|A wall at Dholavira|
Dholavira is not as famous as Mohenjadaro or Harappa. But it is one of the largest cities of the Harappan civilization though not part of the Indus valley, it is in India rather than in Pakistan, it is well excavated and documented and worth viewing.
As part of our fifth Site Seminar, we visited the state of Gujarat, and Dholavira was one of the main attractions. We had three lectures in preparation –one by Badri Seshadri summarizing Michel Danino’s book on Sarasvati; one by TS Subramaniam of Frontline magazine who has written widely about it and showed some excellent photographs; and one on Harappan seals by Krishnakumar.
On the second day we visited Lothal – I’ll write about it later – the most famous sea-port of the Harappan civilization. We saw the standard sized bricks, the settlements, the large port and so on. A long strong desire fulfilled, a stroked curiosity somewhat satiated, several minor surprises.
|Harbour at Lothal, made with bricks, not cut stone|
|Bricks at Lothal- not stones|
But the major surprise was at Dholavira : not a single brick! Every reservoir or tank, every “house”, every well, the “Citadel”, the “Stadium” : every building in Dholavira was made out of cut stones.
|Cut stone at Dholavira|
There seems no mention of it in the literature. The first thing we read about this massive civilization is its uniformity: uniform script, uniform roads, uniform houses, uniform drains, and most tellingly uniform bricks the uniform size in the ratio 1:2:4 height to width to length. And yet here was the largest site without a single brick, and the stones of all shapes and sizes.
|Another cut stone at Dholavira - notice difference from previous one as measure by my finger|
|Crude stone wall at Dholavira - stones of varying sizes - contrast with first photo|
Badri Seshadri, for one, shocked at this obvious neglect by scholars. Wikipedia mentions it, but in a passing line: a pity we never read it. I thought he would have blogged about it, but since he hasn’t in two weeks, here goes.
The contrast with Lothal could not be more stark. Why was such a large harbor in Lothal made with so many bricks, when stones would have done just as well and would have been simpler, while heavy stones hauled up on the mounds and hills of Dholavira when it would have been easier to lift standard bricks?