Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.IX

The religious awe surrounding the champions is hardly surprising considering the strength of mythology in ancient Greece. The physical qualities of the athletes were a diving gift, and the Greeks believed the Zeus helped those who helped themselves- through sound and rigorous training. “Never without effort comes that victory which is the reward of our exploits and the illumination of our life”, sang Pindar.
Statues of the evictors stood in the sanctuary alongside those of the gods. At least 200 such effigies once stood at Olympia. In 430BC, the Athenian Sculptor Phidias created a 15 m gold and ivory statue of Zeus on his throne for the god’s temple. This giant effigy, set with precious stones, became one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

Celebrations in honour of Zeus and his champions continued for several days after the events, which were concluded by a banquet held for the athletes and guests of honor in the Prytaneion, or communal hall. Then the crowd would disperse. Tents and booths were packed up. The spectators, hawkers, and pedlars took to the roads, and peace would settle on the sacred precincts of Olympia.
After the Romans conquered Greece in the middle of the 2nd century BC, the fixed programme of the Games suffered occasional interference. In AD 65 the emperor Nero insisted that music and drama be included among the sporting contests. He entered the chariot race himself – using a team of ten horses. He crashed, but still demanded the olive crown of victory. The following year the emperor committed suicide, and this 211th Olympiad was struck for the records.
But such changes by the Roam overlords were rare. The Games continued until AD 393, when the devout Christian emperor Theodosius I suppressed them as a pagan abomination. Earthquakes in the 6th century AD brought floods which deposited almost 5m of alluvial mud over Olympia.
The site lay relatively undisturbed until major excavations began in 1875. Partly as a result of the excitement at the findings, an enthusiastic French sports man, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, revived the Games as a showpiece for peaceful competition between nations. The 1896 Olympics included competitors from 13 countries. A century later, nearly 200 nations took part, a testimony to the spirit of international cooperation first created in ancient Greece.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.VIII

The last day of the festival was devoted to the proclamation of the winners and the distribution of the prizes. The immediate rewards were purely symbolic but the winners enjoyed immense glory. The crowd remained hushed while the name of a victor was read out, followed by the name of his father and city. He then received a crown of olive leaves, taken from a sacred olive tree which, according to tradition, had been planted by the hero Hercules himself.
 When the ceremony was over, the Olympic champions would walk in a majestic procession, accompanied by the hellanodikai and winning horses, into the Altis- a walled grove of sacred plane trees at the foot of Mount Kronos, said to have been consecrated by Hercules.
Special glory was reserved for periodonikai: competitors who were victorious not only in the Olympics but in the full cycle of Greek athletic festivals. The Pythian Games brought crowns of laurel, the Isthmian Games crowns of pine needles, and the Nemean Games crowns of parsley. These symbolic rewards brought unimaginable prestige.  Champions returning to their home state were given a thunderous reception. Some victors did not enter their native city through the gates; a breach was made in the walls to run their arrival into a glorious spectacle.
 Many victors returned year after year to the Games. Theogenes of Thasos, an unbeatable wrestler, participated in the games for 22 years in the 5th century BC, winning crown after crown.  His reputation survived his death, and he received the ultimate accolade: he was declared a descendant of Hercules. From the beginning of the 4th century BC Theogenes was worshiped as god.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.VII

An Olympic champion named Phaylus threw a discus 29 m; the modern record stands at more than twice that- but today’s discus weighs about 2kg. It also seems that ancient athletes performed only one backward swing of the discus, bending and executing a three quarter turn; modern throwers spin round two and a half times before releasing it.
 When throwing the javelin, it is not clear whether the contestants threw for length or accuracy. The javelin itself was about 2m long. A looped thong, through which the index finger was passed, was attached to the shaft to give the javelin some extra thrust-in the same way that a sling extends the range of a hurled stone.
The long jump seems to have been practiced from a standing start, accompanied by the music of flutes to aid the flow of the movement. The Jumper held stones or Lead weights in each hand and swung them to give greater distance to the leap.

