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In many news sites (1) , (2), it is written that Indus civilization is over 8000 years old by a study by IIT KGP and Archaeological association of India. However the wiki dates don't align with these dates as far as I understand. Could someone give me clarification here on the actual dates? I mean, have historians in general accepted these dates or not?


One commentor has noted that the source of the claim by the newsite is from a Nature article which talks about Harrapan civilization and not Indus civilization. But many site consider them as same. *

The Indus civilization is also known as the Harappan civilization, after its type site Harappa, the first to be excavated early in the 20th century in what was then the Punjab province of British India and is now Punjab, Pakistan. The discovery of Harappa and soon afterwards Mohenjo-daro was the culmination of work that had begun after the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India in the British Raj in 1861. There were earlier and later cultures called Early Harappan and Late Harappan in the same area.

I know that it maybe perfectly valid that Wiki just didn't update but I seek an answer involving cross examination. That is, what the other external sources are saying about the IIT KGP studies.

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    The ToI reference is from 2016 reporting new discoveries. The Wiki article takes its dating from a 2009 book (Wright, Rita P. (2009). The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-57219-4. ALWAYS check the references). I'm no expert in this field, but the discrepancy may simply reflect advancing research.
    – user55099
    Aug 23, 2022 at 8:58
  • My question is about cross examinations @Martin
    – Babu
    Aug 23, 2022 at 11:36
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    @TrystwithFreedom You seem to be comparing apples with oranges. The discoveries discussed in the news articles cited (source Nature article here) are discussing a Neolithic and transitional culture found at Bhirrana, Not the Bronze Age Indus Valley civilization you linked.
    – justCal
    Aug 23, 2022 at 12:45
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    @TrystwithFreedom, pleasd edit the question. Replies in comments tend to lead to question closure.
    – MCW
    Aug 29, 2022 at 8:44
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    Everything; there should be no discussion in comments, and almost no responses from OP in comments. The question should contain everything you know and clarify everything you want to know. People are strongly disinclined to read comments to understand a question to start research.
    – MCW
    Aug 29, 2022 at 10:10

1 Answer 1

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There's a bit of confusion over terms here. The culture that was first excavated at Harrapa, as per the idiom of archeologists, was named "Harrapan" after the first archeological site at which it was discovered. Historians and archeologists aren't always on the same page, so once it was discovered to be literate, a lot of historians preferred to call it "The Indus Valley Civilization", after the area the culture covered.

In short, archeologists use the word "culture" to describe a coherent set of similar artifacts and other associated leavings. Historians (usually) use "Civilization" to describe a literate culture.

Whatever you call it, the earliest incarnation of this specific culture goes back to about 3300 BC, or about 5000 years ago.

However, this was not the earliest culture to develop anywhere in the Indus river valley. Archeologists found another farming ("Neolithic") culture far upriver at Mehrgarh (in modern day Balochistan, Pakistan). Its artifacts are dated from about 7,000 BCE to about 2500BCE. Judging by the artifacts produced, its a different culture, but it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume the later IVC borrowed elements from it. Particularly its domesticated plants. It was in fact a contemporary of the IVC in the latter's early days.

So if you equate "Civilization" to farming domesticated crops (what we call Neolithic people), then it would be fair to say that was happening in the Indus River Valley about 9,000 years ago.*

Most historians prefer their "Civilization's" to be literate. By that definition, the area qualified from about 2,800 to 1,900 BCE. However, after that, as far as we know no native culture on the entire subcontinent was literate until about 300BCE. This new Brahmi script used a scheme similar to near-eastern Semitic scripts (and the culture was in contact with near eastern Semitic traders). There's no indication it owes anything whatsoever to the Indus Valley script.

So to be super technical here, you can say that "cultures" in the Indus Valley go back more than 8,000 years, but (by the most common definition) the "Civilization" that was there lasted only about 1,000 years, then disappeared.


* - By this standard it would be equally valid to say that "New Guinea Civilization is 11,000 years old", even though no culture native to that island had a writing system until modern times.

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  • So, where does the IIT KGP study fit in? Was it finding known facts again?
    – Babu
    Aug 24, 2022 at 6:32
  • @TrystwithFreedom - Got a link to the actual study?
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 24, 2022 at 13:22
  • This one
    – Babu
    Aug 24, 2022 at 13:25
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    @cipricus - The Perivuans didn't have writing as we know it, but they did have their own rather unique record system using cords and knots, which for all but the most pedantic purposes counts.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 26, 2022 at 1:55
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    @cipricus - No, nothing will. Which is why I temporized so much when I was talking about "Civilization". However, if someone is asking if {sloppy statement A} is true, I think its fair to go with the technical consensus meaning of the words in it, while also acknowledging the slop. That's what this answer was at least trying to do.
    – T.E.D.
    Aug 26, 2022 at 12:45

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