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Sunday, May 16, 2010
The site 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.The city is believed to have had as many as 23,500 residents—considered large for its time.
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 Ahmed Hasan Dani to the Ministry of Culture resulted in a restoration of the site.
Location of Harappa in the Indus Valley and extent of Indus Valley Civilization (green).
The Indus Valley Civilization (also known as Harappan culture) has its earliest roots in cultures such as that of Mehrgarh, approximately 6000 BC. The two greatest cities, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, emerged circa 2600 BC along the Indus River valley in Punjab and Sindh. The civilization, with a writing system, urban centers, and diversified social and economic system, was rediscovered in the 1920s after excavations at Mohenjo-daro (which means "mound of the dead") in Sindh near Sukkur, 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 partially damaged in 1857 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.
Culture and economy
Coach driver 2000 B.C. 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." Although such similarities have given rise to arguments for the existence of a standardized system of urban layout and planning, such 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 chert 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." 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. There appears to be a complete lack of priestly "pomp or lavish display" that was common in other civilizations.
Remains from the final phase of the Harappa occupation: A large well and bathing platforms
Miniature Votive Images or Toy Models from Harappa, ca. 2500. Hand-modeled terra-cotta figurines with polychromy.
By far the most exquisite but most obscure artifacts unearthed to date are the small, square steatite seals engraved with human or animal motifs. Large numbers of the seals have been found at Mohenjo-daro, many bearing pictographic inscriptions generally thought to be a kind of Indus script. Despite the efforts of philologists from all parts of the world, and despite the use of modern cryptographic analysis, the script remains undeciphered. It is also unknown if it reflects proto-Dravidian, proto-Sramanic (Jain), non-Vedic, or is perhaps related to Brāhmī script. 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.
Harappa. Fragment of Large Deep Vessel, circa 2500 B.C.E. Red pottery with red and black slip-painted decoration, 4 15/16 x 6 1/8 in. (12.5 x 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 multidisciplanary approach to Third 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.
Dholavira is an ancient Metropolitan City. 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. One of its most well-known structures is the so-called Great Bath of Mohenjo Daro.