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Evidence For Stone Sculpture At Mathura Before The Mid-Second Century Bce

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Chapter Summary

Archaeological excavations conducted at Sonkh and other sites in and near the city of Mathura reveal that before the Maurya period Mathura was a hamlet of little consequence. Although pottery sherds and sundry terra-cotta and metal items have been found in pre-Maurya and Maurya strata, no sculptures or architectural elements made in stone have been recovered from archaeological contexts that correspond to dates earlier than the mid-second century BCE. The archaeological excavations and texts datable to the third century BCE and earlier suggest that Mathura was not a particularly important center before the third century BCE. Furthermore, during the Maurya period itself, Mathura seems to have begun to rise to prominence quite late in the third century BCE. Hence, we find that it was in the subsequent century, between ca. 150 and 100 BCE, that Mathura emerged as a cultural and urban center.

Keywords: Mathura; Maurya period; mid-second century BCE; Sonkh; stone sculpture



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