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Excavations reveal Khirsara a major industrial hub of Harappan era

T. S. Subramanian

A cluster of pottery, including a tall slender jar, and a big conch shell found in one of the trenches. Photo: D. Krishnan

The bar seal with the Harappan script excavated at Khirsara

The disc-shaped gold beads found at Khirsara

January 2, 2011 was a golden day in the second season of excavation at Khirsara village, 85 km from Bhuj town, Gujarat. Nearly 30 trenches had been dug that season, each 10 metres by 10 metres. One of them yielded two miniature pots, which a labourer rushed to S. Nandakumar, a site supervisor in his 20s. He took them to Jitendra Nath, Superintending Archaeologist, Excavation Branch, Vadodara, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). They are gold beads, announced Mr. Jitendra Nath after examining them. One of the pots contained 26 disc-shaped beads, micro beads and a ring, all made in gold, and steatite beads. Gold beads are not found in big quantities in the Harappan sites. Some disc-shaped gold beads had been found at Lothal, another famous Harappan site in Gujarat, said Mr. Jitendra Nath on April 19, 2013 as he showed us the closed trench where the gold beads had been found. Exciting results from four seasons of excavation with 120 trenches dug at Khirsara from December 2009 have established Khirsara as a major industrial hub that belonged to the mature Harappan period. It overlooks the Khari river and flourished for 400 years from circa 2600 to 2200 BCE. Carbon dating at the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany, Lucknow, for the botanical remains collected from Khirsaras trenches falls in the range of 2565 to 2235 BCE. Khirsara has everything to be called a mature Harappan site: systematic town planning, a citadel complex where the ruling elite lived, a factory complex, habitation annexes, a warehouse, drainage system, and massive fortification walls. All the structures were built of sandstone blocks set in mud mortar. Excavations have yielded 11 bar, circular and square seals, standardised bricks in the ratio of 1:2:4 and a staggering variety of pottery including reserve slip ware. While the bar seals have only the Harappan script, others have carvings of unicorn and hump-less bulls with the Harappan signs. Mr. Jitendra Nath asserted: The seals, especially the circular seals, are the main characteristic by which Khirsara can be categorised as a mature Harappan site. Pottery and structures such as the citadel, the factory and the warehouse are the hallmarks by which this site could be said to belong to mature Harappan phase. More than 4,200 years ago, Khirsara was an important trading outpost in western Kutch in Gujarat on the way to Sind in present-day Pakistan. Its factory manufactured enormous quantities of beads from cornelian, agate, jasper, lapis lazuli, steatite and chalcedony; bangles and inlays from conch shells; copper artefacts such as bangles, rings, beads, knives, needles, fish-hooks, arrowheads and weights; and terracotta rattles, toycarts and gamesmen. One trench alone threw up 25,000 exquisite beads made of steatite. Trench after trench laid in Khirsaras factory have yielded a bonanza of Harappan ceramics painted pottery, the reserve slip ware used by the elite in society, sturdy storage jars, globular pots, perforated jars, basins, dishes, bowls, beakers, dish-on-stand and incense burners. The painted pottery with occasional animal motifs, have geometric designs of broad bands, crosses, spirals, loops, arches and zigzags. The profusion of miniature pots that the site has revealed is puzzling.

R.N. Kumaran, Assistant Archaeologist, ASI, said: We have found furnaces and a tandoor. There is evidence of copper-working and ash. We have found huge quantities of steatite beads and some seals made of steatite. From all this, we have identified it as a factory site. An extraordinary feature about Khirsaras Harappan settlement is that it not only had an outer fortification wall around it but every complex inside had its own fortification wall, be it the citadel, the warehouse, and the factory with its habitation annexe. The fortification walls for the warehouse and the factory had guard rooms and salients for mounting watch. Even the potters kiln, which lay outside the outer fortification walls, had its own fortification wall. The outer fortification wall, 310 metres by 230 metres and more than 4,400 years old, still stands in several places. This is the first time in the Harappan context that we have found separation fortification walls for each complex on the site, and their purpose is to ensure the safety of its residents and the goods manufactured, said Mr. Jitendra Nath, now Superintending Archaeologist, Mumbai Circle, ASI. A massive warehouse, measuring 28 metres by 12 metres, excavated had 14 parallel walls, with an average length of 10.8 metres and 1.55 metres breadth. Its superstructure was made of wood and daub. The space between the parallel walls enabled circulation of fresh air to protect the stored goods. Mr. Jitendra Nath said: It must have been multipurpose warehouse for storing goods for export or those that have been imported. Its proximity with river Khari is to support the maritime trading activities of the Khirsarans. A warehouse is a rare type of structure found in a few Harappan sites. It indicates a state of surplus economy. The houses in the citadel, where the elite lived, had verandas, interconnected rooms, floors paved with multicoloured bricks and a rock-cut well. A five-metre paved lane separated the citadel from the factory. The citadel was deliberately built adjacent to the warehouse so that the rulers could keep a watch on the manufacturing and trading activities, said Mr. Kumaran. Comments(5)

Radiocarbon data have to corrected for non-linearity sometimes called MASCA correction. This may push the dates back by 200 to 300 years but does not change the findings. DNA does NOT show that Indians migrated to Europe 900 years ago. They migrated more like 9000 (nine thousand) years ago taking a northern and northwestern route. There was another migration some 5000 years westward by a more southerly route via Iran and

Mesopotamia (Iraq)and the Levant. Both have their imprint in the form of Sanskritic terms and other traces in languages and archaeology and literature. This, which follows from natural history and genetics (DNA analysis) is the exact reverse of the account given by Western historians (and their Indian followers) for over a century. They called it the Aryan Invasion Theory. Science has demolished both the Aryans and their supposed invasion.
from: N.S. Rajaram Posted on: Aug 6, 2013 at 16:07 IST

Congratulations to the entire archaeology team on a fantastic job. You have uncovered a part of humanity itself. Astounding finding. Thanks to the Government for supporting this work. I hope they come up with incentives to thank them.
from: Ram S Posted on: Aug 6, 2013 at 11:26 IST

Great news. Hope the artifacts - coins - beads etc land in the museum and not in the priate dealer hands (who sell those to make money).
from: Avinash Baranwal Posted on: Aug 6, 2013 at 11:14 IST

Great job by the archaeological team. Very good article. Hope all the precious artifacts of our ancient heritage are protected well. There should be a master plan to connect up the work at this site with that at other major sites to get an updated picture of this great civilization. Appropriate funding (equal to the cost of 1 IPL team) should be allotted for careful spending on this (how much is understanding our heritage worth?). With excellent computing facilities and tools now available, the Indus Valley script should finally be decoded with a new thrust by a team of experts. Please follow-up with a series of articles.
from: shiva Posted on: Aug 6, 2013 at 10:05 IST

It is no surprise that such sites are being found in india as the advanced society already finds mention in the oldest scriptures of the world viz puranas vedas story of mahabharat etc; The destruction & drcay started after 9th century AD & continues till date. Perhaps our forefathers of the harrapan age also migrated to europe as recently

compated dna suggests. No such sites preceding harrapan time era have been found there.
from: H Sachdeva Posted on: Aug 6, 2013 at 09:29 IST

(The above news item was extracted from Hindu news online website. The link is provided below: All the above content was copied by 06/08/2013 21:48 IST )