Questions from - Period of the Civilisation and Subsistence Strategies
Q. 1. Explain how different methods of irrigation were developed for agriculture in the Harappan site.
Ans. Most of the sides could be found in semi-arid regions indicating the practice of irrigation. Traces of canals have been found in Shortughai in Afghanistan only. Wells might be the second source for irrigation and water reservoirs found in Dholavira (Gujarat) suggest storage of water for irrigation.
Q. 2. Mention any two methods adopted by the Harappans for increasing the agriculture production.
Ans. To increase agriculture production, Harappans used:
1. Animal power such as oxen to plough the fields.
2. Wooden plough was used for tilling fields.
3. Canals to water the fields. Water was also drawn from wells for irrigation.
Q. 3. Describe the agricultural practices and means of irrigation used by the Harappans?
Describe the subsistence strategies of Harappan civilisation?
Ans. Harappan subsistence
(i) The Harappans ate a wide range of plants products. Archaeologists have been reconstructing dietary practices from finds of charred grains, seeds and bones.
(ii) Factual Confirmation was done by archaeobotanists, who are specialists in ancient plant remains.
(iii) Food grains found at Harappan sites include wheat, barley, lentil, chickpea, sesame, millets and rice.
(iv) The Harappans were dependent on a wide range of animal products. Archaeologists have been able to reconstruct use of animals from finds of charred of cattle, sheep, goat, buffalo and pig.
(v) Factual Confirmation was done by Archaeozoologists or Zoo-archaeologists who are specialists in ancient animal remains indicated that these animals were domesticated.
(vi) Bones of wild species such as boar, deer, and alligator were also found. The field had two sets of furrows at right angles to each other, suggesting that two different crops were grown together.
(vii) Traces of canals have been found at the Harappan site. (viii) Water drawn from wells and water reservoir was used for irrigation. Or Any other relevant point.
Q. 4. Mention any four items found in the graves of the Harappan.
Ans. At burials sites, the dead were generally laid in pits. Some items found in the graves includes pottery, jewellery, ornaments and copper mirrors. 3
Q. 5. Mention the two sections of the Harappan settlements and give one main feature of each.
Ans. Upper town and lower town were the two sections of the Harappan settlements.
(i) The upper town was smaller but on height and the lower town was much larger than upper town.
(ii) Archaeologists designated them as the citadel and the lower town. The citadel owns its height to the fact that buildings were constructed on high brick platforms and were separated by walls.
Q. 6. Explain the distinctive characteristics of the residential buildings of the Mohenjodaro.
Describe the distinctive features of Mohenjodaro.
Ans. (i) The lower town at Mohenjodaro provides examples of residential buildings. Most of the buildings were centred on a courtyard with rooms on all sides.
(ii) The courtyard was probably the centre of all activities like cooking and weaving mainly, during hot and dry weather.
(iii) There were no windows in the walls along the ground level as privacy was important. Moreover, the main entrance does not give a direct view of the courtyard.
(iv) Each house had its own bathroom paved with bricks. Drains were connected through the wall to the street drains.
(v) Some buildings had remains of staircases to reach a second storey or the roof. In many houses, wells were found usually in a room that could be approached from outside so that it can be used by passers-by.
Q. 7. Harappan cities had planned drainage system. Elaborate.
Ans. One of the most distinctive features of the Harappan cities was a well-planned drainage system. The drains were made of mortar and gypsum. They were covered with big bricks and lime stones which could be lifted to clean the drains. It followed grid structure with straight streets crossing each other at right angles. Houses were built and laid out only after the drainage system was planned and laid out. Every house had a drain connected to the street drains. The solid matter from waste water flowing in the drains got collected in a sump. Water flowed into the main drains. All this shows that Harappan people focus on cleanliness.
Q. 8. Explain the strategies used by the archaeologists to understand socio-economic differences among the Harappans.
Ans. Archeologists generally use the following strategies to find out the social and economic differences among the people in the Harappan society. Burials: T here were many burials at the Harappan sites. At burials in the Harappan sites, generally the dead were laid in pits. There was also a difference in the pits in which the dead were buried along with the things kept which could be precious or ordinary. Some graves contained pottery and ornaments indicating that there could be life after death. Jewellery was also found in burials. Thread were also found buried with copper mirrors in some cases.
Luxuries: The archaeologists also study artifacts to identify many social and economic differences which can be classified as utilitarian and luxuries. The utilitarian things were made of stone or clay which included quern stones, pottery and body scrubber. They were possessed by all the people. On the other hand, luxuries were rare and were made from costly and non-local materials. Things like pots of faience. These were considered costly and precious because it was difficult to make Perfume Bottles are also found in Harappa and Mohenjodaro. So, these were the findings of the above facts that there were social and of economic differences.
