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Study reveals decline of Harappan city Dholavira caused by drying up of river and drought

A recent study conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur reveals that the decline of Harappan city Dholavira was caused by drying up of river like Saraswati river and Meghalayan drought.

Study reveals decline of Harappan city Dholavira caused by drying up of river and drought
(a) Panoramic view of the GRK with its rocky island; Dholavira is located on one such island (b) Modern dry bed of the
River Manhar outside Dholavira. (c) Google Earth image of Dholavira showing the Castle, Bailey, Middle Town,
Lower Town, reservoirs and course of the dry bed of the River Manhar. (d) Elevation contour map of Dholavira
 with its components (redrawn after Singh, 1996; Bisht, 2015); note the two rivers Mansar and Manhar on the
 northern and southern sides of the settlement. These rivers supplied monsoonal water to the adjacent
reservoirs during the Harappan period [Credit: Sengupta et al. 2019]
These researchers have for the first time connected the decline of Harappan city Dholavira to the disappearance of a Himalayan snow-fed river which once flowed in the Rann of Kutch. They have been able to connect the dots between the growth and decline of the Dholavira, located in the Rann with this river which resembles the Himalayan river Saraswati. The study has just been published online in the Journal of Quaternary Science, according to information shared by the institute.

The research team that also include researchers from Archaeological Survey of India, Deccan College PGRI Pune, Physical research laboratory, and Department of Culture, Gujarat, besides researchers from IIT Kharagpur, dated archaeological remains from all the stages and also inferred climate shifts through time which led to the rise and fall of the Harappan city.

Study reveals decline of Harappan city Dholavira caused by drying up of river and drought
(a) Map of NW India and Pakistan showing the locations of major Harappan towns and smaller settlements of different
periods including those in Saurashtra and Kachchh, Gujarat (after Possehl, 2002). The present river courses of the Indus,
Nara and Luni are also shown. (b) Map of northern Saurashtra and Kachchh showing the location of the study area
Dholavira on the rocky island of Khadir within the Great Rann of Kachchh (southern fringe of the Thar Desert) close
 to the international border, along with smaller Harappan settlements. The river Nara and other distributaries of the
 Indus possibly flowed further eastward than their present course(s) during the Harappan period, discharging
 their Indus-like water into the GRK along its northern periphery. A remotely sensed trace of a palaeochannel
 (ancient river Saraswati) is also shown. The river Luni and many other smaller monsoon-fed streams
 originating in the hills of Aravalli and Kachchh possibly discharged their water into the GRK along its
 eastern and southern periphery during the same time. White dotted lines represent 100mm rainfall isohyets.
Tidal incursion into the GRK occurs today through the Kori creek that must have acted as a palaeoseaway
during the mid-Holocene highstand; arrows indicate the direction of monsoon moisture transport
from the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea [Credit: Sengupta et al. 2019]
“Our data suggest that prolific mangroves grew around the Rann and distributaries of Indus or other palaeochannels dumped water in the Rann near southern margin of Thar Desert. This is the first direct evidence of glacial fed rivers quite like the supposedly mythological Saraswati, in the vicinity of Rann” said IIT Kharagpur's Anindya Sarkar and the lead researcher.

Dr. Ravi Bhushan and Navin Juyal from PRL, Ahmedabad dated the carbonates from human bangles, fish otolith and molluscan shells by accelerator mass spectrometer and found that the site was occupied from pre-Harappan period to ~3800 years before present i.e. Late Harappan period. The Dholavirans were probably the original inhabitants in the region, had a fairly advanced level of culture even at its earliest stage. They built spectacular city and survived for nearly 1700 years by adopting water conservation suggested the researchers.

Author: Prachi Verma | Source: The Economic Times [January 03, 2020]


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