The Story of the First Cities: NBSE Class 12 (Arts) History answers

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Get summary, textual answers, solutions, notes, extras, PDF to NBSE Class 12 (Arts) History (Themes in Indian History) chapter “The Story of the First Cities: Harappan Archaeology”. However, the educational materials should only be used for reference and students are encouraged to make necessary changes.

potteries, illustrating the chapter The Story of the First Cities Harappan Archaeology

Introduction

The Indus Valley civilization, dating back almost 5,000 years, was one of the earliest urban societies in the world. It’s fascinating to think that this civilization’s remains are still around today, with its rich history spanning over several millennia. While the civilization’s script remains a mystery, archaeologists have been able to piece together a lot about its cities, architecture, technology, trade, economy, and art through careful study of the ruins of important urban centers such as Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Kot Diji, Lothal, Kalibangan, Ganweriwala, Rakhigarhi, and Dholavira.

Interestingly, the discovery of Harappa was accidental. It happened during the construction of the Lahore to Multan railway in 1856, when the British needed ballast and found millions of finely baked bricks from Harappa. The mounds that stood 14 to 18 meters above the fields were finally noticed in 1872, and it was only in 1920-21 that the discovery of bricks of an unknown type at Mohenjodaro led to the identification of the ancient civilization. The remains of the civilization were later discovered at Harappa by R.B. Daya Ram Sahni, and Sir John Marshall, the Director General of Archaeological Survey of India, personally took up the excavation work, announcing in 1924 that a rich and highly developed civilization had flourished in the Indus Valley around 5000 years ago.

While Sir John Marshall’s excavation methods were flawed, leading to the loss of some valuable information, archaeologists from many countries have been working jointly at both Harappa and Mohenjodaro since the 1980s. Using modern research techniques, including surface exploration, they are studying every scrap of available evidence, hoping to uncover more information about this fascinating civilization. The remains of the civilization can be found in the ruins of various cities, including Mohenjodaro, Amri, Kot Diji, and Harappa, and it’s exciting to think that there may be even more discoveries to come in the future.

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Textual questions and answers

I. Very Short Answer Questions

1. What is “Gully?

Answer: A gully is a long narrow valley with steep sides.

2. Write the age of early Harappan Phase.

Answer: The early Harappan phase is estimated to be around 3500 – 2600 BCE.

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5. What do you know about ‘Stratigraphy’?

Answer: Stratigraphy is the study of layers in the earth’s crust. Generally, the lowest layers are the oldest and the highest are the most recent. In archaeology, stratigraphy is used to determine the relative ages of artifacts and features found in different layers.

6. Define Artefact.

Answer: An artefact is an object made by a human being, typically one of cultural or historical interest. It can be any object that has been modified or created by humans, such as tools, pottery, weapons, jewelry, and art. 

II. Multiple Choice Questions

(i) The round Persian Gulf’ seal was found in:

Answer: (iii) Bahrain

(ii) Harappan culture is also called the:

Answer: (i) Indus Valley

(iii) Cholistan is the:

Answer: (iii) both (i) and (ii)

(iv) Father of Indian Archaeology is:

Answer: (i) Alexander Cunningham

(v) Rudra is the Puranic name of:

Answer: (ii) Lord Shiva

III. Short Answer Type Questions-l

1. Why is Indus valley civilisation called the Harappan Civilisation?

Answer: The Indus Valley Civilization is also called the Harappan Civilization because the first city of this civilization to be discovered was Harappa, located in present-day Pakistan.

2. Give the names of the archaeologists who made excavations at Harappa between 1920-25.

Answer: The excavations at Harappa between 1920-25 were conducted by R.B. Daya Ram Sahni and later by Sir John Marshall, who was the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India at that time.

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5. What do you know about the Saddle Querns?

Answer: It is a kind of hand operated mill for grinding com. They were roughly made of hard gritty rock or sand stone. Their bases are usually convex, they must have been set in the earth or mud to prevent their rocking. 