Q. 9. Describe the bases on which archaeologists identified the centres of craft production in the Harappan culture.
Ans. The bases on which archaeologists identify the centres of craft production are :
(i) Raw materials such as stone nodules, whole shells, copper ore.
(iii) Unfinished objects
(iv) Rejected and Waste material – Waste is one of the best indicators of craft work. For instance, if shell or stone is cut to make objects, then pieces of these materials will be discarded as waste at the place of production.
(v) Finished products – Sometimes, larger waste pieces were used up to make smaller objects which suggest that apart from small, specialised centres, craft production were also undertaken in large cities such as Mohenjodaro and Harappa.
Q. 10. How were Harappan seals and sealings used to facilitate long distance communication? What did the sealing convey?
Ans. The sack of goods to be sent was tied at its mouth with a rope and on the knot was affixed with wet clay in which one to more seals were pressed which is used to leave an impression. If the bag reached with its sealing intact, it meant that it had not been tampered. The sealing also conveyed the identity of the sender.
Q. 11. ‘‘There were indications of complex decisions being taken and implemented in the Harappan society.’’ In light of this statement, explain whether there may have been rulers to rule over the Harappan society.
Ans. There were indications of complex decisions being taken and implemented in Harappan society:
(i) A large building found at Mohenjodaro was labelled as a palace by archaeologists but no spectacular finds were associated with it.
(ii) A stone statue was labelled and continued to be known as the “priest-king”.
(iii) Some archaeologists stated that Harappan society had no rulers, and everybody enjoyed equal status.
(iv) Others feel there was no single ruler but several, Mohenjodaro had a separate ruler, Harappa another, and so forth.
(v) Historians argue that there was a single state, given the similarity in artifacts – such as pottery seals, weights and bricks, the evidence for planned settlements such as the standardised ratio of brick size, and the establishment of settlements near sources of raw material.
(vi) According to some scholars the last theory seems most plausible, as it was unlikely that entire communities could have collectively made and implemented such complex decisions.
(vii) There was extraordinary uniformity of Harappan artifacts.
(viii) The bricks, though obviously not produced in any single centre, were of a uniform ratio throughout the region, from Jammu to Gujarat.
(ix) Settlements were strategically set up in specific locations for various reasons.
(x) Labour was mobilised for making bricks and for the construction of massive walls and platforms. A planned urban centre with well laid out drainage system.
(xi) Any other relevant point.
Q. 12. Explain the exclusive features of the craft production in Chanhudaro.
Ans. Features of the craft production in Chanhudaro:
(a) Chanhudaro about 7 hectares, a tiny settlement devoted to craft production. It also includes bead making, shell-cutting, metal- making and weight-making.
(b) The materials used to make beads were stones like carnelian, jasper, crystal, quartz steatite and metals like gold, bronze and copper, faience and terracotta or burnt clay.
(c) Some beads were made of two or more stones, cemented together with gold caps.
(d) The shapes were many– disc-shaped, cylindrical, spherical, barrel-shaped and segmented.
(e) Some were decorated by incising or painting and some had designs etched on them. Specialised drills were found in Lothal,Chanhudaro and Dholavira.
(f) Techniques for making beads differed according to the material. Steatite was mostly used, as it is a very soft stone.
(g) It was likely that finished products (beads) from Chanhudaro and Lothal were taken to the large urban centers such as Mohenjodaro and Harappa.
Q. 13. Why do archaeologists and historians find Harappan script enigmatic? Explain the reasons.
Ans. Harappan script was an enigmatic script because of following reasons:
(i) Harappan seals usually have a line of writing conveying the name and title of the owner.
(ii) Most inscriptions were short but the longest one contains about 26 signs.
(iii) Scripts were not alphabetical but contains too many signs, somewhere from 375 to 400.
(iv) The scripts were probably written from right to left as some seals show a wide spacing on the right side cramping on the left, as if the engraver began working from the right and there ran out of space.
(v) Writing has been found on a variety of objects such as seals, copper, tools, rims of jars, copper and terracotta tablets, jewellery, bone road and sign board.
Q. 14. Early Harappan archaeologists found certain objects which seem unusual and unfamiliar but may have had a religious significance. Substantiate.
Examine the problems faced by archaeologists in the interpretation of religious practices of Harappa.
