Class 12 history chapter 1 notes, Bricks Beads and Bones notes

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12 Class History Chapter 1 Bricks, Beads and Bones Notes

ClassClass 12
ChapterChapter 1
Chapter NameBricks, Beads and Bones
CategoryHistory Notes

Class 12 History Chapter 1 Bricks, Beads and Bones Notes here we will be learn about Harappan Civilization / Indus Valley Civilization and discuss the social and economic life of Harappan people.

  • B. C. ( Before Christ ) – ईसा पूर्व
  • A . D (Anno Domini) – ईसा मसीह के जन्म वर्ष
  • B. P ( Before Present) – आज से पहले

Period of Harappan Civilization : –

🔹 The civilization is dated between 2600 BCE and 1900 BCE and The period of the civilization is broadly divided in to three : –

  • The Early Harappan culture (Before 2600 BCE)
  • The Mature Harappan culture (2600 BCE to 1900 BCE)
  • The Late Harappan culture (After 1900 BCE)

Meaning of “culture” : –

🔹 Archaeologists use the term “culture” for a group of objects, distinctive in style, that are usually found together within a specific geographical area and period of time.

Meaning of Archaeologists : –

🔹 An archaeologist is a scientist who studies human history by digging up human remains and artifacts.

Meaning of Archaeology : –

🔹 Study of the remains of past Archaeology means the study of cultures of the past and of periods of history by examining the remains of buildings and objects found in the earth

Harappan culture / Indus Valley Civilization : –

🔹 The Indus valley civilisation is also called the Harappan culture. This civilization is named after the place called Harappa, where this culture was first discovered. The Harappan Civilization has been dated to between 2600 and 1900 BCE.

🔹 There were earlier and later cultures, often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan, in the same area. The Harappan civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to distinguish it from these cultures.

Different Name of Harappan Civilization : –

🔸 Harappan Civilization : – This civilization has been named after the place named Harappa, because this culture was first discovered at the place named Harappa.

🔸 Indus Valley Civilization : – The Harappan civilization is often referred to as the Indus Valley Civilization because it developed in the Indus River Valley. The term “Indus Valley Civilization” is used to indicate its geographical location and the significance of the Indus River to the development of this ancient civilization.

🔸 Bronze Age civilization : – The Indus Valley Civilization is called a Bronze Age civilization because the people of this civilization used bronze tools and weapons. The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the first civilizations in the world to use bronze, and this is why it is called a Bronze Age civilization.

Discovery of Harappan Civilization : –

🔹 The Harappan civilization was discovered in the year 1921-22 under the leadership of Sir John Marshall, Dayaram Sahni, and Rakhal Das Banerji.

Major sources of information about Harappan civilization : –

🔹 Sources to know about Harappan civilisation – Buildings, weights, Stones, Blades and Baked bricks, ornaments, sculptures, seals etc.

Expansion of the Harappan civilization : –

🔹 During excavation, remains of Harappan civilization have been found at many places like Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Kalibanga, Ropar, Sanghol, Banavali, Rakhi garhi, Rangpur, Dholavira, Lothal etc.

🔹 On the basis of this, archaeologists have expressed the opinion that the expansion of Harappan civilization extended to Afghanistan, Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Ganga valley in North India.

Some important sites of Harappan civilization : –

🔹 Kalibangan,Lothal,Rakhi Garhi, Dholavira,Rupar, Harappa, Ganeriwala, Chanhudaro, Sutakagen Dor,Mohenjodaro, Amri,Balakot,Kot Diji,Rangpur, Nageshwar, Ganeriwala etc.

