12 Class History Chapter 1 Bricks, Beads and Bones Notes
|Bricks, Beads and Bones
❇️ Meaning of “culture” : –
🔹 Archaeologists use the term ‘culture’ for distinctive objects which are different in style and found within a specific geographical area and period of time.
❇️ Harappan culture / Indus Valley Civilization : –
🔹 The Harappan Civilisation is one of the ancient civilisations of the world and it is contemporary with the civilisation of Mesopotamia. The Harappan Civilisation or Indus Valley Civilisation is mainly found in the North-western regions of South Asia, extending from North-East Afghanistan to Pakistan and North-West India. The cities are noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, well developed drainage systems, water supply systems and exclusive craft production.
❇️ The Harappan Civilisation : –
🔹 Harappa was a city in the Indus Valley Civilisation that flourished around 2600 to 1900 BC in the Western part of South Asia. Accordingly, the Indus Valley Civilisation is also called the Harappan culture.
🔹 objects belonging to the Harappan culture such as seals, beads, weights and stone blades were found from Afghanistan,Jammu, Baluchistan and Gujarat.
🔹 The Harrapan Civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to distinguish it from the earlier and mature culture Le. Early Harappan and late Harappan cultures, respectively.
❇️ Subsistence Strategies in Harappan Civilisation : –
🔹 There were many subsistence strategies (means of livelihood) in Harappan civilisation, out of which agriculture and pastoralism were most significant. These are discussed below:
🔸 Agriculture : –
🔹 The Harappans ate plants and animal products (fish, fowl). Grains like wheat, barley, lentil, chickpea, sesame and millets are found from sites in Gujarat (Lothal). Rice is rarely found.
🔹 Evidence from various sites shows that Harappans grew grains like wheat, barley, lentil, chickpea and sesame. Millets are also found from sites in Gujarat. There is rare evidence of Rice. Harappans also ate wide range of animal products.
🔸 Agricultural Technologies : –
🔹 Representation on seals and terracotta sculpture indicate that the bull was known and oxen were used for ploughing the field. Terracotta models of the plough are found in Cholistan and Banawali (Haryana). Evidence of a ploughed field was found at Kalibangan (Rajasthan).
🔸 Different crops : –
This ploughed field had two sets of furrows at right angles which suggests that here two different crops weregrown together. There are evidence of copper tools, stone blades tools, however archaeologist are not sure what kind of tools were used for agriculture.
🔸 Irrigation for farming : –
🔹 Most Harappan sites are located in semi-arid lands. Irrigation was required for agriculture. Traces of canals have been found at the Harappan site of Shortughai in Afghanistan. It is also likely that water drawn from wells was used for irrigation. Water reservoirs found in Dholavira (Gujarat) many have been used to store water for agriculture.
❇️ Pastoralism and Hunting : –
🔹 Animal bones that of cattle, sheep, goat, buffalo and pig were found at Harappan sites which indicate that these animals were domesticated. Bones of deer and gharial are also found, but it is not clear whether the Harappans hunted these animals themselves or obtained meat from other hunting communities. Bones of fish and fowl are also found.
❇️ Mohenjodaro: A Planned Urban Centre of Harappan Civilisation : –
🔹 Mohenjodaro was built in the 26th century BC. It was one of the largest cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation. Mohenjodaro was the most advanced city of its time built with planning. The city was divided into two parts citadel (smaller but higher settlement) and the lower town (larger but lower settlement).
❇️ The Citadel : –
🔹 The citadel was walled which meant that it was separated from the lower town. The buildings were constructed on mud brick platforms. There were variations in Harappan settlements.
🔹 At sites such as Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat), the entire settlement was fortified and sections within the town were also separated by walls. The citadel within Lothal was not walled off, but was built at a height.
🔹 There are structures in citadel that were probably used for special public purposes. These included the warehouse and the Great Bath.
❇️ The Lower Town : –
🔹 The lower town was organised on agrid system which served as foundations. It was also walled. Archaeologists believe that it was probably the city where most of the people lived and worked. Bricks used for settlements were sun-dried or baked. They were of standardised
❇️ Great Bath : –
🔹 The Great Bath was a large rectangular tank in a courtyard surrounded by a corridors on all four sides. There were two flights of steps on the North and the South to reach the tank.
🔹 The Great Bath was made watertight by setting bricks on their edges and using the plaster of gypsum. On three sides of it there were rooms, in one of which was a large well. Water from the tank flowed into a huge drain.
🔹 In the North side there was a smaller building having eight bathrooms, four on each side of its corridor. From each bathroom, drains were coming out and these were connected to a drain that ran along the corridor. Seeing the uniqueness of the structure, scholars suggest that it was meant for a kind of special ritual bath.
❇️ Drainage System : –
🔹 One of the most distinctive features of Mohenjodaro was the carefully planned drainage system. The streets and roads were laid out in grid pattern, intersecting at right angles.
