Dholavira: A City of Harappan Civilization_00.1
UPSC Exam   »   Dholavira: A City of Harappan Civilization

Dholavira: A City of Harappan Civilization

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  • GS Paper 1: Indian History: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, Literature, and Architecture from ancient to modern times.

Dholavira: A City of Harappan Civilization_40.1

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Context

  • Dholavira, the archaeological site of a Harappan-era city, received the UNESCO world heritage site tag during the 44rth meeting of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee.
    • Dholavira is also locally known as Kotada timba.
  • Earlier, the Government of India had submitted a nomination dossier of ‘Dholavira: A Harappan City’ for inclusion in the World Heritage List for the year 2020.
  • Dholavira has now become the 40th Indian site to be on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

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About Dholavira site

  • Location: It is located on a hillock near present-day Dholavira village in Kutch district, from which it gets its name.
    • It is located in the Khadir Bet Island of the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary.
    • Dholavira’s location is on the Tropic of Cancer.
  • Discovery: discovered in 1968 by archaeologist Jagat Pati Joshi. The site’s excavation between 1990 and 2005 under the supervision of archaeologist Ravindra Singh Bisht uncovered the ancient city.

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Importance of the Dholavira site:

  • It is the first site of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) in India to get the tag.
  • It was a commercial and manufacturing hub for about 1,500 years before its decline and eventual ruin in 1500 BC.
  • Dholavira is the fifth largest metropolis of IVC after Mohen-jo-Daro, Ganweriwala, and Harappa in Pakistan, and Rakhigarhi in Haryana of India.

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Key features/findings

  • Only the Harappan site to be divided into three parts: it has a fortified citadel, a middle town, and a lower town with walls made of sandstone or limestone instead of mud bricks in many other Harappan sites.
  • Cascading series of water reservoirs: Dholavira appears to have had several large reservoirs, and an elaborate system of drains to collect water from the city walls and housetops to fill these water tanks.
  • Two multi-purpose grounds — one of which was used for festivities and as a marketplace.
  • Nine gates with unique designs.
  • Funerary architecture featuring tumulus — hemispherical structures like the Buddhist Stupas.
  • No mortal remains of humans have been discovered at Dholavira unlike other graves at other IVC sites. Memorials contain no bones or ashes but offerings of precious stones, etc.
  • Other findings: include painted pottery, seals, stone figures, weights, signboard, etc.
  • Knowledge of metallurgy: as indicated by the remains of a copper smelter in Dholavira.
    • It is believed that traders of Dholavira used to source copper ore from present-day Rajasthan and Oman and UAE and export finished products.
  • It was also a hub of manufacturing jewellery made of shells and semi-precious stones, like agate, and used to export timber.
  • Trade with Mesopotamia: as beads peculiar to the Harappan workmanship have been found in the royal graves of Mesopotamia.

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Other Harappan sites in Gujrat

  • Lothal: located in Saragwala village on the bank of Sabarmati in Dholka taluka of Ahmedabad district.
    • It was excavated between 1955 and 1960.
    • It is an important port city of the ancient civilization, with structures made of mud bricks.
    • Key discoveries: 21 human skeletons from a graveyard, Foundries for making copperware, Ornaments made of semi-precious stones, gold, etc.
  • Rangpur on the bank of Bhadar river in Surendranagar district was the first Harappan site in the state to be excavated.
  • Other sites: Rojdi in Rajkot district, Prabhas near Veraval in Gir Somnath district, Lakhabaval in Jamnagar, and Deshalpar in Bhuj taluka of Kutch.

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Possible Reasons for the downfall of the city

  • Collapse of Mesopotamia: due to the integrated economic system between the two civilizations, the downfall of Mesopotamia may have caused the downfall of Dholavira.
    • Harappans lost a huge market, affecting the local mining, manufacturing, marketing, and export businesses once Mesopotamia fell.
  • Climate Change: from 2000 BC, Dholavira entered a phase of severe aridity due to climate change and rivers like Saraswati drying up.
    • The drought-like situation resulted in large-scale migration from Dholavira toward the Ganges valley or towards south Gujarat and further beyond in Maharashtra.
  • The Great Rann of Kutch, which surrounds the Khadir island on which Dholavira is located, used to be navigable, but the sea receded gradually and the Rann became a mudflat.

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Conservation status

  • Remained free from encroachment in the historical period as well as in modern times.
    • UNESCO termed Dholavira as one of the most remarkable and well-preserved urban settlements in South Asia dating from the 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BCE.
  • Development of a museum here by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Fossil Park: near the Dholavira city has been developed where wood fossils are preserved.

 

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