Major centers place of Harappan civilization : –

  • Akhnoor and Manda in Jammu,
  • Ropar, Sandhol in Punjab (India),
  • Harappa in Punjab (Pakistan),
  • Rangpur, Lothal, Surkotada, Malwar Rowdi in Gujarat.
  • Kalibangan in Rajasthan,
  • Alamgir pur in Uttar Pradesh,
  • Mitanthal, Vanabali, Rakhigarhi in Haryana,
  • Dabarkot, Sutkakoh, Sutkangedor in Balochistan (Pakistan),
  • Mohenjodaro, Kotdiji, Alimurad, Chanhudaro etc. in Sindh (Pakistan).

Early archaeological cultures : –

🔹 There were several archaeological cultures in the region prior to the Mature Harappan.

🔹 These cultures were associated with distinctive pottery, evidence of agriculture and pastoralism, and some crafts.

🔹 The Settlements were generally small, and there were virtually no large buildings.

Economic life of the Harappan people : –

🔹 The economic life of the people of Indus Valley (Harappa) was based on many trades and professions. They earned their livelihood through these professions. The description of these professions is as under:

🔸 1. Agriculture : – The main profession of the Indus Valley people was agriculture. They cultivated land to grow wheat, barley, rice and cotton. They used wooden ploughs for agriculture. They had a good system of irrigation for their fields.

🔸 2. Cattle-Rearing : – The second main profession of the Indus Valley people was cattle-rearing. They mainly reared cow, ox, elephant, goats, sheep and dogs.

🔸 3. Trade : – Trade was the main profession of the Indus Valley people. The towns traded among themselves. They also had trade relations with Afghanistan and Iran.

🔸 4. Industry : – Most of the people were engaged in small business. The craftsmen were quite efficient in making utensils of mud, copper and brass. They also made beautiful ornaments of gold and silver.

Subsistence Strategies of Harappan Civilisation : –

🔹 The main methods of subsistence of the people of Harappan civilization were as follows: –

  • Agricultural Products : – products obtained from trees and plants. Grains found at Harappan sites include wheat, barley, lentil, chickpea and sesame. Millets are found from sites in Gujarat. Rice are relatively rare.
  • Animals : – Animal bones found at Harappan sites include those of cattle, sheep, goat, buffalo and pig. Bones of wild species such as boar, deer and gharial are also found.

🔹 The Harappan people got food from a wide range of plant and animal products, including fish. Their food included grains like wheat, barley, lentil, chickpea and sesame. From many Harappan sites, charred grains and seeds have also been found. The people also ate rice and millet. Millets are found from sites in Gujarat. Finds of rice are relatively rare.

🔹 Animal bones found at Harappan sites include those of cattle, sheep, goat, buffalo and pig. Bones of wild species such as boar, deer and gharial are also found. It is not clear the, whether the Harappans hunted these animals themselves or obtained meat from other hunting communities. Bones of fish and fowl are also found.

Agricultural technologies in Harappan Civilisation : –

🔹 While the prevalence of agriculture is indicated by finds of grain, it is more difficult to reconstruct actual agricultural practices.

  • The Harappans were familiar with the bull. Archaeologists believe that oxen were used for ploughing.
  • Moreover, terracotta models of the plough have been found at sites in Cholistan and at Banawali (Haryana).
  • Archaeologists have also found evidence of a ploughed field at Kalibangan (Rajasthan), associated with Early Harappan levels.
  • Archaeologists have also tried to identify the tools used for harvesting.

🔸 Different crops : – In The field had two sets of furrows at right angles to each other, suggesting that two different crops were grown together.

🔸 Irrigation for farming : – Most Harappan sites are located in semi-arid lands, where irrigation was probably required for agriculture. Traces of canals have been found at the Harappan site of Shortughai in Afghanistan, but not in Punjab or Sind. water reservoirs found in Dholavira (Gujarat) may have been used to store water for agriculture.

The plight of Harappa : –

🔹 Although Harappa was the first site to be discovered, it was badly destroyed by brick robbers.

🔹 As early as 1875, Alexander Cunningham, the first Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), often called the father of Indian archaeology, noted that the amount of brick taken from the ancient site was enough to lay bricks for “about 100 miles” of the railway line between Lahore and Multan. Thus, many of the ancient structures at the site were damaged.

