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Thursday 30 June 2016

The Center Cannot Hold: A Bioarchaeological Perspective on Environmental Crisis in the Second Millennium BCE , South Asia

 Gwen Robbins Schug and Kelly Elaine Blevins

Crisis studies are currently on the rise because of angst over climate change and recent global warming; popular media capitalize on this increased interest by focusing on grand narratives of collapse and celebrating pre‐reflexive engagements with reality (e.g., Diamond, 2011). Legends of prehistoric collapse perpetuate myths about “human nature” in the face of crisis and they are particularly problematic when they do not account for the c omplexity of human experience or the contingent reality of decision making.  Archaeology—the discipline principally concerned with human diversity and environ-mental interactions in the past—is uniquely positioned to destabilize these myths and simplistic reconstructions of the past (e.g., McAnany and Yoffee, 2010). Human responses to crisis derive from particular historical, sociocultural circumstances; the concept of resil-ience is not actually distinct from the concept of collapse. This chapter considers the expe-rience of crisis and resilience in two different contexts in South Asian prehistory—the urban to post‐urban transition at Harappa and the rural, agrarian villages of the Jorwe phase of west central India (Map 3). This chapter is part of a long‐term project to examine human–environmental interactions in South Asian prehistory and to understand the long‐term  biocultural consequences of different short‐term strategies for coping with environmental and climate change.


See also :
The Chronology of Puranic Kings and Rigvedic Rishis in Comparison with the Phases of the Sindhu–Sarasvati Civilization
Oxygen isotope in archaeological bioapatites from India: Implications to climate change and decline of Bronze Age Harappan civilization

Agriculture In India: Traversing Through Ancient Indian Literature

Dr. Ajesh TV
Agriculture is a system of life in which humans, plants and animals are interwoven. It has been playing a major role in the economy of India since the pre-Neolithic times. It was considered as an honourable profession and man took this as the principal means of livelihood. The earliest evidence as regards to agriculture comes from Mehrgarh (8000 BCE onward) in the North West and from sites in the Deccan, central India, Kashmir and the northwest [1]. ‘The process of domestication of plants and cereals would have taken a long time. Evidences of cereals can be traced at Mehrgarh and in the Vindhyas in 6,000 BCE. Wild varieties of rice have been found in the Vindhyan region in a Mesolithic context at Chopanimando in Meja Tehsil of Allahabad.’ [2] In later times, the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro proved that there did exit a good system of agriculture [3]. The fabric of Indus agriculture rested undoubtedly on plough cultivation [4] The discovery of the furrows of a ‘ploughed field’ at Kalibangan and the plough explains the really large extend of Indus agriculture, covering the North-West plains and extending into Gujarat [5]. The granaries at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, the stack of storage jars at Kalibangan etc. suggest that the people were producing surplus [6] grains [7]. From the early historical period onward, texts and inscriptions in Sanskrit, Pāli, Prakrit and Tamil literature provide occasional descriptions of agricultural practices. Probably all castes and communities of Indian society, rich and poor, male and female were engaged in agricultural activities. They were commonly known as farmers and do not constitute a homogeneous group.
The Vedic literature gives plentiful evidence to agriculture. In Ṛgveda [8] there is abundance of data with regard to agriculture. Agriculture was the significant characteristic of the Ārya community and it was counted as a distinguishing mark of the ‘civilized’ from the ‘barbarians’. It was not confined to the lowest strata of population, but had been the occupation of a class of men who were held an important position in the society [9] According to Ṛgveda, cultivated fields are called kṣētra [10] and fertile ones urvara [11] which might indicate alluvial lands as well. Another term used in connection with agriculture is sītā. The term kṛṣṭi in Ṛgveda which denotes people in general, appear to imply that they were by and large agriculturists [12]. It refers to the preservation of seeds which indicates that agriculture was a regular occupation from year to year (5.53.13). ............


