- Although the Indus or Harappan culture is older than the Chalcolithic cultures discussed above, it is significantly more sophisticated as a bronze-using culture. It arose in the Indian subcontinent’s northwestern corner. Harappan is the name given to a civilization that was first discovered in 1921 at the modern-day site of Harappa in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
- In Sindh and Punjab, this culture grew and matured into an urban civilization. The Indus Valley, particularly in Sindh and Punjab, served as the center zone of this developed Harappan culture. It extended southwards and eastwards from there. The Harappan culture thus encompassed areas of Punjab, Haryana, Sindh, Baluchistan, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and the western outskirts of Uttar Pradesh.
- It stretched from the Siwalik Mountains in the north to the Arabian Sea in the south, as well as from Baluchistan’s Makran coast in the west to Meerut in the northeast. The territory was shaped like a triangle and covered around 1,299,600 square kilometers, making it larger than Pakistan and certainly greater than ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. In the third and second millennia BC, no other culture zone in the world was as widespread as the Harappan.
- In the subcontinent, around 1500 Harappan sites have been discovered thus far. The majority of them are posturban late Harappan sites. These, including Bhagwanpura, are mostly on the Hakra Ghaggar channel’s banks. They date from the Harappan culture’s early, maturity, and late periods. However, the number of mature phase sites is limited, and only a handful of them may be considered cities.
- Harappa in Punjab and Mohenjodaro (meaning “death mound”) in Sindh, both of which are now part of Pakistan, were the two most prominent cities. They were connected by the Indus, which ran for 483 kilometers between them. A third city, Chanhudaro in Sindh, was 130 kilometers south of Mohenjodaro, and a fourth, Lothal in Gujarat, was near the mouth of the Gulf of Cambay.
- Kalibangan, which means “black bangles,” is a sixth city in northern Rajasthan. Banawali, the sixth, is located in Haryana’s Hissar district. Similar to Kalibangan, it had two cultural phases: pre-Harappan and Harappan. The ruins of mud-brick platforms, streets, and drains date back to the Harappan period. At each of these six locations, the Harappan culture is visible in its mature and flourishing stage.
- It can also be found in its mature form in the coastal cities of Sutkagendor and Surkotada, both of which have citadels. Near Gujarat’s Kathiawar peninsula, the later Harappan period can be found in Rangpur and Rojdi. In addition, Dholavira, located in Gujarat’s Kutch region, exhibits Harappan fortification as well as all three phases of Harappan culture. These phases can also be found in Rakhigarhi, which is significantly larger than Dholavira and is located on the Ghaggar in Haryana.
Structures and Urban Planning
- The Harappan society was known for its urban planning system. Both Harappa and Mohenjodaro had a citadel or acropolis, which was likely held by ruling class members. Each city has a lower town with brick homes that were occupied by the common people beneath the citadel. The houses in cities are laid out in a grid system, with highways crossing across one another at nearly perfect angles.
- In terms of structures, Mohenjodaro won out over Harappa. The ability of the ruling class to mobilize labor and collect taxes was reflected by city monuments; the massive brick structures were a way of impressing the common people with the rulers’ prestige and influence.
- The huge bath, which includes the tank in the citadel mound and is a magnificent example of excellent masonry, appears to have been Mohenjodaro’s most important public area. It is 11.88 m long, 7.01 m wide, and 2.43 m deep. There are side rooms for changing clothing and flights of steps leading to the surface at either end. The bath’s floor was constructed of charred bricks.
- An outlet from the corner of the bath connected to a drain, and water was pulled from a big well in an adjacent room. It has been suggested that the large bath was built especially for ritual bathing, which is so important in Indian religious ceremonies. Dholavira’s enormous tank could be compared to the big bath. The Dholavira tank was most likely utilized for the same purpose as Mohenjodaro’s big bath.
- The largest structure in Mohenjodaro is a granary, which is 45.71 meters long and 15.23 meters broad. However, there are as many as six granaries in Harappa’s fortress. Working floors consisting of rows of circular brick platforms lay to the south of Harappa’s granaries. Wheat and barley were discovered in the fissures of the flooring, indicating that they were used for threshing grain. Harappa also has two-roomed barracks, which may have been used by laborers.
- There are also brick platforms in the southern portion of Kalibangan that could have been used as granaries. Granaries appear to have played a significant role in Harappan cities.
