Bricks, Beads and Stones-The Harappan Civilisation: Question and Answers Class 12 History

CBSE Class 12 NCERT History Theme 1 ‘Bricks, Beads and Stones-The Harappan Civilisation’: Answers to the textbook chapter exercises are given here. Learn the way answers should be written to avoid any loss of marks. Click here for more resources on History Class 12.

The Harappan Civilisation: Textbook Q & Ans.

Answer the following:

Ans. The available items of food in Harappan cities included:

  • Grains and Cereals: Wheat and barley were primary grains consumed.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: Various fruits and vegetables, such as melons, dates, and sesame, contributed to the diet.
  • Domesticated Animals: Meat from domesticated animals like cattle, sheep, and goats was likely consumed.
  • Fish: If available in nearby water bodies, fish could have been a significant part of the diet.
  • Dairy Products: Milk and dairy products from cattle.

Groups providing these would have included farmers cultivating grains and vegetables, herders raising domesticated animals, fishermen supplying fish, and those engaged in dairy farming.

Ans. Archaeologists trace socio-economic differences in Harappan society through various means:

  • Burial Practices: Differences in burial practices, such as the presence of pottery, ornaments, or copper mirrors in graves, may indicate social distinctions.
  • Artefacts Classification: Artefacts are classified into utilitarian and luxury items. The distribution of rare or costly materials in large settlements compared to smaller ones suggests social differences.
  • Craft Production Centers: Identification of craft production centers and the distribution of raw materials helps understand economic activities.
  • Weights and Measures: Examination of weights, indicating a regulated exchange system, provides insights into economic organization.
  • Differences in Housing: Variances in house sizes and architecture, as seen in larger settlements, might reflect socio-economic disparities.

Ans. Yes, the drainage system in Harappan cities indicates town planning. Reasons include:

  • Advanced Planning: The well-laid and interconnected drainage system demonstrates meticulous planning before the construction of the cities.
  • Uniformity Across Cities: Similar drainage systems found in various Harappan cities, like Mohenjodaro and Harappa, suggest standardized planning and urban design.
  • Segregation of Waste Water: The separation of household and street drains indicates a systematic approach to waste disposal and hygiene.
  • Public Health Concerns: The emphasis on maintaining sanitation and public health points to a comprehensive town planning strategy.
  • Urban Layout Integration: The integration of the drainage system with the overall urban layout implies a planned and structured approach to city development.

Ans. Example: Carnelian Bead

  1. Raw Material: Carnelian, a type of reddish stone.
  2. Preparation: Nodules of carnelian were chipped into rough shapes.
  3. Finishing: The rough shapes were finely flaked into the final bead form.
  4. Color Enhancement: The characteristic red color of carnelian was obtained by firing the yellowish raw material and beads at various stages of production.
  5. Final Touches: Grinding, polishing, and drilling completed the process.
  6. Tools: Specialized drills found at Harappan sites like Chanhudaro and Lothal were used in the bead-making process.

Ans. The image depicts a burial site from the Harappan civilization. Let’s break down the details:

  1. Orientation: The body is buried in a North-South direction within a pit. This alignment was common in Harappan burials.
  2. Funerary Practices: Harappan people typically laid their dead in pits. Nearby, they placed pottery, ornaments, and jewelry. These items were likely intended for use in the afterlife, reflecting their belief system.
  3. Utensils: The figure shows various utensils lying near the deceased. These include a jug, a pitcher, and some plates. These vessels might have held food, water, or other offerings.
  4. Jewelry: The skeleton wears artifacts such as bangles. These adornments were likely worn by Harappan women during their lifetime.

Given these details, it’s reasonable to conclude that the skeleton belongs to a woman. The careful placement of artifacts and the presence of female-specific jewelry support this interpretation.

Write a short essay (about 500 words) on the following:

Short answers:

Ans. Mohenjodaro, one of the major cities of the Harappan civilization, exhibited several distinctive features:

  • Urban Planning: Mohenjodaro had a well-planned urban layout with streets laid out in a grid pattern. The city was divided into blocks, and major streets were oriented in a north-south and east-west direction.
  • Citadel and Lower Town: The city was divided into two parts – the Citadel and the Lower Town. The Citadel was elevated and housed structures like the Great Bath and large residential buildings, possibly indicating administrative or elite areas.
  • Great Bath: One of the remarkable structures in Mohenjodaro is the Great Bath. It was a large, well-designed water tank made with bricks and featured a complex drainage system, possibly used for ritualistic or cleansing purposes.
  • Brick Construction: The city was constructed using standardized, kiln-fired bricks, showcasing a high level of construction expertise. The uniformity in brick sizes indicated meticulous planning.
  • Sophisticated Drainage System: Mohenjodaro had an advanced and well-engineered drainage system with covered drains, indicating a concern for sanitation and hygiene.
  • Multi-roomed Residences: Houses in Mohenjodaro were multi-roomed, suggesting the presence of extended families or differentiated functional spaces within homes.
  • Presence of Public Structures: Apart from the Great Bath, Mohenjodaro had other public structures, including large assembly halls or marketplaces.

