A Lesser-Known Aspect of Harappan Civilisation: Caravanserai at Kotada Bhadli, Kachchh, Gujarat, India

Prabodh Shirvalkar1 & Yadubirsingh Rawat2

1Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture (AIHC) and Archaeology, Deccan College Post-Graduate Research Institute, India

2State Department of Archaeology, India

The site of Kotada Bhadli, Nakhatrana Taluka, Kachchh District, Gujarat was jointly excavated by Department of AIHC and Archaeology, Deccan College PGRI, Pune and State Department of Archaeology Gujarat, Gandhinagar from 2010 to 2013. The excavations at the site produced evidence of a structural complex and southern fortification wall, along with bastions and an entrance on the south-eastern side of the settlement. The dates obtained from the site are bracketed between 2200 and 2000 BCE. A major feature of Harappan civilisation in the region of Kachchh is the presence of fortifications similar to those identified at Kotada Bhadli. Such sites have been interpreted as trading centres or emporiums due to the high abundance of exotic goods denoting trade contacts and the prosperity of such sites. However, the excavations at Kotada Bhadli did not produce any evidence of craft manufacturing or luxurious items. To try and understand Kotada Bhadli in greater detail, scientific studies have been carried out over the past 9 years on the various artefacts and ecofacts recovered during excavation. This included ceramic lipid analysis, provenance studies of copper and steatite, shell and stone tool studies, archaeozoological analyses, isotope studies of animal bones, chemical and phytolith analysis of ash, etc. This paper discusses the nature of the Kotada Bhadli settlement with a focus on its geographic location, and the relationship of the settlement with broader Harappan trade networks that resulted in the material attributes observed at the site. The probable function of the site will be addressed based on dates from other Harappan sites in Gujarat.