- Burnt bricks were employed in Harappan cities, which is unusual because dried bricks were commonly utilized in Egyptian constructions at the time. Baked bricks are still utilized in modern Mesopotamia, but they were employed far more extensively in Harappan cities.
- Mohenjodaro’s drainage system was rather impressive. Practically every house, big or small, had its own courtyard and restroom in almost every city. Many homes in Kalibangan had their own wells. Water poured from the house to drains in the streets. These drains were sometimes covered with bricks, and other times with stone slabs. The Harappans, more than any other Bronze Age culture, devoted close attention to health and sanitation.
- The Indus region is not as fruitful as it once was due to its lack of rain, but the affluent villages and towns of the past attest to its fertility. The annual inundation of the Indus, the longest Himalayan river, appears to have been a considerably more crucial reason for the area’s fertility.
- Before the next flood, the Indus people planted seeds on the flood plains in November and harvested wheat and barley in April. Although no hoe or ploughshare has been found, the furrows discovered at Kalibangan during the pre-Harappan phase show that the fields were ploughed in Rajasthan throughout the Harappan period.
- The Harappans most likely utilized a wooden plough drawn by oxen, though camels may have also been used. The crops may have been harvested with stone sickles. In portions of Baluchistan and Afghanistan, gabarbands or nalas surrounded by dams for water storage were common, but channel or canal irrigation was unlikely. Harappan communities, which were generally located in river plains, produced enough food grains not only for themselves but also for the townspeople.
- Wheat, barley, rai, peas, and other crops were grown by the Indus people. Wheat and barley were cultivated in two varieties. At Banawali, a large amount of barley was unearthed. Sesamum and mustard seeds were also grown. The Harappans, on the other hand, appear to have been in a different situation at Lothal. Rice appears to have been grown by the people of Lothal as early as 1800 BC, as evidenced by the discovery of rice remains.
- Food grains were kept in massive granaries in Mohenjodaro and Harappa, as well as possibly in Kalibangan. Because the Indus people were the first to cultivate cotton, the Greeks named the region Sindon, which is derived from Sindh.
Animals have been domesticated for thousands of years.
- Animals were raised on a great scale by the Harappans, despite the fact that they practiced agriculture. Domesticated animals included oxen, buffaloes, goats, sheep, and pigs. The Harappans were fond of humped bulls. Dogs and cats were produced from the start, while asses and camels were clearly used as beasts of burden, with the latter maybe also being used for ploughing.
- A shallow level of Mohenjodaro and a dubious ceramic piece from Lothal provide evidence of the horse. The remains of a horse have been discovered in Surkotada, Gujarat, dating from around 2000 BC, although their identity is unknown.
- Harappan civilisation, in any case, was not centered on horses. In early and mature Harappan cultures, no horse bones nor depictions have been found. The Harappans were familiar with both elephants and rhinos.
Craftsmanship and Technology
- Agricultural surplus, the production of bronze tools, several other crafts, and broad trade and commerce all contributed to the growth of settlements in the Indus zone. The Harappan urban culture dates from the Bronze Age and is considered India’s first urbanization. Harappa’s inhabitants used a variety of stone tools and utensils, but they were also well-versed in the production and usage of bronze.
- For the most part, smiths mixed tin with copper to make bronze, but they also mixed arsenic with copper on occasion. Bronze tools are scarce in the region since neither tin nor copper were readily available to the Harappans. Copper was sourced from the Khetri copper mines in Rajasthan, though it could also have come from Baluchistan, based on the impurities in the ores.
- Tin was possibly imported from Afghanistan with difficulty, while old workings are said to have been discovered at Hazaribagh and Bastar. Tin is found in lower amounts in the bronze tools and weapons found at Harappan sites.
- Harappan settlements were also home to a number of major crafts. Textile impressions have been discovered on many artifacts from Mohenjodaro, including a piece of woven cotton. Spinning was done with spindle whorls.
- Wool and cotton textiles were woven by weavers. Huge brick constructions indicate to the existence of a class of masons and suggest that bricklaying was a significant skill. The Harappans were also skilled boat builders. Seal-making and terracotta-making were also important crafts, as will be revealed later.
- The goldsmiths created jewelry out of silver, gold, and precious stones; the first two resources came from Afghanistan, while the last came from south India. Harappans were also skilled beadsmiths. The potter’s wheel was widely utilized, and the Harappans were known for their shining, glossy pottery.
