The excavation campaigns
Asma Ibrahim (Director, State Bank Museum, Karachi)
Monique Kervran (Research director emeritus, CNRS, UMR 8167, Orient et Méditerranée)
Kaleem Lashari (Secretary, Culture Dept., Govt. of Sindh)
Valeria Piacentini (Professor emeritus, Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan)
The Banbhore project continued in 2014 with a restricted number of participants, which limited the amount of work that could be carried out. Nevertheless, important results were achieved.
Two trenches were excavated in January and February of 2014.
The first was opened in the central (and highest, at 13.5m) part of the site, next to an internal dividing wall which delimits the eastern and western parts of the citadel. The aim was to establish the chronological relationships between one of the towers of this internal rampart and the various urban occupations, pre-dating and post-dating its construction. A sondage was dug into a topographical anomaly running along the foot of this internal rampart, which seemed to indicate the presence of a major circulation route. This exposed a probable street oriented north-south, lined with buildings, 8 metres beneath the surface. These various structures have not yet been dated.
The second trench, placed in the western part of the citadel, led to the discovery of a distinctive type of Islamic building, of which several examples have been observed at surface level close-by. Their general layout resembles that of structures interpreted as warehouses. With an internal surface area of approximately 80m², this building was constructed on the remains of earlier Islamic settlements and buildings, reusing one of their walls.
This type of structure appears to be clearly related to economic activities. In particular, the presence of numerous fragments of moulds for the production of coin blanks can be noted. Dates based on the pottery associated with the structure suggest a range from the 11th to the 13th centuries, indicating that the building may belong to the last occupation of Banbhore.
Underneath the foundations of the warehouse and the sporadic occupations which it covered, the sloping layers often contained ash and always contained Islamic material, but in inverted stratigraphy. The conclusion that was reached is that from the 9th to the 10-11th centuries, the slope, which is at the southern edge of the houses excavated the previous year, was used as a rubbish dump. The later pottery sherds were found at the bottom of the slope and ‘out in front’ of the earlier material.
This rubbish dump probably marks the southern limit of the Islamic occupation in this sector. Underneath it, walls built of mud bricks placed on a base of stone blocks were found, measuring 11m? by 2.5m internally. These rested partly on a perpendicular stone wall, 1.4m wide – twice as wide as the typical walls in Banbhore. These structures were discovered during the last days of the fieldwork, and have not been dated or interpreted. However, they were also visible in the deep stratigraphical sondage which was dug. Here, the walls are built on top of Sassanian and Kushan layers which are thought to be port deposits that underwent geomorphological change over several centuries. The nature of these layers suggests the presence of a nearby coastline. This is therefore an important area for focusing future research, and for locating Pre-Islamic port activities at Banbhore.