 Away from the epic encounters in the stadium or hippodrome, there was also much to entertain the Olympic crowd. Feasting and carousing lasted long into the night. Peddlers sold wine and honey cakes, trinkets and amulets, and effigies of the deities.  The multitude provided an audience for demagogues, and formal contests were organized for poets and orators. Many came to exploit their talents and look for new disciples.
 The philosopher Plato spoke at Olympia, and Herodotus, the 5th century BC historian, is said to have found fame giving readings of his Histories there. It was at Olympia in 380 BC that Isocrates presented his Panegyrics, proclaiming the need for peace and unity between the Greek people.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.VI

Yet strength undoubtedly told. One of ancient Olympia’s most famous wrestlers, Milo or Croton, won the champion ship five times. He became famous for his exhibition feats, which included ting a cord round his forehead, inhaling deeply, and snapping the cord by the expansion of his veins.  When the aging wrestler finally lost during his sixth attempt on the championship, the crowd invaded the stadium and carried him round to tumultuous applause.
In boxing, the competitors’ hands were bound in leather thongs which left their thumbs free. Boxing matches had no time limits- adversaries fought on until one raised his finger in defeat. They became a test of sheer endurance. If a fight dragged on, the judges might make the boxers lower their guards and swap blows undefended until one gave in or collapsed.
Boxing and wrestling were combined on the most demanding of all the fighting events- the pankration. Every conceivable type of blow was allowed; the only tactics known to have been banned were biting or gouging an opponent’s eyes out. This even was not for the squeamish. The raked ground was sprayed with water, and the bloodied competitors rolled around in the mud, wrenching, punching, and kicking.
 The aim was to force one’s opponent to admit defeat. Killing was frowned upon: death was shameful way to terminate a contest of strength. When a Pankratis called Arrhichion died in a stranglehold while executing a particularly telling grip on his opponent’s toes, it was to the dead man the victory was awarded.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.V

Horse and chariot races took place in the hippodrome, an arena about 2316 ft long to the south of the main stadium. Horse races began to a blast of trumpets, when the retaining rope was withdrawn. The length of the race is not known, but the jockeys rode bare back, with reins but no stirrups. A horse could win a race even if its rider had fallen. Such was the case with a mare named Aura, which threw her rider at the very beginning of the race, but completed the course ahead of all the others. Her Corinthian owner Pheidolas was declared the winner, and the statue of his mare was erected at Olympia.
  The chariot races were dangerous affairs. The charioteer drove his team of four horses later, team of two with a whip. The course covered 12 circuits of the hippodrome- a distance of some 14 Km along a rutted track on unsprung- vehicles a very rough ride.  Accidents were common, and it required incredible skill to negotiate at high speed the tight bends, the crashed chariots, and the bodies of fallen opponents. The field at start might comprise 40 to 50 competitors; on one occasion, according to the poet Pindar, only a single chariot reached the finish.
The wrestling events were contests of considerable skill. The aim was to throw the adversary three times to the ground so that his shoulders came into contact with the earth. As in modern judo, deft balance counted as much as brute strength.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.IV

The first of the five days was given over to ceremony – for the offering of sacrifices and the swearing of the Olympic oath. The main sacrifice was carried out on the altar of Zeus Horkeios, or Zeus of the oaths. Officials, athletes, and their families would assemble in the Bouleuterion, a building erected in the 6th century BC. Here, a wild boar was slaughtered before a statue of the god. Each competitor swore upon its limbs that he would not cheat, had no criminal record, and was entitled to compete under Olympic regulations. Those who broke the oath, or swore it falsely, were fined and banned for life from the Games.
 The starting point of the modern Games is marked by the lighting of the ceremonial flame, brought to the host country from Olympia by a relay of runners. Little is known about the sequence of events in the ancient Games, but a fire ceremony took place at some point in the five day cycle. It took the form of a solemn procession of purple robed hellanodikai entering the stadium to the sound of trumpets, with athletes following behind. The flame was lit on a sacrificial altar.
On the second day of the Olympics, spectators rose with the dawn to grab the best seats for the first events, congregation in groups according to their city of origin.
The main competitions were chariot races, horse races, wrestling boxing, the pankration, foot races, and the pentathlon. In all events except chariot racing, the athletes performed naked- the Greeks revered the human form. There were no team sports. Each athlete appeared as an individual, though victory was a glory shared by his whole city.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.III

