Problems of Continuity and Interaction in Indus and Post-Indus Cultures * *
Recently there has been some discussion on the identity and continuity of the Indus culture. The Indus culture is called Vedic, and the Vedas are considered the only source of the Indian culture. But the archaeology of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Baluchistan, Northwest Frontier, Punjab and Haryana in the second millennium BC shows important traits of Vedic culture. These traits including wide use of horse, chariot, soma, birch tree and cremation are not found in the mature Indus culture which predates the Vedic culture. We will take up striking marks of the Indus culture and show how far they continue in later cultures and how they interact with them.
The Indus culture is marked by the use of granaries, baked bricks, large buildings, town planning, writing, weights and measures, wheel turned pottery and bronze tools.
It is argued that the Harappan culture made its impact on the Ganga chalcolithic and later cultures.1 But if later cultures refer to Painted Grey Ware (PGW) and Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) cultures it has practically no basis in fact. Stray elements of the Indus culture may have reached even the mid-Ganga plains but they did not form its distinctive features. Agriculture, cattle rearing and elementary crafts appear in a good part of the subcontinent from 1000 BC onwards. But these modes of subsistence may have appeared independently. Town life, fired bricks, written scripts and the use of bronze which distinguish the Indus culture are not found in the PGW phase. The script appeared in the middle phase of NBPW culture but it was entirely different. The Harappans wrote from right to left whereas the Brahmi script, which appeared in the third century BC,
* Former Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi.
** First Annual Lecture, Dept. of History, Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University, 1999
Social Scientist, Vol. 28, Nos. 1 - 2, Jan. - Feb. 2000