Archaeology

Harappan surprises

T.S. SUBRAMANIAN
An aerial view of the Harappan industrial site of 4MSR near Binjor in Rajasthan. Photo: ASI
This photograph, taken from a drone, shows the “key trench”, the main trenches on the mound, the grave of Peer Baba (which stands separately on the mound) and a concrete tank with water (partly seen) to irrigate the wheat fields that surround the mound at 4MSR. Photo: ASI
Platforms made of mud bricks, at varying levels. Photo: V. Vedachalam
Circular and yoni-shaped (foreground) hearths in a trench. In the furnaces, Harappan artisans made beads, copper products and gold ornaments. Photo: V. Vedachalam/ASI
Platforms made of mud bricks, and oval- and circular-shaped hearths. Photo: V. Vedachalam/ASI
An ingeniously built furnace with a platform (right) for the smith to sit and blow the fire burning in a pit in front of it. Air from the blower resting in a depression abutting the platform ran through an underground pipe to the firepit. The molten metal collected in the hearth was cast by artisans into ingots. Photo: V. Vedachalam
Terracotta cakes of different shapes found in the trenches. While the disc-shaped cakes were used to maintain the temperature in hearths, the triangular- and the rectangular-shaped ones were used for decoration and flooring. Photo: V. Vedachalam
Hundreds of disc-shaped terracotta cakes have been found at 4 MSR during the excavations in 2015 and 2016. Photo: V. Vedachalam
Four of a series of circular hearths. The hearths, the furnaces and the artefacts confirm that 4MSR was a Harappan industrial site. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A small tank made with wedge-shaped burnt bricks and the channel that carried water into it. The tank measured 130 cm x 130 cm on the outside. Harappan craftsmen used the water in the tank mainly for cooling the beads they made. Photo: V. Vedachalam
Sanjay Manjul (second from left), director of the excavation at 4MSR, and his team members with a pot discovered from the site. Photo: V. Vedachalam/ASI
A student of the Institute of Archaeology, ASI, New Delhi, brushing a perfectly made pot. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A soak jar, with a terracotta pipe leading to it. Waste water produced after activities such as cooling of beads while drilling holes in them or washing of vessels and clothes was let into the soak jar. In Harappan settlements, these soak jars were often placed just outside the house, in drains on the street. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A copper ring. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A copper stylus with a gold foil at one end, and gold ornaments. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A terracotta seal with three Harappan signs showing two human figures on both sides of a jar with a double handle. It belongs to the Mature Harappan period. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A hammer, chisel and spearhead made out of copper found in the trenches. Photo: V. Vedachalam
Several gold bits found in the workshops. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A terracotta top. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A terracotta animal figure. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A rare human figurine with a beak-like nose and holes around the neck. The holes may have been for the inlay of semi-precious stones. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A seal-cum-pendant, made out of steatite, found in the "key trench" at 4MSR. One one side are engravings of figures of a dog, a mongoose and, perhaps, a goat. On the other are the figures of a frog and a deer. The pendant belongs to the Early Harappan period (3000-2600 BCE). The pendant, with a knob-like projection at the top, had a hole too for a cord to pass through so that it could be worn around the neck. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A seal-cum-pendant, made out of steatite, found in the "key trench" at 4MSR. One one side are engravings of figures of a dog, a mongoose and, perhaps, a goat. On the other are the figures of a frog and a deer. The pendant belongs to the Early Harappan period (3000-2600 BCE). The pendant, with a knob-like projection at the top, had a hole too for a cord to pass through so that it could be worn around the neck. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A dabber used by Harappan potters to smoothen out the surfaces of pots or jars they made. To this day, potters everywhere, be it in villages in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka or Gujarat, use the same kind of dabber. The tradition has continued for 5,000 years. Photo: V. Vedachalam
A furnace containing ash in an industrial shed. The ash looked fresh in the furnace that was perhaps last used 4,500 years ago. Photo: V. Vedachalam/ASI
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