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Timeline of the Harappan Civilization is Pushed Back 2,500 Years as Researchers Find New Reason for Its Fall

Timeline of the Harappan Civilization is Pushed Back 2,500 Years as Researchers Find New Reason for Its Fall

A recent discovery suggests that the Indus Valley Civilization is at least 8,000 years old, not 5,500 as previously believed. Moreover, the researchers show that its power dwindled because of weaker monsoons.

According to The Times of India , the Indus Valley Civilization (also known as the Harappan Civilization) existed at least 8,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest known civilizations in the world – along with the Egyptian (7000BC to 3000BC) and Mesopotamian (6500BC to 3100BC) civilizations. The results of the study by scientists from IIT-Kharagpur and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) were published in the journal Nature on May 25.

So-called "Priest King" statue, Mohenjo-Daro, late Mature Harappan period, National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan.

So-called "Priest King" statue, Mohenjo-Daro, late Mature Harappan period, National Museum, Karachi, Pakistan. ( Mamoon Mengal/CC  BY SA 1.0 )

The discovery may mean that history books will have to be rewritten because earlier it was believed that the Indus Valley civilization was only 5,500 years old. The leader of the project, Anindya Sarkar, also believes that their research provides evidence that the civilization did not fall due to climate change but was influenced by it. The team discovered the oldest pottery from the civilization, which was made during the period called Early Mature Harappan (c. 6,000 years ago) and the pre-Harappan Hakra phase - as far back as 8,000 years.

The researchers set out to explore Lothal, Dholavira, and Kalibangan in India. They also dug in a mostly unexplored site, Bhirrana. They wanted to prove that the Indus Valley civilization spread to other Indian sites like Bhirrana and Rakhigarrhi in Haryana, apart from the known locations of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan. However, they discovered something much more impressive.

Panoramic view of the excavation of mature Harappan stage at Bhirrana view from North-east.

Panoramic view of the excavation of mature Harappan stage at Bhirrana view from North-east. ( Archeological Survey of India )

The team unearthed large quantities of animal remains; including horn cores and the teeth and bones of cow, goat, antelope, and deer. These remains were put through Carbon 14 testing. Arati Deshpande Mukherjee of Deccan College, who helped analyze the finds along with researchers at the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad, explained:

"We analysed the oxygen isotope composition in the bone and tooth phosphates of these remains to unravel the climate pattern. The oxygen isotope in mammal bones and teeth preserve the signature of ancient meteoric water and in turn the intensity of monsoon rainfall. Our study shows that the pre-Harappan humans started inhabiting this area along the Ghaggar-Hakra rivers in a climate that was favourable for human settlement and agriculture. The monsoon was much stronger between 9000 years and 7000 years from now and probably fed these rivers making them mightier with vast floodplains.''

The team believes that the civilization spread over a vast expanse of India, but the only evidence for this came from British excavations. The most recent research by the Indian team also suggests that climate change was probably not the sole cause for the collapse of the civilization. The people of the Harappan Civilization did not seem to give up despite the weakening monsoon. They did not disappear, but they changed their farming practices by switching from water-intensive crops to drought-resistant crops. This was the beginning of a new era in the civilization’s existence.

Diorama reconstruction of everyday life in Indus Valley Civilization, New Delhi.

Diorama reconstruction of everyday life in Indus Valley Civilization, New Delhi. ( Biswarup Ganguly/CC BY 3.0 )

The researchers believe that this change in their subsistence strategy - shifting crop patterns from the large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of the intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species of small millets and rice in the later part of declining monsoon - played a large role in the civilization’s fall as well. Moreover, the researchers discovered that from 7,000 years ago onwards, the monsoons became progressively weaker.

Map of Northwest India and Pakistan showing the locations of main Harappan settlements including phosphate sampling site of Bhirrana, Haryana, IWIN precipitation sampling station at Hisar and two paleo-lakes Riwasa and Kotla Dahar studied earlier. Black arrow indicates the direction of monsoon moisture transport from Bay of Bengal.