Trade and Commerce
- The centrality of trade in the lives of the Indus people is reinforced not only by the discovery of granaries at Harappa, Mohenjodaro, and Lothal, but also by the discovery of numerous seals, a uniform script, and standardized weights and measurements that covered a large area. Within the Indus civilization zone, the Harappans traded a lot of stone, metal, shell, and other things.
- Their cities, on the other hand, lacked the requisite raw materials to make the goods they did. They did not utilize metal money and most likely used a barter system to conduct transactions. They obtained metals from neighboring locations by boat (they cruised the Arabian Sea coast) and bullock-cart in exchange for finished goods and possibly food grains.
- They were aware of the wheel’s use, and solid-wheeled carts were in use in Harappa. The Harappans appear to have employed a variant of the contemporary ekka, although without the spoked wheel.
- Rajasthan, as well as Afghanistan and Iran, were all trading partners for the Harappans. They established a commercial colony in northern Afghanistan, which aided trade with Central Asia. Their cities also had trade ties with people living in the Tigris and Euphrates basins.
- In Mesopotamia, many Harappan seals have been unearthed, and it appears that the Harappans mimicked some cosmetics used by Mesopotamian city dwellers.
- Long-distance trading in lapis lazuli was practiced by the Harappans, and lapis items may have contributed to the ruling class’s social reputation. From from 2350 BC onwards, Mesopotamian records mention commercial links with Meluha, the old name for the Indus Valley.
- Dilmun and Makan, two intermediate trading outposts between Mesopotamia and Meluha, are mentioned in Mesopotamian writings. Dilmun is most likely associated with Bahrain, which is located in the Persian Gulf. In one port city, tens of thousands of graves are awaiting excavation.
- Excavations reveal a habitation hierarchy in the city. Although the city of Harappa is attributed to only two places, its structure reveals three separate localities, which is also true of Kalibangan and Dholavira.
- The governing class lived in the citadel or first locality, while the common people lived in the lowest tower. The middle village may have been intended for medium-class merchants and administrators.
- However, it is unclear if settlement hierarchy corresponds to occupational divides or social differentiation. There is little question that the same city was populated by different housing groupings of varying sizes. Different residential constructions, ranging in size from one to twelve rooms, represent social difference. Harappa has two-roomed dwellings, which were most likely intended for artisans and laborers.
- A central authority may have contributed to this because Harappan civilization is more or less similar across a broad area. In the Indus Valley, we may be able to discern several key aspects of the state. The Kautilya Arthashastra defines the state’s organs to be sovereignty, ministers, populous territory, forts, money, force, and friends.
- The citadel may have served as the seat of royal power in Harappan culture, the middle town as the residence of bureaucrats or the headquarters of government, and the enormous granary at Mohenjodaro as the treasury. Taxes appear to have been paid in grain. Furthermore, the entire Harappan region was densely populated.
- A hallmark of several cities was fortification. Forts within forts were common in Dholavira. We have no clear idea of a permanent army or organized force, but a pile of sling stones and a picture of a soldier on a potsherd at Surkotada could indicate one. In any case, in the mature Harappan phase, the state was well entrenched.
- No temples have been discovered at any Harappan site, in contrast to Egypt and Mesopotamia. Apart from the big bath, which may have been used for ablution, no religious structures of any kind have been discovered.
- As a result, it would be incorrect to assume that priests dominated in Harappa as they did in lower Mesopotamia’s cities. The Harappan rulers were more interested in trade than conquest, and Harappa was likely ruled by a merchant class. The Harappans, on the other hand, did not have many weapons, which could indicate a lack of a competent warrior class.
- Several terracotta figures of women have been discovered in Harappa. A plant is represented sprouting out of a woman’s embryo in one miniature. The goddess of the earth is most likely represented in this artwork, and she was closely associated with the origin and growth of plants. As a result, the Harappans saw the earth as a fertility goddess, worshipping her in the same manner that Egyptians revered the Nile goddess Isis. We don’t know if the Harappans, like the Egyptians, were a matriarchal society. The daughter in Egypt inherited the kingdom or property, but we don’t know how inheritance worked in Harappan civilization.
- The earth goddess is revered in several Vedic writings, albeit she isn’t given much prominence. It took a long time for Hinduism to build a large-scale worship of the supreme deity. In the Puranas and tantra literature, several mother goddesses such as Durga, Amba, Kali, and Chandi are only mentioned after the sixth century AD. With the passage of time, each community developed its own goddess.
