Archaeologists to look for Harappan trade links in Kutch

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Researchers from the Archaeology Department of Deccan College, Pune, will soon be part of the large-scale excavation in Kotada Bhadali village of Kutch district of Gujarat, where they hope to find indicators of trade links that existed between the smaller and bigger Harappan civilisation sites. The team, a collaboration between Deccan College and the Gujarat State Archaeology Department, comprises 20 members, of whom 12 are from Pune. 

Excavation at Harappa, 1997 [Credit: Ane À Ailes]

The first excavation began in 2010. The next phase is expected to begin in January 2012. This will involve large-scale horizontal excavation to unearth the city’s planning and important structures. The site dates back to 3,000 BC and was discovered in 1962 by noted historian J P Joshi. So far, four bastions, fortifications, some residential structures and antiquities like bangles and copper flags have been found here. 

Prabodh Shivalkar of the Deccan College said, “This is a long-term excavation and will go on till 2014. We will be looking at establishing links between the smaller sites like Kotada Bhadali and larger Harappan sites of the region like Dholavira – a metropolitan city of Harappan civilisation. We think they could have played a crucial role in the economic development of Dholavira by way of craft, agriculture and trade routes.”  

He explained that through this excavation, archaeologists will also be able to determine the time of the formation of the Rann of Kutch. “The Greater Rann of Kutch was earlier a part of the sea, but due to silt deposition, it is a marshland now. We will try to understand if this development took place before or after the Harappan period, which in turn will reveal more about the trade routes of the era. Till date, about 1,000 sites of the Harappan civilisation have been discovered in the Kutch region, but I think this is only the second site where detailed excavation will be carried out,” Shivalkar said.  

The team also has a few PhD students from the US, Iran and Korea, paleobotanists from the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleobotany, Lucknow, who are involved in the identification of food grain discovered at the Kotada Bhadali site. 

Y. S. Rawat, director, Gujarat State Archaeology Department, said, “While Deccan College has had a long association with archaeological sites in Gujarat, this is the first collaboration between them and the Gujarat government. After the initial spadework, the project made little progress due to paucity of funds. So, the government agreed to provide funds to the tune of Rs 6 lakh in July. About 20 per cent of the costs will be borne by the Deccan College.” 

Author: Pupul Chatterjee | Source: Indian Express [December 26, 2011]