The Ganeshwar-Jodhpura culture is a chalcolithic culture spread over the North-Eastern Rajasthan covering present districts such as Jhunjhunun, Sikar, Jaipur, Tonk, Bhilwada, Sawai-Madhopur and Bharatpur (Map No. 1). However, majority of the sites are concentrated in Sikar, Jhunjhunun and Jaipur districts with just one site present in the Jaisalmer district (IAR 1990–91:60). The culture was first discovered in the 1970’s after the excavations at Jodhpura and consecutively established after the excavations at Ganeshwar. The site of Jodhpura was excavated for one season (IAR 1972–73) whereas Ganeshwar was subjugated for excavation for 5 seasons, one as recent as 2013 (IAR 1981–82; 1983–84; 1987–88; 1988–89; Singh et al. 2019). Over the years, different nomenclatures have been used to address the culture such as Jodhpura Culture, Ganeshwar Culture, Ganeshwar-Jodhpura Culture and Ganeshwar- Jodhpura Cultural Complex.

Map No. 1 

Extent of the Ganeshwar-Jodhpura Culture.

The discovery of this culture had significant effect on the later studies as far as the Chalcolithic of Rajasthan and Harappan studies are concerned. The association of Ganeshwar Jodhpura Culture with other Chaloclithic cultures and Harappan civilization is based on the material culture. The site of Ganeshwar yielded a lot of copper objects such as arrowheads, spearheads, chisels, fish hooks, razor blades; ornaments like rings, hairpins, bangles, antimony rods, double spiral headed pin amongst others (IAR 1981–82; 1983–84; 1987–88; 1988–89). Based on stylistic similarities and scientific analysis, linkages were drawn between the Harappan Civilisation and the Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture (Agrawala and Kumar 1982; Rizvi 2007; Kumar 1984–1985; Agrawal 1984). On the basis of these metal studies Ganeshwar Jodhpura Culture was identified as a copper manufacturing culture which then traded the copper with the contemporary cultures such as the Harappan civilization, the Ahar Banas Culture and Kayatha Culture in Madhya Pradesh. Apart from the copper objects, the culture was also distinguished on the basis of pottery types found from the sites. After the initial excavation, the characteristic ware identified was Ochre Colour Pottery (OCP) and painted Ochre Colour Pottery (OCP) with incised designs and graffiti. Later on, different wares such as Thin Dull Red Ware, Sturdy Red Slipped Ware, Pink to Buff Ware, Fine Ware, Dull Red Ware and Reserve Slip Ware were identified. Other artefacts such as microliths, beads made out of semi-precious stones were also reported from the sites. Structural evidences in the form of mud platform, storage pits, house floors with post holes and stone embankment was also reported (IAR 1981–82; 1983–84; 1987–88; 1988–89; Singh et al. 2019).

Explorations carried out in North-eastern Rajasthan pertaining to Ganeshwar Jodhpura Culture have reported approximately 500 sites (Rizvi 2018: 128–145; Rizvi 2007; Raghubans 2007; Kumar 2017) but one can see the concentration of sites in Sikar, Jaipur and Jhunjhunun districts.

A major drawback in the studies related to the Ganeshwar Jodhpura Culture is the lack of absolute dates from the site of Ganeshwar. The culture has been dated on the basis of dates available from the site of Jodhpura. The upper levels at Jodhpura have been dated to 2900–2500 BCE. On the basis of the dates available from Jodhpura, Ganeshwar has been placed in the bracket of 2500 to 2000 BCE. Rizvi (2007) has proposed a new chronology for the Ganeshwar Jodhpura Culture and has divided the culture into Early Ganeshwar Jodhpura Culture (3000–2500 BCE) which is contemporary to the Early Harappans, Middle Ganeshwar Jodhpura Culture (2500–2000 BCE) which is contemporary to Mature Harappans and Late Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture (2000–1800 BCE) which is contemporary to Late Mature Harappan phases.

Ceramic Assemblage

The site of Ganeshwar was re-excavated in 2013 by R. N Singh and Cameron Petrie (Singh et al 2019; IAR 2012–13). The ceramic analysis carried out on Ganeshwar pottery has been classified into different Wares and Varieties. The Wares identified are Red Ware, Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware and Grey Ware. The Red Ware is further subdivided into Black-on- Red Variety, Bichrome Effect Variety, Bichrome Variety, Red Slipped Variety and Red Untreated/ Wash Variety. The Grey Ware is further sub-divided into Slipped Variety and Painted Variety (Prasad 2020; 2018).

The following table show the stratigraphic occurrences of different Wares and Varieties in each layer.


