Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Food History: Rice cultivation in Indus Valley Civilization

Agriculture emerged in the Indus River Valley when foraging Harappan communities settled in the lush lands between the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush mountains in present-day Pakistan.

At its height, around 2600 BC, the Indus Civilization included nearly a thousand sites dispersed throughout northwestern India and Pakistan, ranging from village farming communities and small towns to several fully developed city complexes housing large populations, with tens of thousands of people.

Rice is the crop of Ganga Valley region and its presence in the economy of pre-Harappan, Harappan and contemporaneous Ahar culture (Banas Valley Culture) in the northwestern part of the subcontinent has also been recorded earlier. The evidence of rice at Kanmer was recorded from Mature and Late Harappan phases.

New research on three archaeological sites of the famed Indus Valley civilization (3000-1500 BC) in north-west India has revealed that domesticated rice farming in South Asia began far earlier than previously believed. A research team led by University of Cambridge archaeologists found evidence of domesticated rice in South Asia as much as 430 years earlier. The evidence for rice has come from Lothal and Rangpur in the form of husks embedded in pottery.

The team’s findings, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science and the journal Antiquity, also confirm that Indus farmers were the earliest people to use multi-cropping strategies across both seasons, growing foods during summer (rice, millets and beans) and winter (wheat, barley and pulses), which required different watering regimes.

There is clear-cut evidence of rice dispersal from China to India in the form of indica at eastern India or Gangetic basin. This process of crops transformation can be called a process of loans of Chinese crops towards India. A Chinese legend depicts that during the 12thcentury B.C, the trade of India with ancient China occurred. This trade may have crucial in the spreading of ancient crops, especially ancient rice.

Fertile soils and a steady water supply supported the cultivation of crops, and the river also provided transportation, enabling commerce. Rice and millet agriculture became widespread in regions watered by the monsoon rains, the use of iron tools, the horse and camel became commonplace.
Food History: Rice cultivation in Indus Valley Civilization