Intensified summer monsoon and the urbanization of Indus Civilization in northwest India

Dixit, Yama and Hodell, David A. and Giesche, Alena and Tandon, Sampat K. and Gázquez, Fernando and Saini, Hari S. and Skinner, Luke C. and Mujtaba, Syed A. I. and Pawar, Vikas and Singh, Ravindra N. and Petrie, Cameron A. (2018) Intensified summer monsoon and the urbanization of Indus Civilization in northwest India. Scientific Reports, 8 (1). ISSN 2045-2322 DOI https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22504-5

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Official URL: http://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22504-5

Abstract

Today the desert margins of northwest India are dry and unable to support large populations, but were densely occupied by the populations of the Indus Civilization during the middle to late Holocene. The hydroclimatic conditions under which Indus urbanization took place, which was marked by a period of expanded settlement into the Thar Desert margins, remains poorly understood. We measured the isotopic values (δ18O and δD) of gypsum hydration water in paleolake Karsandi sediments in northern Rajasthan to infer past changes in lake hydrology, which is sensitive to changing amounts of precipitation and evaporation. Our record reveals that relatively wet conditions prevailed at the northern edge of Rajasthan from ~5.1 ± 0.2 ka BP, during the beginning of the agricultural-based Early Harappan phase of the Indus Civilization. Monsoon rainfall intensified further between 5.0 and 4.4 ka BP, during the period when Indus urban centres developed in the western Thar Desert margin and on the plains of Haryana to its north. Drier conditions set in sometime after 4.4 ka BP, and by ~3.9 ka BP an eastward shift of populations had occurred. Our findings provide evidence that climate change was associated with both the expansion and contraction of Indus urbanism along the desert margin in northwest India.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2018AREP; IA74
Subjects: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
Divisions: 01 - Climate Change and Earth-Ocean Atmosphere Systems
07 - Gold Open Access
Journal or Publication Title: Scientific Reports
Volume: 8
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-22504-5
Depositing User: Sarah Humbert
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2018 11:03
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2018 11:03
URI: http://eprints.esc.cam.ac.uk/id/eprint/4126

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