Discovering Khirsara’s Harappan glory

Print edition : June 28, 2013

A section of the industrial complex excavated at the Harappan site at Khirsara in Gujarat's Kutch district. In the middle of the picture is the complex's fortification wall, which turns right and heads towards the citadel complex, in the background. The structures adjoining the fortification wall were added later.

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

Kalyani Vaghela, research assistant in archaeology from M.S. University, Vadodara, at work in the trench.

Jitendra Nath (right), ASI and N.B. Soni, Senior Draftsman, examining drawings of the trenches at the industrial complex. The guard rooms are at left.

A staircase inside the industrial complex where the common people also resided.

The citadel complex. It was strategically located adjacent to the warehouse and the factory site in such a manner that the elite class might exercise full control over the manufacturing and trading activities.

Disc-shaped gold beads found in a pot.

A terracotta bull head.

A copper fish hook found in a trench.

N.B. Soni in the sprawling pottery yard where thousands of potsherds are classified under various categories.

A potsherd with painted work.

A terracotta hopscotch.

A potsherd showing reserved slip ware.

An anthropomorphic figurine. Photo: THE HINDU

Part of a perforated jar.

A striped potsherd.

Beads of semi-precious stones. Photo: THE HINDU

A bar seal with writing in Harappan script. Only one other bar seal figures in the total of 11 seals found so far in Khirsara.

A bathroom, with its sloping floor and a covered outlet (top left corner) and a drainage (left foreground) that leads into the street. The floor and walls have limestone slabs.

The warehouse. It had 14 parallel walls built in the north-south direction, each about 11 metres long. The walls supported a superstructure on which the goods were placed. The picture shows a couple of such walls.

Conch shells at the pottery yard. Between 2600 BCE and 2200 BCE the Harappans made bangles with the shells at the industrial site.

Grain, mixed with stone and sand, found in the warehouse. The grains have been sent to Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany in Lucknow for dating and identification.

The circular kiln where pots and jars were made. The newly made pots were arranged under the dome on top of the kiln and baked at temperatures of around 500 degree C.

The reasonably big opening under the dome, as Bipin Negi, Assistant Archaelogist, ASI, demonstrates, through which burning firewood was pushed inside.

Aeration holes on the kiln.

A portion of the outer fortification wall, nearly 4,600 years old. The 310-metre-long and 230-metre-wide structure ran around the entire 12-acre settlement.

The dry bed of the Khari river with its banks overgrown with shrubs. To protect the settlement when the river was in spate a wall was built parallel to the outer fortification wall in the north and the east.

A serrated marine fossil on the riverbed. The sea or the Rann of Kutch would have extended up to where the river lies now at the peak of the settlement. Harappa was a maritime civilisation. Marine organisms fossilised when the sea receded because of tectonic movements.

Ramraj Meena, trench supervisor, delicately brushing a big pot found in one of the trenches.

While digging in an archaelogical trench, the first stage involves using a small pickaxe slowly and carefully.

The second stage in digging a trench involvees the use of a shovel to remove the earth.

The third stage involves brushing the artefacts. In the picture, a perforated jar that was probably used to keep fruits is being brushed.

Excavations in Khirsara village in western Kutch reveal a "major industrial hub" and trading centre of the mature Harappan phase.

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