Mundigak Palace II 5

"We must therefore consider the ‘ramparts’ as monumental structures in much the same way as the ‘palace’ and ‘temple’ are, part of an overall monumentalisation of Mundigak that marks Period IV. The command of resources to build these structures, plus the need to make a major architectural statement, implies a renewed status for Mundigak, of more than just a major settlement. Just what this status might be must remain a matter of speculation, but it does lend support to Whitehouse’s initial suggestion that Mundigak anticipated Kandahar as the regional centre. In this connection it is worth observing that a village and site just 3 km to the south of Mundigak (albeit with no material earlier than Parthian) preserves the name ‘Arukh’, derived from the Achaemenid Harahuvatiš/Greek Arachosia/Early Islamic ar-Rukhaj, the ancient name for the region" write Jim Shaffer and Cameron Petrie in The Archaeology of Afghanistan (2019, pp. 184-85).

Sylvia Matheson writes of her time with the excavations: "We were standing on top of the mound overlooking the camp— a wonderfully strategic and imposing site with the whole valley spread before us. We walked to the edge of a wide terrace with a complex of small rooms opening into each other. There was a high but not very thick outer wall and a very narrow entrance in the middle. This opened out into what seemed to have been yet another terrace now eroded and crumbling down the hillside. Stepping through this narrow opening from the outside, I found myself in a corridor barely shoulder-width; to my left had once ascended a steep narrow staircase; to the right the corridor led to an even narrower exit on die very edge of the main terrace. This tiny corridor had been full of spent arrowheads, clay sling bullets, spear heads and traces of fire; there was little doubt that it had been hastily built as some kind of fortification and had been fairly easily taken after a sharp assault.

"Back on the main terrace, lining the southern side to the right, stretched the famous colonnade. The columns were about four and half feet high, standing on a small platform; many thick coats of whitewash still clung to the columns in places, even now after they bad been deprived o f their protective sand covering and re-exposed to (lie elements for the past twelve months. I was surprised by the brilliance ofthe red ochre paint on the doorway that cut the colonnade at its western end. Even today well-to-do villagers whitewash their houses every summer and one can fairly safely reckon a year’s occupation for every layer of chunam, a kind of natural lime. Ginette Casal had managed to count twenty-nine distinct layers of this chunam on the walls of one room attached to the colonnaded building! This was only one of many examples we were to find of the un­interrupted pattern of thought and social customs that had prevailed for so many thousands of years in this conservative yet by no means historically tranquil corner of Asia.

"Right along the bottom of the colonnade ran a small platform or bench, about two feet wide, and the tops of the half-columns backed by a mud-brick wall were decorated with mud-brick merlons at arranged in a battlemented design.

The whole structure was made of mud brick and mud pise, fashioned indeed of the very soil itself, mixed with water and in some cases a little chopped straw, and baked in the heat of the sun. It would take a very well trained and acute eye to mark the difference between walls and filling in the course of excavation, although like a good many other things, once the buildings had been revealed they were unmistakable. There was too much to absorb on a first visit and even at the end of the season it was uncertain what purpose the entire structure served; it may have been a temple, it may have been a palace or a public building, but so far there was no proof, although by the end of the dig, like everybody else, I had my own pet theories." (Time off to Dig, London, 1961, p. 57-58)

Matheson also discusses the finds on top of the structure seen here, the layers excavated before it was exposed and which had been built later, during Mundigak V (2400-2000 BCE?]: "It was, rather naturally, the tenth and eleventh layers that interested me most. The monument massif was well named. The rooms and i(i races of the colonnaded monument had been filled in with mud- brick debris to take the weight of the new building, a structure that appeared to Jean-Marie and Jacques like some huge truncated half pyramid of masonry cubes piled on top of each other. There was no masonry here, however, but only huge blocks of sun-dried bricks with extensive terraces that had been repaired several times while in use. The northern side of the main bulk of the structure was over­ shadowed by an even higher massive structure of brickwork that adjoined it and appeared to have been used finally as the pedestal for several rectangular cells. All this part of the mound was badly damaged by earthquakes. So little of significance had been found in ibis building that it was mainly the absence of finds of a domestic nature that indicated its function as a public building of some kind. There were a bronze knife with a bone handle, a few shreds of red pottery with deep purple designs, and one small terracotta figurine possibly of a mother-goddess, with crudely-formed features and two spots of black paint for the eyes. By contrast the breasts were delicately moulded with a necklace and pendant fading between them. It was more like the figurines found in the Indus Valley than those of the much nearer Zhob Valley in Baluchistan." (Ibid., p. 101)