Subsistance

Wednesday, 09 July 2003

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In what manner was the Harappans primary need satisfied.

 

The Harappan Civilization utilized a diverse assemblage of wild and domestic plants in the production of food and industrial products. Animal production centered on zebu cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, fish, chicken, and some wild species. Agricultural foods were produced through two means of production. The older and more widespread was based to the north and west, in Balochistan, the Banna Basin, Sind, Punjab, Swat, and Kashmir (Werber, 1999).Crops of barley, wheat, oats, lentils, chick and grass peas, jujube, and mustard were sown in autumn, harvested in spring, and watered by winter rains (Werber, 1999). In the second, crops such as millits, sorghum, rice, cotton, and dates and were sown in the summer to be watered by the summer monsoon and harvested in the fall (Possehl, 2002). This method was located in the Gujarat and western India (Sauashtra, Kutch, Rajasthan, and Mahashtra) (Possehl, 2002). As time passed the people of both areas diversified and intensified their food production by incorporating both techniques (Werber, 1999).

In the interior, the emphasis was on cattle (Shaffer and Lichtenstein, 1989). In Mesopotamia and most other early agricultural communities, a primary emphasis was on grain with goats and sheep to provide fats and protein (Shaffer and Lichtenstein, 1989). In southern Baluchistan, the highlands were dense with transhumant pastoral nomads (Possehl, 1986). Annually, these nomads would drive their cattle to market in the Indus Valley. They would then sell their services as itinerant field laborers, many likely served as traders and tinkers as is the case today.

At Balakot on the east side of Sonmiani Bay, the inhabitants were found to be utilizing fish and molluscs for food (Dales and Kenoyer, 1977). Evidence from Harappa suggests that large amounts of dried fish were moved inland from the costal areas (Belcher, 1991). These fish resources were utilized by much of the population, suggesting their abundance and low cost.

Differing agricultural methods were utilized in each area of the Harappan Civilization. In the northwest the Harappans utilized the plow to open the earth. At Kalibangan, fields were plowed twice, the second at 90o to the first (Sharma, 1999). This would have allowed for two crops to be planted at once in the same field. This method is sill in use regionally today.

In the areas dominated by rivers, the Harappans utilized neither irrigation nor the plow. They used annual river Watercolor of a gaborbandflooding to deposit fertile hydrated soil onto the fields. This soil was concentrated in to fields by the use of L shaped land bound damns placed along watercourses (Figure 3) (Possehl, 1975). In Southern Baluchistan, the Harappans utilized plays, naturally watered features (Possehl, 1986).

The site of Harappa was first settled c. 3300 B.C.E. At that time, barley was utilized as the primary food crop. With the rise of the Harappan Civilization, a shift occurred in which wheat, dominant in the southwest, became the staple crop (Werber, 1999). By the end of the Late Harappan, barley had once again asserted itself (Werber, 1999).

 

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