Harappa

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For the historical civilization known as the Harappa, see Indus Valley Civilization.
Harappan
(Urdu)
ہڑپّہ (Punjabi)
WellAndBathingPlatforms-Harappa.jpg
A large well and bathing platforms are remains of Harappa's final phase of occupation from 2200 to 1900 BC.
Harappa is located in Pakistan
Harappa
Magnify-clip.png
Shown within Pakistan
Location Sahiwal District, Punjab, Pakistan
Coordinates 30°37′44″N 72°51′50″E / 30.62889°N 72.86389°E / 30.62889; 72.86389Coordinates: 30°37′44″N 72°51′50″E / 30.62889°N 72.86389°E / 30.62889; 72.86389
Type Settlement
Area 100 ha (250 acres)
History
Periods Harappan 1 to Harappan 5
Cultures Indus Valley Civilization
Site notes
Condition Ruined
Ownership Public
Public access Yes

Harappa (pronounced [ɦəɽəppaː]; Urdu: ہڑپّہا‎; Punjabi: ہڑپّہ) is an archaeological site in Punjab, eastern Pakistan, about 24 km (15 mi) west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The current village of Harappa is 6 km (3.7 mi) from the ancient site. Although modern Harappa has a railway station left from the period of British Raj, it is today just a small crossroads town of population 15,000.

The site of the ancient city contains the ruins of a Bronze Age fortified city, which was part of the Cemetery H culture and the Indus Valley Civilization, centered in Sindh and the Punjab.[1] The city is believed to have had as many as 23,500 residents and occupied over 100 hectares (250 acres) at its greatest extent during the Mature Harappan phase (2600–1900 BC), which is considered large for its time.[2][3] Per archaeological convention of naming a previously unknown civilization by its first excavated site, the Indus Valley Civilization is also called the Harappan Civilization.

The ancient city of Harappa was heavily damaged under the British rule, when bricks from the ruins were used as track ballast in the making of the Lahore-Multan Railroad. In 2005, a controversial amusement park scheme at the site was abandoned when builders unearthed many archaeological artifacts during the early stages of construction work. A plea from the prominent Pakistani archaeologist Ahmad Hasan Dani to the Ministry of Culture resulted in a restoration of the site.[4]

History[edit]

Location of Harappa in the Indus Valley and extent of Indus Valley Civilization (green).

The Indus Valley Civilization (also known as the Harappan culture) has its earliest roots in cultures such as that of Mehrgarh, approximately 6000 BCE. The two greatest cities, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, emerged circa 2600 BCE along the Indus River valley in Punjab and Sindh.[5] The civilization, with a writing system, urban centers, and diversified social and economic system, was rediscovered in the 1920s after excavations at Mohenjo-daro in Sindh near Larkana, and Harappa, in west Punjab south of Lahore. A number of other sites stretching from the Himalayan foothills in east Punjab, India in the north, to Gujarat in the south and east, and to Balochistan in the west have also been discovered and studied. Although the archaeological site at Harappa was damaged in 1857[6] when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad (as part of the Sind and Punjab Railway), used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artifacts has nevertheless been found.[7] The bricks discovered were made of red sand, clay, stones and were baked at very high temperature.

Culture and economy[edit]

Coach driver 2000 B.C.E. Harappa, Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley civilization was mainly an urban culture sustained by surplus agricultural production and commerce, the latter including trade with Sumer in southern Mesopotamia. Both Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa are generally characterized as having "differentiated living quarters, flat-roofed brick houses, and fortified administrative or religious centers."[8] Although such similarities have given rise to arguments for the existence of a standardized system of urban layout and planning, the similarities are largely due to the presence of a semi-orthogonal type of civic layout, and a comparison of the layouts of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa shows that they are in fact, arranged in a quite dissimilar fashion.

The chart weights and measures of the Indus Valley Civilization, on the other hand, were highly standardized, and conform to a set scale of gradations. Distinctive seals were used, among other applications, perhaps for identification of property and shipment of goods. Although copper and bronze were in use, iron was not yet employed. "Cotton was woven and dyed for clothing; wheat, rice, and a variety of vegetables and fruits were cultivated; and a number of animals, including the humped bull, were domesticated,"[8] as well as "fowl for fighting".[9] Wheel-made pottery—some of it adorned with animal and geometric motifs—has been found in profusion at all the major Indus sites. A centralized administration for each city, though not the whole civilization, has been inferred from the revealed cultural uniformity; however, it remains uncertain whether authority lay with a commercial oligarchy.

What is clear is that Harappan society was not entirely peaceful, with the human skeletal remains demonstrating some of the highest rates of injury (15.5%) found in South Asian prehistory. [10] Paleopathological analysis demonstrated that leprosy and tuberculosis were present at Harappa, with the highest prevalence of both disease and trauma present in the skeletons from Area G (a pit of skulls located south-east of the city walls). [11] Furthermore, rates of cranio-facial trauma and infection increased through time, demonstrating that the civilization collapsed amid illness and injury. The bioarchaeologists who examined the remains have suggested that the combined evidence for differences in mortuary treatment and epidemiology indicate that some individuals and communities at Harappa were excluded from access to basic resources like health and safety, a basic feature of hierarchical societies world-wide. [12]

Archaeology[edit]

Miniature Votive Images or Toy Models from Harappa, ca. 2500. Hand-modeled terra-cotta figurines with polychromy.

