Yama Dixit, David A. Hodell, Alena Giesche, Sampat K. Tandon, Fernando Gázquez, Hari S. Saini, Luke C. Skinner, Syed A. I. Mujtaba, Vikas Pawar, Ravindra N. Singh & Cameron A. Petrie
Today the desert margins of northwest India are dry and unable to support large populations, but were densely occupied by the populations of the Indus Civilization during the middle to late Holocene. The hydroclimatic conditions under which Indus urbanization took place, which was marked by a period of expanded settlement into the Thar Desert margins, remains poorly understood. We measured the isotopic values (δ18O and δD) of gypsum hydration water in paleolake Karsandi sediments in northern Rajasthan to infer past changes in lake hydrology, which is sensitive to changing amounts of precipitation and evaporation. Our record reveals that relatively wet conditions prevailed at the northern edge of Rajasthan from ~5.1 ± 0.2 ka BP, during the beginning of the agricultural-based Early Harappan phase of the Indus Civilization. Monsoon rainfall intensified further between 5.0 and 4.4 ka BP, during the period when Indus urban centres developed in the western Thar Desert margin and on the plains of Haryana to its north. Drier conditions set in sometime after 4.4 ka BP, and by ~3.9 ka BP an eastward shift of populations had occurred. Our findings provide evidence that climate change was associated with both the expansion and contraction of Indus urbanism along the desert margin in northwest India.
It is increasingly evident that the landscapes across which Indus populations lived were diverse in terms of climate, geology and ecology, and the patterns of cultural behavior and response to climate variability are unlikely to have been uniform throughout the Indus region16,24. The paleoclimate record from paleolake Karsandi clearly suggests there were areas receiving favorable rainfall in the period leading up to the development of Indus urban centres along the northern fringe of the Thar Desert in NW India. This evidence underscores the importance of reconstructing local conditions for understanding the degree of adaptation and resilience of ancient civilization exhibited to climate change.
See also :
Adaptation to Variable Environments, Resilience to Climate Change: Investigating Land, Water and Settlement in Indus Northwest India
Oxygen isotope in archaeological bioapatites from India: Implications to climate change and decline of Bronze Age Harappan civilization
Holocene landscape dynamics in the Ghaggar-Hakra palaeochannel region at the northern edge of the Thar Desert, northwest India
The Chronology of Puranic Kings and Rigvedic Rishis in Comparison with the Phases of the Sindhu–Sarasvati Civilization
Painted Grey Ware Culture: Changing Perspectives