Harappan Society

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aThe Indus-Sarasvati (or Hakra) civilisation was located around the Indus and GhaggarHakra rivers; divided chronologically into four eras it stretches in time from the Neolithic period to the Iron Age. When examining the technological and cultural advances of this society, the period in which the Early Harappan phase (part of the Regionalisation era) develops into the Mature Harappan phase (Integration era), that is from 2800-2200BCE is of particular interest. In studying the developments of this society it is essential to take into account its various urban centres in order to compare and contrast, centres examined include Harappa, Mohenjo-daro (both in modern day Pakistan), Kalibangan and Lothal (in modern India). Various qualities that indicate a high level of technological and cultural advancement include the ample archaeological evidence of municipal town planning, in particular regards to the well developed hygiene facilities, an analysis of Mature Harappan subsistence methods (and how they developed from Early Harappan practices), evidence of developed trade routes over both land and sea, the detailed, highly crafted pottery and seals found at many of the sites and the mysterious undeciphered Harappan symbol script. Nearly all of the Mature Harappan sites discovered (406 in Pakistan, 616 in India) have shown ample archaeological evidence of forethought in the planning and though the sites span an area of over 2.5 million square miles, similarities in architectural devices appear. The location of many of the Harappan settlements is conditioned by river flooding patterns (to be returned to later in examination of subsistence practices), climate, the accessibility of natural resources and by the external and internal trade routes that existed. With populations ranging between 35-41,000 peoplei he cities themselves had various layouts, most likely for utilitarian purposes, both Harappan and Mohenjo-daro have a citadel mound that is quite distinct from the lower city and the earlier site of Kotdiji also has the same essential layout at a less complex level. Kalibangan was a fully fortified settlement during the Early Harappan phase and evolved into a western citadel accompanied by a fortified checkered patterned city in the east. Built over the previously existing group of disorganised towns, Kalibangan is a typical in its Mature phase development. The Mature Harappan redevelopment of many of the early centres was encouraged by the numerous fires that

fig. 1 map of the Harappan cities broke out around the year 2500BCE, an example of such redevelopment can be seen at Kotdiji. Situated on the Gulf of Khambhat the town of Lothal was a prime example of Harappan town planning. After being destroyed by a flood in 2350BCEii the town was expanded in the style of the larger settlements with the added utilitarian purpose of consistent protection from floods. Lothal

was divided into a citadel and lower town and it is likely that the rulers and aristocracy would have lived inside the citadel (acropolis) which enjoyed paved bathing areas, drainage systems both under and above ground and a drinkable water well. The lower town was divided into two sections by an arterial street that ran down the centre from N-S (in keeping with Harappan tradition) which was the focus of commercial activity, flanking this street were residential areas. One of the standout features of Lothal is its dockyard, most likely the earliest in the world, which to this day is regarded by archaeologists as a feat of engineering; situated on the eastern side of the town it was placed away from the main current of the river with various inlet channels to avoid silting and its depth of 4.6m allowed it to be accessed by ships in high tide. A 3.5 metre high warehouse with over 64 rooms was built between the dock yard and the acropolis enabling dignitaries to oversee both dock and warehouse; a large ramp 220m long was built to facilitate movement of cargo to the...
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