Subsistence based on animals in the Harappan culture of Gujarat, India


en Anthropozoologica 25-26 - Pages 767-776

Published on 01 June 1998

This article is a part of the thematic issue Proceedings of the 7th ICAZ International Meeting, Constance, September 1994

Based on the composition of animals identified at a couple of Harappan sites excavated recently in Gujarat and also considering the earlier faunal studies of other Harappan sites, here is an attempt to build up a hypothesis for the Harappan subsistence pattern. However, an ambiguity is unavoidable due to the comparison of earlier studies with the recent ones, pertaining to species, stratigraphy and quantification. Faunal assemblage from Shikarpur and Kuntasi has brought to light interesting perspective on ancient subsistence based on animals and to a certain extent the environment of the region during Harappan times. ln spite of the limited nature of some of the excavations, an astounding number of animal species are reported and a majority of them have contributed to the food economy of the people. The bones of rhinoceros, wild biiffalo and probably the wild cattle suggest that conditions were more congenial for animal life, particularly for large herbivores, during the protohistoric period in Gujarat. The wild cattle reportedly missing from the Holocene period of India may have existed somewhere in this region. Representation of horse in the Harappan context possibly indicates that some of these sites were industrial and or trade centers. The faunal assemblage reveals a wide spectrum of animal exploitation from terrestrial to aquatic fauna. The evidence suggests the possible existence of husbandry practices related to the functional aspect of the site. The preponderance of cattle and their utilization for various purposes; sheep, goat and pig husbandry purely for meat; horse and ass as beasts of burden; dog as watch animal and the exploitation of other aquatic, avian and terrestrial resources for food and industrial purposes, point to the planned economic strategy of the Harappans in Gujarat.


Gujarat, Harappan, fauna, animal husbandry, subsistence, environment

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