Dholavira

Dholavira

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Dholavira is an archaeological site
Archaeological site
An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved , and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record.Beyond this, the definition and geographical extent of a 'site' can vary widely,...

 in Khadirbet in Bhachau Taluka of Kachchh district of Gujarat state in western India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, which has taken its name from a modern village 1 km south of it. The site of Dholavira, locally known as Kotada timba contains ruins of an ancient Harappan
Harappan
Harappan can refer to:* Aspects related to Harappa an archaeological site and city in northeast Pakistan* The Indus Valley Civilization that thrived along Indus River...

 city. It is one of the largest and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

. It is located on the Khadir bet island in the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary is situated in the Great Rann of Kutch, Kutch district, Gujarat, India, it was declared a sanctuary in February 1986....

 in Great Rann of Kutch. The site is surrounded by water in the monsoon season. The site was occupied from c.2650 BCE, declining slowly after about 2100 BCE. It was briefly abandoned and reoccupied until c.1450 BCE.

The site was discovered in 1967-8 by J. P. Joshi and is the fifth largest Harappan
Harappan
Harappan can refer to:* Aspects related to Harappa an archaeological site and city in northeast Pakistan* The Indus Valley Civilization that thrived along Indus River...

 site in the Indian subcontinent, and has been under excavation almost continuously since 1990 by the Archaeological Survey of India
Archaeological Survey of India
The Archaeological Survey of India is a department of the Government of India, attached to the Ministry of Culture . The ASI is responsible for archaeological studies and the preservation of archaeological heritage of the country in accordance with the various acts of the Indian Parliament...

. Eight large urban centers have been discovered: Harappa
Harappa
Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, northeast Pakistan, about west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The current village of Harappa is from the ancient site. Although modern Harappa has a train station left from...

, Mohenjo Daro, Ganeriwala, Rakhigarhi
Rakhigarhi
Rakhigarhi, or Rakhi Garhi , is a village in Hisar District in the northwest Indian state of Haryana, around 150 kilometers from Delhi. In 1963 archeologists discovered the village was the site of an extensive city, part of the Indus Valley Civilization...

, Kalibangan
Kalibangan
Kalibangān is a town located at on the left or southern banks of the Ghaggar , identified by some scholars with Sarasvati River in Tehsil Pilibangān, between Suratgarh and Hanumāngarh in Hanumangarh district, Rajasthan, India 205 km. from Bikaner...

, Rupar, Dholavira, and Lothal
Lothal
Lothal is one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus valley civilization. Located in Bhāl region of the modern state of Gujarāt and dating from 2400 BCE. Discovered in 1954, Lothal was excavated from February 13, 1955 to May 19, 1960 by the Archaeological Survey of India...

.

Chronology of Dholavira


R.S. Bisht, the director of the Dholavira excavations, has defined following seven stages of occupation, at the site:
Stages Dates
Stage I 2650-2550 BCE Early Harappan - Mature Harappan Transition A
Stage II 2550-2500 BCE Early Harappan - Mature Harappan Transition B
Stage III 2500-2200 BCE Mature Harappan A
Stage IV 2200-2000 BCE Mature Harappan B
Stage V 2000-1900 BCE Mature Harappan C
1900-1850 BCE Period of desertion
Stage VI 1850-1750 BCE Posturban Harappan A
1750-1650 BCE Period of desertion
Stage VII 1650-1450 BCE Posturban Harappan B

Excavations


The ancient site at Dholavira, is flanked by two storm water channels; the Mansar in the north, and the Manhar in the south. Excavation was initiated in 1989 by the Archaeological Survey of India under the direction of R. S. Bisht. The excavation brought to light the sophisticated urban planning and architecture, and unearthed large numbers of antiquities such as seals, beads, animal bones, gold, silver, terracotta ornaments and vessels linked to Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

. Archaeologists believe that Dholavira was an important centre of trade between settlements in south Gujarat, Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

 and Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 and Western Asia.

Architecture and material culture


Estimated to be older than the port-city of Lothal
Lothal
Lothal is one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus valley civilization. Located in Bhāl region of the modern state of Gujarāt and dating from 2400 BCE. Discovered in 1954, Lothal was excavated from February 13, 1955 to May 19, 1960 by the Archaeological Survey of India...