Red Ware
Black on Red Variety

Red Ware
Red Slipped Variety

Red Ware
Red Untreated/ Wash Variety

Red Ware
Bichrome Effect Variety

Red Ware
Bichrome Variety

Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware

Grey Ware

The table shows that all the Wares and Varieties continue throughout the layers except for Bichrome Effect Variety and Bichrome Variety. The Bichrome Effect Variety is completely absent from Layer 1 and Layer 2, starts occurring from Layer 3 and continues till Layer 6. Bichrome Variety is only present in Layer 5.

The characteristics features of the ceramics from Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture are:

  1. Characteristic Ware: Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware
    The presence of Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware throughout all the Chalcolithic layers of occupation is an important character. This is the main characteristic feature of the Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture. The Reserve Slip Ware from Ganeshwar stands out and does not have parallels with any other culture. This type of ceramic has been reported from the sites of Farmana (Uesegi 2011) and Rakhigarhi (personal communication with Prof. Vasant Shinde) in Haryana but the occurrence of this pottery at these sites is very minimal and it corresponds with the Mature Harappan phase at the sites. This ceramic tradition can be said to be an identifying character of the Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture.
  2. Characteristic Shape: Within the shapes, carinated basins can be said to be the characteristic shape that was being produced irrespective of Ware and Variety.
  3. Motifs: The pottery is decorated with Simple and Complex motifs in the form of incised and painted decorations. The presence of various motifs (both simple and complex) on the pottery is also an identifying feature of the ceramics of Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture. Although a lot of cultures had the tradition of incising the pot, the complexity of the design pattern at Ganeshwar is something that stands out. The incised decorations are accompanied with or without any paintings. The composition of incised decorations is very complex having different permutation and combinations of simple designs. Such types of designs are unique to Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture and they occur at the site throughout all the layers.

A Brief Introduction to Graffiti and its Interpretations

Apart from these, good number of graffiti marks were found inscribed on the pottery from the assemblage. The main difference between Graffiti marks and incised motifs is that the all the graffiti marks were made post-firing and are in the form of scratches sometimes resulting in the removal of the slip or paint. At the same time the canvas and composition of the graffiti is smaller in comparison with motifs. Graffiti or scratch marks on pottery (both pre and post firing) have been described variously specially during the pre-historic era. Later on, the Graffiti marks also come in the form of scripts.

The use and purpose of Graffiti has been described by various scholars giving different meaning and purpose to Graffiti marks. Kenoyer (1997) and AjithPrasad (2013) define graffiti as potters mark. McIntoch (2008) however describes Graffiti as less formal and much less standardized than writing which were scratched on some vessels at some time after the vessel was fired—the personal mark of the owner or a check mark by an official. According to him pre-firing graffiti were perhaps used to identify vessels made by different potters when several potters shared a common kiln. Rajan (2015) also holds a similar view and says that Graffiti marks were basically communication systems followed by earlier societies. He goes on to say that in archaeology, unidentified signs and symbols are generally classified under Graffiti whereas recognized signs are labeled as scripts. Some scholars (Nath 2012) opines that Graffiti’s were associated with magic or sanctimonious rituals.

According to Kenoyer and Meadow (2010), signs on seals and tablets usually reflect a more formal use of the script while those on other artifacts may be more informal and even, in some cases; represent the more spontaneous use of various signs. Spontaneity can be mostly linked with graffiti on ceramic vessels. This use of signs clearly demonstrates that others employed it directly to label a container with perhaps one or more of the following: the name of its owner, the nature of its contents, its origin, its destination, or an incantation – to name some of the more obvious possibilities.

Cleuziou and Méry (2002) give various other options as to what Graffiti can be used for. Some of their observations are:

  1. Identification of consignment within a group of similar looking containers. This could be a serial number or the name of actual content of the vessel if it varied from vessel to vessel.
  2. Port of origin; trader’s/owner’s name or identification.
  3. Port of destination; this includes name of the buyer/receiver.

Kenoyer (1997) also feels that the Graffiti might represent the names of the consumer or merchant. Robert Bruce Foote (1916) opines that Graffiti are basically owners marks. Yazdani (1918) identifies graffiti as ideograph.

Dressel (1899) who worked on Roman household pottery divided his assemblage on the basis of different stamp marks that he could find. The stamps were sigils of workshop with signs on them. This practice helped archaeologists greatly to trace trade patterns throughout the Roman empire and eventually also to establish a chronology for the Roman empire.

Laursen (2016) divides potters marks into four groups i.e.