As soon as the opening day was announced, would be competitors began training in their home towns. To establish their credentials, they would have to present themselves at Elis one month before the Games to endure a final few weeks of training set exercises carried out under the watchful eyes of the hellanodikai, who wielded their authority by means of the rod.
 Rigorous enquiries were made into each applicant’s family history, and only free men and boys of pure Greek descent were allowed to compete. The rule was waived only when Rome affirmed her supremacy Over the Greek world in the 2nd century BC; Roman citizen were then permitted to enter the Games. Women were not allowed to compete, with the exception of the chariot races, in which the owner of the winning team of horses, rather than the charioteer, was considered the victor. In this event, female owners could and did, win.
While the athletes trained, vast numbers of pilgrims took to the roads, heading for the secluded valley in which the games were held. The peace of Zeus guaranteed their safe conduct.
Many travelled on foot, sleeping under the stars. The wealthy came on horseback or the chariot. Boatloads of visitors disembarked at the mouth of the Alpheus and followed the course of the sacred river up to Olympia’s holy precincts. Acrobats, conjurers, and musicians swelled the throng. Barbarians, slaves, and young girls were admitted as spectators, but married women were excluded they were forbidden to cross the Alpheus for the duration of the Games, which lasted for five days.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.II

Olympic Games for mere mortals were established in 776 BC, in honour of sacred truce made between the warring kings of the city states of Elis and neighbouring Pisa. Foot races were held, and a man from Elis called Coroebus was the victor. Then, and afterwards, the names of the winning contestants were written down for posterity: the records of the Olympics provide the central chronology of ancient Greek history.
The Games expanded over the centuries to include races on horseback and in chariots, jumping and throwing events, and several forms of unarmed combat. By the 5th century BC, the Games had become the supreme festival in ancient Greece, and a fixed programme of competitions had been agreed.
Despite the truce, the control of the Games continued to be a source of friction between Pisa and Elis. By about 700 BC their rivalry become so intense that the Greek states banded together to replace the local truce with a country wide armistice, a tradition observed throughout the 1000 years spanned by those early Olympics. Capital punishment was suspended and legal actions postponed. To fight a war during the Games or in the month leading up to them was sacrilege. Any violation of the truce was firmly punished.
The festival was supervised by the people of Elis, and required much preparation. Months beforehand, ambassadors called spondophoroi were dispatched to the Greek cities and to colonies in Egypt and the Crimea to announce the opening day and judges were chosen by lot from among the citizens of Elis. The judges, the hellanodikai, supervised the athletes’ training and organized the events, as well as judging the results.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Olympia The Site of the Grecian games Part.I

A lush valley on the Peloponnese peninsula provided the backdrop for the Grecian world’s supreme festival: the Olympic Games. The games were held in honour of a battle between two gods, yet they were marked by a nationwide vow of peace.
 Since the four yearly cycle of the modern Olympic began in 1896,it has been disrupted were revived as a forum for peaceful competition among the world’s finest athletes. But the mood of international rivalry surrounding them reflects the tensions that lay behind their origins
Ancient Greece never became unified as a nation; feuding between its city states prevented any lasting political cohesion. And yet, once every four years in the month of July, internal warfare was formally suspended. A scared truce was observed between the states, and for more than 1000 years from 776 BC to AD 393 the games remained the collective expression of a theme central to Greek civilization: the pursuit of excellence.
Today, the ruins of Olympia still stand in testimony to the glory of the ancient festival of sports. They lie in a fertile valley on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece, nestled between two rivers the Alpheus, and its tributary, the Claudius.
Archaeological evidence indicates that Olympia was a place of worship in prehistoric times. Later, it became associated with festivities honouring Zeus, the greatest of Gods. According to legend, Zeus started the tradition of games at Olympia when he wrestled there with his father, fighting for kingship over the gods. Lesser deities then came to the same spot to test their strength. Here Apollo boxed against Ares, the god of war, and ran against Hermes, the messenger. Olympia became a place of divine contest, bounded by rules established by the mighty Hercules.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Did Adam and Eve have navels?

