“The prosperity of the Indus Valley civilization has been greatly contributed by the maritime trade in Saurashtra”


By Japan K Pathak
Ahmedabad

“Future generations of Indians are going to curse us because we have not taken care of our heritage,” said Mr. Madhukar Keshav Dhavalikar, a senior archaeologist at a lecture at the Dr. SR Rao Memorial Foundation at the ‘IIM Ahmedabad.

He was speaking this in reference to the situation of the Rangpur site of the Indus Valley Civilization which was excavated by Dr. SR Rao.

He said the population is increasing and land is limited. As a result, people are encroaching on historic sites. Ten years from now there will be a situation where we don’t have many ancient sites intact.

Dhavalikar pointed out that in the name of research, people are only compiling nowadays. But in the past, this was not so.

He said archaeologists were excavating the sites but barely 10% of reports are published. This is happening not only all over India, but all over the world in the field of archeology.

Dhavalikar said that Dr SR Rao not only searched Lothal, but wrote two voluminous report volumes and even studied Lothal’s economic characteristics and the industries therein. It was a new aspect of life that he emphasized.

He said there are 16,000 Indus Valley civilization sites in India and 400 in Pakistan. There is some debate that instead of the Indus Valley Civilization it should be called the Saraswari Civilization.

He said that the regions of Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Sindh where this civilization was located are still known today for their keen sense of trade and commerce. It was the same in the past at the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. And Gujarat in particular exported luxury items to Mesopotamia, including seashells, pearls and ivory. Kautilya had said that the best ivory had been found in Saurashtra. Dwarka was known for its seashells. Saurashtra was known as Kunti Saurashtra. There were industrial zones on this land. Nageshwar in Saurasthra was in charge of cutting seashells. There were only two seal manufacturing units at the time and one of them was in Lothal. The prosperity of the Indus Valley civilization was largely due to the maritime trade in the Saurashtra region.

Dhavlikar in his presentation showed how the ancient city of Dholavira was divided into four parts. Each part was fortified and people from one part did not go to the other part.

He said the roads were measured by 1.76cm in finger measurement. The smallest road was 1.8 meters wide, then in proportion the measurement was double, triple and so on. There was a 1.9 meter high drain that a human could stand in for cleaning work.

He said there was a huge ancient reservoir at the Dholavira site. Even when the place was not excavated, this reservoir provided water to the local population. He said he visited the place in 1984 when excavations had not yet started. It was a time of scarcity back then and the local villagers used to fetch water from this old reservoir which still had water.

Dr Dhavlikar showed an inscription of crows in a boat discovered at Mohenjo Daro. He said that there is a story from Jataka that when people go from country to country across the sea, they keep the crow with them, it is because the crow tends to go back to his place of origin when released. Thus, the sailors on their return trip freed the crow when they wanted to inquire about the right direction to the place of birth. Sailors would follow the direction of the crow’s flight.

Dr Dhavlikar has repeatedly pointed out that it is the Saurashtra region that contributes to the prosperity of the Indus Valley.

On the controversy surrounding Dr SR Rao’s claim that Lothal owned the oldest shipyard in the world, Dr Dhavlikar said it was our Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) responsible for the confusion around this fact. ASI could call an international conference after Rao discovered the shipyard and could prove his point. Some people abroad have said that the structure discovered was not a shipyard but a reservoir for watering the vegetable garden. It is only we Indians who tolerate such absurd claims. The 800-foot-long, 150-foot-wide brick structure was actually a shipyard, and we should say that with pride. Why not say openly that yes, it was a shipyard – the oldest shipyard in the world discovered.

Dhavlikar in his presentation also pointed out another controversy surrounding the presence of a horse in a seal. He said it could be wild ass, actually.

He also made a presentation on the Kuntasi site of the Indus Valley civilization discovered in Gujarat. He said this site of only two acres had a double wall of fortification. It was a bead manufacturing site.

He also showed slides featuring Lingas (Shiv Linga) found at Harappa and Kalibangan, an ancient world battle tank discovered at the Harappan site 100 miles from Pune, pillars of memory at Dholavira (two in number and barely 5 feet tall, in Sanskrit they are called Chhaya Stambh (there are two of these pillars in Kanheri as well), a person in Padmasana (Yoga) posture.

The Dr SR Rao Foundation holds a commemorative conference every year. The first of these lectures was given in Delhi, the second in Gujarat where Dr Rao worked for 13 years. Dr. Rao’s daughter, Nalini Rao, is a professor at Soka University in America. She was also present in this function. In her speech, she said, we don’t have enough text available to relate to our past, and therefore monuments and archaeological sites are very important for us to relate to our past.

– DeshGujarat


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