Painted Grey Ware culture

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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 Painted Grey Ware culture (PGW) is an Iron Age culture of Gangetic plain, lasting from roughly 1200 BC to 600 BC.[1][2][3] It is contemporary to, and a successor of the Black and red ware culture. It is a style of fine, grey pottery painted with geometric patterns in black.[4] It probably corresponds to the middle and later Vedic period, i.e., the Kuru-Panchala kingdom, the first large state in South Asia after the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization.[5][6] It is succeeded by Northern Black Polished Ware from c. 700-500 BC, associated with the rise of the great mahajanapada states and of the Magadha Empire.

Iron Age[edit]

The earliest Iron Age sites in South India are Hallur, Karnataka and Adichanallur, Tamil Nadu[7] at around 1000 BC.


Painted Grey Ware - Sonkh (Uttar Pradesh) - 1000-600 BCE. Government Museum, Mathura

B.B. Lal associated Hastinapura, Mathura, Ahichatra, Kampilya, Barnawa, Kurukshetra and other sites with the PGW culture, the (post-) Mahabharata period and the Aryans in the 1950s. Furthermore, he pointed out that the Mahabharata mentions a flood and a layer of flooding debris was found in Hastinapura. However, B.B. Lal considered his theories to be provisional and based upon a limited body of evidence, and he later reconsidered his statements on the nature of this culture (Kenneth Kennedy 1995).

The pottery style of this culture is different from the pottery of the Iranian Plateau and Afghanistan (Bryant 2001). In some sites, PGW pottery and Late Harappan pottery are contemporaneous.[8]

The archaeologist Jim Shaffer (1984:84-85) has noted that "at present, the archaeological record indicates no cultural discontinuities separating Painted Grey Ware from the indigenous protohistoric culture."

However, the continuity of pottery styles may be explained by the fact that pottery was generally made by indigenous craftsmen even after the Indo-Aryan migration.[9]

According to Chakrabarti (1968) and other scholars, the origins of the subsistence patterns (e.g. rice use) and most other characteristics of the Painted Grey Ware culture are in eastern India or even Southeast Asia.

At Bhagwanpura in the Kurukshetra district of Haryana, excavations have revealed an overlap between the late Harappan and Painted Grey Ware cultures, large houses that may have been elite residences, and fired bricks that may have been used in Vedic altars.[10]

The Painted Grey Ware is associated with small village settlements (without large cities like those of the Harappans), domesticated horses, ivory-working, and the advent of iron metallurgy.[11] Towards the end of the period, many of the villages grew into the towns and cities of the Northern Black Polished Ware period.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Encyclopedia of Indo-European culture" By J. P. Mallory, Douglas Q. Adams
  3. ^ "Malwa Through the Ages" By Kailash Chand Jain
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Front Page : Some pottery parallels. The Hindu (2007-05-25). Retrieved on 2013-07-12.
  8. ^ Shaffer, Jim. 1993, Reurbanization: The eastern Punjab and beyond. In Urban Form and Meaning in South Asia: The Shaping of Cities from Prehistoric to Precolonial Times, ed. H. Spodek and D.M. Srinivasan.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  • Bryant, Edwin (2001). The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-513777-9. 
  • Chakrabarti, D.K. 1968. The Aryan hypothesis in Indian archaeology. Indian Studies Past and Present 4, 333-358.
  • Jim Shaffer. 1984. The Indo-Aryan Invasions: Cultural Myth and Archaeological Reality. In: J.R. Lukak. The People of South Asia. New York: Plenum. 1984.
  • Kennedy, Kenneth 1995. “Have Aryans been identified in the prehistoric skeletal record from South Asia?”, in George Erdosy, ed.: The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia, p. 49-54.

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