, the city of Dholavira has a rectangular shape and organization, and is spread over 100 hectares. The area measures 771.10 metres in length, and 616.85 metres in width. Like Harappa
Harappa
Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, northeast Pakistan, about west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The current village of Harappa is from the ancient site. Although modern Harappa has a train station left from...

 and Mohenjo-daro
Mohenjo-daro
Mohenjo-daro is an archeological site situated in what is now the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Built around 2600 BC, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and one of the world's earliest major urban settlements, existing at the same time as the...

, the city is composed to a pre-existing geometrical plan, of three divisions - the citadel
Citadel
A citadel is a fortress for protecting a town, sometimes incorporating a castle. The term derives from the same Latin root as the word "city", civis, meaning citizen....

, the middle town and the lower town. The acropolis and the middle town had been further furnished with their own defence-work, gateways, built-up areas, street system, wells and large open spaces. The acropolis is the most carefully guarded as well as impressive and imposing complex in the city of which it appropriates the major portion of the southwestern zone. The towering "castle" stands majestically in fair insulation and defended by double ramparts. Next to this stands a place called 'bailey' where important officials lived. The city within the general fortification accounts for 48 hectares. There are extensive structure-bearing areas though outside yet intimately integral to the fortified settlement. Beyond the walls, yet another settlement has been found. The most striking feature of the city is that all of its buildings, at least in their present state of preservation, are built out of stone, whereas most other Harappan sites, including Harappa itself and Mohenjo-daro, are almost exclusively built out of brick.

Reservoirs




One of the unique features of Dholavira is the sophisticated water conservation system of channels and reservoirs, the earliest found anywhere in the world and completely built out of stone, of which three are exposed. They were used for storing the fresh water brought by rains or to store the water diverted from a nearby rivulet. This probably came in wake of the desert climate and conditions of Kutch, where several years may pass without rainfall.

The inhabitants of Dholavira created sixteen or more reservoirs of varying size during Stage III. Some of these took advantage of the slope of the ground within the large settlement, a drop of 13 m from northeast to northwest. Other reservoirs were excavated, some into living rock. Recent work has revealed two large reservoirs, one to the east of the castle and one to its south, near the Annexe.

Reservoirs are cut through stones vertically. They are about 7 meters deep and 79 meters long. Reservoirs skirted the city while citadel and bath are centrally located on raised ground. A large well with a stone-cut trough to connect the drain meant for conducting water to a storage tank also found. Bathing tank had steps descending inwards.

Other structures and objects


A huge circular structure, believed to be grave or memorial is found. However no skeleton or human remains found under structure. The circular structure is built with ten radial walls of mud bricks in a shape of spoked wheel. A soft sandstone sculpture of a male with phallus
Phallus
A phallus is an erect penis, a penis-shaped object such as a dildo, or a mimetic image of an erect penis. Any object that symbolically resembles a penis may also be referred to as a phallus; however, such objects are more often referred to as being phallic...

 erectus but head and feet below ankle truncated was found in the passage way of the eastern gate. Also many funerary structures were found, however except one they were devoid of skeletons. Also many pottery pieces, terracotta seals, bangles, rings, beads and intaglio engraving found.

Language and Script


It is not known which language the Harappan people spoke, and their script cannot be read. It had about 400 basic signs, with many variations. The signs may have stood both for words and for syllables. The direction of the writing was generally from right to left. Most of the inscriptions are found on seals (mostly made out of stone) and sealings (pieces of clay on which the seal was pressed down to leave its impression). Some inscriptions are also found on copper tablets, bronze implements, and small objects made of terracotta, stone and faience
Faience
Faience or faïence is the conventional name in English for fine tin-glazed pottery on a delicate pale buff earthenware body, originally associated with Faenza in northern Italy. The invention of a white pottery glaze suitable for painted decoration, by the addition of an oxide of tin to the slip...

. The seals may have been used in trade and also for official administrative work. A lot of inscribed material was found at Mohenjo-daro
Mohenjo-daro
Mohenjo-daro is an archeological site situated in what is now the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Built around 2600 BC, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and one of the world's earliest major urban settlements, existing at the same time as the...

.

Sign board



One of the most significant discoveries at Dholavira was made in one of the side rooms of the northern gateway of the city. The Harappans had arranged and set pieces of the mineral gypsum to form ten large letters on a big wooden board. At some point, the board fell flat on its face. The wood decayed, but the arrangement of the letters survived. The letters of the signboard are comparable to large bricks that were used in nearby wall. Each sign is about 37 cm high and the board on which letters were inscribed was about 3 meter long.

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