🔹 In contrast, Mohenjodaro was far better preserved.

Mohenjodaro: A planned urban centre

🔹 Mohenjodaro is one of the two main cities of the Harappan civilization. Although Mohenjodaro is the most well-known site, the first site to be discovered was Harappa. The settlement is divided into two sections, one smaller but higher and the other much larger but lower. Archaeologists designate these as the Citadel and the Lower Town respectively.

The Citadel : –

  • The Citadel was small in size.
  • It was built at a height.
  • The Citadel was surrounded by a wall on all sides.
  • This wall alone separated it from the lower Town.

🔹 The Citadel owes its height to the fact that buildings were constructed on mud brick platforms. It was walled, which meant that it was physically separated from the Lower Town.

🔹 It is on the Citadel that we find evidence of structures that were probably used for special public purposes. These include the warehouse – a massive structure of which the lower brick portions remain, while the upper portions, probably of wood, decayed long ago – and the Great Bath.

The Lower Town : –

  • The lower city was larger in size than The Citadel.
  • It was made for ordinary people.
  • It had carefully planned drainage system.

🔹 The Lower Town was also walled. Several buildings were built on platforms, which served as foundations.

Drainage System : –

🔹 One of the most distinctive features of Harappan cities was the carefully planned drainage system. If domestic waste water had to flow into the street drains, every house needed to have at least one wall along a street.

🔹 In the Lower Town roads and streets were laid out along an approximate “grid” pattern, intersecting at right angles. It seems that streets with drains were laid out first and then houses built along them.

Drainage System of the Harappans ( in short ) : –

  • One of the striking features of Harappan cities was the well planned drainage system.
  • Every house was connected to the street drains.
  • The drains were made of mortar, lime and gypsum.
  • They were covered with big bricks which could be lifted easily to clean the drains.
  • For sewage from the houses, pits were provided at either side of the street.
  • Very long drainage channels were provided at intervals with sumps for cleaning.
  • In smaller settlements such as Lothal, the houses were built of mud bricks and drains were made of burnt bricks.
  • Little heaps of materials mostly sand have frequently been found alongside the drains.
  • This shows that the drains were cleaned at regular intervals.

The Great Bath : –

🔹 It was a large rectangular tank in a courtyard surrounded by a corridor on all four sides.

🔹 There were two flights of steps on the north and south leading into the tank, which was made watertight by setting bricks on edge and using a mortar of gypsum.

🔹 There were rooms on three sides, in one of which was a large well. Water from the tank flowed into a huge drain.

🔹 Across a lane to the north lay a smaller building with eight bathrooms, four on each side of a corridor, with drains from each bathroom connecting to a drain that ran along the corridor.

Town Planning of the Harappan civilization : –

  • An urban civilisation.
  • The settlement divided into two sections :- Citadel and the lower town.
  • Roads laid on grid pattern.
  • Covered drains pared with bricks.
  • Planned drainage system.
  • Construction of special types of buildings such as bathrooms, granaries, etc.
  • Drains of the houses connected through the wall of the Street drains.
  • Houses made of bricks and mud.
  • Construction of two storey buildings.
  • Use of stairs to go on the top floor.

Domestic architecture of Harappan Civilisation : –

🔸 The courtyard : – The Lower Town at Mohenjodaro provides examples of residential buildings. Many were centred on a courtyard, with rooms on all sides. The courtyard was probably the centre of activities such as cooking and weaving, particularly during hot and dry weather.

🔹 What is also interesting is an apparent concern for privacy:

  • there are no windows in the walls along the ground level.
  • the main entrance does not give a direct view of the interior or the courtyard.
  • Every house had its own bathroom paved with bricks, with drains connected through the wall to the street drains.
  • Some houses have remains of staircases to reach a second storey or the roof.

