news-findings-on-decline-of-harappan-civilisation

In News:  A DNA analysis of some skeletal remains at the Rakhigarhi site, have questioned the Aryan invasion theory pertaining to the decline of civilisation.

About Aryan Invasion Theory:

  • According to theory by British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler, a nomadic  Indo-European tribe (Steppe pastoralists or from Anatolian and Iranian farmers), called the Aryans, suddenly overwhelmed and conquered the Indus River Valley, causing the decline of Indus Valley civilization.
  • He deduced that corpses found at top levels of Mohenjodaro were victims of war. 
  • The Aryans were easily able to defeat that owing to advanced weapons and horses.
  • Evidence from Rig Veda:
    • The Rig Veda refers to the fortresses of the Dasas and Dasyus ; further the Vedic god Indra is called 'Purandara' meaning 'the destroyer of forts'.
    • The geographical area of the habitation of the Rig Vedic Aryans included the Punjab and the Ghaggar-Hakra region which was also a part of harappan civilisation.
    • In fact, the Rig Veda mentions a place called Hariyupiya which is located on ravi river , a name very similar to harappa which is also located on ravi river.
  • This evidence led Wheeler to deduce that Aryan invaders destroyed the cities of Harappa.

New Findings:

  • New study indicates there was no Aryan invasion and all the developments right from the hunting-gathering stage to modern times in South Asia were done by indigenous people.
  • Inhabitants of the Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) were a distinct indigenous people and the DNA of the skeletal remains matches with the local population.
  • The skeleton remains found in the upper part of Mohenjo Daro belonged to those who died due to floods and were not massacred by Aryans as hypothesised by Sir Mortimer Wheeler.
  • There was a small movement of people from Central Asia but it doesn't change the ancestry of the IVC people.
  • There was no attack that replaced the entire population
  • The population has no detectable ancestry from Steppe pastoralists or from Anatolian and Iranian farmers.

Other Theories of Decline

  • The civilisation might have been wiped off due to flood and earthquake as there is evidence of silt on houses and streets of the civilisation.
  • Further IVC lies in an Earthquake sensitive zone.
  • Some Experts also say increased aridity might have been the cause of decline.
  • However none of the above theories can be conclusively proven.

 

Indus Valley Civilisation

  • The History of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization, more precisely known as Harappan Civilization
  • It flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia, what today is Pakistan and Western India. 
  • The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. 
  • The ruins of buildings and other things like household articles, weapons of war, gold and silver ornaments, seals, toys, pottery wares, etc., show that some four to five thousand years ago a highly developed Civilization flourished in this region.
  • By 1500 BC, the Harappan culture came to an end. Among various causes ascribed to the decay of Indus Valley Civilization are the recurrent floods and other natural causes like earthquakes, etc.

Salient features:

  • Highly developed city life: many houses had wells and bathrooms as well as an elaborate underground drainage system. 
  • The Indus Civilization had a writing system, however it is not deciphered yet.
  • The social conditions of the citizens were comparable to those in Sumeria and superior to the contemporary Babylonians and Egyptians. 

Rakhigarhi

  • RakhiGarhi (Rakhi Shahpur + Rakhi Khas), is a village in Hisar District in the state of Haryana in India, situated 150 kilometers to the northwest of Delhi. 
  • The Archaeological remains were first found in 1963 at Rakhigarhi however the first major excavation at Rakhigarhi was carried out for three winters in 1997-1999.
  • It is the site of a pre-Indus Valley Civilisation settlement going back to about 6500 BCE.
  • Later, it was also part of the mature Indus Valley Civilisation, dating to 2600-1900 BCE.
  • Among the findings, which indicate both early and mature Harappan phases, were a 4,600-year-old female skeleton, fortification and bricks.
  • The site is located some 27 km from the seasonal Ghaggar river
  • In May 2012, the Global Heritage Fund declared Rakhigarhi one of the 10 most endangered heritage sites in Asia.