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Southern Bactria and Northern India before Islam: A Review of Archaeological Reports

Author(s): Gérard Fussman

Source: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 116, No. 2 (Apr. - Jun., 1996), pp. 243-
Published by: American Oriental Society
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A discussion of the past twenty years of archaeological reports from the three major sites of Ai
Khanum (northeast Afghanistan), Butkara I (Swat) and Sonkh (Uttar Pradesh). Emphasized are the
contrasting approaches to the excavations and especially the differing methods and results of their
publication. Noted are the importanthistorical and cultural questions that still remain unanswered.

bibliography, disputed.2 The political history of northern India still
the history of northern India from the death of Asoka consists of bare lists of names, with an often unsure
to the first inroads of the Moslem armies is still im- relative chronology and a still more unsure absolute
perfectly known. About its social history we can only chronology. These chronological uncertaintiescannot but
state that new peoples kept coming from Iran and have a bearing on the history of early Indian Art which,
Central Asia and were, in the course of time, integrated despite some advances,3 has not yet been established on
into an Indian social organization about which we have a sure footing.
very little incontrovertible data.1Its economic history is The extant Indian, Western, and Chinese literatures
summed up by lists of commodities, some indications have been so carefully sifted that new important revela-
about currencies and monetary policies, and imprecise tions are not to be expected. New inscriptions and coins
records of its trade with China and the Roman Empire. are published almost every year, but they are more of-
Thanks to recently discovered inscriptions and sculp- ten than not stray finds whose whereabouts are imper-
tures, the complex relationship between Buddhism and fectly known.4 Thus, the only hope for the historian of
early Hinduism now appears in a new light, but this early India lies in regular excavations. Indeed, as early
new data comes from widely separated places (mainly as 1903, (Sir) John Marshall planned to start excava-
Gandhara and Mathura) and its interpretation may be tions in Taxila, partly because its location and history
reminded him of ancient Greece, but mostly because he
wanted to recover all kinds of data "on the political and
* This is a review article of some
twenty-seven recent archae-
ological reports, those whose authorsare noted in small caps in
the bibliography. 2 For Buddhism, see now the summary in Fussman 1994.
1 We
may assume that, as in almost every society, Indian For Vaishnava bhakti cults in Mathura, the best overview is
society at that time was made up of a number of groups. But still Srinivasan 1988, although dating back to 1981.
we do not know whether these groups were knitted into a 3 The chronology of early Mathuran art still rests on the
fixed and hierarchized social frame bearing some resemblance excellent, though now half-a-century-old, Ph.D. thesis by
to the modern Hindu jati system or whether there was only Lohuizen de Leeuw (1949), conveniently summed up by
one system of ranking, incorporating the many groups of fol- Sharma 1984, 173-242. For early Gandharanart, see Fussman
lowers of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Iranianreligions 1987.
into one and the same scheme. If we can judge from some 4
Stray finds bought on the antique market are very often
stray inscriptions, social groups of foreign origin, especially given a provenance which may or may not be true. Local deal-
the ruling clans, kept to quite unshastric family systems and ers, as a rule, never give the true provenance of artifacts they
rights of inheritance (Fussman 1980, 23). Brahmins could be sell either because they are intermediaries who have every rea-
engaged in trade and their widows could act as family heads son to keep the origin of the artifact secret, not to be bypassed
(Fussman 1993, 115). This scanty data is enough to show that by other dealers, or because they got them from middlemen
around the Common Era, Indian society was still far from who have the same reason for not divulging its source. Schol-
functioning like the ideal Hindu society depicted in the proba- ars ignorant of the rules governing the antique market are very
bly much later dharmaSastras. often misled by such provenances.

244 Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.2 (1996)

religious history of the northwest . . and its material and Sonkh, excavated by Prof. Hartel in eight seasons
culture during lengthy periods between 500 B.c. and (1966-1974), which should have been the counterpart
A.D. 500."5 The trend was followed by (Sir) Mortimer of Butkara I in the Gangetic valley. These were large-
Wheeler, who came to India in February 1944 with a scale excavations, backed by local authorities, conduc-
plan of systematic excavations for recovering India's ted with great care by first-class scholars with relatively
past.6 But he had to leave India (now Pakistan) without important budgets and a good staff of technicians and
being able to implement his plan fully. The Archaeo- young promising scholars. We now know that they did
logical Survey of India and the Department of Archae- not solve the difficult problem of the sources and chro-
ology of Pakistan did not follow in his steps. But his nologies of the Gandharanand MathuranBuddhist arts.
ideas were taken up by three archaeological missions Despite the wealth of well-recorded finds, the new ad-
whose heads had impressive academic backgrounds:the vances came mainly from stray finds," and the best
Delegation Arch6ologique Francaise en Afghanistan overviews are still Schlumberger 1960 and Lohuizen de
(DAFA), whose postwar director, Daniel Schlumberger, Leeuw 1949. There is no reason to blame this failure on
had the same taste for history as its founder, Alfred the excavators. Luck simply was not with them. They
Foucher;7the Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo cannot be held responsible for not having dug out in-
Oriente (IsMEO), whose chairman, Giuseppe Tucci, in scriptions giving a genealogy of Bactrian kings or as-
1955, earmarkedplaces in the Swat valley of Pakistan cribing a fine sculpture to the reign of a Saka sovereign.
for excavations with the specific purpose of unraveling Although the problems of early Buddhist art were not
the history of Buddhism in northwestern India and solved during these excavations, we know for sure that
discovering the sequence of the Hellenized Buddhist art Ai Khanum will remain for many years to come the
of Gandhara;8and the Archaeological Mission of the standardsite for Greek Bactria, that Butkara is the best
Museum of Indian Art (Berlin) which began to dig at recorded Buddhist site in northwestern India and that
Sonkh, near Mathura, in 1966 under the leadership of Sonkh will in the coming years be the great reference
Herbert Hartel, then director of the museum, a pupil site for Uttar Pradesh. These excavations are not fail-
and heir of Professors Liiders and Waldschmidt, to ures. On the contrary,they are text-book instances of the
"collect material information on the early history of the importanceof well-planned and well-conducted excava-
once-flourishing State of Mathura,one of the most im- tions for our knowledge of the past of Central Asia and
portant cultural centres of ancient India."9 India.
This was how, during the sixties, three large excava- This is not the place to review the important data
tions were conducted in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the they brought to light. They have been known for years
Republic of India which should have helped to solve, through many interim reports'2and exhibitions; the aca-
but did not, the vexed questions of the origins of early demic world has no doubts whatever about their impor-
Buddhist art, the creation of the anthropomorphicrep- tance. Now, when the final reports have been published,
resentationof Buddha, and the subsequentdevelopments or are being published, it would be interesting to com-
of early Indian art: Ai Khanumin northernAfghanistan pare the strategies of excavation and publication adop-
(1964-1978), started by D. Schlumberger but almost ted by the leaders of these huge projects. Although I
entirely led by P. Bernard, which was to have given im- owe a great debt to Gardin 1979 and agree with most of
portantclues to the Hellenization of northwesternIndia; his conclusions, this will not be a study in theoretical
Butkara I in Swat, "chosen by Prof. Tucci after careful archaeology. I have no taste nor skill for theory. This
study of historical sources continually checked by in- will be an empirical study, made by a historian who
spection of the ground,"1'entirely dug out by Dome- often needs to look into these reports and who is also
nico Faccenna (1956-1962), where it was hoped that faced with the necessity of conducting such projects-
careful stratigraphical excavations could help to estab- even if they are on a much smaller scale-and publish-
lish on a sure footing the chronology of Gandharanart; ing them in due time.