🔸 Wells : – Many houses had wells, often in a room that could be reached from the outside and perhaps used by passers-by. Scholars have estimated that the total number of wells in Mohenjodaro was about 700.

Tracking Social Differences : –

🔹 Archaeologists generally use certain strategies to find out whether there were social or economic differences amongst people living within a particular culture.

  • study burials : – These include studying burials.
  • study artefacts ( Looking for “luxuries” ) : – Another strategy to identify social differences is to study artefacts, which archaeologists broadly classify as utilitarian and luxuries.

Studying Burials : –

🔹 Strategies to analyze social and economic differences amongst people living within a particular culture include study of burials.

🔹 At burials in Harappan sites the dead were generally laid in pits. Sometimes, there were differences in the way the burial pit was made in some instances, the hollowed-out spaces were lined with bricks.

🔹 Jewellery has been found in burials of both men and women. In some instances the dead were buried with copper mirrors. But on the whole, it appears that the Harappans did not believe in burying precious things with the dead.

Studying Burials ( in short ) : –

  • Strategies to analyze social and economic differences amongst people living within a particular culture include study of burials.
  • At burials in Harappan sites the dead were generally laid in pits.
  • Some of the pits were lined by bricks.
  • Some of the burials contained ornaments, pottery etc, may be a belief that these things can be used after life.
  • Jwelleries were found in both men and women burials.
  • In some instances the dead were buried with copper mirrors.
  • But in general, Harappans never believed in burying precious things with the dead.

Study Artefacts ( Looking for “luxuries” ) : –

🔹 Another strategy to identify social differences is to study artefacts, which archaeologists broadly classify as utilitarian and luxuries.

🔸 Utilitarian artefacts : – The first category includes objects of daily use made fairly easily out of ordinary materials such as stone or clay. These include querns, pottery, needles, flesh-rubbers (body scrubbers), etc., and are usually found distributed throughout settlements.

🔸 Luxury artefacts : – Archaeologists assume objects were luxuries if they are rare or made from costly, non-local materials or with complicated technologies. Thus, little pots of faience (a material made of ground sand or silica mixed with colour and a gum and then fired) were probably considered precious because they were difficult to make.

Study Artefacts ( Looking for “luxuries” ) ( in short ) : –

  • Studying artefacts is another strategy to find out social differences.
  • Artefacts are divided into utilitarian and luxuries.
  • Utilitarian artefacts include objects made of stone or clay. These include querns, pottery, needles, flesh-rubbers etc. and are usually found distributed throughout settlements.
  • Luxury artefacts are rare objects made of valuable materials are generally concentrated in large settlements like Mohenjodaro and Harappa. For Example, little pots of faience were used as perfume bottles.

Hoards : –

🔹 Hoards are objects kept carefully by people, often inside containers such as pots. Such hoards can be of jewellery or metal objects saved for reuse by metalworkers. If for some reason the original owners do not retrieve them, they remain where they are left till some archaeologist finds them.

Information about Craft Production : –

🔹 Chanhudaro is a tiny settlement, almost exclusively devoted to craft production. bead-making, shell-cutting, metal-working, seal-making and weight-making etc. are included in the craft Production.

beads : –

🔹 One of the important craft of the people of Harappan civilization was to prepare beads. It was mainly prevalent in Chanhudaro.

🔸 Material Used for making beads : – A large variety of material was used to make the beads. It included beautiful colour stones like carnelian (of a beautiful red colour), jasper, crystal, quartz and steatite; metals like copper, bronze and gold; and shell, faience and terracotta or burnt clay. Some beads were made of two or more stones, cemented together, some of stone with gold caps.

🔸 Shapes of beads : – The shapes were numerous : – disc- shaped, cylindrical, spherical, barrel-shaped, segmented. Some were decorated by incising or painting, and some had designs etched onto them.