  1. Singletons: Simple designs that occur mostly on rim or shoulder and comprises of a heterogeneous group of miscellaneous markings.
  2. This group is represented by a singleton in the shape of a ‘sheaf of grain’.
  3. This group is represented by Symbolic markings that are distinct and homogenous.
  4. Stylistic Palm branch.

Graffiti marks in Indian context appeared in concrete form during the Neolithic, Pre/ Early Harappan times and continued successively in Harappan, Chalcolithic, Iron Age and Early Historic cultures. In the Early Harappan context, Harappa, Kot-Diji, Balakot are some of the sites to mention which have yielded Graffiti marks. In the Mature Harappan phase, Harappa, Kalibangan, Lothal, Rojdi, Farmana, Kanmer amongst others are some of the sites which has yielded Graffiti marks on pottery. In the Chalcolithic context, Graffiti marks are reported from sites such as Ahar, Kayatha, Malwa, Jorwe, Navdatoli, Prakash, Nevasa, Inamagaon etc but these are found in limited numbers. Within the Harappan context, Graffiti marks have been studied in relation to the script (Joshi and Parapola 1987, Shah and Parapola 1991, Parapola et al 2010). According to a lot of scholars the origin of the Harappan text can be traced back to the Pre/Early Harappan post firing Graffiti marks.

Lal (1962) studied graffiti marks in a wider context and postulated that nearly 89% of the Megalithic symbols have parallels in the Harappan culture or with the Central Indian Chalcolithic cultures and conversely 85% of the Harappan-Chalcolithic symbols have parallels in the Iron Age culture. He felt that the commonness between symbols is because of the commonness of ideas between cultures and refrained from any speculation regarding the phonetic value of the symbols.

Rao (1982) while studying the Harappan script divided the Graffiti’s found into basic signs and auxillary marks. Combination of these two forms compound signs. Basic marks are divided into pictures and linear designs. He has distinguished between pictures and pseudo-pictures. Pseudo-pictures look like pictures but are basically two or more linear designs. Auxillary marks are “vowel helpers” i.e. medial vowels. He further divides the Graffiti’s into basic signs and compound signs. Basic signs are signs which occur independently whereas compound signs occur with the help of basic signs.

Gurumurthy (1999) has defined graffiti in Harappan context as Non-Indus signs or single Indus sign as symbol. He is of the opinion that such graffiti’s are very less in Harappan civilization as they has well developed script.

As far as the site specific description and classification of Graffiti are concerned such type of work has been carried out at the site of Rakhigarhi. However, pictographic or illustrative documentation of the same is not available. The Graffiti marks from Rakhigarhi has been divided into (Nath 2012)

  1. Marks engraved randomly
  2. Marks engraved with some objective
    1. Potters mark
    2. Artistic signs
    3. Signs having resemblance to Harappan script

Graffiti from Ganeshwar

The Graffiti marks from the site of Ganeshwar are mostly found on the interior of the pot and on top of the rim. The pot sherds with graffiti marks have an uneven distribution at the site. The Graffiti marks are mostly found from Layer 1 and 2. The representation of graffiti is very low from layer 3 and 5. Whereas, they are completely absent from Layer 4 and 6.

The graffiti at Ganeshwar has been classified into two classes viz.

  1. Geometric designs: Geometric designs include patterns such as oblique lines, vertical lines, loops, arrow, curvilinear lines, deep gases, cross etc (Figures 1 and 2).
  2. Natural designs: The natural patterns include animal figurines, human figurines and leaf pattern (Figure 3).
Figure 1 

Geometric Graffiti from Ganeshwar.

Figure 2 

Geometric Graffiti from Ganeshwar.

Figure 3 

Naturalistic Graffiti from Ganeshwar.

Chrono-Cultural Comparison

Graffiti from the site of Ganeshwar has been compared with other Harappan sites such as Kalibangan, Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and Farmana. These sites were selected for comparison because it has been hypothesized that there was an interaction between these sites and the Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture. The interaction was in the form of exchange of copper. Other Harappan sites such as Rakhigarhi, Lothal, Chanhudaru and Nal has also reported copper artefacts similar to Ganeshwar. However, these sites have not been taken into consideration since the comparative analysis has been carried out using published excavation reports. The unavailability of data in context to graffiti marks from these sites is a limitation of the study.

From the comparative analysis it can be seen that the graffiti marks from Ganeshwar has most similarities with the Graffiti marks from Kalibangan followed by Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Farmana respectively (Figures 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8). This could be due to the geographical proximity between Ganeshwar and Kalibangan which could lead to maximum interactions between the two. However, limitation of the secondary data wherein not all graffiti marks have been reported cannot be ruled out except for the site of Mohenjo Daro where all the graffiti marks found has been published. Though with limitations, the analysis shows that almost 50% of the graffiti marks from the site of Ganeshwar have similarities with that of Harappan civilisation.

