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LECTURE # 1

THE HARAPPAN CIVILIZATION AND CONFLICTING CLAIMS 2500-1500 BCE

INDIA OR SOUTH ASIA


INDIA OR INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT: refers to pre-partition Indian sub-continent in these series of lectures. Modern South Asia has seven independent countries 1) India 2) Pakistan 3) Bangladesh 4) Sri Lanka 5) Nepal 6) Bhutan 7) Maldives.

Fatima Imam:

regions in northwest, north and central and the south

THREE GEOGRAPHIC REGIONS


The Northern Mountains bounded by Hindu Kush mountains in the north west and Himalayas in north and north east. The Indo-Gangetic Plain which is bifurcated into river systems of the Indus and the Ganges. Lastly, the peninsular area lying south of Vindhyan mountains and Narmada river.

THE EARLY BEGINNINGS


Human inhabitation on the Indian subcontinent can be traced back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. The Indus valley civilization dated from about 2500 to 1500 BCE is considered to be at par with the other civilizations of the world e.g Sumer, Eygpt, Mesopotamia and China.

OTHER CIVILIZATIONS

HARAPPAN CIVILIZATION 2500-1500 BCE

SOURCES:

ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS AND SOME WRITTEN MATERIAL BUT THE INDUS SCRIPT HAS NOT BEEN DECIPHERED AS YET.

CONFLICTING CLAIMS
The discovery of Indus cities in 1920s and 1930s led to re-orientation of Indias past and the origins were attributed to possible colonial transpositions from west Asian civilizations. The pendulum is swinging the other way, and now the Indian archaeologists are claiming that the Harappan culture was supposedly inhabited by the indigenousVedic Aryans.

GEOGRAPHICAL EXTENT
The Harappan sites extends from Baluchistan in the west to the alluvial plains of Indus to the deserts of Cholistan and Thar in the east. From north to south, it stretches from the foothills of the Himalayas to the coastal regions of Makran to the mainlands of Gujarat.

HARAPPAN PHASE

DEFINING FEATURES
The defining features of Harappa with other towns or sites: Wheel made pottery: distinctive and baked to a red colour, Indus script: appearing on seals, sun-dried bricks of standard size 1:2:4, Standard weights apparently based on a unit of 13.63 grams, drainage, streets, citadels, masonry wells and burial sites.

THE MAIN SITES

MEHRGARH
Mehrgarh is one of the most important site of the neolithic period in this region. The Indus valley civilization was developed from the farming communities of Mehrgarh. The evidence of earliest farming is found here and the semi-nomadic people used plants such as wheat, barley and domesticated animals such as sheep, goat and cattle.

MEHRGARH
The settlements had small mud buildings with four internal divisions. There was considerable amount of technological and manufacturing activities and signs of commercial links with other people. The area was abandoned by the beginning of the mature phase of Indus valley (2600 BCE).

MAJOR TOWNS
HARAPPA ( 150 HECTARES IN AREA) MOHENJODARO (200 HECTARES) DHOLAVIRA (60 HECTARES) KALIBANGAN (11.5 HECTARES) LOTHAL (4.8 HECTARES) CHANHU DARO (4.7 HECTARES)

INTERIORS OF MOHENJORAO

GREAT BATH IN MOHENJODARO

LOTHAL

HARAPPA

DHOLAVIRA

KALIBANGAN

TOWN PLANNING
Geometrically designed the towns had fortifications (for protection against both intruders and floods). The citadal area had several distinct quarters, assembly halls, granaries and manufacturing units of various types ; the bigger cities, also, had furnaces for the production of copper and bronze tools. While the houses were built on the lower level or quite far from the citadels.

TOWN PLANNING
The towns had public baths (probably often part of the temples), private baths were found in most of the houses, sewerages were connected through underground drains. There was an efficient water management with numerous reservoirs and wells. The streets were built on grid pattern and cut each other on the right sides.

TOWN PLANNING
Mohenjo-daro, for instance, had over 700 wells, some of them fifteen metres deep, built with special trapezoid bricks (to prevent collapse by the pressure of the surrounding soil), and maintained for several centuries. Dholavira had separate drains to collect rain water and six or seven dams built across the nearby rivers.

TOWN PLANNING
The houses were almost always built with mud bricks (sometimes fired in kilns), which followed a standard ratio of 4 :2 :1, though the actual sizes varied : bricks for houses, for instance, might be 28 x 14 x 7 cm, while for fortification walls they could be 36 x 18 x 9 cm or even bigger.

TOWN PLANNING
Walls were seventy centimetres thick, and many houses two storeys high. A few houses, perhaps those of rulers or wealthy traders, were particularly large, with up to seven rooms, but they were found right next to a craftsmans modest house.

LAYOUT OF THE CITY OF LOTHAL.

WORKING PLATFORMS AT HARAPPA

THE STREETS OF HARAPPA

SIDE LANES OF HARAPPA

THE WELL IN THE CITY OF HARAPPA.

ACROPOLIS (LOTHAL).

THE DRAINAGE SYSTEM (IN HARAPPA).

REMAINS OF LOWER TOWN EXCAVATED IN LOTHAL.

REMAINS OF WALL IN THE CITY OF LOTHAL.

KITCHEN REMAINS FROM THE CITY OF LOTHAL.

GRANARY IN HARAPPA

SPECIAL STRUCTURES: GREAT BATH IN MOHENJODARO

SPECIAL STRUCTURES: DOCKYARD IN LOTHAL

AGRICULTURE
The people of Indus valley prospered on the foundations of agriculture based system of irrigation and fertility which was maintained by the silt bearing floods (Indus River). They cultivated wheat, six rowed field of barley, melon seeds, oil crops like sesame, mustard, dates, and peas.