5 Marshall 1951, xv-xvi. 11 See above,n. 3. Ontheimportof thediscoveriesin Butkara

6 Wheeler I fortheearlyBuddhistartof Gandhara, see below,pp.254-55.
1955, 188.
7 See Olivier 1996. 12
Bibliography of the Ai Khanuminterim reportsby P. Ber-
8 Tucci nard in Guillaume 1983, xi-xii; of Butkara interim reports in
1958, 284.
9 Hartel1993,9. Faccenna 1980, 1:1-4 (footnotes); of Sonkh interim reports in
10 Faccenna 1980, I:10. Hartel 1993, 471-72.
FUSSMAN:Southern Bactria and Northern India before Islam 245

In its restricted sense, Ai Khanum is a Hellenistic It is easier though to discern the scientific differences
walled city located in northeastern Afghanistan, close between the two series. The studies published in Mem-
to the border of currentTajikistan, at the meeting point oires de la De'legation Archeologique Francaise en Af-
of the Oxus (Amudarya)and Kokca rivers. It consists of ghanistan, as well as the interim reports by P. Bernard,
two parts, a natural acropolis, 60 m high, mainly used are almost entirely devoted to studies of the Hellenistic
for defensive purposes, and a lower town which was the architecture and the decorative art of the Greek city.
inhabited part of the city (1,800 x 1,500 m in all). Part The keywords of P. Bernard'spapers, as listed by him-
of the acropolis and more than one-third of the lower self (Guillaume 1983, xi), are: Hellenistic, Greek, city,
town were excavated. The main buildings there are a urbanism. History in the modern sense of the term al-
huge palace or administrativequarters,a large temple, a most never appears.'4The scope of the J.-Cl. Gardin's
mausoleum and a heroon, a gymnasium, a theater and series is much wider-Central Asia. There are often no
an arsenal. Great houses, with built-in courtyards or chronological limitations (Gentelle 1978); the emphasis
gardens, were located south of the palace (in the south- is mainly on non-Greek periods and never on art.
western part of the city) and outside the city, nearby its Now there is no epistemological conflict between
northern wall. There were few such houses: it seems classical archaeology, with its emphasis on architecture,
that there were many empty spaces inside the walled art, and political history, and the so-called new archae-
town, which was founded and built on virgin soil either ology which aims at solving clearly defined historical
c. 329 or 305 B.C. and ceased to exist as a town c. 146 problems through specific and fast procedures. We need
B.C. There is no doubt that Ai Khanum was one of the both, and each complements the other. One can be inter-
main urban centres of Greek Bactria. ested in history of art and at the same time one may want
North and east of the city lies a small plain, 27 km to know about the everyday life of the artists and their
long, less than 9 km wide, 220 km2 in all, which French servants. Although the DAFA did not lack money and
scholars call "la plaine d'Ai Khanum."'3A survey, begun although many scholars, with a wide range of interests,
on J.-C1. Gardin's initiative in 1974, with P. Bernard's were working under its umbrella, obviously classical ar-
agreement, ten years after the first dig in Ai Khanum chaeology could not be reconciled with the new archae-
city, demonstrated that this plain had been irrigated ology. The two main series of Memoires, the one under
since the bronze age and could even boast a mature the editorial responsibility of P. Bernardfor the Ai Kha-
Harappansettlement (Gardin 1978, 130; Francfort 1989, num volumes, and the other underthe editorship of J.-C1.
57-58). There were importantsettlements until the time Gardin, mirror these scientific differences.
of the Mongol invasions. The existence of the Greek city As far as I know, there is no preconceived publica-
of Ai Khanum is thus only one important and, in any tion plan for the Ai Khanum subseries of final reports
case, the most spectacular episode in the long history of in Memoires de la Delegation Archeologique Francaise
the plain. It should have been studied accordingly, but en Afghanistan. The volumes follow each other treating
this did not happen, as can be clearly seen from the building after building in a haphazardway: propylons of
scheme of publications adopted, a scheme quite incon- the main street, main temple, coins, fortifications, gym-
venient both for readers and librarians. Apart from the nasium, treasury.-5Indeed the excavations are published
many interim reports, the results of the digs in Ai
Khanum city have been published in the lavish series 14See below,n. 23, aboutBernard1985.
Memoires de la De'lgation Archeologique Franfaise 15 It
en Afghanistan, under the responsibility of P. Bernard; may be convenient for the reader to reproduce here the
the results of the surveys and excavations in the Ai list of the Ai Khanum volumes in this series:
Khanum plain were first published, under the direction XXI: P. Bernard,Fouilles d'Ai Khanoum,I (Campagnes
of J.-C1.Gardin, in cheaply printed series of the Centre 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968), 1973 (quarto)
National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) or ltdi- XXVI: O. Guillaume,Fouilles d'Ai'Khanoum,II: Les propy-
tions Recherche sur les Civilisations, now in a series lees de la rueprincipale, 1983 (folio).
called Memoires de la Mission Archeologique Francaise XXVII: H.-P. Francfort, Fouilles d'Ai Khanoum, III: Le
en Asie Centrale. There is almost no relationship be- sanctuaire du temple a redans, 2: Les trouvailles,
tween the two sets of publications. The puzzled reader 1984 (folio).
XXVIII: P. Bernard, Fouilles d'Ai Khanoum, IV: Les
may wonder why one and the same French project is
monnaies hors trdsors; Questions d'histoire greco-
published in two separate series. I often do.
bactrienne, 1985 (quarto).
XXIX: P. Leriche, Fouilles d'Ai Khanoum,V: Les remparts
13 More
often,now,"plainede Dasht-iQala." et les monumentsassocids, 1986 (folio).
246 Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.2 (1996)

as they were made, mound after mound, without any When the first surveys of the plain of Ai Khanumby
systematic plan of studying the grid of streets, the func- Gardin'steam demonstrated that the land was irrigated
tion of the empty spaces, the zoning of the city, the rea- long before the advent of the Greeks, another set of ex-
sons for the location of buildings like the gymnasium or planations was given, the final one as far as I know: the
the arsenal. It does not seem that a systematic study of city was established because it could use the produce
town-planning will ever be published.16 The only over- of a rich territory, well irrigated, well farmed, and in-
view of the city-very good if somewhat brief-is a habited by large numbers of skilled peasants. It could
comment on the often reproduced map of the Ai Kha- also derive some profit from the mineral wealth of the
num excavations (Bernard 1981, 110-14). There is no high valley of the Kok6a river (or Badaxsan). Lastly,
detailed study of the aerial views, which now could be located in a strategic position against both hill tribes
supplementedby satellite imagery, and there was no sur- and steppe nomads, it was an indispensable fortified
face prospection nor soundings (or very few) made for support area against them.19
the specific purpose of ascertaining where the artisans Ai Khanum was indeed a fortified city, but all Greek
or the servants dwelt.'7 We do not even know whether cities were walled. I am not a general or a strategist,
there was a market, or a bazaar, even less where it was but I find it hard to believe that Ai Khanum was mainly
located. a military outpost or fortress against the nomads. A
We are given no demonstrativereasons about the pur- partly empty city with a wall too long to be effectively
pose of building such a city in such a location.'8Nobody manned is not a fortress. And if it had been a fortress,
will blame the excavator for not being able to give the why, as it seems, was it vacated even before the advent
Greek name of the city, for not having discovered any of the nomads it was supposed to hold in check? The
sure evidence about the exact date of its foundation (al- mineral wealth of the hilly country could be tapped
ready in the time of Alexander or under Seleukos the anywhere in the plain, even north of the Hindukush (as
First), nor for being unable to state whether the palace in modern times). It probably added to the resources of
was a royal residence or only administrativequartersin- the city, but it does not explain its location. The ex-
habited by a governor and his retinue. The excavations ploitation of farming possibilities on a well-irrigated
were conducted with the utmost care, but no decisive in- countryside, associated with the possibility of building a
scriptionwas discovered. The walls had been razed to the large fortified town on a convenient site (two rivers, an
ground,and the buildings had been emptied of their con- acropolis), is thus the best explanation. Trade could
tents. But we could have expected some kind of geopo- also have played a role.20 But these explanations will
litical study.In its place we are only given a very short set remain undemonstrated as long as the relationship be-
of unsupportedstatements.The first interim report (Ber- tween the countryside and the city is not explored.
nard 1973) does not even address the question. One year Who were the farmers? Were they affluent? Did they
later, an explanationis given: Ai Khanumwas located in use the same kind of pottery as the citizens? Were there
a strategic position and was used as a military outpost to artisans and traders in the city?
keep in check the inroads of nomad enemies. It also de- These questions cannot be answered because they
rived some wealth "from direct farming colonization by were never addressed. No use was made of Gardin's
(Greek) gentlemen-farmers"(Bernard 1974, 102). surveys for initiating a study of this kind. In confirma-
tion I can adduce two facts. The maps published in the
Memoires de la Delegation Archeologique Francaise
XXX: S. Veuve, Fouilles d'Ai'Khanoum,VI: Le gymnase; en Afghanistan, even in their latest issue (Rapin 1992),
Architecture,ceramique,sculpture, 1987 (folio). never show Ai Khanum within its territory (either the
XXXI: 0. Guillaume et A. Rougeulle, Fouilles dAt'
Khanoum,VII: Les petits objets, 1987 (folio)
XXXIII: Cl. Rapin, Fouilles dAi' Khanoum, VIII: La 19 ... un pointd'appuimilitaireessentielpourla d6fense
tresorerie du palais hellenistique d'Ai Khanoum, des marches orientales de la Bactriane" (Bernard 1981, 109-
1992 (big quarto). 10); "a military outpost... to control the eastern marches of
(Vol. XXXII is the second volume of the SurkhKotal final report Bactria and block a potential invasion route..." (Bernard
[1990] which has been readyfor publicationfor years.) 1982, 148).
16 A study of the way Ai Khanum was provided with water 20 The discovery of the Harappanoutpost of Shortughai and
is nevertheless announced in a note by Gentelle 1978, 142. of Sogdian inscriptions on the banks of the Indus river show
17 Nevertheless see Bernard 1978b, 42. that there existed* a direct link between Central Asia and
18 See the motivations behind the survey of the plain of Ai northern India through the Kok6a valley and Chitral. But we
Khanum as related in Gardin 1976, 60. have no evidence that it was used in Greek times.
Southern Bactria and Northern India before Islam