Process of Making Beads : –

🔹 The process of making beads was remarkable. It deffered according to the material. It had the following statges:

  • The beads did not have geometrical forms like the ones made out of harder stones. They had a variety of shapes.
  • The red colour of carnelian was obtained by firing the yellowish raw material.
  • Nodules were chipped into rough shapes. Thus they were finely flaked into to final form.
  • The last phase of the process included grinding polishing and drilling. The specialised drills have been found at many sites like Chanhudaro, Lothal and Dholavira.

Identifying centres of production : –

🔹 In order to identify centres of craft production, archaeologists usually look for the following: raw material such as stone nodules, whole shells, copper ore; tools; unfinished objects; rejects and waste material.

Strategy for Procuring Materials : –

🔹 Terracotta toy models of bullock carts suggest that this was one important means of transporting goods and people across land routes.

🔹 Riverine routes. along the Indus and its tributaries, as well as coastal routes were also probably used.

Strategies for procuring materials for craft production ( Materials from the subcontinent and beyond ) : –

  • The Harappans procured materials for craft production in various ways.
  • Two methods of procuring materials for craft production
  • They established settlements in Nageshwar, Balakot and Shortughai.
  • They might have send expeditions to areas such as the Khetri region of Rajasthan (for copper) and south India (for gold).
  • Nageshwar and Balakot were areas for shell.
  • Shortughai, in far-off Afghanistan, near the best source of lapis lazuli, a blue stone that was apparently very highly valued, and Lothal which was near sources of carnelian (from Bharuch in Gujarat), steatite (from south Rajasthan and north Gujarat) and metal (from Rajasthan).
  • Expeditions to the khetri region and south India established communication with local communities.

Harappans maintain contact with distant lands : –

🔸Archaeologists found Harappan trade relations with Western Asia through the following archaeological evidences : –

🔹 Copper was probably brought from Oman. Chemical analysis have shown that both the Omani copper and Harappan artefacts have traces of nickel.

🔹 A distinctive type of Harappan vessel with a thick layer of black clay has been found at one of the sites of Oman.

🔹 There is a mention of Meluhha in Mesopotamian texts, which was probably Harappan region. They mentioned the products from Meluhha like copper, gold, carnelian, lapis lazuli and varieties of wood.

🔹 Harappan weights, seals, etc., have been found from the sites of Mesopotamia.

🔹 Depictions of ships and boats on Harappan seals clearly show trade relations between Harappa and Western Asia.

Seals and sealings : –

🔹 Seals and sealings were used to facilitate long- distance communication. The sealing also conveyed the identity of the sender.

An enigmatic script : –

🔹 Harappan seals usually have a line of writing, probably containing the name and title of the owner. Most inscriptions are short, the longest containing about 26 signs.

🔹 Although the script remains undeciphered to date, it was evidently not alphabetical as it has just too many signs somewhere between 375 and 400.

🔹 It is apparent that the script was written from right to left.

🔸 Objects on which writing has been found : – The variety of objects on which writing has been found: Seals, Copper tools, Rims of jars, Copper and terracotta tablets, Jewellery, Bone rods, Even an ancient signboard.

Weights : –

🔹 Exchanges were regulated by a precise system of weights, usually made of a stone called chert and generally cubical with no markings.

🔹 The lower denominations of weights were binary (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc. upto 12,800), while the higher denominations followed the decimal system.

🔹 The smaller weights were probably used for weighing jewellery and beads. Metal scale-pans have also been found.

Priest-kings : –

🔹 A stone statue was labelled and continues to be known as the “priest-king”. This is because archaeologists were familiar with Mesopotamian history and its “priest-kings” and have found parallels in the Indus region.

ANCIENT AUTHORITY ( Palaces and kings ) : –

🔹 There are indications of complex decisions being taken and implemented in Harappan society.

🔹 There are three different opinions regarding governance in Harappan culture.

🔸 First opinion : – Some archaeologists are of the opinion that Harappan society had no rulers, and that everybody enjoyed equal status.

