The recent International Conference on Harappan Archaeology produced an unexpected announcement from archaeologists BR Mani and KN Dikshit, both of the Archaeological Survey of India, who claim that new dates from excavations show the Harappan culture began around 2000 years earlier than previously thought.
Redating of Harappan culture
Based on their research, which has yet to be fully published, the two archaeologists said in a presentation: “The preliminary results of the data from early sites of the Indo-Pak subcontinent suggest that the Indian civilisation emerged in the 8th millennium BC in the Ghaggar-Hakra and Baluchistan area.”
“On the basis of radio-metric dates from Bhirrana (Haryana), the cultural remains of the pre-early Harappan horizon go back to between 7380 to 6201 BCE”.
This announcement was made at the International Conference on Harappan Archaeology by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Chandigarh and contests the current theory that the settlements in the Indus region began around 3750 BCE.
Contemporary with the rise of civilisation in Mesopotamia
The preliminary findings from the Indus valley – if they are confirmed – would allow for the origin of Harappan Culture to be roughly contemporaneous with the rise of civilisation in Mesopotamia. The first definitive Mesopotamian civilisation of Sumer emerged in the Ubaid period around 6500 BCE.
A language connection?
The Sumerian texts that have been deciphered bear no relation to any nearby language, however there is a hypothesis that the people living in coastal Iran between the two civilizations spoke what is described as an Elamo-Dravidian language.
Apart from the linguistic similarities, the Elamo-Dravidian Hypothesis (which is re-gaining credibility) rests on the assertion that agriculture spread from the Near East to the Indus Valley region via Elam. This would suggest that agriculturalists brought a new language as well as farming from Mesopotamia via Elam. This is supported by ethno-botanical data tracking including the Near Eastern origin and spread of wheat and other crops. (Fuller 2003).
Later evidence of extensive trade between Elam and the Indus Valley Civilisation suggests ongoing links between the two regions.
The recent excavations have been carried out at two sites in Pakistan and Bhirrana, Kunal, Rakhigarhi and Baror in India and there is potential that further work may alter the present chronologies.