Ans. Raw Materials for Craft Production:

  1. Stone: Used for tools, seals, and beads. Examples include carnelian, jasper, crystal, and quartz.
  2. Metal: Copper, bronze, and gold were used for various artifacts.
  3. Shell: Used for objects like bangles and ladles.
  4. Terracotta: Used for pottery and various small objects.
  5. Faience: A material made of ground sand or silica mixed with color, used for small objects like beads and vessels.
  6. Wood and Reeds: Possibly used for perishable items like baskets and mats.

Obtaining Raw Materials:

  • Local Sources: Some materials were locally available, such as clay for pottery.
  • Specialized Centers: Certain settlements like Chanhudaro were exclusively devoted to craft production, obtaining raw materials through trade or nearby sources.
  • Long-distance Trade: Materials like lapis lazuli, obtained from far-off places like Shortughai in Afghanistan, indicate long-distance trade networks.

Ans. Archaeologists reconstruct the past through a combination of methods:

  • Excavation: Unearthing and studying material remains, including artifacts, structures, and ecofacts, through systematic excavation.
  • Stratigraphy: Analyzing the layers (strata) of a site to understand the chronological sequence of human activities.
  • Dating Techniques: Employing methods like radiocarbon dating, thermoluminescence, or dendrochronology to determine the age of artifacts and sites.
  • Comparative Studies: Comparing findings with known historical periods, cultures, or regions to draw parallels and make inferences.
  • Analysis of Artefacts: Studying artifacts to understand their function, cultural significance, and socio-economic context.
  • Remote Sensing Technologies: Using satellite imagery and other advanced technologies to identify potential archaeological sites and features.
  • Interdisciplinary Approaches: Collaborating with experts from various fields such as geology, botany, and anthropology to gain a holistic understanding of the past.

Ans. The functions of rulers in Harappan society are subject to speculation, as the nature of political organization in the civilization is not clearly understood. Several theories exist:

  • Centralized Authority: Some believe in the presence of a centralized authority or ruling elite responsible for decision-making and governance.
  • Administrative Roles: Rulers may have played administrative roles in managing resources, trade, and urban planning.
  • Religious or Ritual Roles: The “priest-king” statue found at Mohenjodaro suggests a potential religious or ritual role for rulers, possibly acting as intermediaries between the people and deities.
  • Economic Control: Rulers might have exercised control over economic activities, trade routes, and resource distribution.
  • City Planning: Involvement in planning and organizing the construction of standardized structures and urban layouts.

It’s important to note that the absence of clear evidence, such as palaces or inscriptions, makes it challenging to conclusively define the functions of rulers in Harappan society. The decentralized nature of the civilization also raises questions about whether multiple centers of authority existed.

Long Answers in about 500 words:

Mohenjodaro, a jewel of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, stands as a testament to the remarkable urban planning and sophistication achieved by its inhabitants. Flourishing between approximately 2600 BCE and 1900 BCE, Mohenjodaro is renowned for its distinctive features that provide valuable insights into the organization of Harappan society.

One of the most striking aspects of Mohenjodaro is its meticulous urban planning. The city was systematically laid out in a grid pattern with streets running north-south and east-west, dividing the city into well-defined blocks. The streets were aligned with a sense of precision, showcasing an advanced understanding of urban design. Such meticulous planning indicates a level of social organization and administrative control.

The city was divided into two prominent sections: the Citadel and the Lower Town. The Citadel, elevated above the Lower Town, housed some of the most significant structures, suggesting a possible administrative or elite presence. Among these structures was the iconic Great Bath, a large water tank constructed with bricks and featuring an advanced drainage system. The purpose of the Great Bath remains speculative, but its design suggests ritualistic or cleansing functions, underlining the significance of ceremonial activities in Harappan society.

Constructed with standardized, kiln-fired bricks, Mohenjodaro showcases a remarkable degree of architectural homogeneity. The use of uniformly sized bricks in construction speaks to a sophisticated understanding of construction techniques and standardization across the city. This uniformity extended beyond brick sizes, encompassing various aspects of city planning, from the orientation of major streets to the construction of buildings.

The presence of multi-roomed residences in Mohenjodaro provides insights into the social structure of the Harappan people. These houses, often two or three stories high, suggest a well-developed understanding of architecture and town planning. The layout of these residences hints at the presence of extended families or differentiated functional spaces within households.