plain of Ai Khanum or a larger part of northeastern some amount of luck) would have also allowed us to
Bactria). They are either large maps of Bactria, or a solve questions which are at the heart of contemporary
plan of the city which stops at the northernmost ex- historiography, such as demographic history, economic
cavated buildings, i.e., 300 m north of the northern history, social history, agrarian history, etc. The Ai
wall. Moreover, very few people know that two km Khanum excavations demonstrate the truth of the old
north of the northern wall of the city lies a walled cir- adage: you only find what you search for.
cular establishment, large enough to be called "circular The final reports published in the Ai Khanum sub-
town," and which, to my knowledge, is almost never series, Memoires de la Delegation Archeologique Fran-
mentioned by P. Bernard,21although sherds ranging raise en Afghanistan, are of a very high scholarly
from Achaemenid to Islamic times were collected from standard, with a wealth of maps, plans, drawings and
its surface.22If this town was a provincial headquarters photographs. But there is a bewildering lack of con-
before the advent of the Greeks, the historical and geo- sistency, even in the format.24I have already noted the
political problemof the location and function of Ai Kha- absence of an overall plan. There is no introductoryvol-
num city should be addressed in a very different way. ume, no historical account of the excavations, no volume
This long discussion is not intended to deny the value on town-planning proper and, worst of all, no overall
of the Ai Khanum excavations. They were well done chronology. So most authors feel compelled to give
and they produced outstanding results. Without them, their own chronology, either in a few lines (Francfort
what would we know of Greco-Bactrian planning, ar- 1984, 2-3; Veuve 1987, 100-101) or in a long chapter
chitecture, sculpture, pottery, etc.? Without them, Gar- (Rapin 1992, 281-94). This would be of no conse-
din's surveys would not have been as successful as they quence if there were no discrepancies. But this is not so.
were. These excavations brought to light a new world It is generally agreed that the town was vacated by
which the French archaeologists had relentlessly sought the Greeks c. 145 B.c. under pressure from the nomads,
after for forty years. One cannot complain that the although no incontrovertible evidence that it was at-
emphasis was on art history and traditional historio- tacked, burnt, or sacked by these nomads was ever
graphy.23This is what I do myself most of the time and found.25P. Bernard only made the noncommittal state-
it is necessary. It is indeed often a prerequisite. But it is ment: "the Greeks of Ai Khanum were driven from
to be regretted that, although there was no lack of fund- their city by nomad invaders" (Bernard 1982, 148).26
ing or manpower, the excavations in Ai Khanum city After a while the deserted city was pillaged by later
were not planned in a way which perhaps (i.e., with inhabitants who settled in some of the ruined build-
ings (Bernard 1982, 110; Francfort 1984, 2), but Ai
Khanum no longer existed as a town. So one is puzzled
21 Referredto in Bernard1978b, 15: "L'organisation ad-
to learn that the town was probably vacated after an at-
ministrativeet la s6curit66taientassur6sparune autorit6dont
tack (Leriche 1986, 57); that it was destroyed by Yuezhi
le siege 6tait une place forte importante.... Entreles deux
nomads (Rapin 1992, 291) and that there was a Kushan
rempartscirculairesqui entourentla citadelleproprement dite
a pu 6galements'abriterune petite agglomerationurbaine, occupation (Leriche 1986, 99-101). What is P. Bernard's
own opinion? Is there any evidence of these facts in
lieu d'6changepourles produitsde la terreet ceux d'unarti-
other excavated buildings? And why are we not given
the possibility of judging whether the arrowheads dis-
22 Gardin 1976, 78-79, pl. xix-xxiii, who, using the evi- covered against the northern wall belonged to Greek
dence from these surfacecollections of ceramics,surmises
that"in Persiantimes, the circulartown was the mainsettle- troops (who could have enlisted CentralAsiatic archers)
or to nomadic tribes?27 Can we not know from the
ment in the Ai Khanumplain."Also Gentelle 1978, 12-13,
and 31(c) for a map;Gentelle 1989, 144 and frontand back
coversfor a satelliteimage(commentedon in Gentelle1978, 24 See n. 15.
28). The same satellite image in color in Francfort1989, 25 The only evidenceof an attackwouldbe five arrowheads
oppositethe title-page. andtwo lance-headsfoundagainstthe northernwall (Leriche
23 The historical questions addressedin Bernard 1985 1986, 56-57). See below n. 27.
26 For more
(Questions d'histoire greco-bactrienne) are: Greek Arachosia details,see Bernard1973, 110-11 and Gardin
andtheMauryas(a problemsolvedin themainsinceFoucher's 1976,61.
times);the era of Eucratides;the Branchidesin CentralAsia; 27 These arrowheadswill be
publishedlater (when?) by
the causesof the revoltof the Greekmercenariesin 323; Bac- F Grenet(Leriche1986, 117). Accordingto Francfort1984,
tria and Menander'sSamian;EuthydemosI and Magnesiaon 54, I, who quotes Grenet,the five arrowheadsfound in the
the Meander. templecouldbe Saka.butthe sameFrancfortrightlyaddsthat
248 Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.2 (1996)

ceramic finds whether the city was inhabited in Kushan profusion of useless over-erudite footnotes.31He should
times or not?28 have shortened-among others-his Sakuntalastory (pp.
This is only one instance of the inconsistencies be- 192-97), found in all histories of Indian literature, and
tween the series. Apparently no guidelines were given to I would have expected him to have been much more
the authors, so that some reports are quite matter-of-fact cautious in discovering a depiction of this same Sakun-
(Guillaume 1983, Guillaume 1987, Veuve 1987), others tala story in the so-called "plaque indienne."32Greater
look like a demonstration of classical erudition (Franc- concision would have made this excellent volume much
fort 1984). The classification of finds in Guillaume 1987 better and less expensive.
is not the same as in Francfort 1984. Some volumes are One can also wonder what logic explains that the ex-
Ph.D. theses (Bernard 1985, Rapin 1992)-which is a cavations of some buildings are published with their as-
nice way of publishing archaeological reports, if the sociated finds (Rapin 1992), some without them (Veuve
Ph.D. dissertation is shortened before publication. But 1987, Leriche 1986), some with only a few associated
this was not the case. In a series of final reports, it would finds (Guillaume 1983, 41-42). One also wonders why
have been more useful to reprint the coin hoards rather some finds were published long before the publication
than to annex long disquisitions which are understand- of a detailed description of the dig (Francfort 1984), a
able in a Ph.D. thesis but have no connection whatever situation that makes it difficult to check the impor-
with the Ai Khanum excavations.29 tant-and indeed very useful-references to the stra-
Similarly, Rapin should have avoided publishing in tigraphy, and why other, quite similar artifacts were
this series, well after D. Schlumberger and P. Bernard, published with minimal indications of their provenance
his own history of the Hellenization of Bactria, pro- (Guillaume 1987, 84). Will these last finds be pub-
pounding little that is new30 and encumbering it with a lished anew when the building they came from is pub-
lished? And will these buildings ever be published?
Seventeen years after the end of the excavations, we
arrowheads of the same shape were found in the Ai Khanum
are still awaiting a full publication of the palace, the
arsenal and even in Greece proper.
two temples, the houses, the arsenal, the theater, the
28 A first study of the ceramics was published by Gardin in
Bernard 1973, 121-88. At that time, apparently, no Kushan
pottery had been discovered. A refined chronology of ceram- * * *
ics was made by B. Lyonnet and J.-C1. Gardin in 1978: it was
never published, but was used as a working hypothesis by The surveys and excavations made by J.-C1. Gardin
most of the scholars involved in the publication of the Ai and his team in eastern Bactria during the very short
Khanum volumes. According to that document, the bulk of Ai period (1974-78) when it was still possible to travel in
Khanum ceramics should be dated between 330 and 125 B.C. Afghanistan are published in a new series called Mem-
(Leriche 1986, 105-6). There were also some Bronze Age ce- oires de la Mission Archeologique Francaise en Asie
ramics, discovered in early burials, but there is no evidence Centrale. As far as I know, the reasons for creating a
whatever of Kushan pottery as far as I know. Indeed, it is a new series are never given. Apart from the obvious fact
pity that the Greek and post-Greek ceramics of Ai Khanum that the field work was financed by specific grants, not
have not yet been published in full, no more than the Kushan by the main budget of the DAFA, the substitution of the
ceramics from Surkh Kotal and the Kushano-Sasanianceram-
ics from Kohna-Masjid (of which there is a manuscript by
S. Veuve). This pottery was on display in the Kabul Museum 31 E.g., Rapin 1992, 186, n. 655.
depot, which J.-C1. Gardin and his colleagues organized from The identificationrests on the fact that this muchdam-
1978 to 1982, and this depot was worth more than any publi- aged object depicted a king, standing on a chariot with two
cation: to study pottery, you need to handle it. But the Kabul standing attendants (probably the charioteer and a woman),
Museum has burnt down, and as the Soviets are not respon- entering a forest or a pleasure grove, and that a terra-cotta
sible, nobody cares. See now Lyonnet 1996 (below, p. 250). medallion from Bhita depicts perhaps the Sakuntala story. But
29 Bernard 1985. See n. 23. what is to be seen in the poor remains of the Ai Khanum
30 The plaque (now well fitted and otherwise perfectly studied) is
only thing new is the "discovery," quite unsubstanti-
ated in my opinion, of evidence of two invasions by nomads consistent with so many stories we read in the Jatakas, in the
(Rapin 1992, 287-94), which actually comes from a hint by Epics, the narratives, etc.: Indian literatureis replete with sto-
B. Lyonnet (see now Lyonnet 1996). See above, p. 247, and ries relating how a king went hunting or went into an adrama
below, p. 251. or a pleasure grove.
FUSSMAN:Southern Bactria and Northern India before Islam 249