The book Omphalos, by English naturalist Philip Gosse (He is the first creator of Institutional aquarium) appeared in 1857, providing food for thought for biologists and philosophers alike. A staunch opponent of evolution, Gosse was nevertheless aware of the fossil and geological evidence in support of it. To fend off critics, he came up with a answer to the question: Did Adam and Eve have navels?  Since the navel is the vestige of birth- the cutting of the umbilical cord – Adam should have been created without one. But if Adam and Eve was both the model of the human being, they should have had one.
Gosse concluded that Adam and Eve both had navels because they were created as if they had been born from a womb. He even suggested that Adam may have been created with memories of a childhood that never happened so that he would be a normal human being. This speculation raised the possibility that all the physical evidence for the earth’s antiquity found in the ground – fossil remains; geological formation; pre historic habitation sites; and even dinosaur fossils – was created in 4004 BC so that the earth would appear to be millions of year old.
Why such a thorough and elaborate ruse would have been perpetrated by the Creator was never made clear- Gosse attributed it to a test of Faith- and neither was Gosse ever able to respond to the simplest question critics asked: how do we know that the entire universe was not create five minutes ago with all of human history, including the Biblical account of Creation, embedded in our memories as if it really happened?

Human Impact on Earth’s Atmosphere Part.IV

Humans have farmed for thousands of years but in just the last few decades burgeoning populations have called for more agricultural ingenuity than ever before. The breeding of new crop varieties, the use of fertilizers and pesticides and the bringing of more and more land under cultivation have kept production ahead of population growth throughout most of history. Since 1985, however, the limit seems to have been reached and per capita grain production has started to fall. In 1987 world grain reserves were sufficient for 100 days; by1989 there were only enough for 54 days, yet there are 93 million more people to feed every year. There have been hidden costs to the increases in productivity. It is though that about 40,000 people in the developing world die of pesticide poisoning every year. Twenty four billion tones of top soil are lost from crop lands each year, eroded by wind and water. Irrigation is lowering the water table beneath eight states in the Great Plains of America by a meter a year, and the diversion of rivers in the former Russia has reduced the Aral Sea to about a third of the sixe it was 25 years ago. One tenth of the earth’s land surface is currently given over to agriculture but there will have to be yet further changes before food production is sustainable.
 The earth’s atmosphere is now changing more quickly than at any time in the past. In the last 150 years there has been a 25 percent increase in the carbon dioxide and a 100 percent increase in methane in the atmosphere, largely as a result of the burning of fossil fuels’ the expansion of agriculture and rapid deforestation. Over the same period, the world has warmed by an average of 0.5. C, as green house gases trap the Suns heat within the atmosphere. Computer models predict a continued warming of     0.2. C a decade unless steps are taken to limit emissions. The warming would be greater were it not for pollutants such as sulphur dioxide which scatter sunlight back onto space. Other gases- notably CFCs are damaging the tenuous layer of ozone in the stratosphere which screens out ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Steps have been taken to phase out CFCs. Legislation to reduce other green house gases will be harder to implement since the practices that produce them are central to modern life. Many nations have pledged to reduce emissions to their 1990 levels, but stronger measures will be needed if global warming is to be averted.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Human Impact on Earth’s Atmosphere Part.III

The legacy of mining is not only the hole in the ground and the pile of spoil left behind: it can affect air and water over great distances. The Ilo smelter in Peru emits 600,000 tons of Sulphur compounds each year, and cyanide in the waste affects marine life in a 20,000 hectare area. Small scale gold mining by hundreds of thousands of miners in the Amazon basin releases an estimated 100 tons of mercury into the river system each year.
As the world’s population expands past the six billion mark, it becomes more and more unevenly distributed. The great concentrations do not always occur on the most productive land; and people tend to gravitate towards what are often already large cities. In 1950 the largest metropolitan areas were all in the developed world- New York, London, Tokyo and Paris. Now those have been overtaken dramatically by Shanghai, Calcutta, Bombay and Singapore rising rapidly on the list. The developing world’s urban population now larger than the total population of Europe, North America and Japan combined.  Many of the cities have grown beyond the control of planners and include illegal slums that pack millions of people together and concentrate population and disease. An estimated 600 million people in the cities of the developing world lack clean water, sanitation and secure homes. Even if living standards improve, cities seem set to expand putting more land under concrete and producing more fumes from industry and vehicles in congested streets.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Human Impact on Earth’s Atmosphere Part.II

