BRICKS, BEADS AND BONES: THE HARAPPAN CIVILISATION
Key concepts in nutshell
(i) Early Harappa culture- Before 2600 BCE
(ii) Mature Harappa culture- 2600BCE to 1900 BCE
(iii) Late Harappa culture- After 1900 BCE
Extent of Harappan civilisation:
1. Northern boundary: Manda Southern Boundary-Daimabad
2. Eastern boundary: Alamgirpur Western boundary-Sutkagendor
Characteristics of the Harappan Civilisation :
(i) The Citadel
(ii) The Lower Town
Metals known: Gold, Silver, Copper, Bronze.
Scripts: The Harappan scripts are undeciphered. There are 375-400 signs. The script was written from right to left.
Craft: The place Chanhudaro was totally involved for craft production. There were experts in bead makings, shell cutting, seal making, weight making. Lothal was also one
of the important place for craft production.
Modes of Transportation: Bullock carts and Boats.
Q.1. List the raw materials required for craft production in the Harappan civilisation and discuss how these might have been obtained. (2)
Ans. The variety of materials used to make beads is remarkable: stones like carnelian (of a beautiful red colour), jasper, crystal, quartz and steatite; metals like copper, bronze and gold; and shell, faience and terracotta or burnt clay.
Two methods of procuring materials for craft production:
1. They established settlements such as Nageshwar, Shortughai and Balakot.
2. They might have sent expeditions to areas such as the Khetri region of Rajasthan (for Copper) and south India (for gold).
Q.2. “Our knowledge about the Indus Valley Civilization is poorer than that of the other Civilizations”. Explain it by your arguments? (2)
Ans. Yes, our knowledge about the Indus Valley Civilization is poorer than that of the other because of the following reasons:-
Q.3. What were the confusions in the mind of Cunningham while studying Harappan civilization ? (2)
Ans. Cunningham’s Confusion were:
(i) Cunningham’s main interest was in the archaeology of the Early Historic and later periods. Cunningham tried to place Harappan seals within the time-frame with which he was familiar.
(ii) He used the accounts left by Chinese Buddhist pilgrims who had visited the subcontinent between the fourth and seventh centuries CE to locate early settlement.
(iii) Cunningham also collected, documented and translated inscriptions found during his surveys. When he excavated sites he tended to recover artefacts that he thought had cultural value.
(iv) A site like Harappa which was not part of the itinerary of the Chinese pilgrims, did not fit very neatly within his framework of investigation. Cunningham did not realize how old Harappa artifacts were.
Q.4. What were the differences in the techniques adopted by Marshall and Wheeler in studying Harappan civilization ? (2)
Ans. Marshall tended to excavate along regular horizontal units, measured uniformly throughout the mound, ignoring the stratigraphy of the site.
This meant that all the artefacts recovered from the same unit were grouped together, even if they were found at different stratigraphic layers. As a result, valuable information about the context of these finds was irretrievably lost. R.E.M. Wheeler, rectified this problem. Wheeler recognised that it was necessary to follow the stratigraphy of the mound rather than dig mechanically along uniform horizontal lines
Q.5. “Burials is a better source to trace social differences prevalent in the Harappan civilization”. Discuss. (2)
1. Studying burials is a strategy to find out social differences.
2. At burials in Harappan sites the dead were generally laid in pits. Sometimes, there were differences in the way the burial pit was made – in some instances; the hollowed-out spaces were lined with bricks.
3.Some graves contain pottery and ornaments, perhaps indicating a belief that these could be used in the afterlife. Jewellery has been found in burials of both men and women.
Q. 6. Write a note on the Drainage system of the Harappans. (5)
Ans. One of the striking features of this town was a well planned drainage system. The drains were made of mortar, lime and gypsum. They were covered with big bricks and stones which could be lifted easily to clean the drains. Smaller drains from houses on both the sides of the streets came and joined a brick laid main channel. Bigger drains which cleared the rain water were 2 and half feet to 5 feet in circumference. For sewage from the houses, pits were provided at either side of the street. All this shows that the Indus Valley people took great care to keep their cities neat and clean.
Q.7. Discuss the functions that may have been performed by rulers in Harappan society. (5)
Ans. Some archaeologists are of the opinion that Harappan society had no rulers and that everybody enjoyed equal status. Others feel there was no single ruler but several.
Q. 8. How can you say that the Harappan culture was an urban one. (5)
Ans. We can say that the Harappan culture was an urban one, due to the following reasons:
Q.9. Write a note on the agricultural technology of Harappans. (5)
Ans. Agriculture was the chief occupation of the Harappans. The prevalence of agriculture is indicated by finds of grains. But it is more difficult to reconstruct actual agricultural practices. Archaeologists have found evidence of a ploughed field at Kalibangan. Representations on seals and terracotta sculpture indicate that the bull was known, and archaeologist extrapolate from this that oxen were used for ploughing. Terracotta models of the plough have been found at sites in Cholistan and at Banawali. The field had two sets of furrows at right angles to each other, suggesting that two different crops were grown together.
