Dholavira is an archaeological site in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch
District, in the state of Gujarat
in western India
, which has taken its name from a modern village 1 km (0.62 mt) south of it. Also known locally as Kotada timba the site contains ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization/Harappan city. It is one of the five largest Harappan sites and most prominent archaeological sites in India belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. It is also considered as grandest of cities of its time.
It is located on the Khadir bet island in the Kutch Desert Wildlife Sanctuary
in Great Rann Of Kutch
and the area of the full site is more than 100 ha (250 acres). The site was occupied from c.2650 BCE, declining slowly after about 2100 BCE. It was briefly abandoned and reoccupied until c.1450 BCE. The site was discovered in 1967-8 by J. P. Joshi and is the fifth largest of eight major Harappan sites. It has been under excavation since 1990 by the Archaeological Survey of India, which opines that "Dholavira has indeed added new dimensions to personality of Indus Valley Civilisation." The other major Harappan sites discovered so far are: Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Ganeriwala, Rakhigarhi, Kalibangan, Rupnagar and Lothal
Excavation was initiated in 1989 by the Archaeological Survey of India under the direction of R. S. Bisht and there were 13 field excavations between 1990 and 2005. The excavation brought to light the urban planning and architecture, and unearthed large numbers of antiquities such as seals, beads, animal bones, gold, silver, terracotta ornaments, pottery and bronze vessels. Archaeologists believe[vague] that Dholavira was an important centre of trade between settlements in south Gujarat, Sindh and Punjab and Western Asia
"The kind of efficient system of Harappans of Dholavira, developed for conservation, harvesting and storage of water speaks eloquently about their advanced hydraulic engineering, given the state of technology in the third millennium BCE" says R.S.Bist, Joint Director General (Rtd.), Archeological Survey of India. One of the unique features of Dholavira is the sophisticated water conservation system of channels and reservoirs, the earliest found anywhere in the World
and completely built out of stone, of which three are exposed. Dholavira had massive reservoirs.
They were used for storing the fresh water brought by rains or to store the water diverted from two nearby rivulets. This clearly came in wake of the desert climate and conditions of Kutch, where several years may pass without rainfall. A seasonal stream which runs in north-south direction of the site was dammed at several points to collect water.
The inhabitants of Dholavira created sixteen or more reservoirs of varying size during Stage III. Some of these took advantage of the slope of the ground within the large settlement, a drop of 13 m from northeast to northwest. Other reservoirs were excavated, some into living rock. Recent work has revealed two large reservoirs, one to the east of the castle and one to its south, near the Annexe. Reservoirs are cut through stones vertically. They are about 7 meters deep and 79 meters long. Reservoirs skirted the city while Citadel
and bath are centrally located on raised ground. A large well with a stone-cut trough to connect the drain meant for conducting water to a storage tank also found. Bathing tank had steps descending inwards.
Painted Indus black-on-red-ware pottery, square stamp seals, seals without Indus script, a huge sign board measuring about 3 m in length, containing ten letters of Indus script etc. One poorly preserved seated male figure made of stone has also been found, comparable to high quality two stone sculptures found at Harappa. Large black-slipped jars with poiinted base were also found at this site.
A giant bronze hammer, a big chisel, a bronze hand-held mirror, a gold wire, gold ear stud, gold globules with holes, copper celts and bangles, shell bangles, phallus-like symbols of stone,square seals with indus inscription and signs,a circular seal, carleian humped animals, pottery with painted motifs, goblets, dish-on-stand, perforated jars, Terracotta tumblers in good shape, architectural members made of ballast stones, grinding stones, mortars, etc., were also found at this site. Stone weights of different measures were also found.
Language And Script:
The Harrapans spoke an unknown language and their script has not yet been deciphered. It is believed to have had about 400 basic signs, with many variations. The signs may have stood both for words and for syllables. The direction of the writing was generally from right to left. Most of the inscriptions are found on seals (mostly made out of stone) and sealings (pieces of clay on which the seal was pressed down to leave its impression). Some inscriptions are also found on copper tablets, bronze implements, and small objects made of terracotta, stone and faience. The seals may have been used in trade and also for official administrative work. A lot of inscribed material was found at Mohenjo-daro and other Indus Valley Civilisation sites.
One of the most significant discoveries at Dholavira was made in one of the side rooms of the northern gateway of the city, and is often called the Dholavira Signboard. The Harappans had arranged and set pieces of the mineral gypsum to form ten large symbols or letters on a big wooden board. At some point, the board fell flat on its face. The wood decayed, but the arrangement of the letters survived. The letters of the signboard are comparable to large bricks that were used in nearby walls. Each sign is about 37 cm (15 in) high and the board on which letters were inscribed was about 3 m (9.8 ft) long.
The inscription is one of the longest in the Indus script, with one symbol appearing four times, and this and its large size and public nature make it a key piece of evidence cited by scholars arguing that the Indus script represents full literacy. A four sign inscription with big size letters on a sand stone is also found at this site, considered first of such inscription on sand stone at any of Harappan sites.