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Archaeology and the Construction of Identities in Medieval North India
S. Varma,
Published in
Volume: 24
Issue: 2
Pages: 173 - 193
Archaeologists have at times perceived the early medieval to medieval period as marked by a break at the end of the twelfth century, thus separating the period 700–1200 CE—often described as the ‘Rajput’ period—from the period 1200–1500 CE—commonly designated as the ‘Sultanate’ period. It is frequently believed that this break is manifested in the entire range of archaeological materials with clear changes perceived between the two periods. Moreover, there has been a tendency to ascribe particular religious identities to the artefacts of the ‘Rajput’ and ‘Sultanate’ periods. Implicit in such a reading of the material culture are certain assumptions that have been made by archaeologists. One is that a change in political elites will bring about a change in daily practices and, concomitantly, in the artefacts. Another assumption is that certain artefacts indicate a specific religious/ethnic identity and that their use can be attributed only to a particular period. However, while excavating the cuttings at Indor Khera, which we dated from the tenth/eleventh to thirteenth/fourteenth centuries CE, we realized that not only was such a neat demarcation not evident in the material culture, but that the problem was far more complex and had not quite received the attention it deserved from archaeologists. This article discusses the issue of ascribing religious and ethnic identities to artefacts. © 2008, SAGE Publications. All rights reserved.
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