The Indus Valley’s Male Deity
- On a seal, the masculine deity is depicted. This god has three horns and is depicted in the yogi’s sitting pose, with one leg raised higher than the other. This god is encircled by an elephant, a tiger, and a rhinoceros, with a buffalo beneath his throne and two deer at his feet. Pashupati Mahadeva is the god pictured here, however the identification is dubious because the bull isn’t present, and horned gods appear in other ancient civilizations.
- We also come across the popularity of phallus worship, which eventually became so closely associated with Shiva. Many stone phallus and female sex organ symbols have been discovered in Harappa, and they may have been used for worship. Non-Aryan phallus worshippers are mentioned in the Rig Veda. Phallus worship, which began in Harappa, was eventually accepted in Hindu civilization as an acceptable form of worship.
Worship of Trees and Animals
- Trees were highly revered by the people of the Indus region. A deity is depicted on a seal, which is surrounded by pipal branches. This tree is still revered and adored today. In Harappan periods, animals were also revered, and many of them are depicted on seals. The onehorned animal unicorn, which is related to the rhinoceros, is the most important of all.
- The humped bull is the next most important animal. Even today, religious Hindus yield to such a bull as it walks through the market streets. The animals that surround ‘Pashupati Mahadeva’ also show that they were adored. Clearly, the people of the Indus valley worshiped gods in the form of trees, animals, and humans, but the gods were not enshrined in temples, as was the case in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.
- We can’t say anything about the Harappans’ religious views without first reading their script. A great number of amulets have been discovered. The Harappans most likely believed that ghosts and evil powers were capable of harming them, thus they wore amulets to protect themselves. The non-Aryan tradition’s Atharva Veda contains several charms and spells, as well as recommendations for amulets to ward off sickness and evil forces.
The Harappan Script
- Like the people of ancient Mesopotamia, the Harappans devised writing. The Harappan script has yet to be decoded, despite the fact that the first example was discovered in 1853 and the complete script was discovered in 1923. Some researchers try to link it to the Dravidian or proto-Dravidian language, some to Sanskrit, and yet others to Sumerian, but none of these interpretations are satisfactory.
- We can’t critique the Harappan contribution to literature or say anything about their ideas and beliefs because the writing hasn’t been deciphered.
- The Harappans, unlike the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, did not leave extensive inscriptions. The majority of inscriptions were written on seals and were simply a few words long. The proprietors may have used these seals to mark and distinguish their own property. We have between 250 and 400 pictographs in all, and each letter represents a sound, thought, or item in the form of a picture.
- The Harappan script is mostly pictographic rather than alphabetical. Attempts have been made to relate it to contemporary scripts from Mesopotamia and Egypt, but it is a native product of the Indus region and bears no resemblance to western Asian scripts.
Measurements and Weights
- The ability to read a script must have aided in the recording of private property and the keeping of accounts. Weights and measurements were also required and employed by the Indus region’s urban residents for trade and other interactions. There have been numerous objects discovered that have been utilized as weights.
- They reveal that the number 16 or its multiples were commonly employed in weighing: for example, 16, 64, 160, 320, and 640. Surprisingly, the tradition of 16 has survived until current times in India, and until recently, 16 annas equaled one rupee. The Harappans were also skilled in the measurement of things. Measure-mark-inscribed sticks have been discovered, one of which is made of bronze.
Pottery from Harrapa
The Harappans had a lot of experience with the potter’s wheel. The specimens discovered are all red and include dishonesty. Several pots have been discovered with various designs painted on them. Tree and circle designs were common on Harappan pots, and figures of men may also be found on certain ceramic shards.
Seals and Sealings
Seals are the greatest creative masterpieces of the Harappan culture. About 2000 seals have been discovered, with the bulk of them bearing short inscriptions depicting one-horned animals such as unicorns, buffaloes, tigers, rhinoceroses, goats, elephants, antelopes, and crocodiles. Seals, which were composed of steatite or faience, were used as authority emblems.
As a result, they were employed for stamping. In contrast to Egypt and Mesopotamia, however, there are few stamped artefacts known as sealings. Seals were utilized as amulets as well.