One of the architectural marvels of Mohenjodaro is the Great Granary, a massive structure located in the Lower Town. This granary, with its raised floors and air vents, indicates a sophisticated understanding of storage practices and an efficient system for preserving food. The presence of such granaries highlights the importance of agriculture and surplus food management in Harappan urban centers.

The city’s drainage system is another distinctive feature that reflects a concern for sanitation and hygiene. Mohenjodaro boasted an advanced network of covered drains that crisscrossed the city, showcasing an understanding of public health and waste management. The emphasis on sanitation suggests a community-wide commitment to maintaining a clean and healthy environment.

While Mohenjodaro exhibits remarkable architectural and urban planning achievements, the enigmatic nature of Harappan script and the lack of clear monumental structures, such as palaces or temples, pose challenges to fully understanding the societal and political organization of the Indus Valley Civilization. Nevertheless, Mohenjodaro’s distinctive features continue to captivate archaeologists and historians, offering glimpses into a sophisticated and organized urban life that thrived along the banks of the ancient Indus River.

The craft production in the Harappan civilization was a complex and sophisticated endeavor that required a variety of raw materials sourced from different regions. The procurement of these raw materials played a crucial role in the development and flourishing of specialized crafts in various Harappan settlements.

  1. Stone:
    • Types: Harappan craftsmen utilized a range of stones, including carnelian, jasper, crystal, quartz, and steatite.
    • Sources: The stones were procured from various locations, such as the lapis lazuli from Shortughai in Afghanistan, carnelian from Bharuch in Gujarat, and steatite from South Rajasthan and North Gujarat.
  2. Metals:
    • Types: Copper and bronze were the primary metals used in Harappan craft production.
    • Sources: Copper was likely obtained from regions like the Khetri in Rajasthan, and there is evidence suggesting the import of copper from Oman, as suggested by the presence of Omani copper in Harappan artifacts.
  3. Shell:
    • Types: Shell was a significant material for crafting items like bangles and inlay work.
    • Sources: Specialized centers for shell craft, such as Nageshwar and Balakot, were established in areas where shells were abundant, likely along the coastal regions.
  4. Faience:
    • Type: A material made of ground sand or silica mixed with color and a gum.
    • Sources: Faience objects, considered precious due to the complicated manufacturing process, were likely produced in larger settlements like Mohenjodaro and Harappa, as suggested by the concentration of miniature faience pots in these locations.
  5. Gold:
    • Type: Used for crafting jewelry.
    • Sources: Gold was rare, and the gold jewelry found at Harappan sites was often recovered from hoards, indicating that it was a precious material. The exact source of the gold remains uncertain, but it was likely obtained through contact with distant regions.
  6. Terracotta:
    • Type: Burnt clay.
    • Sources: Locally available clay was used for crafting terracotta objects, including toys and various artifacts.

The procurement of these raw materials was facilitated through a variety of strategies and trade networks:

  • Local Availability: Materials like clay were locally available, and settlements were often strategically located near sources of raw materials to reduce transportation costs.
  • Riverine and Coastal Routes: The riverine routes along the Indus and its tributaries and coastal routes were crucial for transporting goods. Specialized centers near rivers and coasts, such as Nageshwar and Balakot, focused on crafting items from locally available materials like shell.
  • Expeditions and Trade: Harappans likely organized expeditions to distant regions, as evidenced by finds of Harappan artifacts like steatite micro beads in areas like the Khetri region of Rajasthan. Trade contacts with Oman are suggested by the common traces of nickel in Omani copper and Harappan artifacts.

The ability to secure and manage these diverse raw materials was integral to the success of Harappan craft production. The organized procurement of materials from different regions contributed to the specialization of certain settlements, such as Chanhudaro, which was almost exclusively devoted to craft production. The intricate network of trade and material acquisition highlights the economic and social complexity of the Harappan civilization.

Archaeologists are detectives of the past, using a combination of scientific methods, meticulous excavation, and interdisciplinary collaboration to reconstruct and understand the history of human civilizations. The process of reconstructing the past is a multifaceted endeavor, and archaeologists employ various tools and techniques to piece together the puzzle of ancient societies.

Excavation and Stratigraphy: One of the primary methods archaeologists use is excavation. Digging at archaeological sites allows researchers to uncover layers of soil and debris, each representing a different period in history. Stratigraphy, the study of these layers, is crucial for establishing chronological sequences. Older artifacts are generally found in deeper layers, providing a temporal framework for understanding the evolution of a site over time.

Artifact Analysis: Artifacts, objects crafted or modified by humans, are the building blocks of archaeological investigation. Archaeologists meticulously catalog and analyze these items, ranging from pottery and tools to ornaments and bones. Through the study of artifacts, researchers gain insights into technological advancements, cultural practices, and economic activities of ancient societies.