Map of Northwest India and Pakistan showing the locations of main Harappan settlements including phosphate sampling site of Bhirrana, Haryana, IWIN precipitation sampling station at Hisar and two paleo-lakes Riwasa and Kotla Dahar studied earlier. Black arrow indicates the direction of monsoon moisture transport from Bay of Bengal. ( Sarkar et al )

Some of the first accounts of the Indus Valley Civilization were recorded in the 1800s by the British. In 1826, the British army deserter James Lewis noticed the presence of ruins in a small town in Punjab called Harappa. It was because of this discovery that the civilization was called ‘Harappan.’

Harappan settlements were urbanized and well-organized. They had regular trade with Mesopotamia and the Middle East. Their material and craft culture was well-developed too. However, during the later phase of the Harappan existence their population dropped and they abandoned many settlements. For decades, researchers have tried to find the reasons behind this change. The first excavations in search of this answer took place in the 1920s and were led by John Marshall, but major works only started in 1986, when George Dales of the University of California at Berkeley established the Harappan Archaeological Project. This new study helps to put researchers one step closer to understanding the Harrapan civilization’s story.

A large well and bathing platforms are remains of Harappa's final phase of occupation from 2200 to 1900 BC.

A large well and bathing platforms are remains of Harappa's final phase of occupation from 2200 to 1900 BC. ( Obed Suhail/CC BY SA 3.0 )

Top Image: Computer-aided reconstruction of coastal Harappan settlement at Sokhta Koh near Pasni, Pakistan. Source: CC BY SA 3.0

By Natalia Klimczak

Comments

"According to The Times of India , the Indus Valley Civilization (also known as the Harappan Civilization) existed at least 8,000 years ago, making it one of the oldest known civilizations in the world – along with the Egyptian (7000BC to 3000BC) and Mesopotamian (6500BC to 3100BC) civilizations. The results of the study by scientists from IIT-Kharagpur and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) were published in the journal Nature on May 25."

The website contradicts itself. This means that Indus valley civilization was not older than the Egyptian. Because if the cultures in the Indus valley existed 8000 years ago then it means Indus valley cultures are from 6000 BC, and Egypt 7000 BC and Mesopotamian 6500 BC.

1). I believe that it's more important what kind of sites are found. In eastern Mediterranean there are many sites dated to 7000BC, as old as Mergharh/Birrhana (the only 2 village sites in India from this date). While many regions like Greece and Greek island of Cyprus have many archaeological town sites such as Sesklo 7000 BC, Knossos 7000 BC, Klimonas 9100 BC, Shillourokambos 8500 BC, Kirokitia 7000BC, and so on. And the same goes for Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria and so on, with high level of advancements dated to before anything in India.
Also what I find hard to wrap my head around and "compare" is that the Indus Valley civilization basically means that the Indus valley area consisted out of all kinds of cultures living in this area, it all feels like comparing oranges with apples. In later more recorded history India also consisted of many kingdoms, warring against each other and/or consisting of many different groups with each different languages. I'm therefore critical about what "Indus valley civilization(cultures)" then actually means and how it can be grouped.

Did Anatolia with it's incredibly vast history, Syria, Iraq, Iran etc, each consist out of one culture?
How can one compare history of India dated to it's oldest extend to 7000 BC(Mergharh)- 7500BC (Birrhana), to the much more history rich areas of the eastern Mediterranean, with much older and far higher abundance of archaeological sites dated up to 10.000 BC+.

2). How much would it matter how many civilizations there have been in territories that are now called nations. The historic rich areas of China, Greece, India, Minor Asia, each structured in slightly different ways, but all had their Neolithic, and pottery levels to 6000-7000 BC or earlier, had more sophisticated buildings than the rest of the world in these periods and so on.

