Anthropology Paper II

Syllabus Section: Unit 4; Contributions of various anthropologists and scholars.


H.D. SANKALIA (Hasmukh Dhirajlal Sankalia) is one of the most important field oriented archaeological anthropologist from Deccan College.

Along with others like Iravati Karve he has discovered many prehistoric Indian sites,

and they helped to set the chronology and continuity of Indian Prehistory.


  • H.D. SANKALIA learnt archaeology by going for excavations at Maiden Castle, a Roman castle being excavate by Mortimer Wheeler.
  • However, his greatest teachers were the two volumes on the prehistoric antiquities in India by Robert Bruce Foote, the father of Indian prehistory.
  • He became a Professor of Proto-Indian and Indian History at Deccan College in 1939
    He found a reference in the District Gazetteer of a suburb of Poona having some megalithic structures at Bhosari and investigated them.
H.D. SANKALIA And His Major Contributions:
  • He located many upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic sites of western India and carried out the excavation of Langhnaj on river Sabarmati in Gujarat.
  • In 1952 he found a basalt industry in Gangapur near Nasik in the Godavari sediments exposed while constructing a dam.
  • He discovered the flake tool complex of Godavari valley. Also, numerous Microlithic tools, faunal remains and information on burial practices are trace by him to help in the construction of cultural and environmental features of those sites.
  • He explored Gujarat in 1940, taking clues from Bruce Foote and located new Palaeolithic and Mesolithic sites in the Sabarmati valley of Mehsana district.
  • He also jointly excavated Langhnaj, the famous Mesolithic site with Iravati Karve, finding Microlithic and other tools as well as faunal remains and human burials.
  • In 1943-44 he investigated the Godavari Valley and its tributaries in the Nasik district of Maharashtra and found a flake tool industry made of chert and jasper. This became part of the Middle Palaeolithic in India.
  • In 1950-51, he excavated Jorwe on the Pravara River, Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra.
  • In 1953-54 he excavated Maheshwar and Navdatoli on the northern and southern banks of the Narmada in Nimad district, Madhya Pradesh. Navdatoli is likely to be drowne by the rising height of the water cause by the Narmada dam by now.
  • In 1954-55, at Nevasa in Ahmednagar district he dug a Chalcolithic mound and found a three-tier chronology in successive gravel deposits of the Pravara river (a tributary of the Godavari).
  • He called them Series I (consisting of typical Acheulian industry of hand axes and cleavers made on basalt and associated with mammalian fossils), Series II (sandy-pebbly zone with small flake tools of chert and jasper associated with mammalian fossils which formed the Middle Palaeolithic assemblage) and Series III (blade tools made on chalcedony and being a part of the microlithic phase). This disproved the Bruce Foote idea that the basalt area did not have human habitations.
  • This distinct Middle Palaeolithic phase was reported by him in the famous journal Science in 1964.
  • In 1957-58 and 1958-59 he excavated Navdatoli. They found through this largest of all, excavations at that time a Chalcolithic village of second millennium BC. Links were found to Iran and he thought that it must have contained an Indo-Aryan speaking people.
  • In 1954-56 and 1959-61 he excavated Nevasa in Ahmednagar district, Maharashtra. He found remains of a Chalcolithic site here and after a gap the later historical periods. This region, then, as a whole, had sites from the Lower Palaeolithic to the present.
  • In the 1960s he explored Saurashtra and found more sites. He excavated Sangankallu, a Mesolithic and pre-Mesolithic site in Bellary district, Karnataka.
  • In 1961-62 he excavated the Chalcolithic site of Ahar near Udaipur in Rajasthan. It was a large settlement from the late third millennium BC to the mid-second millennium BC.
  • In 1969 -70 he explored the Liddar River at Pahalgam in Kashmir and found a few early Palaeolithic tools there. He also excavated Inamgaon, in Pune district, Maharashtra, later carried out by his students, for twelve years in an elaborate manner. It was dated from 1600 BC to 700 BC and contained over two hundred human skeletons.
  • He had also excavated Tripuri near Jabalpur in 1966 (Chalcolithic habitation) and Tekkalakota (Bellary district, Karnataka).

He also excavated Dwarka in Gujarat but was unable to find anything beyond the Christian era.

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