Harappan metallurgists created stunning metal sculptures. The best example is a bronze woman dancer who is completely naked save for a necklace. A few Harappan stone sculptures have been discovered. One steatite figure wears a shawl-like decorated robe that passes over the left shoulder and under the right arm, and a woven fillet holds the short locks at the back of the head in place.
Many figurines are made of terracotta, which is a fire-baked earthy clay. These were either utilized as toys or as religious artifacts. Birds, dogs, lambs, cattle, and monkeys are among the animals they portray. Both men and women have a place in the terracotta items, with the latter outnumbering the former. The seals and images were expertly crafted, however the clay pieces are crudely executed artistic works.
The disparity between the two sets reflects the social classes that employed them, with the upper classes using the first and the lower classes using the second.
Work with Stones
Because stone could not be obtained by the two major cities, we do not discover much stone work in Harappa and Mohenjodaro. In Dholavira, Kutch, however, the situation was different. The stone fortress of Dholavira is a massive structure and the most spectacular of the Harappan citadels discovered thus far. Dressed stone is utilized in masonry with mud bricks in Dholavira, which is unusual.
In Dholavira, stone slabs are utilized in three types of funerals, one of which includes a circle of stones above the grave that resembles a Megalithic stone circle.
The End of the Indus Civilization
- In general, the mature Harappan culture existed between 2500 and 1900 BC. Over time, we can see modifications in the pottery of Mohenjodaro. Harappa and Mohenjodaro, the two most prominent towns of Harappan culture, were vanished by the nineteenth century BC, but the Harappan civilisation had faded out at other sites and persisted in a degenerate form in the outlying borders of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and western UP until 1500 BC.
- This cultural disintegration is difficult to explain. It’s possible that the environment played a role. Around 1700 BC, the Yamuna and Sutlej rivers in the Harappan zone diverged from the Sarasvati or Hakra. This resulted in a reduction in water supply. Rainfall also reduced about the same time. Some speculate that a dam in the Indus may cause major floods in Mohenjodaro. These forces may have conspired against us, yet failure in human endeavors cannot be overlooked.
- Crafts and commerce appear to have collapsed as a result of the abrupt termination of long-distance land and sea trade with Mesopotamia. This trade in costly items, such as lapis lazuli and beads, primarily traveled via Elam, which was located on Mesopotamia’s eastern border and encompassed a large portion of Iran. Around 2000 BC, Elam arose as a powerful state, disrupting the flow of Harappan commodities to Mesopotamia and Mesopotamian imports, particularly tin, to Harappan communities.
- Hard-material beads, particularly stone beads, were created in the Harappan zone and shipped beyond. The craftsmen lost their livelihood when their exports to Mesopotamia were halted. Similarly, the Valley’s tin supply was cut off, which was devastating to the artists who made bronze.
- The exhaustion of the soil may have reduced food output, leaving the urban population hungry. Harappan society fell apart because the nobility in the cities failed to exert control over crafts and agriculture.
- The Harappan cities demonstrate well-planned growth, but their Mesopotamian equivalents display uncontrolled development. All Harappan cities include rectangular dwellings with brick-lined baths and wells, as well as their stairways, although such town planning is not visible in western Asian cities. No one else in antiquity had built a better drainage system than the Creteans in Knossos, and no one in western Asia had demonstrated such expertise in the use of burnt bricks as the Harappans.
- The Harappans created their own distinctive pottery and seals, and, most importantly, they established their own script, which was unlike either Egyptian or Mesopotamian. No other current culture has spanned such a large geographical area as the Harappan.
- Harappan culture appears to have thrived until around 1900 BC. Its urban phase, as well as its artistic consistency, vanished as a result. The posturban phase of Harappan culture is also known as sub-Indus culture, and was previously referred to as post-Harappan culture, but is now more commonly referred to as posturban Harappan culture.
- Posturban Harappan societies generally employed Chalcolithic implements made of stone and metal. They had axes, chisels, knives, bangles, curved razors, fishhooks, and spearheads, but no metal artifacts that required intricate casting. In the later, posturban phase, the Chalcolithic inhabitants lived in villages, subsisting on agriculture, animal raising, hunting, and fishing.
- The spread of metal technologies in rural areas most likely aided agriculture and settlement. Some sites in Gujarat, such Prabhas Patan (Somnath) and Rangpur, are direct descendants of Harappan culture. Only a few Harappan elements have been discovered at Ahar, near Udaipur.
