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Dholavira- The zenith of Harappan town planning!

Discussion in 'General History' started by Levina, Nov 23, 2016.

  1. Levina

    Levina Guest

    Dholavira- The zenith of Harappan town planning!

    Dholavira is a sleepy village in the Great runn of kutch. Being one among the five largest Harappan cities in the subcontinent, Dholavira has yielded many firsts in respect of IVC*.
    Dholavira site was excavated recently (in 1990s) compared to Harappa and Mohenjodaro. It is largely an undisturbed plan and clearly delineated multiple enclosures covering about 48 hectares.

    What makes Dholavira special??

    1) Triple acropolis: Unlike the Harappan city which was based on duality acropolis, Dholavira's plan is based on triple.
    The city was configured like a large parallelogram. On the basis of their relative location, planning, defences and architecture, the city can be divided into :

    • A Citadel (fort) at the highest platform. (16m high)
    • A "bailey" or the middle town. (8-9m high)
    • A lower part of the city. This also includes reservoirs. It is due to the presence of reservoirs that Dholavira is also called the "Lake city" of Indus Civilisation. (7.5m high)
    • It also had a ceremonial ground which had a dimension of 300m X 50m, and a seating capacity of 10000.

    Builders of Dholavira had used fired bricks for the foundations and the one fired ones for the walls. The wall of citadel is about I'm not getting into details of arthshastra, the Dholavira system of units (Dhanus and angulas), and importance of proportion to ppl of *IVC. The point to be noted is that at many places the margin of error was as less as 0.2%. The perfect rectangular layouts, lavish wide open spaces, careful aesthetic and practical planning of divisions does tell us a lot about the builders of this civilisation.

    2) Holy ratios: Another point that stands out in case of Dholavira is, while most of the other cities of *IVC had largely been constructed on a 2:1 ratio (like Mohenjodaro,Kalibangan and Surkotada), the prime ratio of Dholavira is surprisingly 5:4.

    3) Water management systems: Dholavirian impressed me with their knowledge of hydraulic engineering. The sophisticated water conservation system of channels and reservoirs, were the earliest found anywhere in the world. There were about 16 or more reservoirs, which were created on the south, west and north of the built-up divisions, rectangular in shape. These pits were dug upto the rockbed, which puzzled the archeologists initially. These were the rock cut wells, which date as one of the oldest examples, are evident in different parts of the city and the most impressive one being located in the citadel. In the citadel there were also large storm drains with apertures found, which the archaeologists first thought was used for carrying wastewater. But since they were not connected to housing or bathing platforms, these were for rainwater. The air-apertures ensured easy passage of rainwater.
    Dholavira also had huge reservoirs.The reservoirs took advantage of the slope of the ground to fill up. A drop of 13 m from north-east to north-west meant that the reservoirs on NW filled up first during a flood, slowly filling up other reservoirs towards the NE. It is exactly how you fill the ice-cube containers in your fridge. :)

    Dholavira was flanked by two storm water channels; the Mansar in the north, and the Manhar in the south.


    4) Stepwell: A stepwell which measured 73.4m long, 29.3m wide, and 10m deep was found in Dholavira. Going by its dimensions, it is three times bigger than the Great bath of Mohenjedaro. The excavation on the rectangular stepwell began in October 2014.

    Different stages of Dholavira

    The Dholavira settlement underwent seven major cultural stages; it is serially numbered from Stage I to Stage VII which take us through the inception, maturing and finally the fall of the Urban System of the Harappan civilization.

    Stage-I : The foundation of the city was laid, which formed the nucleus on which the subsequent settlements of the later stages expanded gradually.

    Stage-II: This stages stands out for the use of white and pink clays (which were used as many as thirteen times) and improvement in the pottry forms both qualitatively and quantitatively.
    The use of white and pink clay on the walls continued till stage-IV and then it came to an abrupt end with the end of as if ppl were asked to stop using it by a royal decree.

    Stage-III: This is one of the most important stage of Dholavira city building, this is when the reservoirs were created.

    Stage-IV: The famous ten-signed inscription which is about 3m long was used during this stage. It is assumed that this probably was the first traffic sign ever used.

    Ten Indus glyphs discovered near the northern gate of Dholavira.


    Stage-V : This stage is associated with the decline of the city. Around this time the global warming had started to wreak havoc on many civilisations as far as Syria and Euroasia.

    Stage-VI: This stage is associated with cultural transformation. New ceramic traditions had begun to appear. The one time city was by now reduced to a town.

    Stage-VII: The newcomers had started to settle in Dholavira who used to live in circular houses and had no concept of planning(which is strange because till then they preferred rectangular shapes of certain proportions). Dholavirians had forgotten the classical Harappan fabrics, shapes and designs.

    IVC*- Indus Valley civilisation. Ideally it should be called Indus-Saraswsati civilisation, but the work to trace the path of saraswati is still in progress.

    References: The lost river: On trail of the Saraswati - Michel Danino
    A new model Harappan town planning in Dholavira- RS. Bhist

    Content and gifs by Levina.

    @Grevion @vstol jockey
  2. Grevion

    Grevion Professional Think Troll IDF NewBie

    Oct 20, 2016
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    The water management system at that time was just amazing. It not only helped them against flood like situations but also served as a reservoir to fight against draughts which must have been pretty frequent in the Runn of Kutch. It was truely a "smart city" of the ancient civilization.
    Pretty nice handiwork.:mrgreen:

    Ps- such threads reminds me of our dear old "Kashmiri Pandit". He was really into ancient history and stuff.
    Levina likes this.
  3. Levina

    Levina Guest

    I was also impressed with their water management.
    Also with the fact there wasnt much difference between the houses built in the city (structure and shape wise), which means they all believed in leading a humble life.

    Thank you. :)
    I am not a pro but the apps helped a lot.
    Grevion likes this.

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