‘Ancient civilisations knew how to adapt to seasonal changes’

Early civilisations in both India and China were aware of seasonal change and understood and utilised the landscape around them accordingly, geo-archaeologists conducting research in the two countries said here on Monday.

Delivering a lecture on human-environment adaptation at Alamgirpur, a prehistoric site in western Uttar Pradesh, and at archaeological sites on the banks of Yellow River in China, two young geo-archaeologists said there was evidence of pre-historic civilisations adapting to floods, dry spells as well as monsoons.

Sayantani Neogi, post-doctoral research associate at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, said all the pre-historic sites around Alamgirpur, considered the eastern-most limit of the Harappan civilisation, were located on the floodplains of an erstwhile tributary of the Yamuna.

‘Located on levees’

“Sediment analysis gave us the clue that these sites were located on levees (geographical term used to describe natural embankment of rivers). They [prehistoric people] were clever enough to settle their site on a levee so that they received the benefits of flood from the river. At the same time, the site itself could not be affected by the floods,” Ms. Neogi said during the lecture at the Indian Museum.

Delivering the lecture along with Yijie Zhuang, lecturer at Chinese Archaeology, Institute of Archaeology, University College, Ms. Neogi said geo-archaeological investigation of the soil from the site shows the occurrence of a dry phase and a wet one, revealing the presence of monsoons. Laying out case studies from China, Yijie Zhuang referred to the presence of pre-hydraulic engineering used in construction of dams as revealed in recent excavations.

Protection from floods

Referring to the archaeological sites along the Yellow River, Yijie Zhuang said from the Bronze Age, people had made attempts to protect themselves from floods. “When floods came, people retreated and when the floods receded, people came by,” he said, adding that the “geo-archaeology contributes to a revised understanding of human adaptation”.

The experts said though geo-archaeology is used in the West for archaeological research, it is a relatively new field of study in Asia.

The early cultures utilised landscapes to protect themselves, say two young