Home About us

Atlas of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization


In the year 2000 the Indian Council of Historical Research cleared our proposal for preparing an Atlas of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization under its scheme of major projects for a period of three years. The project is completed and we are now preparing the manuscript for the publication.

There are as many as 191 site Distribution maps and 400 page text covering practically all excavated sites and the areas where the cultural remains of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization have been found, particularly in India and Pakistan. However, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Mesopotamia, Bahrain and Oman have also been included in this Atlas showing sites with the Indus-Saraswati or Harappan antiquities. The maps covering India and Pakistan have been prepared according to the present-day District boundaries, State boundaries and Country boundaries to help researchers at various levels of their work. The maps show the location of each site according to their latitude and longitude.

The sites are mentioned in the maps by their names so that there is no confusion which sometimes occurs if the sites are mentioned by numbers. This we have done even in the case of Bahawalpur sites in Pakistan where they are in large numbers and located very close to each other.

The sites have been grouped broadly under three groups: the Early Indus-Saraswati, the Mature Indus-Saraswati and the Late Indus-Saraswati. The Early Indus-Saraswati includes Hakra as well Kot Diji-Sothi sites.

The dates are broad brackets for each one of them which are now accepted all over the world since these are based upon calibrated radiocarbon dates. Richard Meadow and J.M. Kenoyer (2003) have used these brackets for the periodisation of Harappa. There are, of course, at least two phases in the Early Indus-Saraswati and three phases in the Mature Indus-Saraswati at Harappa but that is not only a matter of details but also site-specific.

There is also a list of all the sites with their longitudes and latitudes. Gregory Possehl had listed them in his book The Indus Age. However, in quite a few of them the coordinates had to be corrected. . We have used GPS, an instrument which was not available to the old field-workers for recording exact coordinates; Survey of India maps alone were available to them. For mapping and plotting we have used a software named Geo-Media Prof. 4 for greater accuracy than that we get when manually produced.

The geo-physical maps are primarily based upon satellite imageries and field-work put together and published in recent years. The rivers, the mountains, the deserts, the seas, etc. are also based upon satellite imagery as adopted by the internationally recognised atlas published by Oxford.

The Atlas also includes the West Asian sites the coordinates of many of which are not available to us. Moreover, the political situation in Iraq, Kuwait, etc. is presently in turmoil to make attempts to obtain data required by us. We had, therefore, to depend on the old available data.

The Atlas of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization is, however, much more than mere site-distribution maps since the underlying concept was cultural. It is a cultural atlas. It embodies the data on the material remains unearthed at the excavated sites. The remains include major architectural remains such as the Great Bath at Mohanjodaro as well as the movable antiquities such as the seals and sealings. There are also the animal bones, human remains, burials, botanical remains, etc. which find place in the Atlas.

The data on each cultural item from excavated sites have been tabulated along with the references of publications where they appeared. This method has been adopted to present the mass of data in a restricted space with quick and exact referencing. This, it is hoped, will help the researchers in locating his material in practically no time.

There are a few subjects which are basic to our understanding of the dynamics of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization. For example, the rationale behind the changed nomenclature—from the Indus Valley Civilization to the Indus-Saraswati Civilization.

India is a country where Traditions are still continuing to be practised and where literary traditions go back in time to thousands of years. The Rigveda is still considered to be the oldest literary text available to us even though it is not easy to date it exactly. We all are aware of the fact that all ancient texts, including epics, could not be totally based up imagination. With this premise the Holyland Archaeology had started and new light was thrown on the problems of correlating literature and archaeology. Some success was always achieved though not complete success. Hence, the flow of the Saraswati and the question of drying up of the Saraswati plus the archaeology of the Harappan Civilization can not be completely brushed aside even though we can never be sure about many inferences drawn by scholars unless the script is deciphered and the language is identified.

There are many other aspects and dimensions of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization, including metals, metallurgy, technology, urban planning, water management, etc. which are covered in the Atlas of the Indus-Saraswati Civilization to make it as much comprehensive as possible but without making it another mega volume.

---- S.P. Gupta