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(PDF) Harappan Civilization and Vaishali Bricks

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Harappan Civilization and Vaishali Bricks

Article (PDF Available) · April 2017 with 104 Reads How we measure 'reads' A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more Cite this publication

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Content uploaded by Krishnendu Das Author contentAll content in this area was uploaded by Krishnendu Das on Jul 04, 2017 Content may be subject to copyright. Download full-text PDF Harappan civilization and the Vaishali bricks Krishnendu Das Research Scholar, Department of Archaeology, University of Calcutta The discovery of some Harappan-type bricks from Raghopur Diara of Vaishali district near Patna, which was published in The Telegraph on April 8, 2017, is of immense importance to the country from both archaeological and historiographical perspectives. The findings may not only answer many hitherto unsolved questions that shrouded the last phase of the great Harappan civilization, but may also force us write our early-period history afresh as well. The director of Bihar’s state archaeological directorate, Atul Verma, visited the place some six months ago and collected two bricks. He examined the bricks himself and also showed it to the former joint director general of the Archaeological Survey of India K.N. Dikshit. Mr Dikshit confirmed the Harappan identity of the bricks after checking their thickness, width and length ratio which is 1:2:4, a typical “mature Harappan” trait. Scholars have divided the entire Harappa era broadly into three phases — early, mature and late. The early phase spans from 3500BC to 2800/2700BC (from the beginning of village farming to the beginning of urbanisation). Mature phase was from 2700BC to the 2000/1900BC (from the beginning of urbanisation to the starting of the devolution of the urbanism). The late phase was spanned between 2000/1900BC and 1400/1300BC (post-urban Harappan). In the mature phase, there was a standard ratio of the Harappan bricks as mentioned above. The kiln fired bricks which were recovered from Raghopur Diara was exactly the same as the mature Harappan bricks. This is quite startling as mature Harappan kiln fired bricks were never found in east India so far. Till date, the easternmost Harappan site has been identified as Alamgirpur of the Ganga-Yamuna doab area of Uttar Pradesh. Other prominent Harappan sites which were situated in the vicinity of Alamgirpur are Hulas, Mandi, Sanauli and so on. Alamgirpur and Hulas are late Harappan sites although some mature Harappan materials — mud bricks, burnt brick (burnt bricks were not found in Hulas though unearthed in limited numbers from Alamgirpur), pottery pieces, stone and bone implements and some Harappan mud and mud brick structures have been excavated from there. The earliest dates, measured through the C14 method (a method to ascertain the date of an organic material using the radioactive isotope of carbon) of those sites go back to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. Though some mature Harappan materials were found from these sites, any sign of mature Harappan urban prosperity has always eluded these areas. Sanauli is a late Harappan burial site. Some 125 graves have been discovered here. The site is very important because of the scarcity of the late Harappan burial sites. Mandi is famous for its Harappan jewellery hoard. The hoard was found accidentally in the course of a ground levelling operation. After the discovery, the villagers there began a hunt for more jewellery which was continued for the next four to five days. The news reached the Uttar Pradesh archaeology department only after a few more days. Some 10 kilograms of jewellery were recovered from the site when Uttar Pradesh state archaeology department and the Archaeological Survey of India sent teams to survey the village. Archaeologists identified Mandi as a late Harappan site. The treasury consists of two copper containers and a large number of beads made of gold, banded agate, onyx and copper. These types of materials were found earlier in sites, such as Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Lothal, Kalibangan, Allahdino, Chanhudaro, Surokotada and Kunal, though not in hoards. Archaeology scholars are yet to come to a conclusion as to how this jewellery hoard could be related to an otherwise “unimpressive” late Harappan site as Mandi. However, what is strikingly significant here is that in none of the above mentioned eastern Harappan sites did archaeologists ever recover large number of Harappan kiln burnt brick as found at Raghopur Diara. The late phase of the Harappan civilization has long been a subject of scholarly debates and theories. What were the causes of the decline of the Harappan civilization? Where did the Harappans go after the decline of the civilization? Scholars such as Mortimer Wheeler and Gordon Childe believed that the invasion of the Aryans caused a civilizational downfall in Harappa. Because Wheeler discovered some scattered human skeletons at Mohenjodaro. But this theory lost its validity after a close scrutiny of those 37 scattered skeletons of Mohenjodaro by archaeologist G.F. Dales of the University of California at Berkeley(he was one of the co- directors of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project). The study was published in the journal ‘Expedition’(May, 1964 issue). And he described the whole issue as a ’Mythical Massacre’. Floods in the river Indus and several other natural calamities such as drought, earthquake and decline in the external trade of the Harappan civilization – are various other theories propagated by various scholars that dot scholarly materials regarding the decline of the Harappan civilization. In recent times, the most-discussed theory on the decline of Harappa has been that of the drying up of the Ghaggar-Hakra rivers which are often identified with the Rigvedic Sarasvati river. Now, many archaeologists feel that we should look at the decline of Harappa from an altogether different angle. They believe that instead of downfall of the civilization, we could perhaps simply call it a process of gradual de-urbanisation Harappan civilization. Whatever may be the cause behind this de-urbanisation, scholars have always remained sure that a group of Harappan people had migrated towards the east. The discovery of late Harappan sites, such as Alamgirpur, Hulas, Mandi, Sanauli and so on, are nothing but examples of eastward migration of the civilization. But the unique case of finding of mature Harappan kiln fired bricks at Raghopur Diara, about 1100 kilometres southeast of Alamgirpur, is sure to perplex archaeologists. The main question doing the rounds is that if the sites in Uttar Pradesh are known as late Harappan sites, how can mature Harappan civilization travel further eastward? Therefore, scholars may now have to trace the entire course and span of Harappan civilization anew if more associated Harappan materials are excavated from Raghopur Diara or its surroundings that authenticate the importance of the primary finding. The context of the archaeological material is of utmost importance in archaeology. The findings have sent archaeologists across the country in a tizzy and many of them are already set to go to Raghopur Diara to survey the area in search of more clues. If Raghopur Diara is established as a mature Harappan site, it will not only throw in the bin many theories on the civilization and its decline but will also warrant a great deal of rewriting of the course of the civilization, and therefore our history. But for now, we will have to wait for the results of the explorations which are going to be conducted by archaeologists.
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