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Title: The Protohistoric Cemeteries of Northwestern Pakistan: The Deconstruction and Reinterpretation of Archaeological and Burial Traditions
Authors: Zahir, Muhammad
Supervisors: Young, Ruth
James, Simon
Award date: 1-Aug-2012
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This thesis examines the protohistoric cemeteries in northwestern Pakistan known as the Gandhara Grave Culture. These cemeteries are understood in terms of models developed by the Italian Archaeological Mission to Pakistan from the Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente (IsMEO) and the Department of Archaeology, University of Peshawar (UoP). These models explained these cemeteries in terms of migrations and particular ethnicities (e.g. Aryans) and dated them to between the mid-2nd to mid-1st millennium BC. Though developed in the 1960s by a select group of researchers, these models, with institutionalized support and tools, have grown into archaeological traditions that are still unquestioningly accepted in archaeology and taught in universities across Pakistan. The deconstruction of these archaeological traditions exposed their inner inconsistencies and circular arguments and showed that their explanations were more relevant to the main researchers than to the cemeteries. Both were the products of the academic and political environment of the researchers themselves, and were concerned with the national prestige of Italy and Muslim identity of Pakistan. The deconstruction and contextual analysis of existing chronological frameworks rendered them obsolete and unusable for the current study. The recalibration of the radiocarbon measurements from cemeteries suggested a longer date range (from 2200 to 30 cal BC in Swat and Dir valleys). The analyses and interpretations of the grave constructions, grave goods and burial practices showed both continuity and variation that could not be explained as a culture or particular ethnicity but were rather the result of a burial tradition or traditions that transcended different geographical regions, ethnic groups and archaeological cultures. Archaeological evidence and multiple analogies suggest the existence of multiple and competing ideologies, linked with concepts of ritualized landscapes and cosmos.
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author, 2012
Appears in Collections:Theses, School of Archaeology and Ancient History
Leicester Theses

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