How can one compare/differentiate for instance the accidental "incredibly advanced civilization" in Greece 8000 years ago with massive strucures and multi storied buildings http://www.ancient-origins.net/news-history-archaeology/accidental-disco...
With earliest writings far before Mesopotamia, Indus Valley, Egypt, Minoan(Greece)
https://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.nl/2012/07/prehistorc-tablet-cal...
of which they have found 60+ archaeological sites of, most of which in the last couple of years, to the Indus valley cultures of which one earliest source goes back to 8000 years ago,

3). Then another question arises. Can you say "we are the oldest civilization" when Egyptian civilization is part of your nations history but not your present culture, when Indus civilization is part of your nations history but not your present culture, when Mesopotamian civilization is part of your nations history but not your culture, and so on?
With all due respect. In all areas around the world there is no place where there was a continuous civilization to this day. India has seen many periods, rulers, kingdoms, occupiers, internal wars come and go, and the fact the Bronze age Harappan period 2500BC is more advanced than most of India today, to name just one example of 2 completely different civilizations in the same area in different time periods. And India has some 800 different groups of peoples and languages that cannot understand each other. Ironically English is the language that connects these people. But different groups like Present-day India, must have also existed in the period of the Indus Valley civilization. When Alexander Entered India 2300 years ago, it's historians mentioned that there where many different groups of people, and quite some of these groups could not read nor write, and some could. That would mean that in this period already there was a huge difference in levels of civilization in the Indian Subcontinent. And ofcourse not to forget that the first writing in the Indian subcontinent (apart from the Indus valley script which is still undeciphered and not even certain it is a language) is the Brahmi script, which is dated to 300 BC, which is also an example that there is no one continuous living civilization that would cover and span all the breadth of the oldest archaeological site up to present day, but instead, many through different time periods and even many at the same time. This goes for every part of the world.

Your post is informative, except for the fact that you are making apples to oranges comparisons and not understanding the context. Modern people in Greece have absolutely nothing to w/ the people that supposedly occupied the place 8,000 years ago! And people back then did not even call themselves "Greeks, and neither did the actual "Ancient Greeks", the term "Greek" was a later invention and created term AFTER GREECE WAS TAKEN OVER BY THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE AND NOT BEFORE! They called themselves "Hellenes" and not "Greeks"!

Second of all, today's people in the Greece area are basically Gothic+Slavic+Turkic+Arabid+Albanian+Ethiopic+Scythic+Semitics mutts and mongrels who have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE RACE OF THE ANCIENT HELLENES! The Hellenic peoples of the area, died out due to climate shifts, wars, internal strife and demographic decline, plagues and disease outbreaks, barbarian steppe incursions and population displacement, droughts, and declining economy, and degeneration and decay of them; today's people in the Greece area HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THEM AND THAT IS A FACT!

So therefore the current culture of Greece after the middle ages, IS NOT A CONTINUATION OF THE ANCIENT HELLENIC CIVILIZATIONS! The supposed peoples of the Greece area, that was there 8,000 YEARS AGO WERE A BLACK/BROWN PEOPLE CALLED THE PELASGIANS! THEY HAD NOTHING TO DO GENETICALLY W/ TODAY'S WHITE EUROPEANS OR THE PRESENT PEOPLES OF "GREECE"!

Thirdly there was no real country called "INDIA" back then, and countries like Pakistan, and Bangladesh and Sri lanka and Afghanistan did not exist w/ all it's modern boundaries.

The Indian subcontinent is much bigger and was historically much more fertile, then the "Greece area", the earliest civilizations did not cover the same area and region size, as the "India area" and the "Indus valley civilization area", but was surrounded by all sorts of challenging geographical barriers and boundaries, and all different sorts of landscapes; unlike the Greece area, where civilization sprung up there, and it was surrounded by coastal waters and convenient advantageous geography and encompassed a much more smaller area and less challenges due to climate change. This is the same reason why the Mediterranean has such a "rich archaeological heritage" because the climate and weather, was far less challenging then South and Eastern Asia, w/ all sorts of natural shifts and disasters, and rainy and difficult changing climates, which corroded and destroyed many Ancient structures there.

And there were many different peoples and steppe tribes that MASS MIGRATED THERE FROM CENTRAL ASIA AND SIBERIA WHOM WERE ILLITERATE! These were the remnants of the "Aryans", "Scythians", "Alans" etc etc that ended up migrating to Southern Asia; however what you don't seem to understand is that the so called "Ancient Greeks" were not a single homogenous people and culture and civilization.