Tuesday 28 June 2016

New Indus Finds in Salut, Oman

 June 26th, 2016
Exciting new discoveries through 2015 at Salut tower in Oman show how extensive Indus trade and relationships with this area were during the Bronze Age (2500-2000 BCE). The article Bronze Age Salūt (ST1) and the Indus Civilization: recent discoveries and new insights on regional interaction by Denys Frenez, Michele Degli Esposti, Sophie Méry and Jonathan Mark Kenoyer describes and explains the finds in detail. These include include children's toys like a bird whistle, a seal made of chlorite, numerous pottery fragments of types common in places like Harappa, and much else that suggests that Indus traders were active and settled well inside the Omani coast. These recent excavations are led by the Italian Mission to Oman in collaboration with the Office of the Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan for Cultural Affairs.
"This evidence provides support for similar discoveries from excavations of towers and graves in Bāt, and suggests that the interaction between Indus communities and the Omani interior was much more extensive than previously thought," write the authors. Ancient Oman, during what is referred to as the Um al Nair period, is called "Magan" in ancient Mesopotamian texts, was known as a source of copper. The work described in the article below is yet another piece of evidence pointing to the extensive trade that must have once existed among the handful of sophisticated Bronze Age civilizations in the area, supporting wealth generation as well as a the flow of ideologies, beliefs and cultural practices.
Article: Bronze Age Salūt (ST1) and the Indus Civilization: recent discoveries and new insights on regional interactionWbesite: The Salut Museum/Universita di Pisa website

1. Salut archaeological site, Oman.
2. Seal impressed fragment, likely belonging to an Harappan ledge shouldered jar, the impression showing two confronting bulls and some Harappan script (l 3.6 cm, w. 5.5 cm, th. 0.7 cm).
3. This stone square stamp seal is probably the best example of an Indus-inspired seal found so far in Oman.
4. Among the luxury imported objects discovered in Ras al-Jinz, along the Omani coast, there is this beautiful comb made of elephant ivory. As well as pots, beads and a copper stamp seal, the comb comes from Harappa, one of the main sites of the Indus civilization.
5. Fragment, from Salut, can be identified as a hollow clay “toy” in the shape of a bird: this kind of artifact is well known from Harappan sites (l. 8.5 cm, w. 7 cm, h. 5.5 cm).

The researches are available here.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Exploring Indus crop processing: combining phytolith and macrobotanical analyses to consider the organisation of agriculture in northwest India c. 3200–1500 BC

Jennifer Bates1 • Ravindra Nath Singh2 • Cameron A. Petrie1


This paper presents a preliminary study combining
macrobotanical and phytolith analyses to explore
crop processing at archaeological sites in Haryana and
Rajasthan, northwest India. Current understanding of the
agricultural strategies in use by populations associated with
South Asia’s Indus Civilisation (3200–1900 BC) has been
derived from a small number of systematic macrobotanical
studies focusing on a small number of sites, with little use
of multi-proxy analysis. In this study both phytolith and
macrobotanical analyses are used to explore the organisation
of crop processing at five small Indus settlements with
a view to understanding the impact of urban development
and decline on village agriculture. The differing preservation
potential of the two proxies has allowed for greater
insights into the different stages of processing represented
at these sites: with macrobotanical remains allowing for
more species-level specific analysis, though due to poor
chaff presentation the early stages of processing were
missed; however these early stages of processing were
evident in the less highly resolved but better preserved
phytolith remains. The combined analyses suggests that
crop processing aims and organisation differed according 
to the season of cereal growth, contrary to current models
of Indus Civilisation labour organisation that suggest
change over time. The study shows that the agricultural
strategies of these frequently overlooked smaller sites
question the simplistic models that have traditionally been
assumed for the time period, and that both multi-proxy
analysis and rural settlements are deserving of further
Keywords Indus Civilisation  Crop processing
Phytoliths  Plant macro-remains  South Asia  Bronze Age


See also :
Oxygen isotope in archaeological bioapatites from India: Implications to climate change and decline of Bronze Age Harappan civilization