The buddhism stupa that the ancient citadel that Mohenjo-daro

Nothing delights the archaeologist an ext than excavating the ruins from some old disaster–be it a flood, earthquake, invasion, or massacre. This does no reflect an inordinately ghoulish tendency in the character of archaeologists. That is merely that a much an ext complete snapshot of the life and times of an ancient site is maintained if it to be the victim of part quick, destructive disaster 보다 if it had just passed away a slow herbal death, had been abandoned or remodeled.

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The classic example that the rewards that we have the right to reap together the an outcome of an old natural disaster is Pompeii where the eruption of Vesuvius maintained for posterity a full-scale authentic design of everyday life in an ancient Roman town. But an ext popular with historians are calamities that can be blamed on mankind itself. Scholars and laymen alike have constantly delighted in being able to boo and hiss the angry villain, the murderous invader, the barbaric hordes. Just the approach is different–the one flicks on the “Late Show,” the various other writes learned footnotes.


One of the most enigmatic whodunits of classical times concerns the decline and autumn of the Indus sink (Harappan) civilization. Stays of this large civilization of southern Asia room scattered over an area considerably larger 보다 those extended by either old Egypt or Mesopotamia. The life bicycle of this third major experiment in the beginning and advance of the world’s earliest worlds is at present highly speculative and is the topic of progressively intensive investigation by archaeologists, historians, linguists, and also natural researchers alike.

It is now apparent that a re-evaluation isnecessaryof few of the earlier theories that have come to kind over the past thirty years the straightforward structural members in the frame of beforehand South eastern history. It is especiallynecessaryto call for a retrial worrying the place of guilt for the death of the Indus civilization. Proof was published some 30 years earlier suggesting that Mohenjo-daro, the most southern of the two significant cities that the Harappans, was damaged by armed invaders and also that the hapless victims–including a big percentage of women and also children–were massacred top top the spot. The excavators of Mohenjo-daro to be content–at least at first–to put the blame because that the “massacres” on number of disassociated causes and incidents. The “massacre” idea automatically ignited and has been offered as a torch approximately the existing day by part historians, linguists, and also archaeologists together visible, awful proof that the invasion of the subcontinent by the Aryans. It provided a seemingly beat answer to among the most vexing concerns in South oriental history. The arrival into northern India that the Aryans–the eastern branch of the huge Indo-European language family–heralded the beginning of the historical era in south Asia. The society and spiritual life that the time is defined in detail in the hymns of the SanskritRig-Veda, the earliest book known in India. The Vedic hymns explain the principal god, Indra, together the “fort destroyer” that “rends forts as age consumes a garment.” In attack the fortresses that thedasyu (the name applied to the non-Aryan enemies, it is in they mortal or supernatural), Indra is specifically explained as setup fire come the buildings—

…in the kindled fire he burned up alltheirweapons, and made him affluent withkine and also carts and horses.

Panoramic view of Mohenjo-daro through the citadel ~ above the horizon

The texts describe how the Aryan warrior were protected by armor and shields. In addition to the bow and arrow–the chief weapon–they offered javelin, axe, and also sword. Horses were common yet were probably used to pull the chariots quite than because that riding.

It seems logical to assume that, together Sir Mortimer Wheeler put it, “Indra stand accused” of damaging the urban of the Harappan civilization and also of the responsibility for the “massacre” at Mohenjo-daro. Apart from a few dissenting comment in quite obscure publications, the basic literature top top the subject current today quiet repeats vivid, dramatic descriptions of the barbaric hordes descending ~ above the once an excellent and proud cities of the Indus civilization. Because that example:

The Indus cities dropped to barbarianswho triumphed not just throughgreater armed forces prowess, but likewise be-cause they were equipped with betterweapons, and had learnt to do fulluse of the swift and terror-strikingbeast that the steppes (i.e. The horse).(Basham, 27)

It is still premature to talk in regards to absolute dates–the entire chronology of south Asia under to the sixth century B.C. Is a net of pluses and minuses of hundreds of years–so, on purely chronological grounds, us cannot even develop a identify correlation in between the end of the Indus civilization and also the Aryan invasion. But even if us could, what is the material evidence to substantiate the claimed invasion and massacre? Where space the burned fortresses, the arrowheads, weapons, piece of armor, the smashed chariots and also bodies of the invaders and defenders? regardless of the substantial excavations in ~ the largest Harappan sites, there is not a solitary bit of evidence that have the right to be carried forth as unconditional proof of an equipped conquest and also destruction on the an alleged scale that the Aryan invasion. It is amazing that Sir man Marshall himself, the director of the Mohenjo-daro excavations that very first revealed the “massacre” remains, separated the end of the Indus world from the time of the Aryan intrusion by two centuries. He attributed the slayings come bandits native the hills west of the Indus, who brought out sparse raids ~ above an currently tired, decaying, and also defenseless civilization.