- Gilund, which appears to have been an Ahar culture regional center, even includes brick constructions dating from 2000 to 1500 BC. Aside from that, charred bricks have only been discovered in the late Harappan phase at Bhagwanpura in Haryana. The date of the Bhagwanpura stratum to which the bricks belong, however, is unknown.
- At the OCP site of Lal Quila in the Bulandshahr region of western Uttar Pradesh, there are stray pieces. It should be noted, however, that the Chalcolithic civilisation of Malwa (c. 1700–1200 BC), which had its greatest town at Navdatoli, contains few Harappan characteristics. The same can be said for the numerous Jorwe sites located in the Tapi, Godavari, and Bhima valleys.
- Daimabad, the largest of the Jorwe settlements, with roughly 22 hectares of occupation and a possible population of 4000, making it protourban. The vast majority of Jorwe settlements, however, were villages.
- In Pakistan’s Swat valley, some posturban Harappan villages have been uncovered. Pastoralism, along with extensive agriculture and cow rearing, was practiced here. They utilized burnished black–grey ware made on a slow wheel. This type resembles pottery from the third millennium BC and later on the northern Iranian plateau.
- During the early posturban period, that is, with the posturban civilization connected with Harappa, the Swat valley inhabitants produced blackon-red painted and wheel-turned pottery with a tight tie to the Indus pottery. As a result, the Swat valley could be considered the northernmost outpost of late Harappan society.
- Several late or posturban Harappan sites have been discovered in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu, India. Manda in Jammu, Chandigarh and Sanghol in Punjab, Daulatpur and Mitthal in Haryana, and Alamgirpur and Hulas in western Uttar Pradesh are all worth mentioning. When the Harappans arrived in Daulatpur, Haryana, and Hulas, Uttar Pradesh, it appears that they adopted rice. Ragi, also known as finger millet, has yet to be discovered at any Harappan site in northern India. The late Harappans most likely produced cotton in Alamgirpur, as evidenced by the textile impression on Harappan pottery.
- Although there are some new pot types, the painted Harappan pottery found in late or posturban Harappan sites in the northern and eastern parts is replaced with less detailed motifs. At Bhagwanpura, several late Harappan pot types are found interlocked with Painted Grey Ware fragments, although the Harappan culture appears to have reached a point of full dilution by this period.
- No artefact for measuring length has been discovered in the posturban Harappan phase. Cubical stone weights and clay cakes were not found in Gujarat.
Exotic tools and ceramics from the late Harappan period illustrate the slow infiltration of new peoples into the Indus basin. In the final phase of Mohenjodaro, there are evidence of insecurity and violence. There were hoards of jewelry buried in some locations, while skulls were crowded together in another. In the highest levels of Mohenjodaro, new forms of axes, daggers, knives with midribs, and flat tangs appear. They appear to be the result of some external infiltration.
In a cemetery associated with the late phase of Harappa, new types of pottery have been discovered in the most recent levels, indicating the presence of new peoples. In several Harappan sites in Baluchistan, new forms of pottery have been discovered. In 1700 BC, the horse and Bactrian camel were present in Baluchistan.
The newcomers may have migrated from Iran and south Central Asia, but they did not arrive in such large numbers that the Harappan sites in Punjab and Sindh were entirely overwhelmed. We have little archaeological evidence of any mass-scale combat between the late Harappans and the Indo-Aryans, despite the fact that the Rig Vedic people predominantly lived in the area of the Seven Rivers, where the Harappan culture once flourished. Between 1500 and 1200 BC, successive groups of Vedic people may have visited the subcontinent during the posturban Harappan phase.
The Origins Issue
Around 4000 BC, several pre-Harappan agricultural villages appeared in the Hakra area of Pakistan’s Cholistan desert. Agricultural settlements originally appeared on the eastern periphery of Baluchistan circa 7000 BC, on the border of the Indus plains, during the preceramic Neolithic period. People began to domesticate goats, sheep, and cattle around that time. They also grew wheat and barley. When granaries were built in the fifth millennium BC, these subsistence methods became more widespread.
Mud bricks were first used in the fifth and fourth millennia BC. Female clay figurines and painted earthenware began to be produced. Rahman Dheri, in the northern region of Baluchistan, established as the first town with planned roads and dwellings. On the west, this site was practically parallel to Harappa. The early Harappan and mature Harappan cultures are clearly descended from Baluchistan towns.