words Delegation and Afghanistan by Mission and Asie whether times of "barbarity"or times belonging to the
Centrale has some significance. The disappearance of "Greek miracle." To solve such problems, no artifact is
the word Delegation obviously implies a break with the more "noble" than any other: a sherd may tell us more
French tradition of the DAFA, i.e., a permanent estab- than a long inscription.
lishment with a permanentstaff (it was founded in 1922, The means used for solving these problems owe much
when the journey from France to Kabul took about three to contemporary prehistory: surveys backed by a good
months), having a special relationship with the Afghan knowledge of local geography, paleogeography, and
government, and smacking of imperial times. even geology; collection of surface artifacts; limited
Asie Centrale implies a shift in scholarly interests. It soundings; the use of modern technology (satellite im-
denotes a temporary break with the Indian tradition of agery,36physical and chemical analyses, paleontology
the DAFA, and an emphasis on a geographic, cultural, or paleozoology, etc.). The working hypotheses were
and geopolitical entity (Central Asia) whose existence the following. There had been no substantial change
is longer and historically more significant than that of in the climate since neolithic times. Accordingly, in an-
recent states like Uzbekistan or Afghanistan. It implies cient times (as in modern ones) agriculture was only
also that the same problematics could be used in other possible with the help of channel irrigation. Tracing and
parts of Central Asia. Indeed, the same French research dating old channels is therefore equivalent to tracing
team was and is still conducting explorations and digs and dating old agricultural settlements.
in Tajikistan,Kazaxstan and Chinese Turkestan(or Xin- Tracing old and dry channels depends on the ability
jiang). For its Afghan irrigation surveys, it follows a and the eye of the surveyor, who should be also skilled
trend first set by Soviet archaeologists.33 in reading maps and aerial photographs. The method,
There are other obvious differences with former experimented with in 1974 and 1975 during the surveys
DAFA practices. The surveys were meant to be rela- of the plain of Ai Khanum (Gardin 1976; Gentelle
tively cheap. They were made by a restricted team (four 1978), was developed to enable a very fast survey of
French scholars,34three to four Afghan assistants), act- the major part of eastern Bactria (Gardin 1978; Lyonnet
ing on a written agreementwith the Afghan government. 1995). It is specific to northernAfghanistan, which was
This agreement stipulated the scientific objectives, the still thinly populated and where wide tracts of arable
methodology, the relatively short duration (four years) land were no longer cultivated or only sporadically sown
of the project and insisted on early publication of the when the rains were good (lalmi, dry cultivation). As
results. for the dating of the channels, it should be consistent
The scientific objectives, the methodology, and the with the date of the sherds collected on the ground of
epistemological hypotheses are clearly stated in the first settlements whose economic activity was dependent on
pages of the interim and final reports.35The purpose of the functioning of these same channels. The validity
the surveys, and of the consecutive dig of Shortughai, is of this postulate was demonstratedby a limited number
clearly historical. The concern is not with art history, of small digs and by the Shortughai excavations.
nor political history; it is not a search for the footsteps The results of these well-planned surveys are impres-
of Cyrus or Alexander. The historical questions J.-C1. sive. They demonstratedthat, as postulated, the climate
Gardin and his team address are the same as those had not changed much during the past 5,000 years; that
which the Annales school tries to answer, along with agriculturists had been settled in Bactria at least since
more contemporaryprehistorians.When did people settle the early third millennium B.c.; that channel irrigation
in eastern Bactria? Why, i.e., for which ecological, geo- was practiced on a large scale, and sometimes under
graphical, economic reasons, did they settle there? How very difficult technical conditions, long before the Greek
and to what extent did they modify the landscape? How conquest; that Ai Khanum was built on an already
did the population increase or decrease, and why? No densely populated territory;that some changes in popu-
time limit is set; that is to say, each so-called historical lation could be inferred from the distribution of chan-
period is as valuable as any other for the historian, nels and sherds, and possibly correlated with previously
known historical data.37They were also a very successful
33 E.g., Lisitsina1969 andZejmal'1969.
34 B. Lyonnet(ceramologist),J.-C1.GardinandH.-P.Franc-
fort(archaeologists),P. Gentelle(geographer). 36 SPOT satellite
imagery, which did not exist in 1974,
35 Gardin1976,59-63; Gentelle1978,3-7; Gardin1978,99- would have helped much, but at a much greater cost.
108;Gardinin Gentelle1989, 11-15; Francfort1989, 13-14. 37 See below, p. 251.
250 Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.2 (1996)

exercise in new archaeology,showing how a well-devised and modern agriculture of the plain. He thus learned
plan of surveys and excavations could solve historical what were the preconditions for cultivation of the soil
problems at a cheaper cost, if these problems were pre- and for irrigation, whether in antiquity or today. He was
cisely worked out beforehand.38 then able to trace the former canals and even discover
Early publication was an important part of Gardin's the remains of former fields and farms. As a result, we
"new archaeology" challenge. Two main interim reports are given a full study of the hydro-history of the Ai
were published quickly, before the forced cessation of Khanum plains, from ancient times to 1974, illustrated
the surveys (Gardin 1976 and 1978). Four final reports by many maps and photographs, including a first dating
have now been printed (Gentelle 1978, Francfort 1989, of the irrigation channels and a first estimate of the
Gentelle 1989, Lyonnet 1996). A fifth and last is prom- extent of the cultivated areas. The dating of the sherds
ised for the not too distant future.39These publications found in the old channels or in associated archaeologi-
are also a challenge for J.-C1. Gardin and his team, cal sites made it possible to date these channels and to
insofar as they have been advocating for years a more demonstrate that the plain was well cultivated before
formal (logicist) argumentation in drawing historical the coming of the Greeks, even in Harappantimes. The
conclusions from archaeological data and changes in irrigated areas were largest in Greek times, but as some
publication practices.40 As there are some acknowl- channels were probably in use in pre-Greek, Greek, and
edged discrepancies in the historical conclusions of the post-Greek times, it was not possible to say whether
interim and final reports,41I shall only review these. there was an increase in cultivation in Greek times. A
The survey of the plain of Ai Khanum (1974-76) preliminary study of the former settlements suggested
was published quite fast (Gentelle 1978).42It is a clas- that in many parts of the surveyed area the population
sical and matter-of-fact study. Starting from the as- inhabited scattered large farmhouses.43
sumption that there had been no major changes in There is nothing specific in the outward appearance
climate, P. Gentelle first made a study of the geography of the publication. It is cheaply produced (offset print-
ing), with many maps and drawings (fifty-six in all)
and good photographs.Compared with other archaeolo-
38 The gical publications, e.g., the Memoires de la Delegation
surveysweremadeunderespeciallyfavorablecondi- Archeologique Francaise en Afghanistan, the most per-
tions:J.-C.Gardinhadtraveledin Afghanistanfor twenty-five
ceptible improvements are cautious wording, a minimal
years;he spokefluentPersian;he hadverygood local connec- use of conclusive hypotheses, and the absence of use-
tions;he was the best specialistin Afghanceramics;he could less pseudo-erudite footnotes.
makeuse of detailed(1:10.000and1:50.000)mapsandhe was The experience gained during this first survey was
workingin a sparselypopulatedcountrywherelargetractsof used for a much larger survey of all the arable lands
arablelandlay little cultivated.But the formerDAFAalmost east of the Kunduz river.44New heuristic hypotheses
nevertook advantageof these conditionsfor makingsurveys were formulated and tested in the field to take into ac-
and previoussurveysby otherscholarswere muchless suc- count the much greater expanse of the surveyed area
cessful (Gardin,in Gentelle 1989, 12-13). Nor are luck or and the differences in population and cultivation.45The
favorableconditionsresponsiblefor the choiceandtrainingof
the scholarswho participatedin this research,the methodol-
ogy elaboratedfor tracingand datingthe channels,and the
way the fielddatawereworkedout for publication. 43 Gentelle 1978, 117-29. Gardin 1978, 103 2.3.c, ex-
39 Now announcedas Gardin(forthcoming)(witha slightly presses some disappointments at these specific results, appar-
differenttitle in Gentelle1989, 12). ently because it was not possible at that time to date with
40 Gardin1992, 100. Full bibliography on p. 103. precision the surface remains of fields. But the last word has
41 See, area necessary not been said: a successful trench (when and if it is ever pos-
e.g., below,n. 54. Suchdiscrepancies
consequenceof scientificresearch:if we could publishfast sible to go back to Ai Khanum) or new physical methods may
resultsof surveysor digs withoutfurtherresearchanddetailed in the future help to date these remains which are the only evi-
studies,therewouldbe no needof elaboratefinalreports. dence we have for making an estimate of the types of property
42 P. Gentelle,who is a professionalgeographer,was re- and the size of the economic units.
44 The main surveyors in this second phase were J.-C1.
sponsiblefor the biggest partof the field-work.He adapted
and improvedthe methodologyfor tracingformerirrigation Gardin and B. Lyonnet. The survey also included a patch of
channels.The collectedartifactsweresortedout anddatedby land on the left (western) side of the Qunduz river: Gentelle
J.-C1.GardinandB. Lyonnet,who wereat the sametimebusy 1989, 102-5.
45 Gardin 1978, 104-8. Gardin, in Gentelle 1989, 13-15.
studyingthe potteryof the Ai Khanumexcavations.
Southern Bactria and Northern India before Islam 251