🔸 Second opinion : – Others feel there was no single ruler but several, that Mohenjodaro had a separate ruler, Harappa another, and so forth.

🔸Third opinion : – Yet others argue that there was a single state, given the similarity in artefacts, like

  • the evidence for planned settlements,
  • the standardised ratio of brick size,
  • and the establishment of settlements near sources of raw material.

The End of the Civilization : –

🔹 There is evidence that by c. 1800 BCE most of the Mature Harappan sites in regions such as Cholistan had been abandoned. Simultaneously, there was an expansion of population into new settlements in Gujarat, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh.

🔹 In the few Harappan sites that continued to be occupied after 1900 BCE. there appears to have been a transformation of material culture, marked by

  • the disappearance of the distinctive artefacts of the civilisation weights, seals, special beads.
  • Writing, long-distance trade, and craft specialisation also disappeared.
  • In general, far fewer materials were used to make far fewer things.
  • House construction techniques deteriorated and large public structures were no longer produced.

Several explanations for the decline of Harappan civilization : –

🔹 The reasons responsible for the end of the civilization is still unknown. But probable reasons are;

  • Climatic Change
  • Deforestation
  • Excessive floods
  • Over use of the landscape
  • The shifting and or drying up of rivers
  • Invasion most probably by the Aryans

🔹 Harappan state might have ended because there are evidences of absence of distinctive art facts like seals, pottery, etc.

Main contributions of the Harappan civilization : –

🔹 Some of the main contributions of the Harappan civilisation are as follows:

  • Town planning
  • Craft production style
  • Construction of Public buildings
  • Excellent drainage system
  • Manufacturing of seals
  • Domestic and international trade
  • The concept of an urban civilisation
  • Agriculture and animal husbandry
  • Use of jewellery
  • Skilled citizen management
  • Building art and architecture

Alexander Cunningham : –

🔹 Cunningham, was the first Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). He began archaeological excavations in the mid-19th century.

🔹 Cunningham’s use the written word (texts and inscriptions) as a guide to investigations. In fact, Cunningham’s main interest was in the archaeology of the Early Historic (c. sixth century BCE-fourth century CE) and later periods.

Cunningham’s Confusion : –

🔹 Harappan artefacts were found fairly often during the nineteenth century and some of these reached Cunningham, he did not realise how old these were.

🔹 A Harappan seal was given to Cunningham by an Englishman. He noted the object, but unsuccessfully tried to place it within the time-frame with which he was familiar.

🔹 This was because he, like many others, thought that Indian history began with the first cities in the Ganga valley.

🔹 Given his specific focus, it is not surprising that he missed the significance of Harappa.

A new old civilisation : –

🔹 Seals were discovered at Harappa by archaeologists such as Daya Ram Sahni in the early decades of the twentieth century, in layers that were definitely much older than Early Historic levels.

🔹 Based on these finds, in 1924, John Marshall, Director- General of the ASI, announced the discovery of a new civilisation in the Indus valley to the world.

🔹 Marshall tended to excavate along regular horizontal units, measured uniformly throughout the mound, ignoring the stratigraphy of the site. This meant that all the artefacts recovered from the same unit were grouped together, even if they were found at different stratigraphic layers. As a result valuable information about the context of these finds were irretrievably lost.

Daya Ram Sahni : –

🔹 Seals were discovered at Harappa by archaeologist such as Daya Ram Sahni in the early decades of th 20th century.

Rakhal Das Banerjee : –

🔹 Rakhal Das Banerji found similar seals at Mohenjodaro. Leading to conjecture that these sites were part of a single archaeological culture.

John Marshall : –

🔹 In 1924, John Marshall, Director-General of the ASI, announced the discovery of a new civilisation to the world in the form of Indus valley.

🔹 John Marshall’s stint as Director-General of the ASI marked a major change in Indian archaeology. He was the first professional archaeologist to work in India, and brought his experience of working in Greece and Crete to the field.