6. Name the places from which Harappans procured raw material for the production of artefacts.

Answer: The Harappans procured raw material for the production of artifacts from various places. Some of the places are:

i. Nageshwar and Balakot, where shells were available in abundance.
ii. Shortughai, in far-off Afghanistan, near the best source of semi-precious stone of lapis lazuli.
iii. Lothal, which was near sources of carnelian (a variety of quartz) from Bharuch in Gujarat, steatite from south Rajasthan and North Gujarat, and metal from Rajasthan.
iv. Khetri region of Rajasthan and South India for gold.

IV. Short Answer Type Questions-II

1. Describe the story of discovery of Harappa in the 19th century.

Answer: The story of the discovery of Harappa began in the 19th century when the British were building the Lahore to Multan railway and needed ballast. They found finely baked bricks of Harappa, which had been buried for many centuries. However, it was not until 1872 that notice was taken of the mounds which stood 14 to 18 meters above the level of the fields. In 1920-21, R.D. Banerji discovered the Buddhist Stupa that stood at Mohenjodaro in Sindh (now in Pakistan), which led to the identification of this ancient civilization in Indian history. About the same time, R.B. Daya Ram Sahni discovered similar remains at Harappa in Montgomery district now called Sahiwal (Pakistan). Later on, Sir John Marshall, the Director General of Archaeological Survey of India, personally took up this work and announced in 1924 that about 5000 years ago, a rich and highly developed civilization flourished in the valley of Indus.

2. Describe the similarities between the city of Harappa and the city of Mohenjodaro.

Answer: The cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro share many similarities. Both cities were part of the Indus Valley Civilization and were located in present-day Pakistan. They were both major urban centers of their time and had well-planned layouts with wide streets and buildings made of baked bricks. The streets in both cities were aligned from east to west or from south to north and intersected at right angles. The cities also had a similar system of drainage and sanitation, with public wells and baths. The architecture of the city planning of Harappa was similar to that of Mohenjodaro, and the varieties of artifacts recovered from the excavations confirmed that these two sites represented the same cultural tradition.

3. Would you agree that the drainage system in Harappan cities indicates town planning? Give reasons for your answer.

Answer: Yes, I would agree that the drainage system in Harappan cities indicates town planning. The drainage system was a well-planned and sophisticated system that was designed to keep the cities clean and hygienic. The drains were made of mortar, lime, and gypsum and were covered with big bricks and stones that could be lifted easily to clean the drains. Smaller drains from houses on both sides of the streets came and joined a brick-laid main channel. Bigger drains, which cleared the rainwater, were 2 1/2 feet to 5 feet in circumference. For sewage from the houses, pits were provided at either side of the street. All this shows that the Indus Valley people took great care to keep their cities neat and clean. The drainage system was an integral part of the town planning, and it was designed to ensure that the cities were healthy and habitable. Therefore, the drainage system in Harappan cities is a clear indication of town planning.

4. What do you know about the citadels in the Harappan towns?

Answer: The Harappan towns had small citadels that were built on a higher elevation than the rest of the town. The citadels were usually located on the western side of the town and were separated from the rest of the town by walls. The citadels were used for special public purposes such as warehouses and great baths. The lower structure of the citadels was built of bricks while the upper portion was probably built of wood which decayed long ago. The citadel within the city of Lothal had no wall around it, but it was built at a height. The citadel at Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat) was fortified, and the sections within the town were separated by walls. The citadels were an important part of the Harappan town planning and were designed to provide protection to the people in times of war or invasion.

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6. What do you know about the gateways of the Harappan cities?

Answer: The excavations at the Harappan city sites like Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Kalibangan, and Surkotada reveal that there was a large gateway at every entry point of the city. These gateways are found even in the inner fortification area as well. A large inscription, possibly found on a fallen signboard, was close to the main gateway of Dholavira. The letters of the inscription are the largest example of writing ever discovered close to the main gateway of any Harappan city. It is made from white gypsum paste, inlays set into a wooden plank. Ten symbols each measuring about 37 cm high and 25 to 27 cm wide proclaimed some name or title. Mounted above the gateway, the signboard must have been visible from a long distance from the town.