survey was planned for a four-year period (1977-80). It of the world. Thanks to Lyonnet 1996, we will have the
had to stop after two years. The traces of ancient chan- first systematic conspectus of northernAfghanistan ce-
nels are mapped in Gentelle 1989, which is very similar ramics. Lyonnet 1996 will become the reference work
to Gentelle 1978, only better, with good studies of the for any new Afghan or Central Asiatic (in the former
geology and geography of the surveyed area. It is the Soviet sense) survey, or for any comparative study of
indispensable geographical preliminary to the historical the ceramics of that area.50The third prerequisite is a
studies which are to follow. The differences with the perfect knowledge of the scientific literaturerelative to
former volume are improved printing (computer-aided), ceramics. The bibliography of Lyonnet 1996, and espe-
much better (three color) maps and photographs, and cially the way she uses it, does not leave any doubt as
a series of studies by specialists on ancient vegetation to the excellence of her knowledge. Indeed, now that the
and soils. These specialized studies establish, with great eastern Bactria ceramics are well dated by the compara-
profit, a link with prehistoric archaeology, where such tive studies she made, her book will be used as a cri-
studies are systematically used. terion for dating ceramics everywhere in Central Asia,
The first set of historical studies relative to this sur- even the ones she used for comparison.
vey is now in print.46It is a chronological study of the The last prerequisite is sound historical reasoning
ceramics collected along the ancient irrigation channels and cautious wording. Indeed every caution is taken
and in associated archaeological areas (25 tons). The when discussing remote periods about which we have
study of these surface artifacts is made according to no written evidence. It is shown that in the third millen-
Gardin'smorpho-technological criteria.47The time con- nium B.C., eastern Bactria belonged to a Baluc cultural
tinuum is divided into a number of historical periods sphere, without implying that it was a political entity or
for which a specific sample (assemblage) of ceramics that there was any ethnic unity. The same is said about
is selected.48The ceramics are correlated with other ce- the Harappanperiod (2500-1500), at a time when close
ramics found in other parts of Eurasia (mainly Soviet contacts with the Indus civilization are attested by sur-
Central Asia), thus enabling the author to draw some veys and the consecutive Shortughai dig (Francfort
conclusions about their date and provenance. Dated ce- 1989, below): B. Lyonnet expresses some reservations
ramics date the channels and the associated areas where about any explanation founded upon economic or ethnic
they were found. It is thus possible to draw a map of colonization. She clearly says that the eastern Bactria
irrigated cultivation for each selected period. Some surveys do not help to solve the vexing problem of the
changes in shape may indicate changes in population. relationshipbetween Turkmenia,Bactria, and Balucistan,
There are four main prerequisites for such a study. and that there is no field evidence for the historically
The first one is that the survey have value. J.-Cl. Gardin sure arrival of Indo-Iranianor Indo-Aryan tribes. In the
has often explained very convincingly how his proce- same way there is no ceramic evidence for the inclusion
dure producedrepresentativesamples49and we may trust of Bactria in the Persian Achaemenid empire, although
him. The second is that the technical study of ceramics the existence of a Bactrian Achaemenid satrapy is a
have value. I am no specialist but have no doubt what- well-known fact.
soever that it is one of the best ever produced in that part For later periods, B. Lyonnet did not always resist
the temptation to correlate political and cultural events
or areas. The chronological periodization she adopted
46 suggests this at first glance. I am quite confident that
Lyonnet1995. This is a Ph.D.thesis whichI was able to she has every reason to see changes or intrusions in the
consultbeforepublication,thanksto Mme.Lyonnet.I am not
ceramics tradition c. 330 B.C., c. 145 B.C. and c. 270 A.D.
able to referto the pages of the printedpublicationandthere
But she gives political names to these divisions: Helle-
may be some differencesin contentbetweenthe manuscriptI nistic period (330-145); age of nomad invasions (145-
readandthe booknow beingprinted.
47 E.g., in the category"open-mouthed 40); Kushan period (Yueh-chi-Kushan, mature Kushan,
pots,"a firstsubdivi- Kushano-Sasanian and later), although the correlation
sion is madebetweenplates,dishes,bowls,etc., calledgroups.
Thenfurtherdistinctions(series) are madewithineach group may be less than evident.
The notion of nomadic invasions is a complex one.
accordingto specificcharacteristics of shape,decoration,etc.
48 These samplesdo not claim to show every shape used According to Chinese sources, Bactria at that time was
duringthat period:shapes which were in continualuse for
more than one historicalperiod were deliberatelyexcluded
fromthese synthetictabulations. 50 With the reservation
that it does not include all the
49 See above, n. 45. ceramicsin use at one time:see n. 48. See also n. 28.
252 Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.2 (1996)

