Friday, December 29, 2006


Harappa was like any other metro: US prof

Author: Anjali Joseph
Publication: The Times of India
Dated: December 21, 2006

A great trading city teeming with different communities that existed together and enjoyed civic infrastructure like a water supply and drains; a manufacturing centre where textiles that were exported around the world were made. It's not a description of 19th century Mumbai, but of cities like Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in the Indus valley as early as 4th millennium BC, said Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, associate professor in anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, at a lecture in the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vaastu Sangrahalaya on Tuesday.

Kenoyer has been working on excavations in the Indus Valley, particularly in Harappa, since 1974. Drawing on recent discoveries at Harappa, Kenoyer explained the inferences made by archaeologists and anthropologists about life in the Indus valley, which is now believed to have extended in the area surrounding not only the Indus, but also the now-dried up Saraswati river. Kenoyer said modern archaeological findings do not support the idea of an Aryan 'invasion,' but show that Vedic people were among those who lived in cities such as Mohenjo Daro in Sindh and Harappa in Punjab towards the end of the Indus civilisation, which stretched between 7,000 BC and 1,900 BC. "These were sophisticated cities with wide roads, gates designed to keep intruders out and where those coming in or going out of the city with goods could be taxed. There was a water supply and proper drains. It was only when the Saraswati dried up and Mohenjo Daro and Harappa became overpopulated because other cities lost their water supply that the cities declined,'' said Kenoyer, comparing that period with the fate of cities such as Amritsar and Lahore at the time of Partition. As many as 50,000 people may have lived in Harappa at certain periods and the people of the Indus civilisation formed ethnic groups, said Kenoyer, citing figurines showing seals with symbols such as the buffalo or unicorn to represent different ethnic groups. The unicorn symbol was invented by the Indus people, and spread to Europe centuries later via Mesopotamia and Near East, he said.

"There was no single ruler in these cities. We've found no palace. Instead, there seems to have been a republic in which a group of elders ruled," said Kenoyer.

What was earlier believed by archaeologists to be a grain store in Harappa now seems likely to have been a textile weaving centre, and fine cloth from the area was exported far away, he said.


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