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Harappa: older than we thought (analysed from The Hindu, relevant for Prelims, GS Mains I, Topic: Ancient History)

The recent research by a team of researchers from IIT Kharagpur, Institute of Archaeology, Deccan College Pune, Physical Research Laboratory and Archaeological survey of India (ASI) shows that the Harappan civilisation was much older than thought around at least 8,000 years old.

Highlight from the journal:

1.    The study suggests that the climate was probably not the sole cause of Harappan decline. Despite the monsoon decline, the civilisation did not disappear. 

2.    The people changed their farming practices.They switched from water-intensive crops when monsoon was stronger to drought-resistant crops when it was weaker. These people shifted their crop patterns from the large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species of small millets and rice in the later part of declining monsoon, and thereby changed their subsistence strategy.

3.    The study suggests that other causes, like change in subsistence strategy, by shifting crop patterns rather than climate change was responsible for the Harappan collapse.

4.    On the Indian subcontinent, the major centres of this civilisation include Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan and Lothal, Dholavira and Kalibangan in India.

5.    The findings come from a major excavated site of Bhirrana in Haryana that shows preservation of all cultural levels of this ancient civilisation from the pre-Harappan Hakra phase through the Early Mature Harappan to the Mature Harappan time.

6.    Bhirrana was part of a high concentration of settlements along the now dried up mythical Vedic river ‘Saraswati’, an extension of Ghaggar river in the Thar desert.

7.    To find out how old the civilisation is, the researchers dated pottery of the Early Mature Harappan time  by a technique called optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) and found it to be nearly 6,000 years old, the oldest known pottery so far. The levels of pre-Harappan Hakra phase have been dated as old as 8,000 years.



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