The Extensive Indus Valley Sites of Gujarat
The Indus Valley Civilization is believed to have existed between the 3rd and 2nd millenniums BC. This civilization covered an area of around 1,210,000 square km (467,183.6 square mi). As a comparison, the area that was occupied by the Mesopotamian civilization between the Tigris and Euphrates during the 3rd millennium BC was around 65,000 square km (25,096.6 square mi), whilst the areas of the ancient Egyptian civilization that were cultivated, i.e. the Nile Valley, only amounted to 34,440 square km (13,297.4 square mi).
Divisions of the Indus Valley
Today, the area once occupied by the Indus Valley Civilization is divided mainly between the countries of India and Pakistan. Two of the most well-known Indus Valley sites – Mohnejo-Daro and Harappa, are located in Pakistan. Many other Indus Valley sites, however, are much less famous. This article will deal with some of the sites of the Indus Valley Civilization that are located in Gujarat, a western state in India.
Indus Valley Civilization, Early Phase (3300-2600 BC) ( Public Domain )
In a list of Indus Valley Civilization sites that are currently known, there are a total of 13 sites located in Gujarat. Many of these sites have yielded incredible findings, though some are more obscure than others. For instance, it is likely that few would have heard of a site called Surkotada. This site, which is located in the Kutch district, is said to be the only known site in the entire Indus Valley Civilization where the bones of a horse have been found.
The shell workshop, with thousands of unfinished and finished products and raw shell at another of the Indus Valley archaeological sites in Gujarat - Gola Dhoro (Bagasra). ( Kuldeep, K. et al )
Another site, called Rangpur, which is located in the Ahmedabad district, was discovered to have had a seaport. Yet another site, Malwan, which is located in the Surat district, is said to be the southern-most site of the Indus Valley Civilization, thus marking the southern extent of this ancient civilization.
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Lothal: A Sheltered Harbor and Rice Cultivation
There are also other sites of the Indus Valley Civilization in Gujarat that people may be relatively more familiar with. One of these sites is Lothal, which, like Rangpur, is also located in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad district. This site was discovered in 1954, and then excavated until 1963 by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The people of the Indus Valley civilization are said to have been attracted to settle at this site due to its sheltered harbor, which was suitable for the building of a port.
Dock with canal in Lothal, India. ( Public Domain )
It has been suggested that the people of Lothal traded with the ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians. In addition, its fertile hinterland was perfect for the growing of cotton and rice. It has also been pointed out that this is, at present, the earliest evidence for the cultivation of rice, i.e. 1800 BC.
Additionally, the archaeological evidence suggests that there were many craftsmen living in Lothal. This is supported by the fact that their shops and working-places are marked by the remains of their crafts. For example, there is in an area where hundreds of carnelian beads in different stages of manufacture (including finished ones) and a circular kiln (for the heating of raw material) have been found - it has been speculated that this was a bead factory.
Whilst other crafts, such as goldsmithing, shell-working, and copper-working are said to have been carried out in Lothal, it is the bead industry that was reckoned to have been the main industry of the settlement. Lothal was especially famous for its micro-beads, some of which were found to measure as little as 0.25 mm (0.01 inches) in diameter.
Other Large Sites of the Indus Valley in Gujarat
Another Indus Valley site in Gujarat is Dholavira, which is located in the Kutch district. This site was discovered in the 1960s, and has been excavated almost continuously by the ASI since 1990. Dholavira is said to be one of the five largest Indus Valley sites, the others being Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, Gharo Bhiro (all in Pakistan) and Rakhigarhi (in India).
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Like other sites of the Indus Valley Civilization, evidence of urban planning can be seen at Dholavira. This settlement has been divided by archaeologists into three sections – the ‘citadel,’ the ‘middle town,’ and the ‘lower town.’ An enormous fortification has been found running on all four sides of this settlement, and a series of reservoirs have been found to be set within them. Moreover, there seems to have been an intricate system of fortifications within the city as well.
Excavation on a housing area at Dholavira. ( ASI)
Apart from the fortifications, Dholavira is also noteworthy for its water management system. For example, 16 or more reservoirs of varying designs and shapes were built and arranged in a series on all four sides of the settlement. In addition to being an affirmation of the skills of the settlement’s engineers, these reservoirs are also said to highlight the city planner’s abilities in organizing and beautifying their city.
Sophisticated water reservoir. Dholavira, India. (CC BY SA 3.0)
Other findings in Dholavira that are worth mentioning include graves, seals, and an inscription on the north gate that contains 10 unusually large Harappan letters believed to have been inlaid on a wooden board that has since decayed. These finds provide more evidence that the Indus Valley Civilization sites in Gujarat were once vibrant cities and key sites for trade, agriculture, and craftsmanship.
Unicorn seal of Indus Valley, Indian Museum. ( Public Domain )
Featured image: The area known as “street 9” in Lothal, Gujarat, India. Photo source: ( Dosima)
Archaeological Survey of India, 2011. Excavations - Dholavira. [Online]
Available at: http://asi.nic.in/asi_exca_2007_dholavira.asp
Archaeological Survey of India, 2011. Excavations - Important - Gujarat. [Online]
Available at: http://asi.nic.in/asi_exca_imp_gujarat.asp
Maisels, C. K., 1999. Early Civilisations of the Old World. London & New York: Routledge.
Mulchandani, A., 2006. The Indus Valley Civilisation at Lothal. [Online]
Available at: http://www.harappa.com/lothal/text.html
World Public Library, 2015. List of Indus Valley Civilization Sites. [Online]
Available at: http://www.self.gutenberg.org/articles/list_of_indus_valley_civilization_sites
www.ahmedabadcity.com, 2015. Lothal. [Online]
Available at: http://www.ahmedabadcity.com/tourism/html/lothal.html