This Chalcolithic culture was named after the type site Kayatha, in Ujjain dist., Madhya Pradesh. The excavation was due to the joint collaboration of Deccan
College, Pune and Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Vikram University, Ujjain. Kayatha has been identified with the ancient Kapitthaka, birth place of the celebrated astronomer-astrologer Varaha.
Excavations revealed a five-fold sequence of cultures:
- Kayatha culture (Ca. 2450-2000 BC.)
- Ahar culture (Ca. 1950-1700 BC)iii) Malwa culture (Ca. 1700-1400 BC) iv) Early Historic (Ca. 600 BC-200 BC)
- Sunga-Kusana-Gupta (Ca. 200 BC-600 BC)
Over forty settlements of the Kayatha culture have been so far discovered in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, most of them being located on the tributaries of the Chambal River.
- The characteristic forms of ceramics include: the chocolate slipped ware also known as Kayatha ware. The types are bowls, high and short-necked storage jars with globular profile and basins. Similarities are evident with the sturdy painted pottery found at some pre-Harappan A red painted buff ware, a concave necked pot with a bulging body, with or without carination, a dish or shallow bowl and a basin, most probably constituted table ware. Some bowls, basins and globular pots represented combed ware.
- The bulk of the total yield, about 60%, including forms like handis, basins and storage jars were coarse handmade red/grey Use of both copper and stone tools was found. A cache of copper has been found, as well as two exquisitely made copper axes, cast in moulds.
- A specialised blade industry existed as seen from evidence of mass production of chalcedony blades in the crested guiding ridge technique. Ornaments like twobead necklaces have been found. Beads were manufactured from semi-precious Most of these artifacts were found inside a house, which could not be fully excavated.
- People lived in small huts with well-rammed floors and wattle and daub walls supporting a thatched roof. A mixed economy was practiced as seen from evidence on subsistence farming, stock raising and hunting-fishing. Barley and wheat were grown. Domesticated animals included cattle and sheep/goat. Interestingly, horse remains have been found from the Chalcolithic level at Kayatha.As no antecedent stages of this culture are found in the Malwa region, Dhavalikar (1997) is of the opinion that the Kayatha culture—the earliest chalcolithic culture in the Malwa region— had developed elsewhere. Following which people migrated with the culture to this region. The sudden end of this culture is ascribed to an earthquake. The presence of a sterile layer between the levels of the Kayatha and the succeeding Ahar culture points to a hiatus between the Two.
- They were later ruled by the nandas, the mauryas, the sungas, the early nagas, the kushans, The Nagas, The Guptas, The Hunas, The Vardhana Dynasty, The Gurjara Prathiharas, The Kancchapaghatas. After this they were invaded by mughals.
- The Malwa culture is the most predominant chalcolithic culture of central India, with a wide distribution of sites almost all over Malwa region. It was first identified in the excavations at Maheshwar, on river Narmada. Maheshwar was identified with the ancient Mahishmati of the Puranas. Navdatoli on the opposite bank also revealed great potential and was subsequently excavated. Other excavated sites of this culture are Nagda, Kayatha, Eran etc. On the basis of calibrated dates the Malwa culture is placed in the bracket of 1900-1400 BC.
- Sites are mostly found on the banks of the tributaries. They were not affected by flood, unlike those on the main river. A sort of two level settlement pattern existed, consisting of a large number of small villages and a few large villages. Among the latter one may include Navdatoli, Nagda and Eran, Navdatoli being perhaps the largest. There were two parts of occupation at Navdatoli, enclosed by a fortification Perhaps in historical times the centre shifted to Maheshwar.
At Nagda, a mud rampart has been recorded- a feature also seen at Eran.
- At Nagda, the houses seem to have been laid out in rows along the road and bylanes. The use of mud-bricks and fired bricks at Nagda is significant as they are absent at other Malwa sites. The houses were multi-roomed with a chulah (Hearth/ oven) bearing four arms. The floors were rammed hard, and there were several floor levels indicating periodic repair and re-laying. There were pebble platforms as Two rooms enclosing squarish pits have also been found, the function of which remains unclear. At Navdatoli, a number of structures were laid bare belonging to four different phases of chalcolithic culture. Both round huts and rectangular houses were found together in each phase. Pit-dwellings were noticed in the first phase. Usually round huts were found in clusters of two, three or four. Dhavalikar (1997) suggests each cluster represented a household, of which one had a hearth while others served different functions. Rectangular structures were quite spacious with thick mud walls and wooden posts supporting the thatched roof. The floor was rammed hard. A circular structure in one of the houses was possibly meant to be a storage bin. An extensive burnt floor has been found, possibly used as a threshing floor.
- There were a number of postholes which did not follow any sensible plan; possibly they were stakes where domestic animals were tethered at A burnt house belonging to the latest stage of the Chalcolithic phase has been recorded from Navdatoli. Storage jars and squarish pots have been found inside this house. Multi-roomed structures at Navdatoli are particularly evident from a house in phase II which is marked by rows of postholes of which a double set of postholes forms the back wall. The total extent of the settlement at Navdatoli was about 7 ha. At Navdatoli a large burnt red floor was found. It had a squarish pit in the middle. In the four corners of the pit were found charred wooden posts which probably supported a canopy above. Inside the pit were burnt wooden splinters. Two high-necked pots were also found there. The function of this structure is unknown. This pit was part of a one room house as seen from a hearth in the northern part and a circular pot rest in the west.