REM Wheeler : –

🔹 In 1944, REM Wheeler as Director-General of the ASI, emphasised the need to follow the stratigraphy of mound rather than to dig mechanically along uniform horizontal line.

🔹 He rectified the previous problems faced by the archaeologists.

Achievements of R. E.M. Wheeler as Director General of Archaeological Survey of India : –

🔹 The contribution of R-E.M wheeler as the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India is extremely significant.

  • Being an ex-serviceman, his experience was very useful in securing the evidence.
  • Instead of excavating the mound mechanically, he thought it appropriate to follow the stratigraphy of the mound.
  • His approach to follow the stratigraphy was very useful.
  • Wheeler wrote in his memoir that on a warm may night in 1944, he had a four miles tonga – ride to reach Harappa. He was afraid that people would consider him mad seeing his passion.
  • Seeing his efforts, there has also been growing international interest in Harappan archaeology

New techniques and questions : –

🔹 It was R.E.M. Wheeler, after he took over as Director General of the ASI in 1944, who rectified this problem. Wheeler recognised that it was necessary to follow the stratigraphy of the mound rather than dig mechanically along uniform horizontal lines.

🔹 The frontiers of the Harappan civilisation have little or no connection with present-day national boundaries. However, with the partition of the subcontinent and the creation of Pakistan, the major sites are now in Pakistani territory. While Kalibangan, Lothal, Rakhigarhi and most recently Dholavira have been discovered, explored and excavated as part of these efforts, fresh explorations continue.

🔹 Since the 1980s, there has also been growing international interest in Harappan archaeology. Specialists from the subcontinent and abroad have been jointly working at both Harappa and Mohenjodaro.

🔹 They are using modern scientific techniques including surface exploration to recover traces of clay, stone, metal and plant and animal remains as well as to minutely analyse every scrap of available evidence. These explorations promise to yield interesting results in the future.


🔹 it is not the Harappan script that helps in understanding the ancient civilisation. Rather, it is material evidence that allows archaeologists to better reconstruct Harappan life.

🔹 This material could be pottery, tools, ornaments, household objects, etc. Organic materials such as cloth, leather, wood and reeds generally decompose, especially in tropical. regions. What survive are stone, burnt clay (or terracotta), metal, etc.

Classifying finds : –

🔹 Recovering artefacts is just the beginning of the archaeological enterprise. Archaeologists then classify their finds.

  • One simple principle of classification is in terms of material, such as stone, clay, metal, bone, ivory, etc.
  • The second, and more complicated, is in terms of function: archaeologists have to decide whether, for instance, an artefact is a tool or an ornament, or both, or something meant for ritual use.

🔹 An understanding of the function of an artefact is often shaped by its resemblance with present-day things beads, querns, stone blades and pots are obvious examples. Sometimes, archaeologists have to take recourse to indirect evidence.

Problems of Archaeological Interpretation

🔹 They are perhaps most evident in attempts to reconstruct religious practices. Early archaeologists thought that certain objects which seemed unusual or unfamiliar may have had a religious significance.

🔹 These included terracotta figurines of women, heavily jewelled, some with elaborate head-dresses. These were regarded as mother goddesses. Rare stone statuary of men in an almost standardised posture, seated with one hand on the knee – such as the “priest-king” – was also similarly classified.


🔹 Attempts have also been made to reconstruct religious beliefs and practices by examining seals, some of which seem to depict ritual scenes. Others, with plant motifs, are thought to indicate nature worship. Some animals such as the one-horned animal, often called the “unicorn” – depicted on seals seem to be mythical, composite creatures.

🔹 In some seals, a figure shown seated cross-legged in a “yogic” posture, sometimes surrounded by animals, has been regarded as a depiction of “proto-Shiva”, that is, an early form of one of the major deities of Hinduism. Besides, conical stone objects have been classified as lingas.

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