Farming practices result in the release of nitrates and phosphates from fertilizers and animal waste into ground water and rivers, adding to sewage already released into rivers and seas and causing blooms of algae which subsequently deplete the oxygen in water. Although crops absorb carbon dioxide as they grow, they do not store t to the extent that a forest does, and rice cultivation and cattle raising produce another green house gas, Methane. Clearance of natural vegetation releases carbon dioxide into the air and soil minerals into water and increases the likelihood of soil erosion.
Natural systems absorb some, but not all, of the excesses of human activity. Alkaline solid can neutralize acidic gases washed out of the air; forests, grasslands and plankton can absorb carbon dioxide; some waste decomposes and some nutrients are recycled. But few human activities are sustainable in the long term.
The earth is mined for building materials, metals, chemicals and fuels. Powerful machinery, industrial processing and international trade mean that individual deposits are exploited on a scale far beyond local needs. An estimated23 billion tones of nonfuel minerals are extracted each year, about twice the amount of sediment carried each year by the world’s river systems. As the most concentrated ore deposits become exhausted, lower grade ores are used, such that to produce an estimated nine million tons of copper in 1990,990 million tons of ore had to be mined. The open cast Bingham Canyon copper mine in Utah, USA, 2500 ft deep, is the largest human excavation in the world.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Human Impact on Earth’s Atmosphere Part.I

Humans have in habited the Earth for only a fraction of its history, yet they have changed the face of the planet. Their impact is obvious to the eye, even from space: city lights and gas flares by night, sprawling urban areas and the unnaturally straight lines of intensive agriculture by day. With other sensors, vast tract of pollutions are obvious on land, in water and in the atmosphere. Mapped over just a few decades, the destruction of forests, the spread of deserts, the reduction in stratospheric ozone and the increase in green house gases are dramatic. All are the result of human activity. In the past, the Earth has displayed a remarkable resilience, globally if not locally: today, an exploding population that demands ever increasing affluence may be pushing the limits of the Earth’s resources and its ability to process waste materials.
At almost every stage the complex natural cycles between land, sea and atmosphere can be influenced, augmented or upset by human activity. Most emission follows the hydrological cycle. They can wash into ground water and rivers, dissolve in water vapour in clouds and fall again to Earth in rain.
Mining and Industry can release toxic metals and other wastes into ground water, and they release metals into the atmosphere as fine particles. They produce acidic gases, such as Sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, and green house gases, notably carbon dioxide. Human activities, using fossil fuels, notably power generation and transport, are the biggest net emitters of greenhouse gases since they extract the carbon from non renewable sources.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How brain interpret the colours emotions and images

The Swiss psychiatrist Herman Rorschach used ink blots to assess the mental state of his patients. In 1921, he developed the famous ink blot test which was named after him. Today, psychologists still use the Rorschach test to uncover hidden emotions and experiences. The underlying principle of the test is easy to grasp; the viewer looks at random ink blots and describes what he or she sees but only after the person who is carrying out the test has told the patient that there is no such thing as a right or wrong interpretation.
The patients personal interpretation of the ink blots reveals a great deal about his or her psyche for example, a particular blot looks like a ravenous monster in the imagination of the observer, then such an interpretation can point to hidden fears that may be lurking deep in the psyche.

  The Thematic Apperception Test uses different images to the Rorschach test. In this case, the patient is presented with pictures of ambiguous scenes, which he or she uses to make up a story. Thus, a person who appears neutral in the picture can be used to make a sad or a funny story. Form this, the therapist reads the emotional condition of the patient and gets clues regarding deeper problems. Critics of these so called projective tests argue that psychologists strongly influence their patients in their interpretations of the test results. In fact, it is a psychologist’s skill and experience that plays the decisive role in discussions with a patient. Respectable therapists never rely completely on the results of tests such as the TAT or Rorschach.

