The archaeological site of Sanghol situated 40 kilometres from Chandigarh on the National Highway to Ludhiana is exceptional in many ways. One of the very few sites extensively excavated in post-Independence Punjab, it was settled as early as the second millennium bc and has continued in occupation well into the present. The cultural deposit is rich and varied, especially in its diverse range of coins, seals and sealings, and this marks Sanghol out from other contemporary settlements. The discovery of exquisitely sculpted pillars of a stone railing carefully buried in the vicinity of a Buddhist stupa brought Sanghol into the limelight in 1985 and large-scale excavations were undertaken. Remains of Buddhist monasteries and stupas have been preserved and stand testimony to the flourishing nature of religious culture in the area.
Based on unpublished data, this edited volume places the finds from Sanghol in the wider context of the archaeology of Punjab. It traces the history of archaeology in the region from the first excavation in 1830 in undivided Punjab during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1801-1839) at the Buddhist stupa at Manikyala, located north-west of Rawalpindi. Interest in the archaeology of Punjab has changed over time from a fascination for Alexander the Great and his Indian campaign in the nineteenth century, to the unchecked collection of antiquities, and to large-scale excavations at Taxila, leading finally to the establishment of museums in pre- and post-Partition Punjab to house the finds. Changes in the research agenda of archaeologists was matched by transformation of the landscape as a result of the large-scale digging of canals in the early twentieth century and widespread agricultural operations in post-Independence Punjab. Within this wider canvas, the focus of the volume, however, remains on an in-depth analysis of the archaeology of Sanghol and its significance in the history of Punjab.