They were made up of different peoples w/ different admixture w/ foreigners and barbarian tribes; the first peoples in the Greece area were the Pelasgian Greeks whom were Black/Brown African people from the area of Libya thrace, and then later they ended up being in conflict and then later absorbing in various numbers, the Dorian/Ionian peoples. whom were illiterate steppe barbarian tribes like the Aryans, who spoke a different version of the then Greek language separate to that of the original Pelasgians. Herodotus talks about this when states that the Hellenic peoples was never a pure race, but a peoples who had introduced numerous ranks of "barbarians" into their fold.

This was also the basis of the different hellenic civilizations of the Greece area, like Athens, Sparta, Thebes; which was really based on the admixtures and admixture zones of the different tribes and peoples that migrated to the Greece area, between the original Pelasgian, and Indo-European steppe nomadic tribes and barbarians that migrated later. But the entire Greece civilization encompassed a much more smaller area w/less challenging climate and geography and variety of terrain, as compared to the Indus Valley civilizations and all it's different iterations and outreaches throughout the South Asian continent!

So when you are comparing and mentioning Alexander's accounts, then you really are NOT making any sense and your analysis is deeply flawed!

For one the South Asian area is much more bigger and different then the Greco-Roman area, and encompass a much larger landmass area, and then there is the fact THAT THE INDUS VALLEY REGION WAS ABANDONED AND CHANGED DUE TO CLIMATE SHIFTS WHEN ALEXANDER ARRIVED, AND BY THEN MANY EURASIAN ILLITERATE BARBARIAN TRIBES FROM CENTRAL ASIA, MIGRATED THERE AND TOOK THEIR PLACE AND SETTLED THEMSELVES THERE! THESE WERE THE DIFFERENT ILLITERATE PEOPLES ALEXANDER WAS TALKING ABOUT IN SOUTHERN ASIA! Because Southern Asia encompassed a much LARGER area w/ more varieties of geography, then the Greco-Med areas, you had MORE DIFFERENT PEOPLES THERE, DESPITE THE HELLENIC PEOPLES ALSO HAVING A WIDE VARIETY OF PEOPLES WITHIN THEIR CIVILIZATIONS, SOME OF WHOM WERE ILLITERATE!

The reason why the Ancient Hellenes, NOT GREEKS, had to relearn the Phoenician/Egyptian/Assyrian alphabet scripts was because of invasions and incursions of Barbarian steppe tribes from Central Asia and Siberia, that caused events like the migration of sea peoples, and the eventual displacement of the original peoples there by these steppe tribes and the loss of knowledge and literary works! These incursion and invasion attempts were also the reason why events like the Greek dark ages took into form!

The illiterate steppe barbarian tribes that mass migrated to Europe from Central Asia and Siberia, and that caused events like the Greek dark ages, ARE THE ANCESTORS OF TODAY'S WHITE EUROPEANS AND GREEKS, NOT THE OLDER NEOLITHIC BLACK EUROPEANS THAT CREATED THE MINOAN AND CRETAN CIVILIZATIONS AND THAT CREATED NECROPOLIS SITES! Thus modern peoples and cultures of Europe, ARE NOT A CONTINUATION OF THE ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS OF THE BALKANS AREA, OR THE "GREECE AREA" AND THEY DO NOT HAVE ANY SUCH CLAIMS TO THEM AT ALL!

However the Indian civilizations had various events like the burning of the library of Alexandria, were many of their historically written traditions and works, and written records, were burned or desecrated or destroyed w/ no chance of recovery of them! This is why the historical record of Southern Asia and it's civilizations and the practice of literacy there, is so confusing and missing,because of these events!