Most Harappan sites are located in semi-arid lands, where irrigation was probably required for agriculture. Traces of canals have been found at the Harappan site of Shortughai in Afghanistan. It is also likely that water drawn from wells was used for irrigation. Besides, water reservoirs found in Dholavira may have been used to store water for agriculture.
Q.10. Discuss how archaeologist reconstruct the past. (10)
Ans. 1. Material evidences, allows archaeologists to better reconstruct Harappan life. This material could be pottery, tools, ornaments, household objects, etc.
2. Recovering artefacts is just the beginning of the archaeological enterprise. Archaeologists then classify their finds.
3. The second, and more complicated, is in terms of function: archaeologists have to decide whether, for instance, an artefact is a tool or an ornament, or both, or something meant for ritual use.
4. An understanding of the function of an artefact is often shaped by its resemblance with present-day things – beads, querns, stone blades and pots are obvious examples.
5. Archaeologists also try to identify the function of an artefact by investigating the context in which it was found
6. The problems of archaeological interpretation are perhaps most evident in attempts to reconstruct religious practices.
7. Attempts have also been made to reconstruct religious beliefs and practices by examining seals, some of which seem to depict ritual scenes. Others, with plant motifs, are thought to indicate nature worship.
8. Many reconstructions of Harappan religion are made on the assumption that later traditions provide parallels with earlier ones. This is because archaeologists often move from the known to the unknown, that is, from the present to the past.
9. Remains of crops, saddle querns or pit are studied to identify food.
10. Archaeologists observe the different layers of site and try to find out different things which give picture of socio-economic conditions, religions and cultural life of the past people.
Q.11. Passage based question:
Read the given passage carefully and answer the questions that follows: (8)
“Evidence of an “invasion”
Deadman Lane is a narrow alley, varying from 3 to 6 feet in width … At the point where the lane turns westward, part of a skull and the bones of the thorax and upper arm of an adult were discovered, all in very friable condition, at a depth of 4 ft 2 in. The body lay on its back diagonally across the lane. Fifteen inches to the west were a few fragments of a tiny skull. It is to these remains that the lane owes its name. FROM JOHN MARSHALL, Mohenjodaro and the Indus Civilisation, 1931. Sixteen skeletons of people with the ornaments that they were wearing when they died were found from the same part of Mohenjodaro in 1925. Much later, in 1947, R.E.M. Wheeler, then Director-General of the ASI, tried to correlate this archaeological evidence with that of the Rigveda, the earliest known text in the subcontinent. He wrote: The Rigveda mentions pur, meaning rampart, fort or stronghold. Indra, the Aryan war god is called purandara, the fort-destroyer.
Where are – or were – these citadels? It has in the past been supposed that they were mythical … The recent excavation of Harappa may be thought to have changed the picture. Here we have a highly evolved civilisation of essentially non-Aryan type, now known to have employed massive fortifications … What destroyed this firmly settled civilisation? Climatic, economic or political deterioration may have weakened it, but its ultimate extinction is more likely to have been completed by deliberate and large-scale destruction. It may be no mere chance that at a late period of Mohenjodaro men, women, and children, appear to have been massacred there. On circumstantial evidence, Indra stands accused. FROM R.E.M. WHEELER, “Harappa 1946”, Ancient India, 1947. In the 1960s, the evidence of a massacre in Mohenjodaro was questioned by an archaeologist named George Dales. He demonstrated that the skeletons found at the site did not belong to the same period: Whereas a couple of them definitely seem to indicate a slaughter,….the bulk of the bones were found in contexts suggesting burials of the sloppiest and most irreverent nature. There is no destruction level covering the latest period of the city, no sign of extensive burning, no bodies of warriors clad in armour and surrounded by the weapons of war. The citadel, the only fortified part of the city, yielded no evidence of a final defence.
FROM G.F. DALES, “The Mythical Massacre at Mohenjodaro”, Expedition, 1964. As you can see, a careful re-examination of the data can sometimes lead to a reversal of earlier interpretations.
(i) Name the archaeologist who presented this source? (1)
Ans. John Marshall
(ii) Which argument of the destruction of Harappa civilization, this excerpt indicates? 1
Ans. This exert indicates that the Harappa civilization was destroyed by foreign invasion.
(iii) Who co-relate this evidence with Rigveda ? Why ? (3)
Ans. R.E.M. Wheeler. Because, the Rigveda mentions pur, meaning rampart, fort or stronghold. Indra, the Aryan war-god is called purandara, the fort-destroyer.
(iv) Who and how propounded the theory opposite to this ? (3)
Ans. George Dales. He hesitates to accept that this invasion was carried on by the Aryans. He demonstrated that the skeletons found at the site did not belong to the
same period: Whereas a couple of them definitely seem to indicate a slaughter, the bulk of the bones were found in contexts suggesting burials of the sloppiest and most irreverent nature. There is no sign of extensive burning, no bodies of warriors clad in armour and surrounded by the weapons of war.