Cities Of Prehistoric India
3. Cities of Prehistoric India - Precursor to Indus Valley civilization
There are four major cities which provided evidence for pre-existing indigenous settlements before the Mohanjo-Daro ( Mound of the Dead ) and the Harappan ( Hara - is a name for Shiva) civilizations. These cities were: Mehrgarh, Amri, Kalibangan and Lothal. Together they reflected four important sequential phases in the prehistoric era, which gradually resulted in the evolution and later the demise of the Indus Valley civilization:
1st phase: transition of nomadic herdsman to settled agriculturists (Mehrgarh)
2nd phase: continued growth to large villages and developing towns (Amri)
3rd phase: emergence of great cities (Kalibangan and Lothal)
4th phase: decline (Kalibangan and Lothal)
Excavated in the period 1959-1969, Amri provided evidence for four stages of the Indus Valley culture: Pre-Harappan, Early Harappan, Mature Harappan and the Jhangar (Late Harappan) culture. Amri s earliest strata dates back to 4000 BC, but its height of development is in the period 3000 - 2500 BC (which is coincidental with the time Mehrgarh was abandoned). Several types of ceramics including those produced on potters wheels with decorated geometric patterns were found in Amri.
Kalibangan was founded around 2400 BC near the Ghaggar River. Many of the interesting features seen in other cities, such as brick buildings, ceramics and well
developed sewage systems, were also seen in this city. Sometime around 2250 BC this city was abandoned due to unknown reason, and was reconstructed 50 to 100 years later, with a design similar to that of Mohanjo-Daro and Harappa. The interesting feature in this new city was the presence of fire-altars, providing the evidence for use of fire for worship before Aryan migration to these regions. The new Kalibangan city existed until 1700 BC after which it was abandoned. The reason is believed to be due to the drying up of the Ghaggar River.
Lothal near Ahmadabad was founded much later than the other three settlements and was constructed around 2100 BC. It is believed to be an important port for trade between the Indus civilization and Mesopotamia. It was also used for supplying raw materials for cities in the Indus valley such as cotton from Gujarat and copper from Rajasthan.The decline of Lothal came around 1700 BC and is believed to be Artistic depiction of Lothal, the port-city due to the reduction in demand for these materials, which occurred due to the decline of other great cities in the Indus valley.
Misconceptions that the above cities resolve:
(1) Before Harappa and Mohanjo-Daro were excavated in 1920, the Indo-Aryans were considered to be the creators of the first culture in India. The Vedic Indo-Aryans came to the Indus around 1500BC. But the Indus valley civilization proved to be much older.
(2) Even after Harappa and Mohanjo-Daro were excavated, they were only extensions of the Mesopotamian civilization. However, the excavations of the different strata, which date back to 7000 BC, in Mehrgarh, Kalibangan and Amri showed the gradual indigenous evolution in these settlements which lead to the Indus valley civilization. While there were links with Mesopotamia (through trade), the belief that the Indus valley civilization was just an extension of the Mesopotamian civilization was not correct.