  Every time we go to the cinema, our senses are deceived. When Hero knocks a villain down with a well placed blow, the magic of technology is much faster than our perception. In the cinema, moving pictures are created by the projection of a sequence of individual images, known as frames about 25 frames per second. Our eyes are lazy, though, for they cannot register the short breaks between the individual frames of a film.
 The spectacular neon advertising signs of casinos in Las Vegas or the grand circus deceive our grey cells in a similar manner. Clever programming ensures that, at night, the neon signs light up in certain sequences, thus conveying the illusion that the lights are moving. Sometimes the objects appear to be moving when they are in fact at rest. For example if you are waiting at a red signal in the traffic, suddenly you get a fright, as your car appears to be moving backwards. You step on the brake pedal, but nothing happens. Then you see that, in fact, the car next to you has simply moved forward because of the traffic light turned green.

Friday, June 11, 2010

An Evolving Atmosphere

The first atmosphere of the Earth was very different from that of today. There was no free oxygen but high levels of carbon dioxide produced by continual volcanic eruptions. This provided the original green house effect, allowing the earth to be warmed by the trapped rays of Sun. By 1800 million years ago oxygen began to be produced by algae photosynthesizing, and first appeared in the atmosphere. The amount of oxygen continued to increase but was still probably only two thirds of the present level when the first animals appeared 670 million years ago.  Only after the Ozone layer formed did it become safe for animals to leave the sea and respiration became mainly aerobic.
During the Mesozoic era there may have more oxygen than today as a result of algal blooms. It cannot have been more than about 24 percent or forest fires would have raged out of control. One theory suggests that dinosaurs achieved their large size thanks to abundant oxygen and became extinct when the levels fell. The other side of the story of increasing oxygen has been one of decreasing carbon dioxide. As the Sun warmed, life kept pace with it by consuming the green house gases and converting carbon dioxide into thick deposits of limestone, chalk and fossil fuels. Now humans are burning those fuels, releasing the carbon dioxide back in to the air. And the forests that recycle it back into oxygen and organic matter are being felled, so the green house effect is increasing. Various predictions suggest that average global temperatures could rise by several degrees as a result.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

HARAPPA, A Dravidian civilization Part.VI

By 1600BC the great cities of the Indus valley had been abandoned. Quite why the people left is uncertain. Perhaps repeated flooding or shifts in the river beds destroyed the harvests and wrecked the once buoyant economy. The gradual drying up of the great Saraswati River caused a serious decline in agricultural productivity. There is also evidence of malaria and probably cholera, which must have taken their toll. The arts of city life, such as writing, disappeared. Although some regions continued to prosper, notably Gujarat in the south west, many areas saw a decline in their population.
Eventually, indo-Europeans from central Asia invaded the valley and settled among the existing population. Many farmers and pastoralists moved into adjacent regions in the south and east, and, slowly, sand silt buried the ruins of the cities. But the Indus culture did not die.
Although the Indo Aryan languages of the new settlers from the west eventually prevailed, the indigenous Dravidian languages had a strong influence on their vocabulary grammar and pronunciation. The Hindu religion that crystallized in the 1st millennium BC combined elements introduced by the Indo Aryans with the earlier beliefs of the inhabitants of Indus Valley settlements such as Harappa. Today, many features of modern Indian life have their roots in the Indus civilization- the first great flowering of culture in the subcontinent.

HARAPPA, A Dravidian civilization Part.V

The prosperity of the Indus merchants was based not on military superiority all the evidence shows that they were peaceful people – but on intellectual sophistication. The cities used a written language for example. Excavators have discovered numerous square seals, mainly of soap stone, engraved with animals and other symbols. The seals were used as signatures, stamped onto bales of merchandise to identify the owners or issuing authority. Most scholars believe that the symbols derive from an early Dravidian language, from the same family as Tamil and other languages of southern India.
The keenly observed animals pictured on the seals offer the most impressive surviving examples of the Indus people’s artistic skills. The most common motif is a one horned antelope. It is shown in profile and could represent a two horned creature with one horn hidden. More probably, it represented a unicorn terracotta figures of this mythological creature have been found. Some seals show a grotesque animal with a man’s head, a bull’s horns, an elephant’s trunk, a ram’s forequarters, and tiger’s hind legs.
One bizarre image has fascinated archaeologists; a man seated in a yogic position, wearing horned headgear, he has been identified as a prototype of the god Shiva, a deity known as the Destroyer but also a lord of fertility. The goddesses that feature on some seals closely resemble the forms take by Shiva’s consort- variously known as kali, Parvathi or Durga.
The Indus cities also used standardized weights and measures. The basic unit of weight was equivalent to just under 14 grams; linear measurements were based on a ‘cubit’ of about 53 cm, from the length of a man’s forearm. Archaeologists found a bronze ruler at Harappa marked with cubits.

