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Rise, adaptations and collapse of the Harappan Civilisation
This research network is investigating environmental changes over northwest India and Pakistan and their impact on water regimes and sedimentation in the river systems that flow out of the Himalayas into the Indus Valley. Work by Goisan (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) and Clift (Louisiana State University) has documented the changing sediment regimes, and Himlayan sediment sources in the Indus river and the now extinct Ghaggar-Hakra river systems (the “lost Sarasati”), when these rivers were flowing, when tributaries and the Ghagar-Hakra dried up, and how this is related to both regional climatic changes in the Indian Ocean monsoon and to the distribution of agricultural settlements, especially those of the Harappan civilization. Dorian Fuller has played the role of advisor on archaeological context, ancient agricultural production in the region and archaeological implications. In particular, the network is testing the hypothesis that gradual climatic drying was a push factor in an eastward shift in the foundation of new village settlements and an increasing reliance on summer cropping of millets during the later Harappan civilization. In more general terms, this initiative is examining the Indus Valley as a case study of the interplay of environmental conditions and climate change with the rise, persistence and decline of complex societies.
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