What of these skeletal continues to be that have actually taken on together undeserved importance? ripe years of substantial excavations in ~ Mohenjo-daro (1922-31)– a city around three mile in circuit–yielded the total of part 37 skeletons, or components thereof, that deserve to be attributed v some certainty to the period of the Indus civilization. Several of these were uncovered in contorted positions and groupings that indicate anything yet orderly burials. Countless are one of two people disarticulated or incomplete. They to be all found in the area the the lower Town–probably the residential district. No a single body was discovered within the area the the fortified citadel wherein one might reasonably intend the finaldefenseof this thriving capital city to have actually been made.

It would be foolish come assert that the scattered skeletal stays represent an orderly state of affairs. But due to the fact that there is no conclusive proof the they all also belong to the same period of time, they can not justifiably be supplied as proof of a solitary tragedy. Part of this uncertainty outcomes from the unsatisfactory approaches used by the excavators come record and also publish their finds. However even allowing for this severe methodological shortcoming, that is possible to re-evaluate the published evidence and to involved some definite conclusions concerning the massacre myth.

The so-called massacre in HR area, Room 74 of residence V

The most celebrated group of skeletons, the photograph of i beg your pardon is usually published to carry out visible proof of the “massacre,” was uncovered in the area that Room 74, residence V (HR area). The translate of this grisly discovery was not even agreed upon by the excavators themselves. Mr. Hargreaves, that did the really excavating, claims that because four the the fourteen skeletons to be found over the ruins of the southern wall of the room, the entire group belongs to a date subsequent to the decay of the building and thus to a duration posterior to the abandonment of the latest stage of the city. Marshall, the over-all director of the excavations, says on the other hand “this does not seem to be proven.” he points out that the building belongs come the Intermediate period of the city and that this whole area was extended over and rebuilt in the Late period (the suspect Late period remains to be not preserved at this component of the city; that is more than likely they had actually eroded away). Marshall says that the skeletons can belong to the interval between the Intermediate and also Late periods, “though the opportunity of your being posterior come the Late period may be admitted.” He likewise disagrees through Hargreaves end the situations that created this gruesome spectacle. Hargreaves stated with questionable perspicacity that fourteen bodies “appear to show some tragedy.” Furthermore, that observed the the twisted, intermingled location of the bodies are those “likely to it is in assumed in the agony of fatality than those the a number ofcorpsesthrown right into a room.” Marshall check out the proof differently. He thought that the body were intentionally interred “within a few hours of death” or rather they would have been prey for animals and also birds. “There is no reason everything for doubting that these burials day from the declining years the Mohenjo-daro’s prosperity,” declared Marshall, but he didn’t suggest they represent any final massacre of the population.

group of skeletons in Room 74

During theremovalof the thick accumulation of debris covering a courtyard that the Intermediate period (House III, HR area), incomplete remains of 3 skeletons to be found. Their place in the debris shows, however, that they did not belong to the time of the courtyard however to at some point after it had actually fallen right into disuse and also had been filled in, probably in ready for the structures of the late period. The excavator argues that it to represent a so late funerary deposit and also doesn’t intimate any kind of connection with a last “massacre” of the city’s population. Those whohaveso stated have misread the archaeological evidence.

The carts offered today are exactly like the ancient clay models

One reads about “the slaughtered Harappans” that “lay unburied amid your streets.” This melodramatic summary was prompted, in part, by the reported discover of 6 skeletons in a lane between twohousesin the VS area the Mohnejo-daro. And yet, the excavator declared in his report that “from their place they show up to it is in posterior to the surrounding remains.” castle were spanned with loosened earth, totally free from bricks and other debris that would indicate any type of violent destruction. There is no tip in the report the they to be lying on the yes, really street surface. Marshall says again that they were most likely burials of the Late duration that just accidentally penetrated down in between the building walls bordering the lane–the roadway itself having been long before covered over. Had the skeletons really been found straight on the street surface, there would still it is in no case for a final “massacre” due to the fact that the lane belongs come the Intermediate period of the city.

Deadman’s lane in the HR area of the city was the scene of an additional well publicized however mythical street slaughter. One fragmentary skeleton (part of a skull, the skeleton of the thorax, and the upper arm of one adult) was found lying ~ above its earlier diagonally across the small lane. Yet this incomplete skeleton was no resting directly on the walking surface ar of the lane. It shows up to have been in the debris that collected between the wall surfaces of the structure facing the lane at some time after the lane had actually fallen right into disuse. The roadway itself belongs to the Intermediate duration of the city. This area to be rebuilt during the Late period and residences covered the place of the previously lane. The excavator argues that this partial skeleton to be interred under the floor the a house of the late period. Thus, the was simply accidentally located in the proximity that the lane and was not linked with it in ~ all.

