New Findings of Harappan Civilisation


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.


Rann was covered by sea in Harappan times


A report published in December 2013 claimed that the barren Rann of Kutch was navigable during the Harappan times. The scientists and marine archaeologists from National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in Goa have concluded that the sea covered the area where the Rann exists today.
In their recent research there is evidence of change in morphological conditions in the lower Sind area, which was responsible for the westward shift of River Indus.This evidence shows that the gulf extended beyond the Rann and must have been navigable even during the early centuries of the Christian era. What's more, the Little Rann of Kutch was navigable even as late as 16th century AD.
"Thus, the environmental as well as morphological conditions must have been different than those existing at present. There are several evidence of change in morphological conditions in lower Sind area, which was responsible for the westward shifting of the River Indus," claims further.


Harappan Artefacts found in Karanpura in Rajasthan


Artefacts dating to the Harappan era were excavated in Karanpura of Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan, the first time remains of the Indus Valley Civilisation have been found in northern part of Rajasthan, reported in August 2013.
The excavation was brought to light house complexes built of mud bricks of both Early (3300—2600 Before Common Era) and Mature (2600—1900 BCE) Harappan periods. Even though scattered remains and fragments of baked bricks are available, it was not found in any building.
The presence of bichrome ware consisting of red ware, decorated with black and white—coloured painted motifs, is also noticed from the Early Harappan period, a few of which continues during the Mature Harappan period. Presence of rhinoceros bones point to the marshy environment the Harappans were accustomed to.
Harappan pottery along with terracotta bangles, grinding stone fragments, beads of agate and an animal terracotta figurine were excavated.
Numerous copper artefacts reveal trade ties people here had with other civilisations. Apart from motifs like circles, pipal leaves on various items, graffiti on pottery and artefacts like the spindle whorls are distinguished features.
Karanpura is located on the right bank of Drishadvati river, now Chautang, in the upper reaches and is located between Siswal, Haryana (upstream) and Sothi, Rajasthan (downstream). The river is dried up now. The archaeological remains at Karanpura were first discovered in 2010 and the excavation branch started work in December 2012.


