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Lecture

lecture notes 8


Department
Anthropology
Course Code
ANT200Y1
Professor
Christopher Watts

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ANT 200
November 14, 2011
Lecture 8: Complex society in South and East Asia
Essay is due next week
Upload a copy to turnitin, print off originality report and append to back of
essay. Bring it to class on Monday and give to your TA in lecture.
Tonight continue with archaeology of complexity
South Asia- Pakistan, India, Burma
Harrapan civilization by India and Pakistan
British Raj= british colonial regime in south asia.
During Raj administration, the Harrapan civilization/ Indus valley civilization
comes to attention of western archaeologists.
Product of this Raj administration
Lots of romance associated with it because for a long time was “lost
civilization” to people of the west
In 1920s this civilization became known to the British. Pretty late.
Also has a number of features that depart quite radically from other ancient
high civilizations that see in the world
As part of the Raj colonial regime talking about what is now India, Pakistan,
Burma and Bangaldesh. We’re going to really just talk about stuff centered
on Indus river (basically on border between modern day India and Pakistan)
Harrapan Civilization
Environmental context
oIndus River Valley- Easter Pakistan/ Western India. Total length is 3200
km
Headwaters in Tibet. Empties in Arabian sea
Quite a long river. Not the longest we’ve seen though
oJuly-Sept. floods= massive silt deposits (capped sites)
Similar to Mesopotamia
Because river not well entrenched tends to meander across the
landscape and has done so throughout prehistory
Course of the river can change dramatically over time
Cities emerge that are tied to economic benefits associated with
being near river but then 100-200 years later river shifts and the
city is isolated.
A number of the Harrapan sites are buried under 10,15,20
meters of silt.
Some of these floods can be devastating. (In 2009 a number of
devastating floods in Pakistan that had a huge toll on the people
and cities)
oVillage settlements tethered to river by ca. 3000 BC; widespread
irrigation by 2500 BC
Don’t have much time to talk about the prehistory lifeways in
this region
First inkling of complexity begins with towns and villages being
associated with the river system about 3000 BC

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There are earlier time periods represented archaeologically
associated with this river system but around 3000 BC is when
see groups setting up groups and camps to be associated with
this river valley
In 2600 BC start to see widespread irrigation networks
throughout southern and central stretches of Indus valley. Is a
desert environment. These were agriculturally dependent
peoples.
Baluchistan (mountainous range beginning in Iran and continuing into
Pakistan. Important geographical region during much of Harrapan civilization
Other side of Baluchistan is Iran and just beside that is Iraq (is where
Mesopotamia was). The distance between them not too too far.
Definite connection between Indus valley and Mesopotamia in prehistory
Harrapan Civilization
Early Stage (ca. 3200-2700 BC)
oWalled towns (defense, flood controls?)
Tend to be elevated above the river (on higher ground to
mitigate against flooding)
Associated with the river system
oLowland-Highland (Baluchistan) symbiosis
Metals, timber, semiprecious stones comes from Baluchistan
and points further to the west. Finds its way to lowlands in Indus
valley
Transhumance (goats and sheep) pattern of moving livestock
from one area to another along with the climate
Arrangement of trade that take place between highlands
(Baluchistan) and the lowlands
River good for growing crops, wheat, etc but not good for
grazing animals especially during winter. So these groups would
move goats and sheep to Baluchistan and then back again
Crops moving lowlands to highlands and animals moving to
highlands
oRapid transition to complexity in lowlands after 2600 BC
Material culture becomes more uniform across IVC (Indus valley
civilization= Harrapan civilization)
Tied to Sumerian trade?
Indigenous development?
2600 BC all these towns and villages tethered to the river
Much more complexity after 2600 BC
Observe the material culture becomes much more uniform
throughout valley system during this time
May have had different metal and stone tool styles and different
pottery styles but after 2600 BC there is more uniformity
Suggestion that this is tied to rise of Sumerian civilization in
west in Mesopotamia
Others have suggested wasn’t related to contact with the west
but was an indigenous development. Thought wasn’t a product
of trade with a more complex society.
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Jury is out on what actually propelled the groups in this region to
take up these more complex lifeways after 2600 BC
Mature stage (ca. 2700-1700 BC)
oTerritorial state (1.3 million km2)
oIf the complexity see here results from trade with Sumeria, wasn’t that
they adopted Sumerian lifeways. Harrapan is a very unique civilization.
Very much its own entity
oA number of features that separate it from the other complex
civilizations
oFor one it was an ENORMOUS territorial state. Encompasses much of
the drainage system associated with the Indus river
oAll of the towns and villages brought under this state phenomenon. Not
like in Mesopotamia where there are a bunch of city-states (power
vested at city level). This civilization is centered on the entire region,
not just one particular community
oHeavily urbanized: five major cities
Best known are Mohenjodaro and Harappan
Similar sites. In different parts of the river system
Urban planning, spatial layout of the site very similar.
Citadel in west, common city part in east
Some evidence for urban planning.
Stuff that talk about Mohenjodaro usually applicable to
Harappa and the three other large cities
Centralized planning; laid out on grid system
Streets and alleyways, apartments, courtyards, workshops
Emphasis on hygiene
Excellent evidence at Mohenjodaro and Harappan for
sanitary sewers and systems and for utilities (waters,
wells)
Apartments all had fresh water being brought in
Also had a form of toilet
Complex infrastructure being built into these towns
Don’t see evidence for this concern with hygiene to this
extent in another other of the ancient high civilizations
Public buildings, but few palaces and ostentatious tombs
Concern with public space and making space accessible
to the vast majority of people
Great bath at Mohenjodaro
If there was a class distinction being drawn doesn’t come
out in architectural forms or urban planning
Don’t have large pyramids that act as memorials to
deceased pharaohs in Egypt
There are elite burials, burials that have precious
materials buried with them but beyond that don’t see an
expression of wealth to the extent that do in other ancient
high civilizations
Mohenjodaro
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