Skeleton in lane in between XVIII and also XXXIII, VS area

Another commemorated group the “victims” consists of nine skeletons that “lay in strangely contorted attitudes and also crowded together” (Block 10A, DK area). Ernest Mackay, the excavator, expressed considerable doubt around the day of this remains. They were reportedly uncovered at a level corresponding to the early component of the intermediary period. For “convenience sake,” Mackay termed the find-spot a interment pit although he admitted that he noticed no definite walls for the “pit” nor any kind of traces showing that the area had been dug. Just two objects were found with the skeletons–an cream color comb that is not choose the know Harappan duration combs, and also a copper bracelet. On the evidence of the bracelet, Mackay dates the continues to be to “the period of the occupation the the city.” The technological report top top the skeletal remains states that they probably do not stand for a massacreper sebecausemany the the skeletons were incomplete, stood for by just a couple of fragments the cranium and also odd bits that bone.

Mackay argues that these were the continues to be of a household who tried to escape native the city v their thing at the time of a raid however were stopped and also slaughtered by the raiders. Their bodies were then “thrown pell-mell right into a hurriedly do pit.” He claims it is “quite possible” the the tragedy took place in the final duration of the city yet can offer no supporting evidence. That at least 5 of the ripe skeletons were of children prompted the anthropologist that studied the continues to be to conclude that “the raiders nursed a consistent hatred the the civilization of Mohenjo-daro as a whole, and total extermination shows up to have been their endeavour.”

The well Room Tragedy, DK area, G section

Finally, in bringing this quite macabre account to an end, mention must be made of the lone little of proof from Mohenjo-daro that can conceivably be provided as positive evidence of part murderous tragedy during the Late duration of the city. In what us might speak to the “Well Room Tragedy” (DK area, G section), 2 skeletons were uncovered on a flight of stair “evidently lying wherein they died in a vain endeavour v their last continuing to be strength to rise the stairs to the street.” but the circumstances surrounding this tragedy are unknown and it would certainly be presumptuous to cry “massacre” ~ above this little bit of evidence alone.

Thus stand the proof in the case against Indra and the Aryans, or to be less specific, against the idea of a “final massacre” through whomever you prefer. The contemporaneity the the skeletal remains is anything however certain. Conversely, a couple of them definitely seem to stand for a slaughter,in situ, the mass of the skeleton were uncovered in contexts saying burials the the slopiest and also most irreverent nature. There is no destruction level extending the latest period of the city, no sign of considerable burning, no body of warrior clad in armor and surrounded through the tools of war. Thecitadel, the only fortified component of the city, yielded no proof of a final defence. (See picture on web page 4.)

The proof that is gift gathered by current investigators from assorted branches the the natural and also physical scientific researches is tending come support–in part– the concept expressed years ago by Mackay. Regarding the decay of Mohenjo-daro and the Harappan civilization, he doubt the cause to be “the vagaries the the Indus fairly than pressure by invaders, of whose visibility we have, in fact, little positive evidence.”

The details that the story the the decrease and fall of the Indus civilization are, together yet, much from clear, but a pattern of contributing components is acquisition shape. This pattern does not encompass invasion and also massacre as an easy factors. On the contrary, it shows up that a series of natural catastrophes occurred–possibly as swiftly, certainly an ext devastating than any type of hypothetical invasion. A sudden rise in the Arabian Sea coast of West Pakistan supposedly took place sometime around the middle of the second millennium B.C. This caused a destructive increase in the currently serious floods in the major river valleys through the subsequent increase of the secret water table, contributing to rise in the floor salinity come the suggest where that was difficult to sustain the populace of the substantial urban settlements. The economic situation must have decayed rapidly; the Harappans were compelled to migrate gradually to more fertile territory.

There is currently incontrovertible archaeological evidence that the significant population change was to the southeast right into the area that the Kathiawar peninsula, north of Bombay.

George F. Dales is Assistant Curator in charge of the Museum’s new Section of southern Asia Archaeology. He obtained his Ph.D. In eastern Studies in ~ the university of cg-tower.comsylvania in 1960; then went to the royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, together Assistant Curator in the close to Eastern Department because that two and a half years. He has excavated in Egypt, Jerusalem (Jordan) , Iraq, and Iran; and also directed the Makran coastline Expedition to West Pakistan for the university Museum in 1960. The is currently proposing to direct extensive excavations at Mohenjo-daro, one of the two fundings of the old Indus valley civilization.

Here the Harappans mingled through other aboriginal populations and gradually there to be a finish absorption and revolution of the remnants of the formerly an excellent Harappan culture into what we are coming to identify as a distinctive chalcolithic society of central India. The former fundings of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa were essentially abandoned and also became basic prey because that bandits from the Baluchistan hills.

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The foe of the Harappans was Nature aided and abetted through the Harappans themselves, who sped up the spoiliation of the landscape with improper watering practices, and by denuding the watersheds v overgrazing and deforestation. They would certainly have ultimately put themselves the end of company through such malpractices–just together the Sumerians walk in southern Mesopotamia–but the procedure was speeded increase by a sardonic twisted of the earth’s surface. Thus ended one that the 3 earliest worlds of antiquity–Indra and also the barbaric hordes room exonerated.