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Indus Era 8000 Years Old, Not 5500
Jun 30, 2016

Scientists from IIT Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have recently uncovered evidence that the Indus Valley Civilization is at least 8,000 years old, and not 5,500 years old, taking root well before the Egyptian (7000BC to 3000BC) and Mesopotamian (6500BC to 3100BC) civilizations.

  • The researchers have also found evidence of a pre-Harappan civilization that existed for at least 1,000 years before this.
  • The scientists believe they also know why the civilization ended about 3,000 years ago — climate change.
  • Scientists have recovered perhaps the oldest pottery from the civilization.
  • They used a technique called 'optically stimulated luminescence' to date pottery shards of the Early Mature Harappan time to nearly 6,000 years ago and the cultural levels of pre-Harappan Hakra phase as far back as 8,000 years.
  • The team had actually set out to prove that the civilization proliferated to other Indian sites like Bhirrana and Rakhigarrhi in Haryana, apart from the known locations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan and Lothal, Dholavira and Kalibangan in India. They took their dig to an unexplored site, Bhirrana—and ended up unearthing something much bigger.
  • The excavation also yielded large quantities of animal remains like bones, teeth, horn cores of cow, goat, deer and antelope, which were put through Carbon 14 analysis to decipher antiquity and the climatic conditions in which the civilization flourished.
  • The researchers believe that the Indus Valley Civilization spread over a vast expanse of India—stretching to the banks of the now "lost" Saraswati river or the Ghaggar-Hakra river.
  • At the excavation sites, scientists saw preservation of all cultural levels right from the pre-Indus Valley Civilization phase (9000-8000 BC) through what they have categorised as Early Harappan (8000-7000BC) to the Mature Harappan times.
  • While the earlier phases were represented by pastoral and early village farming communities, the mature Harappan settlements were highly urbanised with organised cities, and a much developed material and craft culture.
  • They also had regular trade with Arabia and Mesopotamia.
  • The Late Harappan phase witnessed large-scale de-urbanisation, drop in population, abandonment of established settlements, lack of basic amenities, violence and even the disappearance of the Harappan script.
  • The late Harappan phase witnessed large-scale de-urbanisation, drop in population, abandonment of established settlements, violence and even the disappearance of the Harappan script, the researchers say. The study revealed that monsoon started weakening 7,000 years ago but, surprisingly, the civilization did not disappear.
  • The Indus Valley people were very resolute and flexible and continued to evolve even in the face of declining monsoon.
  • The people shifted their crop patterns from large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species like rice in the latter part.
  • As the yield diminished, the organised large storage system of the Mature Harappan period gave way to more individual household-based crop processing and storage systems that acted as a catalyst for the de-urbanisation of the civilization rather than an abrupt collapse.


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