🔹 According to archaeologists, it was believed that streets with drains were built first and then the houses were built along them. If domestic waste water had to flow into the street drains, then every house was needed to have at least one wall along a street.
🔹 Limestone was used for the covers. House drains first empted into a sump or cesspit into which solid matter settled while waste water flowed out into the street drains. Long drainage channels were provided at intervals with sumps. At Lothal, houses were built of mud bricks and drains were made of burnt bricks.
❇️ Domestic Architecture : –
🔸 The courtyard : – Most of the residential buildings were centered on a courtyard with rooms on all sides. The courtyard was probably the centre of activities such as cooking and weaving. There were no windows in the walls along the ground level. The main entrance does not give a direct view of the interior or the courtyard.
🔸 Wells : – Many houses had wells, often in a room that could be reached from outside and used by passers-by. Total number of wells in Mohenjodaro was about 700.
❇️ Art and Crafts Production : –
🔹 Chanhudaro is a small town which was famous for craft production. This city was exclusively busy in craft production like bead-making, shell-cutting, metal
🔹 The materials used in making all these crafts were carnelian (beautiful red colour), jasper, crystal, quartz, copper, bronze, gold, shell, faience and terracotta.
🔹 The beads were made of different shapes and forms like disc-shaped, cylindrical, spherical, barrel-shaped and segmented. Special drills were found at Chanhudaro, Lothal and Dholavira.
🔹 The cities like Balakot and Nageshwar were specialised centres for making shell objects like bangles, a large long handled spoon with a cup-shaped bowl (ladle) and inlay.
❇️ Centres for Procuring Materials : –
🔹 Materials for some craft production were locally available and some materials were transported from outside the alluvial plain. Terracotta toy models of bullock carts are found. This suggests that bullock cart was one of the important means of transport at that time. Riverine routes were also probably used. For procuring raw materials, expeditions were sent to other areas.
❇️ Evidences of Harappan Contacts with Distant Lands : –
🔹 Evidences from Harappan sites suggest that Harappans had contact with distant lands. These evidences were:
- Traces of nickel have been found after chemical analyses of both the Omani copper and Harappan artefacts.
- A large Harappan jar coated with a thick layer of black clay has been found at Omani sites. It is possible that the Harappans exchanged the contents of these vessels for Omani copper. Some data shows that Mesopotamia transported the copper from Magan, Oman.
- Mesopotamian sites also contain traces of nickel.
- Mesopotamia texts mention contact with regions named Dilmun (island of Bahrain), Magan and Meluhha.
- Evidences of depiction of ship and boats on seals.
❇️ Seals and Sealings : –
🔹 Seals and sealings were used to facilitate long distance communication. Before sending the product to another place, it was tied with rope and on the knot, some wet clay was affixed. This was done so that one or more seals were pressed on it, leaving an impression. If the product reached with its seal intact, it means it had reached safely. The seal also conveyed the identity of the sender.
🔸 The Harappan seal : – The Harappan seal is the most distinctive artefact (an object or ornament or tool of ancient time) of Harappan civilisation. The seal is made of a stone called steatite (the mineral talc in consolidated form). The seals also contain animal motifs (shapes) and signs from a script
🔸 A cylinder seal : – A cylinder seal found in Mesopotamia has humped bull motif which can be derived from the Indus region. The round Persian Gulf seal found in Bahrain sometimes carries Harappan motifs.
❇️ An enigmatic script : –
🔹 Harappan script was very difficult to understand. Scholars have suggested that the motif (generally an animal) conveyed a meaning to those people who could not read.
🔹 Most inscriptions were short and the longest contained about 26 signs. The script was written from right to left. Writing has been found on seals, copper tools, rims of jars, bone rods, copper and terracotta tablets and jewellery bone rods and an ancient signboard. The script was not alphabetical and had many signs, somewhere between 375 and 400. The Harappan scripts remain undeciphered to date.
❇️ Weights : –
🔹 In Harappan civilisation, exchanges were regulated by a precise system of weights, usually made of a cubical stone called chert. The lower denominations of weights were binary i.e., 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc. upto 12,800, while the higher denominations followed the decimal system.
🔹 The smaller weights were probably used for weighing jewellery and beads. Metal scale-pans have also been found. Local ‘Dilmun’ weights followed the Harappan standard.
❇️ Studying Burials : –
🔹 At burials in Harappan sites, the dead were generally laid in pits. Sometimes, differences were found in the way the burial pit was made. Some graves of Harappan Civilisation contain pottery (pots or objects made of fired clay) and ornaments. This indicates that Harappan people had a belief that these items could be used in the afterlife.
