The Harappan Civilization
some several thousand years ago there once thrived a civilization in the Indus Valley. Located in what's now Pakistan and western India, it was the earliest known urban culture of the Indian subcontinent. (1) The Indus Valley Civilization, as it is called, covered an area the size of western Europe. It was the largest of the four ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. However, of all these civilizations the least is known about the Indus Valley people. This is because the Indus script has not yet been deciphered. There are many remnants of the script on pottery vessels, seals, and amulets, but without a "Rosetta Stone" linguists and archaeologists have been unable to decipher it. They have then had to rely upon the surviving cultural materials to give them insight into the life of the Harappan's. (2) Harappan's are the name given to any of the ancient people belonging to the Indus Valley civilization. This article will be focusing mainly on the two largest cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, and what has been discovered there.
The discovery of the Indus Valley civilization was first recorded in the 1800's by the British. The first recorded note was by a British army deserter, James Lewis, who was posing as an American engineer in 1826. He noticed the presence of mounded ruins at a small town in Punjab called Harappa. Because Harappa was the first city found, sometimes any of the sites are called the Harappan civilization.
Alexander Cunningham, who headed the Archaeological Survey of India, visited this site in 1853 and 1856 while looking for the cities that had been visited by Chinese pilgrims in the Buddhist period. The presence of an ancient city was confirmed in the following 50 years, but no one had any idea of its age or importance. By 1872 heavy brick robbing had virtually destroyed the upper layers of the site. The stolen bricks were used to build houses and particularly to build a railway bed that the British were constructing. Alexander Cunningham made a few small excavations at the site and reported some discoveries of ancient pottery, some stone tools, and a stone seal. Cunningham published his finds and it generated some increased interest by scholars.
It wasn't till 1920 that excavations began in earnest at Harappa. John Marshall, then the director of the Archaeological Survey of India, started a new excavation at Harappa. Along with finds from another archaeologist, who was excavating at Mohenjo Daro, Marshall believed that what they had found gave evidence of a new civilization that was older than any they had known. (3)
Major excavations had not been carried out for forty years until 1986 when the late George Dales of the University of California at Berkeley established the Harappan Archaeological Project, or HARP. This multidisciplinary study effort consists of archaeologists, linguists, historians, and physical anthropologists.
Since the establishment of HARP, Jonathan Mark Kenoyer has served as co-director and field director of the project. Kenoyer was born in Shillong, India, and spent most of his youth there. He went on to receive his advanced degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. He is now a professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and teaches archaeology and ancient technologies. Kenoyer's main focus has been on the Indus Valley civilization's where he has conducted research for the last 23 years. Ever since he was a young graduate student, Kenoyer was particularly interested in ancient technology. He has done a great deal of work in trying to replicate processes used by ancient people in the production of jewelry and pottery. One of his first efforts in replicating shell bangle making was then co-authored with George Dales and published in an article. His doctorate studies were based upon this research, and his dissertation is a milestone in the field of experimental archaeology and...
Bibliography: 1. Indus Valley Civilization (1990) In Encyclopedia Britannica. (p. 302). Chicago, IL.
2. Kenoyer, Jonathan. (July 2003) Uncovering the keys to lost Indus cities. Scientific American. pg 71.
3. Kenoyer, Jonathan. (1998). Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. Oxford, New York. Oxford University Press. 20-21
6. Kenoyer, Jonathan. (July 2003) Uncovering the keys to lost Indus cities. Scientific American. pg 71.
9. Kenoyer, Jonathan. (July 2003) Uncovering the keys to lost Indus cities. Scientific American. pg 71
11. Rajaram, N.S, Frawley, David, (2001) Vedic Aryans and the Origins of Civilzation: a literary and scientific perspective. New Delhi, India. Voice of India. pg. 304.
12. Kenoyer, Jonathan. (July 2003) Uncovering the keys to lost Indus cities. Scientific American. pg. 74
15. Knapp, Stephen. (2000). Proof of Vedic Culture 's Global Existence. Detroit, Michigan. The World Relief Network. pg. 43.
16 Kenoyer, Jonathan. (July 2003) Uncovering the keys to lost Indus cities. Scientific American. pg. 67
19. Feurstein, George, Kak, Subash, Frawley, David. (2001) In Search of the Cradle of Civilization. Wheaton, Illinois.
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