Dholavira: UNESCO World Heritage Site, Water Conservation, Signboard, Layout, Burial System, Khadirbet YouTube Lecture Handouts

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Dholavira: UNESCO World Heritage Site, Water Conservation, Signboard, Layout, Burial System, Khadirbet|Art & Culture UPSC
  • The ancient city of Dholavira, the southern Centre of the Harappan Civilization, is sited on the arid island of Khadir in the State of Gujarat. Occupied between ca. 3000 - 1500 BCE, the archaeological site, one of the best-preserved urban settlements from the period in Southeast Asia, comprises a fortified city and a cemetery.
  • Two seasonal streams provided water, a scarce resource in the region, to the walled city which comprises a heavily fortified castle and ceremonial ground as well as streets and houses of different proportion quality which testify to a stratified social order.
  • At Khadirbet in Bhachau Taluka of Kutch District, Gujarat. 165 km (103 mi) from Radhanpur. Also known locally as Kotada timba, the site contains ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization/Harappan city. Dholavira՚s location is on the Tropic of Cancer.


  • 3rd to mid-2nd millennium BC Discovered in 1968 Kutch District, Gujarat 40th Indian site on UNESCO՚s World Heritage list - 32 cultural, seven natural and one mixed property Located in the Kutch district, Dholavira is the larger of the two most remarkable excavations of the Indus Valley Civilisation dating back to about 4,500 years ago. The site had been on UNESCO՚s tentative list since 2014 and India had submitted its dossier in January 2020
  • Water management system Multi-layered defensive mechanisms
  • Extensive use of stone in construction and special burial structures
  • A range of artefacts of copper, shell, stone, jewellery, terracotta and ivory had been found at the site

Water Management

  • Only 2 seasonal Streams to provide water a sophisticated water management system demonstrates the ingenuity of the Dholavira people in their struggle to survive and thrive in a harsh environment. The site includes a large cemetery with cenotaphs of six types testifying to the Harappan՚s unique view of death. Evidence for inter-regional trade with other Harappan cities, as well as with cities in the Mesopotamia region and the Oman peninsula have also been discovered.
  • One of the unique features of Dholavira is the sophisticated water conservation system of channels and reservoirs, the earliest found anywhere in the world, built completely of stone. The city had massive reservoirs, three of which are exposed. They were used for storing fresh water brought by rains or to store water diverted from two nearby rivulets. This clearly came in response to the desert climate and conditions of Kutch, where several years may pass without rainfall.

Facts to Know

Facts to Know
  • Fifth largest of eight major Harappan sites. other major Harappan sites discovered so far are Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Ganeriwala, Rakhigarhi, Kalibangan, Rupnagar and Lothal.
  • Excavation was initiated in 1989 by the ASI under the direction of Bisht, and there were 13 field excavations between 1990 and 2005
  • The most striking feature of the city is that all of its buildings, at least in their present state of preservation, are built of stone, whereas most other Harappan sites, including Harappa itself and Mohenjo-Daro, are almost exclusively built of brick.
  • Seals found at Dholavira, belonging to Stage III, contained animal only figures, without any type of 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
  • The inscription is one of the longest in the Indus script, with one of the symbols 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 large letters on sandstone is also found at this site, considered first of such inscription on sandstone at any of Harappan sites pre-existing geometrical plan consisting of three divisions – the citadel (high area above the ground) , the middle town, and the lower town
  • The acropolis is the most thoroughly fortified and complex area in the city, of which it appropriates the major portion of the southwestern zone. The towering “castle” stands is defended by double ramparts