V. Long Answer Type Questions-l

1. Describe the story of discovery of Harappan Civilisation upto the present times.

Answer: The story of the discovery of the Harappan civilization is quite interesting. In 1856, when the British were building the Lahore to Multan railway, they needed ballast and they found it in the form of finely baked bricks of Harappa-millions of them. It was only in 1872 that notice was taken of the mounds which stood 14 to 18 meters above the level of the fields. It was in 1920-21 that R.D. Banerji, in the course of excavation work on a Buddhist Stupa that stood at Mohenjodaro in Sindh (now in Pakistan), discovered bricks of an unknown type which led to the identification of this ancient civilization in Indian history. About the same time, R.B. Daya Ram Sahni discovered similar remains at Harappa in Montgomery district now called Sahiwal (Pakistan). Later on, Sir John Marshall, the Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India, personally took up this work and announced in 1924 that about 5000 years ago, a rich and highly developed civilization flourished in the valley of Indus.

Since then, many excavations have been carried out at various Harappan sites, and a lot of information has been gathered about the civilization. In recent times, new technologies like satellite imagery and remote sensing have been used to identify new sites and to study the existing ones in more detail. The Harappan civilization is still a subject of research, and new discoveries are being made from time to time.

2. Discuss the functions that may have been performed by rulers in Harappan society.

Answer: There is little knowledge about the nature of political organization or the history of the rulers of the Indus Valley people. Some archaeologists have labeled a large building found at Mohenjodaro as a palace, but no spectacular finds have been associated with it. Some scholars have labeled a stone statue as the “priest king,” but it is not known whether the priest kings who performed religious ceremonies also held political power. 

However, most scholars believe that the Harappans had a highly centralized administration, and the provinces of Sindh, Punjab, East Baluchistan, and Kathiawar were connected and under the control of a single administration. It seems that there was an organization like a municipal corporation to look after the civic amenities of the people, but there is no definite proof. Therefore, it is unclear what functions rulers may have performed in Harappan society.

3. Analyse the archaeological report on Harappan sites.

Answer: The archaeological report on Harappan sites provides valuable information about the different periods of Indian history, including the Lower Palaeolithic period, Middle Palaeolithic, Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Harappan Civilization, Early Iron, Megalithic burials, and Early Historic Period. The report also highlights the work of archaeologists such as Harappa.R.S. Bisht and Marshall, who excavated at Dholavira and Mohenjodaro, respectively.

The report notes that the Harappan civilization was a highly centralized administration, and the provinces of Sindh, Punjab, East Baluchistan, and Kathiawar were connected and under the control of a single administration. The report also mentions that the Harappan people developed great urban centers of civilization, such as Harappa and Mohenjodaro, which were planned cities with advanced town planning.

The report highlights the challenges faced by archaeologists in understanding the Harappan civilization due to the lack of written records. However, archaeologists have been able to piece together a rough picture of the civilization based on the careful examination of objects unearthed at various places. These objects include ruins of large buildings and dwelling houses, weapons of war, household implements, food material and dress materials, ornaments, spinning and textile instruments, different types of pottery, domestic articles like toys and games, metal, clay, and stone figurines, and most importantly, the seals and other objects with engravings and the pictographical alphabet.

The report also notes that since the 1980s, the international interest in Harappan archaeology has been increasing, and specialists from many countries have been jointly working at both Harappa and Mohenjodaro. They are using modern techniques of research, including surface exploration, to recover traces of clay, stone, metal, plant and animal remains, as well as to minutely analyze every scrap of every available evidence.

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6. Discuss how archaeologists reconstruct the past.

Answer: Archaeologists use a variety of methods to reconstruct the past. These methods include excavation, survey, analysis of artifacts, and the study of written records.

Excavation is the process of digging up and removing artifacts and other materials from the ground. Archaeologists use a variety of tools and techniques to carefully remove soil and other materials from a site, in order to uncover artifacts and other evidence of past human activity.

Survey involves the systematic examination of an area to identify and record archaeological sites. This can involve walking over the landscape, using aerial photography, or using remote sensing techniques such as ground-penetrating radar.

Analysis of artifacts involves the study of objects that were made or used by people in the past. This can include tools, pottery, jewelry, and other objects. Archaeologists use a variety of techniques to analyze artifacts, including radiocarbon dating, chemical analysis, and microscopic examination.

The study of written records is also an important part of archaeological research. This can include historical documents, such as letters, diaries, and official records, as well as inscriptions on monuments and other artifacts.

