The Prehistoric Axe Factory at Sanganakallu-Kupgal (Bellary District), Southern India

Roberto Risch1, Nicole Boivin2, Michael Petraglia2, David Gómez-Gras3, Ravi Korisettar4, and Dorian Q. Fuller5

1. Departament de Prehistòria, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
2. School of Archaeology, University of Oxford. Email:
3. School of Archaeology, University of Oxford
4. Department of History and Archaeology, Karnatak University
5. Institute of Archaeology, University College London

Cite this as: Risch, R., Boivin, N., Petraglia, M., Gómez-Gras, D., Korisettar, R. and Fuller, D.Q. 2009 The Prehistoric Axe Factory at Sanganakallu-Kupgal (Bellary District), Southern India, Internet Archaeology 26.


A 10-30m wide dolerite dyke on the northernmost of the complex of granite hills in the Sanganakallu-Kupgal area became one of the main sources of raw material for the production of stone axes in southern India during the late prehistoric period. At least three large hill settlements (several hectares each) were established in the hill complex, and one of them appears to have gradually developed into a large-scale production centre. Quarrying and axe flaking started around 1900 cal BCE, during the so-called Ashmound phase of occupation, and reached its maximum development between 1400-1200 cal BCE, when a large region of the south Deccan plateau might have been supplied with finished and half-finished products from Sanganakallu. Systematic archaeological excavation and survey carried out since 1997 in the Sanganakallu-Kupgal area, including the dyke quarry itself, has yielded tens of thousands of production flakes, blanks and macro-lithic tools related to the flaking, pecking and polishing of the axes. The ongoing study of these materials permits us to gain insight into the organisation of production in this area from a temporal and spatial perspective. In view of the social and economic transformations taking place in the Deccan plateau during the second half of the second millennium BC, some key questions concern the relationship between intensification of production and the social division of labour between different working areas and settlements.

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