Explain the various Theories Regarding the Origin and Decline of the Harappan Civilization.
There are several theories as to the origin of the Indus Valley civilization. The earliest hypothesis was that it was an early form of a Vedic and early Sanskrit civilization which would come to dominate most of South Asia, which was presumed to have been characterized by influence from Indo-European migrations.
However, this theory began to be rejected when no signs of the traditional culture associated with the Vedas was uncovered in that of the Indus Valley. The next theory put forward was that the civilization, was of proto-Dravidian origin. This theory was first proposed by researchers from Russia and Finland who attempted to show that Indus valley symbols could be derived from the Dravidian language group. Today, the Dravidian language family is concentrated mostly in southern India and northern Sri Lanka, but pockets of it still remain throughout the rest of India and Pakistan (the Brahui language), which lends credence to the theory.
Finnish Iridologist Asko Parpola concludes that the uniformity of the Indus inscriptions precludes any possibility of widely different languages being used, and that an early form of Dravidian language must have been the language of the Indus people.
However, the proto-Dravidian origin theory is far from being confirmed due to an emphasis on linguistic connection while evidence of a broader cultural connection remains to be found. Around 1800 BCE, signs of a gradual decline began to emerge, and by around 1700 BCE, most of the cities were abandoned. However, the Indus Valley Civilization did not disappear suddenly, and many element of the Indus Civilization can be found in later cultures. Current archaeological data suggests that material culture classified as Late Harappan may have persisted until at least c. 1000-900 BCE and was partially contemporaneous with the Painted Grey Ware culture.
Archaeologists have emphasized that, just as in most areas of the world, there was a continuous series of cultural developments. These link the so-called two major phases of urbanization in South Asia.
A possible natural reason for the IVC’s decline is connected with climate change that is also signaled for the neighboring areas of the Middle East: The Indus valley climate grew significantly cooler and drier from about 1800 BCE, linked to a general weakening of the monsoon at that time. Alternatively, a crucial factor may have been the disappearance of substantial portions of the Ghaggar Hakra river system. A tectonic event may have diverted the system’s sources toward the Ganges Plain, though there is complete uncertainty about the date of this event as most settlements inside Ghaggar-Hakra river beds have not yet been dated.
Although this particular factor is speculative, and not generally accepted, the decline of the IVC, as with any other civilization, will have been due to a combination of various reasons. New geological research is now being conducted by a group led by Peter Clift, from the University of Aberdeen, to investigate how the courses of rivers have changed in this region since 8000 years ago in order to test whether climate or river reorganizations are responsible for the decline of the Harappan.