The natural environment is sometimes credited with being the primary source of Harappan culture. The contemporary environment in the Harappan area is unsuitable for crafts and cultivation, although arid and semiarid conditions were not prevalent in the third millennium BC. We have evidence of high rain and a substantial flow of water into the Indus and its tributary Sarasvati in the period 3000–2000 BC, which is nearly identical to the dried-up Hakra in Sindh.
Although the Indus civilization is sometimes referred to as the Sarasvati culture, the Yamuna and Sutlej rivers contributed to the flow of water in the Harappan Hakra. Due to tectonic processes in the Himalayas, these two rivers joined the Sarasvati for ages. As a result, credit for assisting the Harappan culture should go to these two rivers, as well as the Indus, rather than the Sarasvati alone. Furthermore, evidence of high rainfall in the Indus region cannot be overlooked.
Is it possible that the Harappan culture was Vedic?
Although Harappan culture is sometimes referred to as Rig Vedic, its main characteristics are not seen in the Rig Veda. The mature Harappan phase is marked by planned settlements, crafts, commerce, and enormous constructions made of burnt bricks. These are not mentioned in the Rig Veda. The early Vedic people, as will be demonstrated later, subsisted on cattle herding augmented by agriculture and did not employ bricks. The early Vedic people lived in Afghanistan as well as essentially the entire Harappan zone.
Although the Rig Veda is dated to roughly 1500 BC, the mature urban phase lasted from 2500 to 1900 BC. Furthermore, the Harappan and Vedic peoples did not share the same knowledge of flora and animals. Only barley is mentioned in the Rig Veda, but the Harappans were familiar with wheat, sesamum, and peas.
The Harappans knew about rhinoceros, but the early Vedic people didn’t. The tiger is no exception. The Vedic chiefs were horse-obsessed, which is why the Rig Veda mentions the horse 215 times, yet the horse was unknown to the Harappans in the city. The elephant is shown in Harappan terracottas, but unlike the horse, it is not important in the Vedas.
The Indus script of Harappa has yet to be deciphered, and no Indo-Aryan inscriptions from Vedic periods have been discovered in India. We don’t know much about the Harappan languages, yet the Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Vedic people is still spoken in South Asia in various variants.
The Continuity Issue
Some researchers discuss the Harappan culture’s continuity, while others discuss its transition from urbanization to deurbanization. Because urbanisation was a major aspect of Harappan civilisation, its demise precludes any notion of cultural continuity.
Similarly, the Harappan city’s deurbanization was not a simple shift; it involved the loss of towns, script, and burnt bricks for around 1500 years. After the Kushan towns were abandoned, these components remained throughout north India.
After its collapse around 1900 BC, the Harappan culture is claimed to have continued in the Gangetic plains and elsewhere in north India. However, no significant Harappan features can be seen in the Painted Grey Ware civilisation, which dates from the first millennium BC. The PGW culture lacks big structures, burnt bricks, bronze, urbanisation, and writing, but it did have its own distinctive pottery.
Though there are a few examples of burnt bricks dating from around 1500 BC, true heated bricks first occur in north India around 300 BC during the Northern Black Polished Ware civilization phase. Similarly, as the Harappan culture died out, writing in the form of the Brahmi script became popular during the NBPW period.
However, it was written from left to right, as opposed to the Harappan script, which was written from right to left. Similarly, Harappan pottery and NBP pottery are unrelated. In the fifth century BC, the effective utilization of iron in the NBPW phase gave rise to a new social system in the mid-Gangetic plains. The Indus civilisation, on the other hand, did not have iron or money, which marked the NBPW period.
Despite the fact that some stray Indus beads made their way to the Gangetic plains, they cannot be regarded an essential Indus feature. Similarly, around 2000 BC, a few Harappan ceramics and terracottas survived, but these pieces alone cannot represent the complete Harappan culture.
The Chalcolithic cultures of Rajasthan, Malwa, Gujarat, and the upper Deccan, on the other hand, continued to incorporate stray components of the Indus culture. There appears to have been some give and take between the Indo-Aryan and existing cultures after the end of the urban Harappan period in 1900 BC.
The Harappans’ Munda and proto-Dravidian languages were still spoken. Both the Aryan and pre-Aryan languages were enriched as a result of the interaction. Sanskrit contains pre-Aryan words for pottery and agriculture, but the balance of power favored the Indo-Aryans, whose language spread across a large portion of the subcontinent.