HARAPPA, A Dravidian civilization Part.IV

Nothing is known for certain about the social system of Harappa and the other Indus cities. A class of priestly rulers probably governed the communities.  Peasant farmers, fishermen, and nomadic pastoralists were the backbone of society. Artisans such as carpenters, metal workers, potters and workers of gemstones would have occupied the next level up in the social order. Craftsmen shaped tools from stone, copper or bronze- iron was unknown; bowls and jars were created mainly from clay or wood. Other crafts, notably spinning and weaving, would have been practiced in every household.
 Rich merchants may have comprised an elite class above the artisans, trading with the other cities of the Indus Valley and, according to ancient texts from Mesopotamia, with places as far away as Sumer in modern Iraq. Indus merchants established trading communities in Sumerian towns, and Indus ivory, gold, carnelian, and agate beads, timber, and other goods had an important place in Sumerians’ import business; in return they may have exported fine textiles, perfumed oils, and other perishable of which no traces  survives.
 The Indus people also traded with neighbouring hunter gatherers and the fishing communities of Gujarat and the Aravalli hills, south of the river valleys- regions that supplied ivory, carnelian, agate, copper, tin, and many other raw materials. Goods were carried between settlements in ox carts with solid wheels; for longer journeys, the merchants used pack animals or river craft resembling today’s Indus house boat.
 The towns of the Iranian plateau to the west and Tukmenia to the North West had long been trading partners of the Indus people and their ancestors. This trade took a new turn when the Indus authorities established au out post at Shortugai, far to the north, to control the supply of lapis lazuli- the most valued commodity in west Asia, which at that time came only from Badakshan in Turkmenia that is in present day Afghanistan.

HARAPPA, A Dravidian civilization Part.III

The most astonishing aspect of all Indus cities was their advanced system of town planning. Within the thick outer walls- probably a defense against flooding-large blocks of houses were separated by a grid of broad roads. Houses were terraced; they varied in size, but were all designed around an inner courtyard, usually with a staircase leading to an upper floor. Much of the daily life of the citizens took place in the courtyard, as it does in Indian homes today.
  The people were fastidious about personal hygiene. The houses contained bathrooms, and often brick lavatories, which were connected t a system of drains which followed the routes of the streets, punctuated by the manholes, gutters, and wells. The houses contain slight traces of elaborate woodwork, and the plastered walls and floors may have been painted or covered with mats and hangings. Finds of jewellery, vivacious figurines, and lively painted pottery show that the Indus people did not lack artistic imagination or colour in their daily lives. But there seems to have been little room for more permanent secular or even religious art, only sparse evidence of which has survived.
Apart from a few elaborate sculptures, no large statues have been discovered in the region only a vast quantity of clay figurines. Some figurines represent naked, bearded men, but most of them are well rounded female forms, full breasted and wide hipped- probably images of the great mother goddess who was worshiped in various guises throughout the Middle East at the time. Their bodies are adorned with heavy necklaces and fantastic bulging headgear in which lamps could sometimes be mounted. Other figurines include a large number of toys such as ox drawn carts. Some of these models may have been intended as religious offerings rather than as mere playthings.
The climate in Harappa was probably as hot and dry then as it today, and the crops- with the exception of rice and millet, which were not cultivated until around 2000BC, the bounty of the Indus was matched or exceeded by another river system running parallel to it to the south- the ‘lost Saraswati ‘which survives today only in the form of minor rivers such as the Hakra. The area watered by this mighty river was probably the breadbasket of civilization.
 The Indus people certainly ate fish from the rivers and hunted big game- wild ox, elephant, tiger, and rhinoceros- which was more plentiful then than now. Some farmers kept chickens, cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goats; others specialized in herding animals, driving them between seasonal pastures.