Environmental Archaeology: Examining the environment in which past civilizations thrived is vital. Palaeobotanists and palaeozoologists study ancient plant and animal remains found at archaeological sites, providing information about diet, agriculture, and ecological conditions. Pollen analysis helps reconstruct past vegetation and climate, offering a broader context for understanding human adaptations.

Bioarchaeology: The study of human remains, or bioarchaeology, yields crucial information about health, diet, and lifestyle. Analysis of skeletal remains can reveal patterns of disease, nutritional deficiencies, and even traumatic injuries. The examination of burial practices provides insights into religious beliefs and social structures.

Remote Sensing Technologies: Modern archaeology benefits from advanced technologies like LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) and satellite imagery. LiDAR, for example, enables researchers to create detailed 3D maps of landscapes, revealing hidden structures and ancient settlements beneath dense vegetation. Satellite imagery aids in identifying potential archaeological sites and monitoring landscape changes over time.

Radiocarbon Dating: To establish accurate chronologies, archaeologists use radiocarbon dating. This technique measures the decay of radioactive carbon isotopes in organic materials, providing a reliable estimate of an artifact’s age. Radiocarbon dating is particularly useful for determining the chronology of events within the last 50,000 years.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Archaeologists collaborate with experts in various fields, including geology, chemistry, physics, and anthropology. This interdisciplinary approach ensures a comprehensive understanding of archaeological findings. For instance, chemical analysis of artifacts provides insights into trade networks, while geological studies help identify the sources of raw materials.

Experimental Archaeology: In addition to analyzing existing artifacts, some archaeologists engage in experimental archaeology. By replicating ancient techniques and tools, researchers gain practical insights into the challenges faced by past societies. This hands-on approach helps validate hypotheses about manufacturing processes, tool use, and construction methods.

In conclusion, reconstructing the past is a meticulous and interdisciplinary process that relies on a diverse set of methods and techniques. As technology advances and new methodologies emerge, archaeologists continue to refine their understanding of ancient civilizations, offering us a window into the rich tapestry of human history.

The Harappan civilization, one of the world’s oldest urban cultures, flourished in the vast plains of the Indus River Valley around 2600–1900 BCE. Despite the extensive archaeological evidence that has been unearthed, deciphering the functions of rulers within the Harappan society remains a complex task due to the enigmatic nature of their governance system and the lack of explicit historical records.

Absence of Palaces and Monuments: Unlike many ancient civilizations, the Harappan sites, including prominent ones like Mohenjodaro and Harappa, lack grand palaces or monumental structures that are typically associated with ruling elites. This absence of ostentatious architectural displays has puzzled archaeologists and historians alike, challenging traditional notions of centralized political authority.

Urban Planning and Standardization: One of the primary functions attributed to rulers in the Harappan society is urban planning and administrative organization. The meticulous layout of cities, with well-planned streets, drainage systems, and standardized brick sizes, suggests a level of centralized authority. The uniformity across different Harappan settlements, even those geographically distant, hints at a standardized governance system that could have been enforced by rulers.

Trade and Economy: Rulers likely played a crucial role in overseeing economic activities and trade networks. The Harappan civilization was engaged in extensive trade, reaching regions as far as Mesopotamia. The presence of standardized weights, seals, and a sophisticated system of weights and measures suggests a regulated economic system, possibly administered by rulers to ensure fairness and consistency in trade practices.

Craft Production and Resource Management: Centers like Chanhudaro, dedicated predominantly to craft production, indicate the importance of rulers in managing resources and ensuring specialized production. Rulers may have been responsible for organizing and overseeing craft activities, procuring raw materials, and maintaining a system of distribution within and beyond the Harappan territories.

Social Order and Governance: While the absence of monumental architecture challenges conventional views of rulership, the well-planned cities and the overall organization of Harappan society imply a system of governance. Rulers could have played a role in maintaining social order, resolving disputes, and overseeing the functioning of various administrative structures that facilitated daily life.

Religious and Ritual Functions: Some scholars propose that rulers in the Harappan society may have had religious or ritualistic roles. The famous “Priest-King” statue from Mohenjodaro, though not definitively identified as a ruler, suggests a figure with ceremonial significance. If rulers held dual roles, combining political and religious functions, it would align with practices seen in other ancient civilizations.

Water Management and Agricultural Control: Harappan cities were equipped with advanced drainage systems and water storage facilities. Rulers could have been responsible for ensuring efficient water management and agricultural practices, essential for sustaining the urban population. This role would have been crucial in maintaining the prosperity of the Harappan cities.

In conclusion, understanding the functions of rulers in the Harappan society involves piecing together fragments of archaeological evidence and interpreting the unique features of this ancient civilization. While the absence of explicit records and monumental structures poses challenges, the careful planning of cities, economic systems, and craft production suggests that rulers likely played a pivotal role in orchestrating the complex dynamics of the Harappan civilization.

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