The NBP ware was characteristic of the urban centers of the Gangetic Plain, and is thought to have developed from the technique of high-temperature firing used in smelting iron and from the use of hematite soil locally available.
It is extensively distributed as a luxury product, and the distribution helps the tracking of exchange and trade in different parts of the Indian subcontinent.
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are the main regions of NBP ware sites. Discovered first at Taxila in 1930 the ware has been excavated in Ropar in Punjab, Raja-Karnaka-Quila (Haryana), Noh and Jodhpura (northern Rajasthan), Ahichchhatra, Hastinapur, Atranjikhera, Kausambi, Sravasti, Vaishali, Pataliputra, Sonepur in Bihar and Chandraketugarh in West Bengal.
The NBP Ware is of well levigated clay and has a glossy surface with a thin core. The ware was usually unpainted.
Two phases of NBP ware have been suggested, after examination of the pottery and other objects unearthed.
These are (i) where NBP ware predominates and sherds of BRW and PGW are few and there is an absence of punch marked coins and burnt bricks for construction of defensive barriers-in Prahladpur, Sravasti and Atranjikhera; and (ii) where low quality thick-fabric NBP ware predominates, BRW and PGW specimens are absent, punch- marked coins and burnt bricks (making their first appearance) are found, and there is greater use of coarse grey ware as at Hastinapur, Atranjikhera, Sravasti II, and Prahladpur.
Weapons, ornaments and other objects of copper, iron, gold, silver, stone, bone and glass have been unearthed along with copper and iron objects, as also terracotta objects and punch-marked coins of the mid-NBP ware phase indicating a shift from the barter system to use of currency for trade.
Excavations have revealed burnt-brick houses, an elaborate drainage system and brick walls in some sites. Crops like rice, wheat, millet, rye, barley, pea, black gram were probably grown.
Remains of animals found include those of cattle, sheep, goat, fish and pig. Based on the evidence of a variety of beads found at several sites, it has been suggested that Taxila, Sravasti, Ahichchhatra, Kausambi and Hastinapur had traded among themselves between 600 BC and 200 BC.