarha and Mehrgarh.[1] This is however not the opinion of Elena E. Kuz'mina, who notes remains similar to some from Central Asian populations.[2]

Asko Parpola (1993: 54), argues that the Gandhara grave culture is "by no means identical with the Bronze Age Culture of Bactria and Margiana". Tusa (1977: 690-692) argues that this culture and its "new contributions" are "nevertheless in line with the cultural traditions of the previous period", and remarks that "to attribute a historical value to ... the slender links with northwestern Iran and northern Afghanistan ... is a mistake", since "it could well be the spread of particular objects and, as such, objects that could circulate more easily quite apart from any real contacts." Antonini (1973), Stacul and other scholars argue that this culture is not related with the Beshkent culture of Kyrgyzstan and Vakhsh culture of Tajikistan (Bryant 2001). However, E. Kuz'mina, in her book "The origin of the Indo-Iranians, volume 3" (2007) argues the opposite on the basis of both archeology and the human remains from the sepultures.

In the centuries preceding the Gandhara culture, during the Early Harappan period (roughly 3200–2600 BCE), similarities in pottery, seals, figurines, ornaments etc. document intensive caravan trade between the Indian Subcontinent and Central Asia and the Iranian plateau.[3]



  1. ^ Kenneth A.R. Kennedy. 2000, God-Apes and Fossil Men: Palaeoanthropology of South Asia Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. p. 339.
  2. ^ "The origin of the Indo-iranians, volume 3" Elena E. Kuz'mina p. 318
  3. ^ Asko Parpola, Study of the Indus Script, May 2005 p. 2f.


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