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Indus Valley Civilization Also Adapted To Climate Change

29 January 2017, 9:00 am EST By Abhijeet Kar Tech Times
Researchers believe that the downfall of the flourishing Indus Valley Civilization, like several other ancient cultures before it, could be due to climatic changes. The study sheds light on how the civilization adapted to these changes.   ( Nagarjun Kandukuru| Flickr )

Paleoclimatologists have often attributed the downfall of civilizations in Greece, Mesopotamia and Egypt to a drought which started in 2000 BC and they are of the belief that the Indus Valley Civilization may have suffered the same fate.

A new study on the Indus Valley Civilization sheds light on climate change, which occurred almost thousands of years back and the manner in which humans during that period were affected by the alterations in the environment.

Climate change and its effects are concerning in the current era, which makes one marvel how our ancestors grappled with such shifts. Thanks to new research methodologies, scientists are able to demystify the climatic patterns that occurred several thousand years ago, which gives humans an inkling into how our ancestors coped with the oscillating conditions.

In an article in the journal Current Anthropology, researchers discuss the various nuances of how the human civilization adapted itself to the changing environment. The study was based on the Indus Valley Civilization of South Asia during the period between c.3000 - 1300 BC. 

On the basis of information gleaned from isotope data of the sediments of an ancient lake, the scientists suggest that the monsoon cycle - which is pivotal to the South Asian countries' livelihood - suddenly halted for nearly two centuries.

"For most ancient complex societies, water was a critical factor, and the availability of water and the way that it was managed and used provide critical insight into human adaptation and the resilience of subsistence practices," shared Dr. Cameron Petrie of the Division of Archaeology, University of Cambridge, the lead author of the study.

The research delved into the land, water and settlement dynamics of the ancient civilization. It also studied how the population present in North-West India, adapted itself to the climate change. The study also delved into how the environment altered during times of climate change.

Remnants Of The Past

The researchers believe that the Indus Valley Civilization evolved in a particular environment where there was an overlap in the summer and winter rainfall systems.

Evidence reveals that during the period between c.2500 - 1900 BC, the area was exposed to climatic changes which coincides with the time line of the Indus Valley Civilization being at its peak.

The various facts based on the civilization offered the researchers with the opportunity to gather insight on how the society grappled with such varied and dissimilar ecosystems, as well as the climatic constraints.

During early Holocene, the Indus Valley Civilization, was located closer to the lake Kotla Dahar, in the plains of north western part of India. This proximity suggests that the ancients had a consistent supply of rainfall which would counter evaporation. The rainfall, however, would have been largely during the monsoons.

The lake, however, provided proof of sudden changes in the monsoon rainfall pattern. It also indicated a consist decrease in the water level of Kotla Dahar.

During the course of this study, the sorry state of the lake in the period between ca.2200 -2000 BC was observed, likely due to the sporadic rainfall and disruptions in the monsoon cycle. This hints that the monsoon during this period was affected by the spontaneous change in the climate. 

The significance of Kotla Dahar is emphasized by researchers as they discovered that this locale was inhabited by a large population. It is also thought to be the primary reason which contributed towards the de-urbanization of the Indus Civilization.

Photo: Nagarjun Kandukuru | Flickr

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