copper and bronze tools.
Nature of the Mature Phase As regards the character of the Harappan
civilisation itself, scholars have overemphasised a few aspects with a
surprising neglect of others. For instance, there are dozens of claims to the
decipherment of the script, though most of them are based on unscientific
methods. But not even one detailed analysis is available of the distribution
and possible ways of utilisation of the seals and sealings. Further, scholars
have not yet properly explained what they mean when they refer to a site as
Mature Harappan. There is a whole range of artefact types which they assume
to be ‘typical’: a particular kind of pottery, a limited range of metal tools,
bricks of a particular size and proportions, cart and wheel models, terracotta
cakes, chert weights, long chert blades, a distinctive form of seal with script,
and so on. But this entire list does not occur at all the excavated Harappan
sites, and there are other traits at some sites. Little progress will be made in
interpretation unless it is worked out which are the core elements that occur
with higher frequencies across the sites, or attempts are made to explain the
restricted distribution of seals and weights at only some sites.
Problems of Decline A crucial dimension of the Harappan decline was the
large-scale desertion of settlements. That is why numerous attempts made to
explain the decline are in literal terms, floods, lowered sea levels,
deforestation, tectonic movements, increasing aridity, invasions by Aryans,
and so on. The Egyptian civilisation withstood repeated and severe
fluctuations in the course of the Nile and its floods; the Mesopotamian
civilisation thrived for long despite severe salinity problems, causing a
decline in agricultural productivity in the south; and Egypt and Mesopotamia
faced repeated invasions by foreigners—all these have not deterred us in our
insistence on these holocaust-level explanations. But, so far, no explanation
has dealt with political or economic causes, simply because the political and
economic organisation of the Harappans has not been studied properly.
Different Theories about