🔹 Jewellery has been found in burials of both men and women. Their ornaments consisted of three shell rings, a semi-precious stone (jasper) and hundreds of micro beads. Precious things were not found with the dead, so it seems that they did not believe in burying things with the dead. In one such example, buried with copper mirrors.
❇️ Artefacts : –
🔹 It is another strategy to identify social differences. These can be classified as utilitarian and luxuries.
🔸 Utilitarian artefacts : – Utilitarian It includes objects of daily use that were made of stone or clay like a stone-hand mill for grinding corn (querns), pottery, needles and body scrubbers (flesh- rubbers), etc. These were easily found in the settlements.
🔸 Luxury artefacts : – Luxuries The objects were luxuries if they were rare or made costly or with complicated technologies. Little pots of faience were precious. Faience was made of ground sand or silica mixed with colour and gum and then fired. The precious things were mostly found in big cities like Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Gold jewelleries were found in Harappan city. It was recovered from hoards (objects kept carefully by people often inside containers such as pots).
❇️ End of the Harappan Civilisation : –
🔹 In 1800 BC, most of the Harappan sites in regions such as Cholistan had become uninhabited and gradually there was an expansion of population into new settlements in Gujarat, Haryana and West Uttar Pradesh.
🔹 After, 1900 BC, there was a marked change in material culture with the disappearance of the artefacts of the civilisation like weights, seals and special beads.
❇️ Reasons for End of the Harappan Civilisation : –
🔹 Several explanations have been put forward about the reason for the end of the civilisation. These range from climate change, deforestation, excessive floods, shifting or drying up of rivers and overuse of land. These causes were responsible for the end of certain settlements but not for the end of the entire civilisation.
🔹 The end of the Harappan Civilisation was evidenced by the disappearance of seals, scripts, distinctive beads and pottery, the shift from a standardised weight system to the use of local weights and the decline and abandonment of cities.
❇️ Alexander Cunningham : –
🔹 He was the first Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). He was often called the father of Indian archaeology.
🔹 He began archaeological excavations in the mid-nineteenth century.
❇️ Cunningham’s Confusion : –
🔹 He used the accounts left by Chinese Buddhist pilgrims. These pilgrims had visited the Indian subcontinent between the 4th and 7th centuries CE to locate early settlements. He also collected, documented and translated inscriptions found during his excavations.
🔹 When he received a Harappan seal found by an Englishman, he unsuccessfully tried to place it in the time frame between the 4th and 7th centuries CE, which caused confusion in his mind. Thus he missed the significance of Harappa.
❇️ Daya Ram Sahni : –
🔹 In the early decades of the 20th century, seals were discovered at Harappa by Daya Ram Sahni.
❇️ Rakhal Das Banerji : –
🔹 Rakhal Das Banerji found similar seals at Mohenjodaro. Leading to conjecture that these sites were part of a single archaeological culture.
❇️ John Marshall : –
🔹 He was the Director General of ASI. On the basis of discoveries of Daya Ram Sahni and Rakhal Das Banerji, in 1924 he announced to the world the discovery of a new civilisation in the Indus valley.
🔹 He tended to excavate along regular horizontal units, measured uniformly throughout the mound, ignoring the stratigraphy of the site.
❇️ REM Wheeler : –
🔹 He was the Director General of the ASI in 1944. He recognised that it was necessary to follow the stratigraphy of the mound rather than dig mechanically along uniform horizontal lines. He rectified the previous problems faced by the archaeologists.
❇️ Problems of Piecing Together the Past : –
🔹 It is not the Harappan script that helps in understanding the ancient civilisation. Rather, it is material evidence that allows archaeologists to better reconstruct Harappan life. This material could be pottery, tools, ornaments, household objects etc.
🔹 Organic materials such as cloth, leather, wood and seeds generally decompose, especially in tropical regions and only stone, burnt clay, metal etc has survived.
❇️ Classifying Finds : –
🔹 One simple principle of classification is in terms of material such as stones, clay, metal, bone ivory etc.
🔹 The second is in terms of functions. Archaeologists have to decide whether, for instance, an artefact is a tool or an ornament or both, or something meant for ritual use.
🔹 Sometimes, archaeologists have to take recourse to indirect evidence. For example, though there are traces of cotton at some Harappan sites, but there is dependance on indirect evidence including depictions in sculpture to find out about clothing.
❇️ Priest-King : –
🔹 A large building found at Mohenjodaro was labelled as a palace by archaeologists but no magnificent findings marked it as a palace. A stone statue was labelled and continues to be known as Priest-King, as the archaeologists were familiar with Mesopotamian history and its priest-kings.
❇️ Many Kings or One King : –
🔹 According to some archaeologists, Harappan society had no rulers and everybody enjoyed equal status. Some others suggest that there were separate rulers for different cities like Mohenjodaro and Harappa. The planned settlements, the standardised ratio of brick size and the establishment of settlements represents that the Harappan Civilisation had a single authority.