Harappa is the name of one of the major cities in the ancient Indus Valley civilization in India. In the 1800’s a stone seal, many bricks, stone tools and pottery were discovered on a mound near Punjab. The bricks were gathered by various groups to use in buildings near by, but eventually picked up by the British to help lay a foundation for the railway placed across northern India. Little else was done until 1920 by John Marshall, the Director of the Archaeological Survey of India began extensive excavations. Many sets of unusual hieroglyphic seals were discovered. The seals had people, symbols and animals as its script. As of yet the script has not been deciphered, but they are getting close. Then the excavation site was left idle for forty years. In 1986 George Dales of the University of California Berkeley conducted the HARP project. (Harappa Archaeological Project) More than an archaeological dig this was a full service event with linguists, ethnographers, and other cultural interpreters as well as archaeologists. Now Jonathan Mark Kenoyer is field director of the project. Born in Shillog, India he has the East and West necessary philosophies to help set the direction of interpretation of the finds and language at Harappa. Harappa was incredibly sophisticated with ancient technology unlike anything else seen.

The city came laid out on a grid-like pattern with streets and buildings put into a cardinal direction pattern. Most all of their patterns for crafts, jewelry and building are based off of mathematical precepts. They had advanced drainage systems, drinking water walls and toilets in their homes. They used the sludge drained from the cities to fertilize their vast agricultural fields. Standard weights have been discovered based off of the binary decimal system of 1, 2, 4, 8 etc. Faience ceramics was the most common utilitarian ware. It is a highly advanced type of glassy ceramic. Jewelery creation came as a way to display power and status.

The society was peaceful. Rule was by trade and religion and in many ways similar to India today. No depictions of warfare have as yet been found. Art was personal items. Sculptures or large works that honored rulers have not been found. Most of the works are relatively unknown to the general public. The demise of the society has been attributed to an Aryan invasion and to a series of natural disasters. Scholars have not entirely agreed on these premises since about the same time period a climate shift occurred that also affected the Sumerian civilization. The finds and people working on these lost cities are fascinating.


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