By combining these different methods, archaeologists are able to reconstruct the past and gain a better understanding of how people lived in the past, how societies developed and changed over time, and how different cultures interacted with one another.

VI. Long Answer Type Questions-II

1. Describe the causes of decay and disappearance of the Harappan civilisation. What is the legacy of this civilisation?

Answer: The scholars have no definite answer to the puzzle of how the Harappan civilization was destroyed. This widespread civilization could neither come to an abrupt end nor could it be destroyed by only one cause. According to Sir John Marshall, the Indus Valley Civilization collapsed about a thousand years before the coming of Buddha. The decline of the Harappan civilization was gradual and slow, which continued over a period of almost six hundred years from c 1900-1300 BC. The causes of decay and disappearance of the Harappan civilization are not clear, but scholars believe that nature and man must have combined to cause its complete destruction. Some possible causes of the decline of the Harappan civilization are environmental degradation, climate change, floods, earthquakes, invasion, and internal conflicts.

The legacy of the Harappan civilization is significant. The Harappan civilization was one of the earliest urban civilizations in the world, and it had a profound impact on the development of human civilization. The Harappan civilization had a well-planned urban layout, advanced drainage and sanitation systems, and a sophisticated writing system. The Harappan civilization was also known for its art, craft, and trade. The Harappan civilization had a complex social and economic system, and it was a melting pot of different cultures and religions. The legacy of the Harappan civilization can be seen in the modern-day Indian subcontinent, where many of its cultural and technological achievements are still evident.

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3. List the items of food available to people in Harappan cities. Identify the groups who would have provided these.

Answer: The Early Harappan Culture and the Mature Harappan cultures used some common food articles. They ate a wide range of plant products such as wheat, barley, lentils, chickpea, sesame, and in Gujarat, millets were found at many sites. Besides vegetables, fruits, dates, and milk were included in their food.

The animal bones found at Harappan sites include those of cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, and pig. Bones of fish and fowl have also been found. The studies of the zoo-archaeologists indicate that the people domesticated these animals. They ate animal products like mutton, beef, fish, and eggs. Bones of wild animals like boar, deer, and ghanial have also been found. But it is not clear whether the Harappans hunted these animals themselves or obtained meat from some other hunting communities. It is not specified in the knowledge base which groups would have provided these items of food.

Additional/extra questions and answers

1. What is the Indus valley civilization?

Answer: The Indus valley civilization was one of the earliest urban societies in the world, which existed in the great Indus valley of India. It is the oldest living civilization in the world, with a record of progress spread over almost five thousand years.

2. What are some important urban centers of the Indus valley civilization?

Answer: Besides Harappa and Mohenjodaro, the other important urban centers of this civilization were Kot Diji, Lothal, Kalibangan, Ganweriwala, Rakhigarhi, and Dholavira.

3. How was the Harappa civilization discovered?

Answer: The discovery of the Harappa civilization is interesting. In 1856, when the British were building the Lahore to Multan railway, they found ballast in the form of finely baked bricks of Harappa. It was only in 1872 that notice was taken of the mounds which stood 14 to 18 meters above the level of the fields. It was in 1920-21 that R.D. Banerji discovered bricks of an unknown type which led to the identification of this ancient civilization in Indian history.

4. Who announced the discovery of the Harappa civilization?

Answer: Sir John Marshall, the Director General of Archaeological Survey of India, personally took up the work of discovering the Harappa civilization and announced in 1924 that about 5000 years ago, a rich and highly developed civilization flourished in the valley of Indus.

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95. What are the possible causes of the decay and disappearance of the Harappan civilization?

Answer: The possible causes of the decay and disappearance of the Harappan civilization are:

  • Floods that submerged vast territories and buried them under thick layers of mud
  • Famines that may have resulted from changes in rainfall patterns in Sindh
  • Earthquakes that may have destroyed vast areas of the Indus valley
  • Changes in the course of the Indus river that may have washed away large areas
  • The end of the Harappan state, which may have contributed to the collapse of the entire civilization
  • Invasions of the Aryans, which is a theory that is not supported by any convincing archaeological evidence.

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