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4,500-year-old Early Harappan wall damaged during excavations


About 400 metres of the remains of a 4,500-year-old mud-brick wall, which lay under the soil in the Harappan city of Dholavira in Gujarat, has been damaged by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) when it dug up the area, despite being aware that the wall existed there. The portion of the wall that was above the ground had collapsed long ago. The Early Harappans built it as a fortification on the southern side of the city.

4,500-year-old Early Harappan wall damaged during excavations
The trench dug by ASI at the Harappan site of Dholavira, Gujarat, which damaged 
the 4500-year-old mud brick wall [Credit: ASI]
After the ASI officials had decided to build a “modern boundary wall” on the southern side of the Dholavira site, a contractor engaged for the purpose used a Poclain machine some weeks ago to dig a trench for the foundation of the new wall and, in the process, damaged the Early Harappan wall.

Specialists in the Harappan civilisation are anguished that this happened despite “the contours of the buried wall being available on the elevated surface.” Besides, Dholavira is the ASI’s protected site coming under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010.

Spectacular testimony

Dholavira is situated in an island called Khadir in the Great Rann of Kutch. Its Harappan story began around 3000 BCE and ended around 1500 BCE. Its excavated remains bear a spectacular testimony to the Early Harappan, the Mature Harappan, the Late Harappan and the post-Harappan phases of the civilisation. Its genesis, growth, decay and then collapse spanned seven stages during those 1,500 years.

Jagat Pati Joshi, who went on to become the ASI Director-General, discovered Dholavira in the mid-1960s. An army of ASI archaeologists conducted 13 field seasons of excavations at Dholavira from 1990 to 2005 and again in 2008-09. They unravelled its monumental architecture, fortifications, meticulous town-planning with mathematical precision, amazing water management system with a series of 16 reservoirs forming a garland around it, two stadia with terraced stands for spectators and its funerary architecture. The site yielded the longest Indus inscription — three metres long and comprising 10 large-sized Indus signs made of white gypsum, which sparkled at night.

According to sources, although the site was protected by a fence on its eastern, western and northern sides, there was confusion on the site’s protection limits, especially on the southern side. An ASI surveyor drew a line demarcating the southern limit, but the line passed over the Dholavira city’s southern mud-brick wall.

ASI officials at Vadodara and elsewhere said they stopped the work of erecting a fence/ “a dwarf wall” on the southern side once they came to know that “two brick structures” were revealed by the trench.

“Wherever you dig in Dholavira, you get a wall,” an ASI official in Vadodara said dismissively.

Author: T. S. Subramanian | Source: The Hindu [August 15, 2016]
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