a kind of patch-work of autonomous towns paying trib- tions.52So that the addition of new and specific shapes
ute to the invaders,5' so that it cannot be believed that to the former characteristic Hellenistic ones, although
Hellenistic pottery came to a sudden end in 145 B.C. denoting in this specific case (where we can use some
This is rightly said by B. Lyonnet herself. But it fol- written evidence) the arrivalof new populations, cannot
lows that some sites where only Hellenistic sherds have be correlated with historical names, be it only because
been found might date from Yuezhi times, so that the the written evidence is patchy.53
political denomination of the ceramics series is some- These are the only flaws in an otherwise remarkable
what deceptive. In the same way, sherds from Kushan book, whose importance for the historian lies in the
times may be found in places which never belonged to huge amount of economic and demographic data it sup-
Kushan dominions. This is true of many Indian prov- plies. We have for the first time a history of Bactria
inces (which are outside the scope of B. Lyonnet's spanning a long stretch of time. The main economic im-
book), but could also be true of some places in western pulse dates back to the second millennium B.c.: neither
Bactria. Moreover, economic trends during the Kushan the Achemenids nor the Greeks were responsible for the
period do not exactly follow political trends. There was irrigation of the larger part of Bactria, and the probable
a high phase of the monetary cycle apparently begin- increase in population which ensued. There was no
ning with the last period of Wima's reign and ending decisive increase in cultivation with the advent of the
sometime during the reign of Huviska, and economic Greeks. Hence Greek colonization was not responsible
trends for ceramics may be more important than politi- for the proverbial agricultural wealth of Bactria. The
cal ones. "Kushano-Sasanianand later" mixes together second-century B.c. conquest of Bactria by eastern no-
very different times, among them many invasions of mads apparentlymeant a decrease in cultivation,54which
eastern tribes (Huns, etc.). was never entirely remedied, even in later (Kushan)
A better use of logic(ism) would have prevented times. Further research will help to explain these bare
B. Lyonnet from correlating the phases in Hellenistic facts or their consequences. Given the fact that there
potterywith political events, Alexander'sconquest (white was no major increase in Greek times either in the cul-
ceramics) and Seleukos I's reconquest (grey-black ce- tivated areas or in agricultural techniques, and conse-
ramics). One may believe that the difference is rather quently no major increase in agricultural revenue, one
between unsettled and settled conditions, as unsettled might assume that the construction of huge monuments
conditions are not very conducive to big changes in in Ai Khanum before any Indian conquest meant that
fashion or culture. I do not believe either that a study of the Greek officials or landlords took a much bigger
ceramics would help to solve the difficult problem of share of the local agriculturalproduce than their prede-
the borders of the Bactrian kingdom or of its adminis-
trative units (Bactria and Sogdia). The extent of these
political entities changed from time to time, and with- Obviously,some Sakatribeswhich invadedBactriaand
out furtherevidence it is always risky to correlate long- butthereis no rea-
Iranhadbelongedto the Sai confederation
standing cultural areas and fast-changing political units. son to equateentirelySakawith Sai or with Scythian:these
This was demonstrated long ago by J.-C1. Gardin (and tribes were even able to adopt a new language quickly, like
now by B. Lyonnet) for Achaemenid times (Gardin the formerYuezhi(or some of them)who took up Bactrian.
1977). In the same way, B. Lyonnet is probably right 53 See alreadyGardin1990.
in ascribing some shapes (gobelets a piedouche and 54 This contradicts a previous assessment: "on n'aperqoit
bottled-shapedpots) to nomad invaders, less so in attrib- aucune r6cession au moment de la conquete nomade et de
uting them respectively to the Saka (Sai) and Yuezhi, l'6viction des Grecs" (Gardin 1978, 140-41). See above, n.
because Sai and Yuezhi are Chinese names for shifting 41. I am told that J.-Cl. Gardin still adheres to his previous
confederations of tribes without any linguistic, ethnic (1978) statement. All the necessary evidence should be given in
(i.e., racial), and probably cultural, unity. These con- his next volume (Gardin,forthcoming).Until it is published, all
federations no longer existed as political entities when that can be said is that a decrease in cultivation after a con-
they reached Bactria. This fact explains why Greek au- quest by nomad tribes, who need pasture for their horses and
thors, who name four groups of tribes, do not know livestock, would be no surprise. But some reservations should
them. Perhaps there were more, among them some who be expressed: the decrease may be less than stated, because
never belonged to the former Sai or Yuezhi confedera- Hellenestic pottery was still in use years after the conquest
and there are very few ceramic markersof the presence of the
nomads. It might have started before the conquest, during the
51 Fussman 1993, 123-24. civil wars which contributed to the end of Greek dominion.
Southern Bactria and Northern India before Islam 253

cessors. Other statements raise questions to which we site was discovered in 1975. A first trial trench was dug
cannot give any answers at this time. As an instance, it in 1976, the main excavations were made in three suc-
is now quite certain that even in remote villages locally cessive campaigns (1977-79). After two interim re-
made Hellenistic ceramics soon replaced earlier ceram- ports, a very detailed and richly illustrated final report
ics. This major and long-lasting cultural phenomenon was published in 1989 (Francfort 1989). Considering
can be explained in very different and even contra- that H.-P. Francfort was busy with other publications
dictory ways. One may advocate technological reasons and field work during these ten years, it is a wonderful
(sudden improvementsin quality and productivitywhich achievement. The text is divided in two parts, a detailed
made it advantageous for local producers to stop their report of the Shortughai excavations followed by a his-
traditional production and to adopt new and foreign torical study of the economy and population of Central
shapes); economic reasons (a new organization of the Asia before the Achaemenid conquest.
markets which enabled Greek potters to outsell local The report is written in a very unusual way. It is an
producers); political reasons (the political will of the illustration of the endeavors made by J.-C1. Gardin's
new masters to impose the Greek way of life on the team to improve publication practices in archaeology.55
country; or the enslavement of the former population As such, it deserves careful reading even by archae-
who could no longer choose their everyday pottery; or ologists or historians who have no interest whatever
even the replacement of the earlier population either by in Central Asia. The main endeavor is the precise
western free colonists used to Hellenistic ceramics, or clarification of the objectives, the procedures, and the
by slaves who were provided with pots by their Greek deductive reasoning used during excavations and publi-
masters), etc. The importance of Lyonnet's book lies cation, with a minimal use of conventional rhetoric.
not only in the novelty and accuracy of the many state- The book thus begins with a reminder of the limited
ments it contains; it also lies in the novelty of the many aims of the excavations (a search for the entire Harap-
questions it raises. pan historical sequence, i.e., a search for stratigraphy,
The final report of the Shortughai excavations, which evolution and ecology, not for buildings), the defini-
is a revised Ph.D. dissertation (Francfort 1989), would tions of words whose meaning is usually taken for
deserve a longer review, both for the importance of the granted (level, layer, soil, wall, etc.) and statements
finds and the way they are published. The excavations, concerning the deductions which can be made from the
made after the discovery of Harappansherds during the many possible combinations of the realities expressed
survey of the plain of Ai Khanum, brought to light the by these words. This is presented in a few words and
remains of a Harappan settlement, either a trading or diagrams, similar to models found in mathematical or
colonial outpost (Francfort), or evidence for the exis- linguistic literature. Then comes a description of the
tence of a huge cultural zone including both Central dig, level by level, room by room, with almost no gram-
Asia and the Indus valley (Lyonnet), and proved the use matical sentences. The data is always tabulated in the
of channel irrigation in Central Asia as early as the same order, followed by a study of the ceramics in Gar-
third millennium B.C. The excavations were apparently din's way,56with all necessary comparisons with Central
conceived as a challenge. They were supposed to vali- Asiatic and Indian potteries.
date the methods of the survey and the deductions of The evolution of the ceramics is studied with the
the surveyors, which they did. They were supposed to help of a computerized data-base and statistics, accord-
demonstrate the usefulness of the recently created Cen- ing to a procedure which, due to my own limitations, I
tre de Recherches Archdologiques (CRA), which put at am at pains to follow and to explain. In this way "non-
the excavators' disposal a pool of full-time specialists subjective" conclusions may be drawn about the rela-
in paleo-sciences who could help in maximizing the tive chronology of the different levels and the evolu-
results of diggings. Shortughai is thus the only French tion of the Shortughai ceramics during two millennia.
excavation in Afghanistan where some use was made of Then follow detailed studies of other artifacts, plant and
methods now commonplace in prehistorical and even animal remains, and two human skeletons. The time has
historical diggings: a geophysical survey was first made now come for syntheses (excavated area by excavated
(that only indicated that there was no cemetery); plant, area, period by period, level by level) and limited eco-
animal and human remains were collected and studied logical and sociological conclusions. Here ends the final
with care by specialists; minerals were analyzed, etc.
Publication was the main challenge. The final report,
although quite elaborate, indeed much more elaborate 55 Gardin1979 andabove,n. 40.
than most final reports, was published very quickly. The 56 See n. 47.
254 Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.2 (1996)