AGRICULTURE
The earliest traces of dyed cotton known anywhere in the world was found in the valley (the other example is from Jordan around 3000 BCE). Indus valley people cultivated rice (evidence from irrigated fields of Kalibangan, Rajasthan).

ARTS AND INDUSTRIES


The Harappans were also expert craftsmen. They made beads of carnelian, agate, amethyst, turquoise, lapis lazuli, etc.; they manufactured bangles out of shells, glazed faience and terracotta ; they carved ivory and worked shells into ornaments, bowls and ladles. They weilded bronze and copper for weapons, tools, domestic objects and statues.

ARTS AND INDUSTRIES


They also worked with silver and gold with great skill, specially for ornaments. Of course, they baked pottery in large quantities to the delight of archaeologists, since the different shapes, styles, and painted motifs are among the best guides in the evolution of any civilization.

ARTS AND INDUSTRIES


Harappans excelled at stone-carving, complex weaving and carpet-making, inlaid woodwork and decorative architecture. And, of course, they engraved with remarkable artistry their famous seals, mostly in steatite (or soapstone) ; those seals, over 3,000 of which have been found, seem to have served various purposes : some commercial, to identify consignments to be shipped, and some for ritual or spiritual purposes to invoke the deities,

ARTS AND INDUSTRIES


This statute continues to be worshipped as a goddess and later on came to be known as consort of the god of the dance: the natraja.

ORNAMENTS
The variety of ornaments made of silver, bronze and bone have been found on the site of the Indus Valley

NECKLACE
A necklace made of beads and bamboo sticks.

BANGLES
Bangles made of bone,copper and bronze found on different sites.

BRACELET
A beaded bracelet (modern looking ornament).

POTS
The terracotta pots found inside the graves.

POTS

WHISTLES
Bone whistles.

FACE MASK
Made of terracotta.

OTHER ARTS
Dancing, painting, sculpture, and music (there is evidence of drums and of stringed instruments) were all part of their culture. Possibly drama and puppet shows too, judging from a number of masks. Statues found are not abundant, but are very refined, whether in stone, bronze or terracotta. An ancestor of the game of chess has been unearthed at Lothal, as well.

DECIMAL SYSTEM
The Harappans were the first to use the decimal system for measurement. Their town-planning, which makes much use of geometry, partly relied on this decimal system. The analysis of Harappan weights and measures also point to the use of decimal system because their ratios corresponds to 0.5,0.1,1,2,3 and so on and goes up to 500.

SOME SPECIMENS

TRADING LINKS
The Harappans had a flourishing overseas trade with Oman, Bahrain, and Sumer ; exchanges with the Sumerians went on for at least several centuries, and merchant colonies were established in Bahrain and the Euphrates-Tigris valley. These trading links shows their high skills in ship-making and sailing.

TRADING LINKS
Several representations of ships have been found on seals, while many massive stone anchors have come up at Lothal and other sites of Saurashtra, Gujarat. For navigation, compasses carved out of conch shells appear to have been used to measure angles between the stars.

TRADING LINKS
A voyage from Lothal to Mesopotamia to sell the prized Harappan carnelian beads, which the kings and queens of Ur were so fond of, meant at least 2,500 kilometres of seafaring ; of course there would have been halts along the shore on the way, but still, some 4,000 years ago this must have ranked among the best sailing abilities.

SEALS

Most distinct feature of the Indus valley civilization are the terracotta seals (burnt), used for trading. Maybe, they were used as documents or sale transactions.

SEALS
Different seals found in the excavated sites of Harappa.

SEALS
Engraved seals (most of the historians think that these are the business deals or administrative directives).

SEALS
Engraved seal found in Mohenjodaro.

INDUS SCRIPT
Indus script comes to us in the form of short inscriptions (4,000 in all) each about five characters on average). These are found mainly on stamp seals of various materials, seal impressions on clay, pottery, moulds, copper plates, scrawls on metal artefacts and pottery. The writing is usually from right to left, though second line sometimes run from left to right. It is a logo-syllabic

INDUS SCRIPT
script, very similar to Proto-Elamite script of southwestern Iran. The script has not been deciphered as yet, but the language seems to be official the one universally in use among the Indus ruling class, merchants and priests. From certain indications within the script such as frequent fish sign, it seems to belong to the family of Dravidian languages.

STATE, SOCIETY AND RELIGION


The town planning, maintenance of drainage system, granaries, uniformity of weights and measures and the script shows a remarkable administrative control over the large population in the rural as well as the urban areas. An Indus Empire could have been created but unfortunately, hardly anything can be said about the nature of the state because of lack of written evidence.

PRIEST KING?
The only surviving stone image of priest or a ruler?

SOCIETY AND RELIGION


Harappan society was highly differentiated: houses, servant quarters, citadels, seal impressions etc. They worshipped natural forces like the trees (pipal tree found engraved on the seals), humped bull, mother goddesses and most probably, were ruled by a king priest. The evidence found on the burial sites suggests that they buried their dead with their belongings (their graves remained very sparse and basic in comparison to the Egyptians).

MALE GRAVE: NOT BURIED WITH HIS BELONGINGS

FEMALE GRAVE: SHE IS BURIED WITH HER INFANT AND OTHER BELONGINGS

BURIAL GROUND IN HARAPPA

DECLINE OR DISAPPEANCE?
POSSIBLEFACTORS ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES: FLOODS, DRAUGHTS AND DEFORESTATION MIGRATION TO GREENER PASTURES TOWARDS GANGETIC PLAINS OR ARYAN INVASION?