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Journal Article

Rouletted Ware at Arikamedu: A New Approach

Vimala Begley
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 92, No. 3 (Jul., 1988), pp. 427-440
DOI: 10.2307/505557
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/505557
Page Count: 14
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Rouletted Ware at Arikamedu: A New Approach
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Abstract

In the 1945 excavations of Mortimer Wheeler at the site of Arikamedu on the southeastern coast of India, a new ceramic type was named Rouletted Ware because of its distinctive decoration, which was believed to derive from "rouletted" ceramics of the Classical world. Surprisingly, although the ware is now reported from some 50 sites in India and Sri Lanka, no comprehensive study has yet been published. As a first step, this paper reexamines some 600 excavated sherds of Rouletted Ware from Arikamedu, now in collections at Pondicherry and Delhi. On the basis of surface color, firing conditions, and other factors, two distinct fine varieties of the pottery can now be recognized, dating from approximately the second century B. C. to the late first century A. C. Since no precise parallels with Classical "rouletted" ceramics can be identified, the view that the finest Arikamedu sherds are imported appears to be mistaken. Instead, both varieties should be considered regional products, although the technique of decoration is still presumed to be of Classical origin. The paper also presents the results of field observations of analogous techniques used by the village potters of Bijnaur in North India. These techniques suggest that the decoration on Arikamedu Rouletted Ware was "chattered," probably with sharp-pointed metal strips, instead of having been made with roulettes, as the name of the pottery inaccurately implies.

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