HARAPPA, A Dravidian civilization Part.II

Harappa’s most prominent feature was its citadel, built on an artificial hill to the west. Its outline remains, enclosing an area of about 396meter by 198 meter. Indus citadels contained ritual structures and public buildings, but no palaces. The Mohenjo-Daro citadel  housed a structure now known as the Great bath’- a rectangular pool of 12m long and 7m wide and 2.4m deep which may have hosted immersion ceremonies- an intriguing precedent for the bathing rituals of later Hinduism
At the foot of the citadel in Harappa were workshops and brick paved floors, some of which may have been used for husking grain. North of these is a structure once identified as a granary, now thought to have been a large public building. In the small Indus town of Lothal, near the western coast in Gujarat, the citadel held a large warehouse containing clay seals which bore the imprint of the cloth packaging to which they had been fastened.
Spacious residential quarters stretched out beneath the Harappan citadel. Recent surveys have revealed the staggering size of the Indus cities, much of which lay hidden beneath deep layers of alluvium; Harappa covers more than 370 acres; Mohenjo-Daro sprawls across 618 acres.
South of the citadel at Harappa lay the Cemetery. The graves of the Indus valley people were built on the same generous scale as their cities. The average size was 3.3m by 1.2m, though some were as large as 4.5mby 3 m. recent work at Harappa has now revealed new information about burial practices. The dead lay on their back or sides, their heads towards the north, and were sometimes wrapped in a textile shroud. Objects buried with the bodies included copper rings, stone and shell necklaces, and mirrors of polished copper. Pots were the main offering usually filled with food and drink; frequently, they were placed in the grave first and covered with soil, and the coffin was placed on top of them.

HARAPPA, A Dravidian civilization Part.I


    Harappa is an advanced planning on a vast scale. More than 4,000 years ago, a merchant people built great cities of brick at Harappa and elsewhere in a valley of what is now Pakistan. They developed a written language that remains an enigma, and left an indelible mark on Indian culture.
In 1856 two British engineers the brothers john and Robert Brunton, where contracted to build a railway link between Lahore and Multan in what is now in Pakistan. They were immediately faced with a problem. The alluvial soil of the Indus Valley through which the proposed railway was to run was rich landscape for cultivation crops, but almost completely lacking in stone to act as ballast for the railway tracks. The Bruntons solved this problem in a way that must have impressed their employers, but which created an archaeological disaster. Near the village of Harappa in the north, they had discovered huge deposits of ancient, baked mud bricks. These would make perfect ballast for their building project, the Bruntons decided, and they laid 160 kilometers of track on the ancient bricks.
After the brothers plunder, Britain’s then director general of archaeology in India, Sir Alexander Cunningham, carried out a small excavation at Harappa. He concluded that little was left, but he did publish details of an inscribed seal found earlier at the site which bore a picture of a bull and sic strange symbols. More than half a century elapsed before this enigmatic clue to India’s early history was pursued.

In 1921, under a newly appointed director general, Sir John Marshall, detailed excavations began at Harappa. Marshall’s team uncovered the scant remains of a large city- a find that turned out to be the first of a series of epoch making discoveries proving the existence of a hitherto unknown culture, the Indus Valley civilization, which flourished more than 2000 years before the birth of Christ.
A year later, excavations began on a second city near the railway at Mohenjo-daro, the ‘Hill of the Dead’, and 640 km to the south. The discoveries here shed light on the mysteries of Harappa. Further investigations uncovered the remains of smaller settlement over the vast area, from present day Karachi to the mouth of the Narmada River, and eastwards as far as modern Delhi.
The earliest settlers in the Indus valley arrived in the 4th millennium BC. Between 2700 and 2600 BC, uniformly planned towns and cities emerged and the entire Indus region became culturally unified. The massive city walls of Harappa were constructed during this time of transformation. Since the discovery of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, other ancient Indus cities have been found, such as Dholavira in Gujarat and Ganweriwala in Cholistan, giving archaeologists further insight onto the urban lifestyle of the Indus civilization.