Khirsara a major industrial hub of Harappan era


January 2, 2011 was a golden day in the second season of excavation at Khirsara village, 85 km from Bhuj town, Gujarat. Nearly 30 trenches had been dug that season, each 10 metres by 10 metres. One of them yielded two miniature pots. “They were gold beads,” announced the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). One of the pots contained 26 disc-shaped beads, micro beads and a ring, all made in gold, and steatite beads.
“Gold beads are not found in big quantities in the Harappan sites. Some disc-shaped gold beads had been found at Lothal, another famous Harappan site in Gujarat,” said the ASI on April 19, 2013.
The excavations with 120 trenches dug at Khirsara from December 2009 have established Khirsara as “a major industrial hub” that belonged to the mature Harappan period. It overlooks the Khari river and flourished for 400 years from circa 2600 to 2200 BCE.
Carbon dating at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany, Lucknow, for the botanical remains collected from Khirsara’s trenches falls in the range of 2565 to 2235 BCE.
Khirsara has everything to be called a mature Harappan site: systematic town planning, a citadel complex where the ruling elite lived, a factory complex, habitation annexes, a warehouse, drainage system, and massive fortification walls. All the structures were built of sandstone blocks set in mud mortar. Excavations have yielded 11 bar, circular and square seals, standardised bricks in the ratio of 1:2:4 and a staggering variety of pottery including reserve slip ware. While the bar seals have only the Harappan script, others have carvings of unicorn and hump-less bulls with the Harappan signs.
The seals, especially the circular seals, are the main characteristic by which Khirsara can be categorised as a mature Harappan site. Pottery and structures such as the citadel, the factory and the warehouse are the hallmarks by which this site could be said to belong to mature Harappan phase.
More than 4,200 years ago, Khirsara was an important trading outpost in western Kutch in Gujarat on the way to Sind in present-day Pakistan. Its “factory” manufactured enormous quantities of beads from cornelian, agate, jasper, lapis lazuli, steatite and chalcedony; bangles and inlays from conch shells; copper artefacts such as bangles, rings, beads, knives, needles, fish-hooks, arrowheads and weights; and terracotta rattles, toy-carts and gamesmen. One trench alone threw up 25,000 exquisite beads made of steatite.
Khirsara’s factory have yielded a bonanza of Harappan ceramics — painted pottery, the reserve slip ware used by the elite in society, sturdy storage jars, globular pots, perforated jars, basins, dishes, bowls, beakers, dish-on-stand and incense burners. The painted pottery with occasional animal motifs, have geometric designs of broad bands, crosses, spirals, loops, arches and zigzags. The profusion of miniature pots that the site has revealed is puzzling.
Archaeologists have found furnaces and a tandoor. There is evidence of copper-working and ash. They have found huge quantities of steatite beads and some seals made of steatite. From all this, we have identified it as a factory site.”
An extraordinary feature about Khirsara’s Harappan settlement is that it not only had an outer fortification wall around it but every complex inside had its own fortification wall, be it the citadel, the warehouse, and the factory with its habitation annexe. The fortification walls for the warehouse and the factory had guard rooms and salients for mounting watch.
Even the potters’ kiln, which lay outside the outer fortification walls, had its own fortification wall. The outer fortification wall, 310 metres by 230 metres and more than 4,400 years old, still stands in several places.
This is the first time in the Harappan context that they have found separation fortification walls for each complex on the site, and their purpose is to ensure the safety of its residents and the goods manufactured.
A massive warehouse, measuring 28 metres by 12 metres, excavated had 14 parallel walls, with an average length of 10.8 metres and 1.55 metres breadth. Its superstructure was made of wood and daub. The space between the parallel walls enabled circulation of fresh air to protect the stored goods. It must have been multipurpose warehouse for storing goods for export or those that have been imported. Its proximity with river Khari is to support the maritime trading activities of the Khirsarans. A warehouse is a rare type of structure found in a few Harappan sites. It indicates a state of surplus economy.
The houses in the citadel, where the elite lived, had verandas, interconnected rooms, floors paved with multicoloured bricks and a rock-cut well. A five-metre paved lane separated the citadel from the factory. The citadel was deliberately built adjacent to the warehouse so that the rulers could keep a watch on the manufacturing and trading activities.


Climate change killed Harappan civilization


 A research conducted between 2003 and 2008 by American researchers reported in May 2012 that climate change may be the main culprit behind the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization around 4,000 years ago, says a new study, which also claims to have resolved the long-standing debate over the source and fate of the Saraswati, a sacred river in Hindu mythology.
The study, combining the latest archaeological data along with state-of-the-art geoscience technology, suggested that decline in monsoon rains led to weakened river dynamics, and played a critical role both in the development and the fall of the Harappan culture, which relied on river floods to fuel their agricultural surpluses.
The international team, which published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used satellite photos and topographic data to make and analyse digital maps of landforms constructed by the Indus and other neighbouring rivers, which were then probed in the field by drilling, coring, and even manuallydug trenches. Collected samples were used to determine the sediments' origins, whether brought in by rivers or wind, and their age, in order to develop a chronology of landscape changes.
"Reconstructed the dynamic landscape of the plain where the Indus civilization developed 5,200 years ago, built its cities, and disintegrated between 3,900 and 3,000 years ago," said a geologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in the US. "The study suggests that the decline in monsoon rains led to weakened river dynamics , and played a key role both in development and the fall of Harappan culture."
The research also claimed that the mythical Saraswati river was actually not fed by glaciers in the Hymalayas as believed. Rather, it was a perennial monsoon-supported watercourse and aridification reduced it to short seasonal flows, the researchers said.
 

Saturday, 11th Jan 2014, 10:52:54 AM

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