Friday September 24, 2021

Harappa: an ancient archaeological site of Pakistan

Punjab government has taken several significant initiatives for the development and preservation of the archaeological sites of Harappa.

Indus Valley Civilisation also known as Harappan Civilisation is the ancient archaeological site in Pakistan which is known to be the center of earliest urban culture in Indian sub-continent.

The archaeological site of Harappa is in west of Sahiwal district of Punjab province. It is also known as the mother site of Indus Valley Civilisation. Nowadays, the modern town of Harappa with a small number of inhabitants is located near the ruins of ancient city.

The origin of Harappan Civilisation dates back to 6000 BC. The Indus Valley Civilisation mainly consists of two major urban centers i.e., Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, which are now located in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab respectively. Besides, more than four hundred sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation have been discovered so far. The approximate dates of this Civilisation appear to be about 2500-1700 BC.

The Civilisation was first discovered through an excavation in 1921 in Punjab i.e., Harappa then later Mohenjo-Daro was discovered in 1922 in Sindh province. The UNESCO included both ancient cities in the list of World Heritage site 1980.

The remains of Harappan Civilisation reveal that these urban centers have had diverse economic and social systems. The excavation also uncovers signs of a possible writing system which was used by the residents of these ancient cities.

Through various researches afterwards, the evolution and development in different art craft and technologies of the Harappan Civilisation was studied.

Scholars debate different theories which explain the demise of the Harappan Civilisation. Some suggest that Aryans invaded the ancient cities. Whereas, others opined that the collapse was due to different factors of climate change.

Presently, Harappa is the only site of the Indus Valley Civilisation that provides complete chronology from 3500 to 1500 BC. The archaeological site is protected under Antiquities Act, 1975 while the total area of archaeological remains is almost 175 acres.

Since 1920, a substantial number of individuals have contributed in excavation of archaeological site of Harappa. The first excavation was conducted by Daya Ram Shani in 1921 and continued up to 1925. After 1926, Madho Sarup Vats excavated the site until 1934.

Then, KN Shastri put his contribution in the excavation process of the site in 1937. From the period of 1944 to 1946 it was Sir REM Wheeler who laid the trenches on the site. Subsequently, after the Independence of Pakistan Dr M Rafique Mughal carried out excavations at Harappa in 1964-66. Further excavations were also carried out by the Pakistani Mission 1992-1994.

In recent times, the American archaeological mission in coordination with the Department of Archaeology and Museums of Pakistan, started archaeological research in Harappa from 1986 to 2007 under the guidance of Dr George F Dales.

Moreover, a small site museum was established at Harappa site in 1926 to exhibit the objects recovered during excavations at Harappa. The museum was shifted into present building in 1967 for proper display on scientific lines.

The present display is very impressive from educational point of view. The objects include steatite seal, copper tablets, sealings, ceramics, stone tools, sculptures, weights, copper artifacts, Jewelry, figurines, toys, and human skeletons. Besides, the artifacts from Mohenjo-Daro, Kot Diji, and Amri have been displayed to show the similarity and diversity of Harappan Culture.

Currently, the Directorate General of Archaeology and Tourism Department, Punjab has taken several significant initiatives for the development and preservation of the archaeological sites of Harappa. Whereas, various plans are in pipeline to make this archaeological site a tourist friendly one.

Recently, the Tourism Department has acquired land (315 kanals) from surrounding area for the preservation of archaeological site. A boundary wall has been constructed after land acquisition and conserved different parts of remains of Harappan Civilisation.

Besides, an auditorium with the capacity of 120 persons has also been constructed with the efforts of Tourism Department. Likewise, pathways, water channels, sitting arrangements have also been built which will help in improving the uplifting of tourism in the province.