Burger
Journalpaper

Bricks and urbanism in the Indus Valley rise and decline

Abstract

The Indus Civilization, often denoted by its major city Harappa, spanned almost two millennia from 3200 to 1300 BC. Its tradition reaches back to 7000 BC: a 5000 year long expansion of villages and towns, of trading activity, and of technological advancements culminates between 2600 and 1900 BC in the build-up of large cities, writing, and political authority; it emerges as one of the first great civilizations in history. During the ensuing 600 years, however, key technologies fall out of use, urban centers are depopulated, and people emigrate from former core settlement areas. Although many different hypotheses have been put forward to explain this deurbanization, a conclusive causal chain has not yet been established. We here combine literature estimates on brick typology, and on urban area for individual cities. In the context of the existing extensive data on Harappan artifact find sites and put in their chronological context, the combined narratives told by bricks, cities, and spatial extent can provide a new point of departure for discussing the possible reasons for the mysterious "decline".
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