report proper, a model of completeness, useful erudi- to express changing realities. Indeed many discussions
tion, and clarity. When using it we know what was would be cut short if fewer words with fewer connota-
done, how it was done, what was found, which conclu- tions were used. It is easier to reach a consensus when
sions the author reached, and the exact procedure he talking about political organizations, or sizes and den-
followed to reach them. All the help we need (draw- sities of inhabited areas, than when referring to the
ings, analyses, etc.) is given and the necessary reser- emergence of the state and growing urbanization.
vations are made. Gardin's challenge is met and the The other reason why I do not favor such formalized
demonstration is done. and computer-aided discussions is because I do not be-
The second part is a study of the economy, demogra- lieve that history is a science or should be a science.
phy, and movements of population in Central Asia in Archaeology, philology, linguistics are sciences and as
the so-called Bronze and Iron Ages, backed in part by such need to evolve formal procedures and methods of
the results of the Shortughai excavations. H.-P. Franc- validation. History is not, as demonstrated by Veyne
fort displays the same qualities of erudition, clearness, 1971, and there is no reason why it should be. It is a
and caution. This is not the place to discuss, nor even discourse whose main objective is the pleasure we take
sum up, the results of his study, which looks quite in writing or reading it. Lack of accuracy and faulty
sound. Specialists will find many important hints for reasoning spoil this pleasure, but that does not make
dating the Bronze (e.g., Namazga) and Iron (e.g., Jazd) history a science. Most readers do not like faulty rea-
Cultures more precisely and good discussions about the soning in detective novels either.
dilemma between the diffusion of cultures and pop-
* * *
ulation movements. H.-P. Francfort is most probably
right in denying the existence of any archaeological evi-
dence of the Indo-Aryanpresence, although most of our Afghan Turkestanwas not an easy country; I suspect
Swat was more difficult still. It is densely populated and
(former) Soviet colleagues are ready to detect it. But as cultivated. Everybody boasts at least one gun. Women
an historian, I do not feel much at ease in this second
are kept under strict seclusion. Nor do poppy cultiva-
part. Although afraid of being thought too conservative tion, drug smuggling, weapon trafficking and lucrative
and in some ways even backward,I feel I am an intruder
in a club of colleagues familiar with the same problem- illegal digging encourage archaeological surveys. But
Pathans are a hospitable people and, if you do not break
atics and language. Although these problematics and
the rules, you may be welcome. Indeed G. Tucci suc-
this common language are quite usual now in South ceeded in establishing an archaeological mission whose
Asian and CentralAsiatic prehistoricalstudies, and even
in some historical studies, they remain foreign to me. scope was very broad from its inception. Although, per-
H.-P. Francfort feels it necessary to prove, in a very sonally, mainly interested in the history of Buddhism,
he launched a series of excavations with the avowed
courteous, scholarly and computer-aidedway, that most aim of unravelling the whole history of the Swat valley,
of the theories advocated by his colleagues do not hold from prehistoric times (G. Stacul) to nineteenth-century
water, which to my hypercritical mind seemed obvious
mosques (U. Scerrato),without neglecting inhabitedareas
at first glance. He devotes many pages to the often de- like Udigram (G. Gullini) or Bir-kot-Ghwandai (P. F
bated questions of the emergence of the state, the defi-
Callieri).57Limited surveys were made and an archaeo-
nition of a town and the processes of urbanization and
logical map of the Jambil valley, supposed to be "sec-
deurbanization. But most of the problems arise from tion I of the Archaeological Map of Swat," was in
using technical terms that denote ever-changing reali- preparation.58
ties and hence cannot have invariantmeanings. Lacking
Judging from Tucci's motivations59 and the number
absolute definitions, they cannot be grasped by one and of publications, the main object of research was the
the same set of criteria-pace the view of GordonChilde, Buddhist "Sacred Precinct"60of ButkaraI. The purpose
and many others since, that there is no such thing as the
essence of a town. There is nothing in common between
57 For an overview of the work of the Italian
Hastinapuraand New Delhi, even less between Hastina- Archaeological
pura and Ibadan-except the fact that they are inhabited Mission to Swat, see Peshawar Exh. 1982, with bibliography.
areas located on a continuous scale with megalopo- Faccenna 1980, I:10, n. 1. I am afraid it is still not ready.
lises and conurbations at one end and isolated houses at 59 See above, 244.
60 "Sacred Precinct"
the other, with huge time and place variables. Census- (or "Sacred Area") is an expression
makers are familiar with this kind of problem and at coined by our Italian colleagues to denote the stiipa area of a
each new census feel obliged to elaborate new criteria monastery as distinguished from the monks' quarters.
Southern Bactria and Northern India before Islam

of the excavation was to unravel the tangled history of ings and by precise definitions and sketches of the tech-
Gandharan art and Buddhism. The site was carefully nical vocabulary used by D. Faccenna, e.g., names of
selected by G. Tucci: a huge area, between two streams, mouldings, etc. The chapter on the chronology of the
next to the main city of Buddhist Swat, probably the monuments (vol. I, pp. 167-75) sums up the evidence
main monastery and the richest in that area. I also guess in a very convincing way. The chronology depends on
that the fact that the land lay unused and that the prov- the stratigraphyand on the date of coins found in differ-
ince headquarters were nearby played a role in the ent layers and buildings. For absolute datings, D. Fac-
selection of this area. The site was excavated between cenna uses without a question mark the chronology of
1956 and 1962, i.e., at a time when physical methods the Kushan kings elaborated by R. Gobl, who published
of analysis and paleo-sciences were not used widely in the coins found during the excavations in an exemplary
archaeology. Some luck befell the excavators. It was way (Gobl 1976). As everyone knows, this chronology
discovered that the main stfupawas built in the third is open to question, and careless readers who content
century B.C.; up to the tenth century A.D. it underwent themselves with looking at the table of contents (vol. I,
five reconstructions, each new one encasing the previ- pp. xix-xx) and the synoptic chart (vol. I, between
ous. There was thus some chance of detecting changes pp. 174 and 175) must be warned about this peculiarity.
in religious attitudes and of obtaining a relative chro- Actually D. Faccenna's choice is no great problem, for
nology of Gandharansculptures, building devices and in the text we are given all the necessary indications to
decoration. But lying in low country, close to a growing fit the absolute Kushan chronology of our choice into
modern town, the area was used as a source for building the relative chronology of the Sacred Precinct.
materials by the local contractors. While many Bud- I would go so far as to say that Butkara I is the best
dhist buildings still stand almost intact on the sides of excavation ever made and published of a Gandharan
the nearby hills, the Butkara I monuments were nearly Buddhist site. As a result, thanks to this very detailed
razed to the ground. The loss in preserved elevations report, we can use a wealth of reliable data for tracing
was more than compensated for by the gain in the the history of building techniques, decorative elements
building sequences.61 (mouldings, columns, etc.) and the painting of the Hel-
The excavations (c. 6,000 m2) were published in lenized art of Gandhara.It is a wonder that nobody, up
great detail: six volumes in-folio for the architecture to now, has taken advantage of the evidence that is
alone (Faccenna 1980), with a great many drawings and here provided in such a convenient way for further
photographs, and a wealth of tables and indexes. The research. Faccenna 1980 is a welcome counterpart to
plan of the publication is clear and very appropriate. Marshall'sTaxila excavations, whose data, collected with
We find a description of the main stuipa, period by less care,62are notoriously unreliable. For a student of
period, with an overall chronology; descriptions of the Gandharan architecture and building techniques, Fac-
individual monuments, arrangedin periods and typolog- cenna 1980 should definitely supplant Marshall 1951. I
ical classes, of floors, decoration and painting of the would like to add that, as a user, I am glad to be given
Sacred Precinct, and a few "urban"structureslying out- an easy-to-use final report, with so many plans and
side this Sacred Precinct. References are given when- large-scale drawings, color plates and long descriptions
ever necessary, even when not so necessary. Reading of each monument,however minute or damaged it might
and understanding are made easier by numerous draw- be, although more concise descriptions, and smaller-
size drawings would have been sufficient in some
61 It is a Contrary to G. Tucci's expectations, apparently no
pity that D. Faccennacould not use the evidence evidence of religious changes was found. This does not
fromthe almostadjacentsite of ButkaraIII. This site, which
mean that they did not take place, insofar as religious
couldnot be detectedfromsurfaceevidence,was discovered
after heavy rains and flooding.It was excavatedby a team changes cannot be easily deduced from changes in build-
fromPeshawarUniversityin 1982 and 1985 (Rahman1990), ing techniques.63 Sculptures (infra) and inscriptions,
well after the completion of Faccenna 1980. It was buried un-
der a thick deposit of mud, brought down by a swollen rivulet,
and boasts a number of well-preserved stupas, complete up 62
This is not a censureof Marshall'swork,which is emi-
to the umbrellas, with sculptures still in place, some of them nentlylaudable.But between1913 and 1956, the excavation
clearly archaic (e.g., Rahman 1990, 702, fig. 8). We can techniqueshadchangedmuch,andfor the better.
deeply regret that it will not be published in the same detailed 63 Comparing a Gandharan stupawitha Tibetanmchod-rten
manner as Butkara I. does not teachus anythingaboutchangesin conceptions.
256 Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.2 (1996)