Figure 4 

Comparative Chart of Graffiti.

Figure 5 

Comparative Chart of Graffiti.

Figure 6 

Comparative Chart of Graffiti.

Figure 7 

Comparative Chart of Graffiti.

Figure 8 

Comparative Chart of Graffiti.

The comparative analysis shows that the graffiti marks from Kalibangan which are comparable are found from Period II which is the mature phase of the site. Mature Harappan phase at the site has been divided into three sub-phases viz. Early, Middle and Late. The graffiti marks from the site of Ganeshwar are majorly comparable to the Late levels of Period II and a few are comparable with the Early and Middle level of Period II. From Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Farmana, all the graffiti marks that has similarity with Ganeshwar are found from mature phase of the site. The sites, the period/phase from which similar graffiti marks have been found and the dates are listed in the table below.


Kalibangan Period II 2500-2100 BCE Brunswig 1975

Mohenjodaro Mature Phase 2500-2200 BCE Brunswig 1975

Harappa Mature Phase 2600-2200 BCE Kenoyer 1999

Farmana Mature Phase (Phase III) 2400-2300 BCE Paleo-Lab AMS Dating Group 2011

The comparative analysis of the graffiti marks from Ganeshwar shows that around 30 graffiti marks from Layer 1 and Layer 2 have parallels with the site of Kalibangan, Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Farmana belonging to the Mature phase of Harappan civilization. Based on this it can safely be said that Layer 1 and Layer 2 at Ganeshwar were contemporary with the Mature Harappans and can be dated to 2600–2100BCE based on the absolute dates of different sites which has been used for comparison. The occurrence of graffiti in these two layers also to some extent show that the maximum interaction between the Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture and the Harappan civilization probably occurred during this phase as some of the graffiti’s are exactly similar with each other such as comb, human stick figurine and animal figurine. The interaction with the Harappans can also be seen in the introduction of a completely new shape i.e. S-Shaped Jar which is a characteristic feature of the Harappan civilization. This shape occurs at Ganeshwar in Layer 2. Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware which I propose to call as the characteristic ware of the culture has been found from the site of Farmana in Haryana. This pottery in the report is mentioned as Reserve Slip Ware of the non-Harappan tradition and occurs in the mature phase (phase III, IV and V) of the site (Uesugi 2011). The drawings and photos clearly show that these are typical products of Ganeshwar. The Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware at Farmana belongs to Phase 3, 4 and 5 of Mature Harappan period which is dated to 2600-2200 BCE (Paleo-Labo AMS Dating Group 2011). This is a collaborative evidence to show that in the later phase at Ganeshwar, trade contacts must have become very strong. According to the earlier reports (IAR 1987–88), large scale copper production at Ganeshwar started at a later phase at the site i.e. from phase III. Phase I at the site is devoid of copper and very few copper implements were found from phase II. This shows that exchange in context of copper started in the later phase of the site which is associated by the presence of graffiti marks from layer 1 and 2. This hypothesis can also be supported by the data provided by Benjamin Valentine (2013) where he talks about people migrating from Khetri region to Haryana. Based on similarity in graffiti, introduction of S Shape pot, presence of Ganeshwar Reserve Slip and Strontium and Isotope studies it is possible to put Layer 1 and 2 from Ganeshwar in general cultural chronology and hence are identified as Period II at the site. The quantification of ceramic assemblage was carried out especially in regards to ceramic wares, ceramic varieties and shapes. The quantification was carried out through the layers to understand the presence and absence of ware, variety and shapes and also to understand which ware, variety and shapes are getting introduced in which layer or within the stratigraphy. This has helped in understanding the ceramic patterns within the stratigraphy and the nature and character of the Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture. The quantification of the ceramic assemblage shows that all the wares viz. Red Ware, Grey Ware and Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware are present throughout the layers (see table above). However variations can be seen in the varieties within the Red Ware. The Black on Red Variety, Red Slipped Variety and Red Untreated/ Wash Variety continues throughout all the layers. However the Bichrome Effect Variety is only present in Layer 3, 4, 5 and 6. This variety is completely absent in layer 2 and 1. This shows that as far as the ceramic tradition was concerned, a completely distinct ceramic tradition of the lower levels disappears from the upper levels.

The absence of typical Harappan shapes and presence of Bichrome Effect pottery shows that Layer 3 to 6 represents the early phase at the site and this phase has been called as Period I. This hypothesis is again supported by data provided from Graffiti analysis where none of the graffiti from lower levels matches with Harappan graffiti. The lower layers can now be said to belong to an earlier phase because of the presence of a completely distinct phase of ceramic tradition and the absence of Harappan graffiti.

