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« Ethan Leib: Freakonomist | Main | A Gold Medal in Fakery (Sujatha) »

August 13, 2008


Thanks for highlighting this here, Ruchira.

Nope, I didn't keep the bangle and simply laid it back on the ground. Felt vaguely guilty about depriving someone else of the discovery. I still have mixed feelings about something I did remove from there: a painted pottery shard (much more common). It now lies on a bookshelf and occasionally when I notice it, it makes my imagination wander: wow, this was part of someone's surahi, or storage jar, or rice bowl. Who might have used it? Her hearth, house, street ...

My pleasure. Yours is actually the best first hand report I have read on Dholavira. The other article was a few years back in a Bengali periodical. But that was set more in the context of the Aryan Invasion (did it happen?) and the Saraswati-Vedic civilization debate which seems to have gained currency in the context of Indian archaeology. The accompanying photos in your article are much better too.

What puzzles me a great deal about the Indus Valley civilization in particular and the Indian civilization in general is what happened to those early architecturally inclined people, the urban planners? Where did they go? Even if they were displaced by the nomadic Aryan invaders and pushed toward the south of the Indian subcontinent, why didn't they build similar brick, terra-cotta structures and cities with paved roads and drainage systems elsewhere? And what about the later inhabitants? Why didn't they emulate Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Dholavira? In a country like India which we know was continuously inhabited and several references to stable urban centers are made in the myths and literature, why is there scant evidence of more lasting edifices deeper into the land - in the east, the middle and the south dating back to three thousand years or so? Where is Indraprastha of the Mahabharat? Were the latter day Indians building structures out of less durable material like wood (or living in elaborate tents) instead of bricks and stone? And why are modern India's rural areas still devoid of the sophisticated water and sewage system that the ancients had the sense to design?

If the people moved out of Dholavira and other similar sites because of some catastrophic event, they would have been hard put to survive without their infrastructure. Some may have become attached to other wandering tribes without the necessary technological knowhow, while those who did have the knowhow may have perished.I suspect something similar to the fate of civilizations described in Jared Diamond's book 'Collapse' may have happened to those ancients who created Dholavira.

It's always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!

Good job. keep it up.

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