Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 575–599 | Cite as

Local diversity in settlement, demography and subsistence across the southern Indian Neolithic-Iron Age transition: site growth and abandonment at Sanganakallu-Kupgal

  • Patrick RobertsEmail author
  • Nicole Boivin
  • Michael Petraglia
  • Paul Masser
  • Stephanie Meece
  • Alison Weisskopf
  • Fabio Silva
  • Ravi Korisettar
  • Dorian Q Fuller
Original Paper


The Southern Indian Neolithic-Iron Age transition demonstrates considerable regional variability in settlement location, density, and size. While researchers have shown that the region around the Tungabhadra and Krishna River basins displays significant subsistence and demographic continuity, and intensification, from the Neolithic into the Iron Age ca. 1200 cal. BC, archaeological and chronometric records in the Sanganakallu region point to hilltop village expansion during the Late Neolithic and ‘Megalithic’ transition period (ca. 1400–1200 cal. BC) prior to apparent abandonment ca. 1200 cal. BC, with little evidence for the introduction of iron technology into the region. We suggest that the difference in these settlement histories is a result of differential access to stable water resources during a period of weakening and fluctuating monsoon across a generally arid landscape. Here, we describe well-dated, integrated chronological, archaeobotanical, archaeozoological and archaeological survey datasets from the Sanganakallu-Kupgal site complex that together demonstrate an intensification of settlement, subsistence and craft production on local hilltops prior to almost complete abandonment ca. 1200 cal. BC. Although the southern Deccan region as a whole may have witnessed demographic increase, as well as subsistence and cultural continuity, at this time, this broader pattern of continuity and resilience is punctuated by local examples of abandonment and mobility driven by an increasing practical and political concern with water.


Palaeoecology Archaeobotany Archaeozoology Collapse Resilience 



This research was funded through grants from the British Academy, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research to NB; the Clarendon Fund to PR; the Natural Environmental Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust to DQF; and Karnatak University to RK. GIS modelling was coded by FS whose work is supported by a Natural Environment Research Council Grant awarded to DF on ‘The impact of evolving rice systems from China to Southeast Asia’ (NE/K003402/1).

Supplementary material

12520_2015_240_MOESM1_ESM.docx (98 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 97.9 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Roberts
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicole Boivin
    • 1
  • Michael Petraglia
    • 1
  • Paul Masser
    • 2
  • Stephanie Meece
    • 3
  • Alison Weisskopf
    • 4
  • Fabio Silva
    • 4
  • Ravi Korisettar
    • 5
  • Dorian Q Fuller
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of ArtUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Headland Archaeology Ltd.EdinburghUK
  3. 3.University of the Arts LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Department of History and ArchaeologyKarnatak UniversityDharwadIndia

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