On the basis of ceramic analysis, quantification, graffiti analysis and evidence from Farmana for Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware the site of Ganeshwar can be divided into two periods

Period I: Early phase

Period II: Mature phase

Period I

This period is the early phase at the site of Ganeshwar and is represented by Layer 3 to 6. The ceramic assemblage during this phase can be clubbed as

  1. Red Ware which is further divided into
    1. Black on Red Variety (Figure 9)
    2. Bichrome Effect Variety (Figure 10)
    3. Bichrome Variety (Figure 11)
    4. Red Slipped Variety (Figure 12)
    5. Red Untreated/ Wash Variety (Figure 13)
  2. Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware (Figure 14)
  3. Grey Ware (Figure 15)
Figure 9 

Black on Red Variety of Period I.

Figure 10 

Bichrome Variety of Period I.

Figure 11 

Bichrome Effect Variety of Period I.

Figure 12 

Red Slipped Variety of Period I.

Figure 13 

Red Untreated/ Wash Variety of Period I.

Figure 14 

Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware of Period I.

Figure 15 

Grey Ware of Period I.

The distinguishing character within the ceramic assemblage is the presence of Bichrome Effect pottery in large number which is not found within Period II. Another interesting aspect of this period is that the graffiti marks are found in negligible quantity. Hence it can be put prior to 2600 BCE. At this moment the beginning of Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture cannot be ascertained in the absence of absolute dates or comparable material from other dated sites.

Period II

This period is the mature phase at the site of Ganeshwar and is represented by Layer 1 and 2. The ceramic assemblage during this phase can be characterized by

  1. Red ware which is further divided into
    1. Black on Red Variety (Figures 16 and 17)
    2. Red Slipped Variety (Figures 18 and 19)
    3. Red Untreated/ Wash Variety (Figure 20)
  2. Ganeshwar Reserve Slip ware (Figure 21)
  3. Grey Ware (Figure 22)
Figure 16 

Black on Red Variety of Period II.

Figure 17 

Black on Red Variety of Period II.

Figure 18 

Red Slipped Variety of Period II.

Figure 19 

Red Slipped Variety of Period II.

Figure 20 

Red Untreated/ Wash Variety of Period I.

Figure 21 

Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware of Period II.

Figure 22 

Grey Ware of Period II.

The Graffiti marks found from the site belongs to Period II. Based on the comparative analysis, period II can be dated to 2600–2100 BCE. One of the characteristic feature of period I i.e. Bichrome and Bichrome Effect Variety is completely absent from this period.


The periodization of the site of Ganeshwar is mostly based on a few parameters i.e.

  1. Bichrome Effect variety: This variety only occurs in the lower levels of the site and characterizes the Early period / phase of the Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture.
  2. Graffiti: The graffiti from the site of Ganeshwar mostly occurs from the upper layers of the site and is negligible from the lower layers. Moreover the graffiti from Layer 1 and 2 have a lot of similarities from the Harappan site of Kalibangan, Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Farmana. The graffiti from the lower layers are not similar from the Harappan sites.
  3. Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware: The Ganeshwar Reserve Slip Ware occurs throughout all the layers at the site but similar Reserve Slip Ware has also been reported from the Mature phase from the site of Farmana wherein absolute dates are available.

As far as the shapes are concerned, there is no development in the shapes and the basic shapes viz. globular pots, basins, carinated basins and bowls continue throughout the layers. In this context, we see continuity.

The Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture is well established in terms of copper production and distribution network with Harappan and Ahar culture. On the basis of chemical analysis of copper artefacts and strontium studies on the teeth of a burial from Farmana, it can be said that interaction in some form existed between the Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture and the Harappan civilization. The analysis of the pottery from the re-excavated site of Ganeshwar shows that graffiti from Period II has affinity with the Harappan sites and a new shape i.e. S shaped pottery which is also a characteristic shape of the Harappan was also introduced in Period II at Ganeshwar. Based on this, it can be hypothesized that trading and transactions between the Ganeshwar Jodhpura culture and the Harappan civilization reached its zenith in Period II which is the mature phase.

Based on the ceramic analysis and graffiti comparison it is possible to broadly put Ganeshwar in two Periods viz., Period I pre-2600 BCE and Period II 2600–2100 BCE. In absence of absolute dates from Ganeshwar this work has given some understanding regarding the chronology of the site and its relation with Harappan period. Though this work is not of absolute nature, there is requirement to obtain absolute dates from the site.