Lesson 2 – THE INDUS CULTURE
- The monumental excavations of the ancient Punjab city of Harappa (Hara is one of Shiva’s names), begun in 1921, and other excavations occurred at its reflection south along the Indus at Mohenjo-daro (Mound of the Dead) a year later.
- The dig at Mohenjo-daro yielded a much clearer map of that ancient city on the west bank of the Indus, 250 miles north of the Arabian Sea.
- There were, in fact, no fewer than ten cities, constructed one on top of the other over a period of many centuries.
- Wheel-made pottery, much of it redware or buffware painted black, at times designed with animal as well as geometric motifs, has been found in profusion in all major Indus sites.
- The heavy brick walls and unadorned streets of Mohnjo-daro, Harappa, and the more recently discovered Indus sites of Kot Diji, Lothal and kalibaqngan leave an overall impression of ponderous utilitarianism.
- Indus ciivilzation, now represented by no fewer than seventy unearthed sites, extended over almost half a million square miles of the Punjab and Sind, from the borderlands of Baluchistan to the desert wastes of Rajasthan, from the Himalayan foothills to the tip of Gujarat, probing the limits of its ecosystem during the millenium of its mature survival.
- By this time (2000 BC), the Indus people had begun to spin cotton into yarn and weave it into cloth, dyed fragment of which has been found in Mohnjo-daro.
- By the time of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, the nomadic hunting, food-gathering and fishing subsistence economy of later Stone Age peoples and the marginal small-village agricultural economy of the Baluchi Hills had been clearly displaced by a sophisticated inundation-and-irrigation agricultural and commercial economy capable of supporting a large surplus urban population.
- Sometime shortly after 1750 BC, a number of factors began to transform the character of Harappan civilization; impairing its quality of life and disrupting its hitherto orderly urban environment to the extent that streets no longer followed any careful grid pattern, homes diminished in size, and pottery as well as drainage deteriorated or disappeared.
- The Jhukar people’s use of faience beads may, as Piggot suggests, be explained by the “conscription” of “local craftsmen” who learned the art at Chanhu-daro and were force by their “new rulers” to continue producing their ware; or it might simply reflect the fragmented and disjointed continuity of tradition maintained by a remnant of the earlier urban culture who had somehow escaped natural catastrophe.
- The chaos that characterized the last days of Mohenjo-daro appraently spread to Harappa in the north and may have reverberated as far as Lothal in the south as well, though evidence from these sites is less clearly defined and Lothal at least seems to have prospered long after the core of Indus civilization decayed.
- Why was the excavation at Harappa in 1921 important?
- Why is radio-carbon dating important in establishing the existence of a culture?
- How did the dig at Mohenjo-daro affect Indian research?
- How do we know that ancient Indians were artistic?
- Why is Shiva significant?
- Discuss the scope of Indus civilization.
- Why was the invention of cotton important to India?
- How did the Harappan civilization change after 1750 BC?
- Why were the Jhukar important?
- What are some reasons that one culture falls and another arises?
- How do digs contribute to historical research?
- How can influences of new cultures on old ones be good or bad?
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