The excavators of the site have proposed the following chronology of Harappa's occupation:[3]

  1. Ravi Aspect of the Hakra phase, c. 3300 – 2800 BC.
  2. Kot Dijian (Early Harappan) phase, c. 2800 – 2600 BC.
  3. Harappan Phase, c. 2600 – 1900 BC.
  4. Transitional Phase, c. 1900 – 1800 BC.
  5. Late Harappan Phase, c. 1800 – 1300 BC.

By far the most exquisite and obscure artifacts unearthed to date are the small, square steatite (soapstone) seals engraved with human or animal motifs.[13] A large number of seals have been found at such sites as Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Many bear pictographic inscriptions generally thought to be a form of writing or script. Despite the efforts of philologists from all parts of the world, and despite the use of modern cryptographic analysis, the signs remain undeciphered. It is also unknown if they reflect proto-Dravidian or other non-Vedic language(s). The ascription of Indus Valley Civilization iconography and epigraphy to historically known cultures is extremely problematic, in part due to the rather tenuous archaeological evidence of such claims, as well as the projection of modern South Asian political concerns onto the archaeological record of the area. This is especially evident in the radically varying interpretations of Harappan material culture as seen from both Pakistan and India-based scholars.

Suggested earliest writing[edit]

Clay and stone tablets unearthed at Harappa, which were carbon dated 3300–3200 BCE., contain trident-shaped and plant-like markings. They have suggested as possibly the earliest writings anywhere in the world, as opined by Dr. Richard Meadow of Harvard University, Director of the Harappa Archeological Research Project.[14] This primitive writing is placed slightly earlier than primitive writings of the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, dated c.3100 BCE.[14] These markings have similarities to what later became Indus Script.[14] This discovery also suggests that the earliest writings by mankind developed independently in three places (Harappa, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt) between c.3500 BCE and 3100 BCE.[14]

Notes[edit]

Harappa. Fragment of Large Deep Vessel, circa 2500 B.C.E. Red pottery with red and black slip-painted decoration, 4 15/16 × 6 1/8 in. (12.5 × 15.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum
  • The earliest radiocarbon dating mentioned on the web is 2725±185 BCE (uncalibrated) or 3338, 3213, 3203 BCE calibrated, giving a midpoint of 3251 BCE. Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark (1991) Urban process in the Indus Tradition: A preliminary report. In Harappa Excavations, 1986–1990: A multidisciplinary approach to Second Millennium urbanism, edited by Richard H. Meadow: 29–59. Monographs in World Archaeology No.3. Prehistory Press, Madison Wisconsin.
  • Periods 4 and 5 are not dated at Harappa. The termination of the Harappan tradition at Harappa falls between 1900 and 1500 BCE.
  • Mohenjo-daro is another major city of the same period, located in Sindh province of Pakistan. One of its most well-known structures is the Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro.
  • Dholavira is another ancient town belonging to Indus Valley Civilisation, established in India. The Harappans used roughly the same size bricks and weights as were used in other Indus cities, such as Mohenjo Daro and Dholavira. These cities were well planned with wide streets, public and private wells, drains, bathing platforms and reservoirs.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Basham, A. L. 1968. Review of A Short History of Pakistan by A. H. Dani (with an introduction by I. H. Qureshi). Karachi: University of Karachi Press. 1967 Pacific Affairs 41(4) : 641–643.
  2. ^ Fagan, Brian (2003). People of the earth: an introduction to world prehistory. Pearson. p. 414. ISBN 978-0-13-111316-9. 
  3. ^ a b "Archeological Site of Harappa". World Heritage Centre. UNESCO. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Tahir, Zulqernain. 26 May 2005. Probe body on Harappa park, Dawn. Retrieved 13 January 2006.
  5. ^ Beck, Roger B.; Linda Black Ops, Larry S. Krieger, Phillip C. Naylor, Dahia Ibo Shabaka, (1999). World History: Patterns of Interaction. Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell. ISBN 0-395-87274-X. 
  6. ^ Michel Danino. The Lost River. Penguin India.
  7. ^ Kenoyer, J.M., 1997, Trade and Technology of the Indus Valley: New insights from Harappa Pakistan, World Archaeology, 29(2), pp. 260–280, High definition archaeology
  8. ^ a b Library of Congress: Country Studies. 1995. Harappan Culture. Retrieved 13 January 2006.
  9. ^ [1] Poultry: Identification, Fabrication, Utilization by Thomas Schneller – Cengage Learning, 28 September 2009 – page 16
  10. ^ [2] Robbins Schug G, KM Gray, V Mushrif-Tripathy, and AR Sankhyan. (2012) A Peaceful Realm? Trauma and social differentiation at Harappa. International Journal of Paleopathology 2 (2-3):136-147. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  11. ^ [3] Robbins Schug G, K Elaine Blevins, Brett Cox, Kelsey Gray, and V Mushrif-Tripathy. (2013) Infection, Disease, and Biosocial Process at the End of the Indus Civilization. PLOS ONE 0084814. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  12. ^ [4] Robbins Schug G, K Elaine Blevins, Brett Cox, Kelsey Gray, and V Mushrif-Tripathy. (2013) Infection, Disease, and Biosocial Process at the End of the Indus Civilization. PLOS ONE 0084814. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  13. ^ Mughal, Muhammad Aurang Zeb (2011). 'Harappan Seals'. Kevin Murray McGeough (ed.), World History Encyclopedia, Vol. 4. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, pp. 706-707.
  14. ^ a b c d BBC, UK website. "Earlist writing found". BBC News. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 

External links[edit]