Harappa

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


The type site of the Harappan (Indus) civilization, Harappa is a major city located in the Punjab, south asia, and is thought to have been at its height between 2500 and 2000 b.c. Harappa was recognized as an archaeological site in 1826, but research had to wait for nearly a century when, between 1920 and 1921, Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni of the Archaeological Survey of India began to explore the site. M.S. Vats continued the work during the time before the beginning of World War II, and after the war, sir Mortimer Wheeler, during his time at the Archaeological Survey of India, dug for a season in 1946. Another long hiatus in activity was broken in 1986 when George Dales began excavations here.

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One of the most fascinating yet mysterious cultures of the ancient world is the Harappan civilization. This culture existed along the Indus River in present day Pakistan and India. It was named after the city of Harappa which it was centered around. Harappa and the city of Mohenjo-Daro were the greatest achievements of the Indus valley civilization. These cities are well known for their impressive, organized and regular layout, road and street network, drainage and step-wells for water. Over one hundred other towns and villages also existed in this region. Only part of this language has been deciphered today, leaving numerous questions about this civilization unanswered.
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The Harappa civilization existed by the banks of Indus river for more than 3000 years ending somewhere around 2000 - 1500 BC. Their trade activities included both exchange of goods as well as paying by money which was represented by bronze coins that were found at the site during the excavation. Their trade with Mesopotamia took place both by road and river as they had floating goods carriers for the purpose.
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The Harappans used chisels, pickaxes, and saws. The saws they used had undulated edges so that dust escaped from the cut that they were sawing. These tools were most likely made of copper, as copper tools and weapons have been found at Harappan sites.
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By far the most exquisite but most obscure artifacts unearthed to date are the small, square steatite seals engraved with human or animal motifs. Large numbers of the seals have been found at Mohenjo-daro, many bearing pictographic inscriptions generally thought to be a kind of script. Despite the efforts of philologists from all parts of the world, and despite the use of modern cryptographic analysis, the script remains undeciphered. It is also unknown if it reflects proto-Dravidian, proto-Sramanic (Jain), non-Vedic (non-Hindu or non-Brahmnic), or is perhaps related to Brāhmī script. Similar Brāhmī inscriptions can be found at various Jain sites of present day Tamil Nadu in India.
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Each city in the Indus Valley was surrounded by massive walls and gateways. The walls were built to control trade and also to stop the city from being flooded. Each part of the city was made up of walled sections. Each section included different buildings such as: Public buildings, houses, markets, and craft workshops.
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Houses and other buildings were made of sun-dried or kiln-fired mud brick. These bricks were so strong, that they have stood up to thousands of years of wear. Each house had an indoor and outdoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen would be used when it was warmer (so that the oven wouldn’t heat up the house), and the indoor kitchen for use when it was colder. In present day, village houses in this region (e.g. in Kachchh) have two kitchens (outdoor and indoor). They use indoor kitchen mostly as store house and use as cooking place only when there is raining outside, otherwise prefer using outdoor kitchen. This is because people use dry shrub and cow dung as cooking fuel which is very smoky and makes indoor cooking difficult.
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Some believe that they were overrun by the war-like Aryans, the Indo-Europeans who, like a storm, rushed in from Euro-Asia and overran Persia and northern India. Some believe that the periodic and frequently destructive flooding of the Indus finally took its toll on the economic health of the civilization. It is possible that the periodic changes of course that the Indus undergoes also contributed to its decline. All we know is that somewhere between 1800 and 1700 BC, the Harappan cities and towns were abandoned and finally reclaimed by the rich soil they had sprung from.

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