which could have been used as evidence for such changes, from a relative chronology of the Swati sculptures, we
do not exhibit anything decisive. In this instance luck could work out a relative chronology of the Gandharan
was not with the excavator. But it is surprising that we and Taxilan finds. D. Faccenna is seemingly busy
are told nothing about the location of the monks' cells, making a detailed study of the ButkaraI finds, based on
and very little about the relationship between the Sacred art-historical criteria and the location of the finds: "We
Precinct and the adjacent town. From the panoramas have the possibility of determining several groups of
published in Faccenna 1980, it seems that in 1956 the sculptural productions marked by a close correspon-
valley was not yet overbuilt. If it was really impossible dence of (stylistic features) and of recognizing, within
at that time to discover any surface evidence of the lo- each group, several series of products of the same
cation of the inhabited areas, it would have been better workshop.... On the basis of the discovery of some re-
to say so in a few lines in the introduction. worked sculpture(s) these circumscribed groups can be
At the end of the introduction, D. Faccenna indicates arranged in their own internal and relative position(s).
that "a study of the numerous finds the excavation has The slab of schist, worked on one site, is re-used later
yielded up is not included in this volume. A remark- . . and worked on the back with another scene..."
able collection of stuccoes and architecturaland figured (Peshawar Exh. 1982, 40-41). A catalogue and photo-
sculpture has been provided by the [Sacred Precinct] graphs of most of these sculptures were published long
alone, while among the finds in the [Inhabited Area] ago by M. Taddei (Faccenna [sic] 1961). Let us hope
pottery prevails .... Other categories of objects are made that D. Faccenna'sstudy will now be published soon and
up of coins, figured terracottas, the contents of reli- will help to elaborate an overall chronology of Gandha-
quary recesses (necklace beads, copper, silver, and gold ran art free from subjectivity and prejudice. Scholars
items), and minor objects.... Obviously, it is only when need no reminder of the importance of the Butkara I
all the material has been published-and here we wish finds for this purpose. I recall that one of the major ad-
to emphasize this fact-that the publication may be vances in our knowledge of early Gandharanart was the
considered complete, and so at the present moment it is dating of an archaic series of sitting Buddhas by J. van
held to be still 'open'" (Faccenna 1980, 1:3-4). In Lohuizen de Leeuw from evidence gathered from the
1995, thirty-three years after the completion of the ex- Butkara I excavations.64
cavations, the publication is still open; these finds are One last observation should be made for those inter-
only partly published in interim reports or specialized ested in the sociology of modern archaeology. On the
studies. The same can be said of the excavations of the cover of Faccenna 1980, despite the great number of
small, but interesting, nearby hill monastery of Panr. drawings and their usefulness, only one name appears.
The final report (Faccenna 1993) exhibits the same out- On the cover of Faccenna 1993, seven names are
standing qualities as Faccenna 1980, but after thirty- printed.
one years, the publication is still "open." In this respect
* * *
the final report of the third monastery excavated by our
Italian colleagues in that area, the less importantsite of The excavations at Sonkh, near Mathura, were con-
Saidu Sharif I (1977-82), represents a big improve- ducted for eight years (1966-74) by a team of German
ment. Each find is recorded and published (Callieri
archaeologists led by Prof. Hartel. With the objective
1989). But only one part of the excavations, the monks' of unravelling "structuralremains to an extent sufficient
living quarters, has been published. We still have to for a reassessment of the antiquity of Mathuraand the
wait for the Sacred Area or stupa terrace, where most of natureof early historical settlements in its environment"
the sculpture was found. Let us hope that the delay will
(Hirtel 1993, 12), the relatively undisturbed mound of
be shorter than for Butkara I and Panr. Sonkh (c. 20 m high) was selected. Two areas were
I especially regret the delay in publishing the sculp-
fully excavated, down to the virgin soil, part of a vil-
tures. The bibliography devoted to the history of Gand-
lage (4,800 m2) and a nearby low lying apsidal temple
haran art is tremendous and, alas, ever-growing. But for
(c. 200 m2). It is obvious that the excavator was espe-
a few pieces (below), we have no sure evidence on which
to establish a relative chronology of the sculptures, less
so an absolute dating. Each date is dependent on the
64 Lohuizende Leeuw 1981,
intuitive feeling of the researcher, and no two special- usingFaccenna1974, 172-75
ists feel things in the same way. The stratigraphy and and personalinformationfrom D. Faccenna.Slightlyrevised
relative locations of the Butkara I and Panr sculptures chronology (based on a new dating of the coins) in Fussman
could be of great assistance in this respect. Starting 1987, 69 ? 6.
Southern Bactria and Northern India before Islam

cially interested in the early periods (third century B.C.- Mathuraexcavations to write a culturalhistory of north-
fifth century A.D.) and that he would not have been ern India. Indeed, the catalogue of objects is conspicu-
averse to discovering cultic evidence and sculptures.But ous by its lack of references to finds made in other
from the start the main dig, located on the mound, was Gangetic sites or even outside India. References are
intended to be a stratigraphicdig, unearthingeach level only given to papers or books where the Sonkh object
on an area wide enough to get some idea of building described was commented upon either by Prof. Hartel
techniques and shapes and village planning. Indeed, in or by one of his (mainly Indian) colleagues. This final
each inhabited level excavated in the mound, four to report looks like a series of "objective" descriptions
ten living quarters("blocks") and a number of roads or without any other comments, save those needed for a
lanes could be traced. Forty levels, making eight peri- better comprehension by the reader. In complete con-
ods, were unearthed, ranging from the eighth century trast with the French publications of the Ai Khanum or
B.C. to the eighteenth century A.D. The two excavated Shortughai digs and the eastern Bactria surveys, it is
areas yielded a wealth of artifacts, among them some not meant to be a historical study made from new finds,
beautiful stone sculptures and two metal statuettes. but a tool for further historical studies.
The publication is both detailed, precise and concise. Nevertheless, H. Hartel took advantage of this op-
It is divided in two parts: the citadel (mound) area and portunity to make a number of concise statements,
the low-lying apsidal temple.65 After an introduction indeed a series of short, well-informed and carefully
and a very useful and well-done summary of the results worded studies. They are scattered through in the book,
(table E, p. 17), the dig is described period by period, where they look like summaries: chronology of the
level by level, in concise style, well illustrated with Mitra and Datta kings of Mathura (pp. 85-86); stylis-
good photographs and drawings in the text, so that tic studies of the terra-cotta figurines (pp. 88-89, 100,
there is no need to search for them at the end of the 112, etc.); categorization of votive tanks (p. 195); char-
book. Then follows a chronology, with evidence ad- acteristics of minor religious sculptures (pp. 245, 248,
duced from radiocarbon data, ceramics and coins, four 281); function of the apsidal temples and evidence of a
pages in all (pp. 85-88, 427), quite clear and giving all ndga cult. This is obviously a choice in the name of
the necessary details without undue flourish. The finds "objectivity" which we should, in principle, applaud. I
are described in the same systematic way, category by nevertheless feel that Prof. Hartel is the most qualified
category, with short descriptions following general in- person to use the results of the Sonkh excavations for
troductions, and excellent photographs printed in the larger syntheses. I hope he will do it. But I can under-
text, next to the description of the objects they refer to. stand his point and the preference he gave to first pub-
An index closes the book. There is no study of plant lishing, as soon as possible, in a very precise way, the
and animal remains, hence no information on the crops remains he unearthed, for the finds are impressive. The
and domestic herds nor on the villagers' diets. Sonkh final report will remain for a long time the main,
What characterizes this report are its concision and if not the only, source of comparison for Gangetic pot-
its clarity, the one inseparable from the other, all made tery, terracotta figurines, and stone and metal objects.
possible by a very clever use of lavish illustration. Nowhere in the available scientific literature are these
Much attention was given to the page layout, making artifacts so well dated, described and illustrated. The
this book very convenient to use. It is printed on a Sonkh excavations will also remain the standardrefer-
beautiful glazed paper, which makes the photographs ence work for the culture of the Mathura country for
still better and the text easy to read. The plans are years to come. They will be the basis for studies on
small but drawn so that each detail and caption may be building history, material culture, domestic cults. When
easily seen and it is convenient to have them in the compared with similar artifacts found or dug out else-
text.66 This is a perfectly produced book, up to usual where, the Sonkh finds will enable us to trace the
Berlin standards. connections between Mathura and other parts of India
People used to French reports will be surprised that and to characterize more precisely the westernization
Prof. Hartel did not avail himself of the results of the

(original) plans of the levels could be published in the report.

65 Or
apsidal temple n? 2: apsidal temple n? 1 was discov- They were redrawnfromreproductions of the originaldraw-
eredin the citadelarea(periodV, i.e., Kushan). ings (1:50)."I woulddaresay that it is moreconvenientfor
Hartel, 1993, 10, complains that "caused by the growing the reader to be given these reduced versions of the plans in
expenses for the publication,only reducedversions of the the text.
258 Journal of the American Oriental Society 116.2 (1996)

or internationalization of the Gangetic culture in the demands of his sponsors and to negotiate the permis-
centuries circa the Common Era. And it is not indiffer- sion to dig or survey with local authorities. But he
ent to this purpose that the final report was published can choose his publication strategy-ultra-academic like
relatively fast and printed in a very handy way. Rapin 1992 or seemingly ultra-matter-of-fact like Har-
tel 1993; ultra-detailed and even over-sized like Fac-
* * * cenna 1980 or ultra-modernist like Francfort 1989. But
his main task is to publish a thorough final report, more
An archaeologist is never entirely free to choose his for the benefit of the reader than for his own glory. The
excavation strategy. He has to make concessions to the sooner, the better.


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