Monday, 4 July 2016
Harappa is a large village presently in the province of Punjab in Pakistan. The modern town is a part of, and lies next to, the ancient city. The site of Harappa is important in that it has provided proof of not just the Indus Valley Civilization as it was in its prime, but also of preceding and succeeding cultures as well and is the only site included in this category. The old path of the Ravi River runs to the north of the site, which has since shifted six miles further north.
it is speculated that its oldest mention is in the Rigveda, as the scene of the defeat of the Vrcivants by Abhyavartin Cayamana. The name is recorded as Hari-Yupuya. The previous inhabitants were presumably non-Aryans who were vanquished. Thus it might be said that this site is one of the famed sites where the so-called Aryans overcame the local population and established their dominance. However, until further proof is uncovered to support the theory, this is mostly conjecture.
The first visit to Harappa was made in 1826 CE by James Lewis, who was a British army deserter and roamed the Punjab and North West areas in search of antiquarian remains. On his journey to Multan he approached Harappa and had the following words in description for it, as recorded by Nazir Ahmad Chaudhry in his book:
"East of the village was an abundance of luxuriant grass, where along with many others, I went to allow my nag to graze. When I joined the camp I found it in front of the village and ruinous brick castle. Behind us was a large circular mound, or eminence, and to the west was an irregular rocky height crowned with remains of buildings, in fragments of walls, with niches, after the eastern manner. The latter elevation was undoubtedly a natural object; the former being of earth only, was obviously an artificial one …The walls and towers of the castle are remarkably high, though, from having been long deserted, they exhibit in some parts the ravages of time and decay. Between our camp and it, (there) extended a deep trench, now overgrown with grass and plants. Tradition affirms the existence here of a city, so considerable that it extended to Chicha Watni, and that it was destroyed by a particular visitation of Providence, brought down by the lust and crimes of the sovereigns."
Lewis related the city to Sangala from the age of Alexander (1300 years previous) by which he was mistaken in his assumption. Later in 1831 CE, an emissary from King William IV, namely Alexander Burnes, recorded the extensive remains at Harappa while travelling from Multan to Lahore to deliver gifts of horses from the King of England to Ranjit Singh. He has also described Harappa while on the same route:
"About fifty miles eastward of Toolumba, I passed inland for four miles to examine the ruins of an ancient city, called Harappa. The remains are extensive, and the place, which has been built of brick, is about three miles in circumference. There is a ruined citadel on the river side of the town; but otherwise Harappa is a perfect chaos, and has not an entire building: the bricks have been removed to build a small place of the old name heard by tradition fixes the fall of Harappa at the same period as Shortkot (1300 years ago), and the people ascribe its ruin to the vengeance of God on Harappa; its governor, who claimed certain priveleges on the marriage of every couple in his city, and in the course of his sensualities, was guilty of incest…I have found coins in these ruins, both Persian and Hindu, but I cannot fix its era from any of them."
However, their records were noticed by Alexander Cunningham, who visited the site in 1853 CE and 1856 CE, resulting in a small excavation in 1872 CE, which then identifies the site with that of Malii, which Alexander had ordered to be blockaded when he invaded the subcontinent. That city was near extensive marshes and to the east or south-east of Kot Kamalia, and Harappa lies exactly in such a place on the banks of the old course of the Indus and 16 miles east-south-east of Kot Kamalia.
The site even at this time was used as a brick quarry by brick robbers working on the Multan Railway, in the same way that Mohenjo-Daro and Kalibangan became quarries for the Sind and Bikaner Railways respectively. During his excavations Cunningham found pottery, chert blades, and a seal. Cunningham termed the seal foreign to India at that time. Also according to locals, the citadel hill was the site of a major Hindu temple that was destroyed and was at the time the site of a tomb of Nur Shah. Some artifacts were found with this tomb. The bricks taken from the site were more than enough to furnish 100 miles of the Lahore Multan Railway, testifying to the scale of the buildings that existed there. Despite several excavations, Cunningham found very little to preserve as the majority of the settlement had been stripped of bricks. Subsequent excavations at Kalibangan, Suktagendor and Mohenjo-Daro revealed the extent of this civilization, but it wasn’t until 1922 that extensive investigations were carried out at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa and the corresponding sites were labeled as the Indus Valley Civilization.
John Marshal then sent a deputy, Harry Hargreaves, on an inspection of Harappa in 1914 CE to determine if it should be further excavated, and it was his work that allowed the acquisition of the Harappan mounds for further study. Further seals were found and similar seals were found in Mesopotamia which pushed the age of these sites beyond even what had been previously considered into the 3rd-4th millennium BCE and this was attested by Dr Ernst Mckay as well who was working at Kish in Sumeria. John Marshal abandoned his Taxila digs to work on the sites in Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in 1923-24 CE and this is considered the point where the Indus Civilization is finally considered to have been identified. Other archaeologists who worked on the IVC at this time were Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni, Madho Sarup Vats, Rakhal Das Banerjee, Ahmad Hasan Dani, Aurel Stein and E. J. H. MacKay. Mortimer Wheeler then took over the excavations in 1944 CE and continued this into the post partition era when he was archaeological adviser to the government of Pakistan. The later work of Dales, Meadow and Kenoyer specifically in Mound E has pushed the historical dates back to the early 4th millenium BCE.