1). Wow, so many false assumptions, but frankly far from the truth. Where do you read all this? You say, without hesitation that old civilization in Greece have nothing to do with present day Greeks. While Greece has 3 bronze age civilizations, Helladic period on the Mainland 3300-1400 BC, Cycladic, 3300-2000 BC and Minoans(3650BC-1400 BC) on the Greek islands where one of the most advanced on the planet, with urban planning, central heating, airco control, flush toilets, drainage systems, sewerage systems, earthquake designed architecture, multistoried buildings, 5-7 storied grand palaces and so on. The genetic studies of these people conclude that the Ancient Cretans (centre of Minoan civiliation) is the same as that of modern-day people.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minoan_civilization

"A 2013 mtDNA study was conducted by a research team that analyzed some DNA from ancient Minoan skeletons that were sealed in a cave in Crete's Lassithi Plateau between 3,700 and 4,400 years ago, as well as other Greek, Anatolian, western and northern European samples, and North African and Egyptian samples.[99][100]
They then compared the skeletal mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on through the maternal line, with that found in a sample of 135 modern and ancient populations from around Europe and Africa. The researchers found that the Minoan skeletons were genetically very similar to modern-day Europeans — and especially close to modern-day Cretans,"

2). Then with almost jealous but uneducated insight in the occupation of Greek territory by the ottomans has nothing to do with the continuation of Greek civilization. It's just lacking wisdom to think that. Greeks in ottoman period where either massacred, or Turmenized into becoming a Turk in Turkey or resisted. India has had more outside influences from Turks 12th-14th century occupying most of north India, Mughals almost all of India by the 16th -18th century, and so on, destroying Indian heritage in different periods, than what has happened to Greece. Greek language is for instance also the longest continuous living Indo-European language on the planet and says alot about the continuation of Greek civilization.
It's hundreds of paleollithic, mesolithic and neolithic sites dated to before 4th millennia BC, to It's prominent Bronze age civilizations (Helladic, Cycladic, Minoan from 3650-1400 BC) to Mycaenean (2000 BC) with the first Greek written language and oldest continuous Indo-European language on the planet, to geometric/Classical/Hellenistic Greece 800-60 BC with a much stronger and lasting influence on the world including India (400 year lasting Kingdom centered in present-day Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan etc) than any civilization and time period in India. to the Greek empire of Byzantium 300 AD - 1300 AD, to the modern times. It's history is vast and advanced in any period. Your opinion cannot reduce a nation to nothing in your personal view of history as you see fit. Indus valley collapsed, so did the Minoan Civilization, and other bronze age civilizations around the globe.
And you don't have to dwindle around. The fact is that Greece, Anatolia, Cyprus, Syria and so on have far more and older archaeological sites than that of India so far. And you can redundantly without any fact try to say that Greeks and all other nations are "nothing", and that they are not the people that live in their nation now. While that is completely untrue and completely based on emotional opinion.

3). It's also amusing, saying that other civilizations where not homogenious, while there is not a better and grander example than that of India, consisting of so many different peoples, that they cannot understand eachother and presently on top of that having the largest illiterate population of 300-400 million people on the planet and with English becoming the main language of India, of by the way which 54.000+ words originate from Greek language. Even the word India is. But that little fact aside.
Then you cover all kinds of redundant topics like that India's territory was grander mongering, while first of all, India today is also grander, but it's also by WHO the filthiest nation on the planet, the largest slave population of 12 million on the planet, the largest illiterate population of 300-400 million on the planet, with poor human rights, very low life expectancy and so on. It does not compare and make any sense what you are saying. Size is not quality, next to the fact that you are not even right. If you want to be really precise. Greek territory in Hellenistic time was 5.7 million km2 which is larger than India, Pakistan, parts of Afghanistan all-together. But above all, this is completely unimportant.

Before claiming in capitals all kind of things from the rooftops in regard to other civilization as you see fit, you should start reading more into archaeology (actual findings/sources/proof) and the technological advancements of other nations through it's timelines around the globe other than that of India. It would give you a wider perspective

The sites you are talking about are just some small towns.
Indus valley civilization is a culture.

We have been speaking all along about civilizations here. And the socalled archaeological sites from different regions including the only 2 oldest archaeological town sites in all of India which are equally or less old than the just few examples I have given. So no need in trying to bagetalize here.

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