Ans. Religion of Harappa–
(i) Terracotta Figurines of women, as mother goddesses.
(ii) The “priest-king”.
(iii) Structure like Great Bath and fire altars found at Kalibangan and Lothal.
(iv) Attempts have also been made to reconstruct religious practices by examining seals.
(v) Plant motifs, were thought to indicate nature worship.
(vi) Some animals—“unicorn” —seems to be mythical,
(vii) “Proto-Shiva”. (viii) Conical stone objects have been classified as lingas.
A large number of female figures of terracotta have been found from Harappa. Historians believe them to be Mother Goddess. They were heavily jewelled and even wore head dresses. Rare statues of men in a standardised posture, seated with one hand on the knee were classified as the “priest-king”. In some instances, structures associated with ritual significance, including the Great Bath and fire altars have been found in Kalibangan and Lothal. Attempts have been made to reconstruct religious beliefs and practices by examining seals, which depict ritual scenes. In some seals, a figure shown as cross legged in “yogic” posture surrounded by animals has been regarded as “Proto-Shiva”.
Q. 15. Who was John Marshall? How did he mark a change in the Indian Archaeology?
Describe the contribution of John Marshall in the Indian Archaeology.
Ans. John Marshall was the Director General of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) from 1922 to 1928, this period brought about a major change in Indian archaeology. He was exhilarated in discovering new finds. He was keen to look for patterns of everyday life. He was the first professional archeologist to work in India and was known for excavations in Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Sanchi, Sarnath and Taxila.
Q. 16. Who was Cunningham? Mention any one source he collected to understand the Harappan culture.
Who was Cunningham? Mention any one account used by him to locate the early settlements of Harappan civilisation?
Ans. Cunningham was
(i) An archaeologist
(ii) The first Director General of ASI
(iii) He began archaeological survey in the Indus valley in the mid-19th century (any one point)
One source he collected:
(i) Harappan seal
(ii) Terracotta objects
(iii) Harappan inscriptions
(iv) Harappan artifacts
(v) Chinese Buddhist pilgrim’s accounts
Q. 17. “The problems of archaeological interpretation are perhaps most evident in attempts to reconstruct the religious practices of Harappa”. Give suitable arguments in support of your answer.
Ans. The religious practices of Harappan Civilisation are as follows :
(i) Terracotta figurines of women were heavily jewelled, some with elaborate head-dresses. These were regarded as mother goddesses.
(ii) Rare stone statuary of men in an almost standardised posture, seated with one hand on the knee – such as the “priest-king” – was also similarly classified.
(iii) Structures have been assigned ritual significance. These include the Great Bath and fire altars found at Kalibangan and Lothal.
(iv) Plant motifs, were thought to indicate nature worship
(v) Some animals – such as the one-horned animal, often called the “unicorn” – depicted on seals seem to be mythical, composite creatures.
(vi) In some seals, a figure shown seated cross-legged in a “yogic” posture, sometimes surrounded by animals, has been regarded as a depiction of “Proto-Shiva”. Besides, conical stone objects have been classified as lingas.
Q. 18. Mention any two changes that were observed after 1900 BCE in Harappan civilisation. What could have brought these changes?
Mention any three evidences that reflected the disappearance of Harappans civilisation by 1800 BCE. Explain any two factors that led to the abandonment of the Harappan city sites?
Answer: In the few Harappan sites that continued to be occupied after 1900 BCE, there exist a transformation of material culture, marked by the disappearance of the distinctive artifacts of the civilisation – weights, seals, special beads. Writing, long-distance trade, and craft specialisation also disappeared. In general, far fewer materials were used to make things. House construction techniques deteriorated and large public structures were no longer produced. Overall, artifacts and settlements indicate a rural way of life in what are called “Late Harappan” or “Successor Cultures”.
The reasons range from climatic change, deforestation, excessive floods, the shifting and/or drying up of rivers, to overuse the landscape. Some of these “causes” may hold for certain settlements, but they do not explain the collapse of the entire civilisation. It appears that a strong unifying element, perhaps the Harappan state, came to an end. This was evident by the disappearance of seals, the script, distinctive beads and pottery, the shift from a standardised weight system to the use of local weights; and the decline and abandonment of cities. The subcontinent would have to wait for over a millennium for new cities to develop in a completely different region.
When Harappan cities fell into ruin, people gradually forgot all about them. When men and women began living in the area millennia later, they did not know what to make of the strange artifacts that occasionally surfaced, washed by floods or exposed by soil erosion, or turned up while ploughing a field, or digging for treasure.