History Optional Paper- 1 Solution – 2014: Q.3 (b)

History Optional Paper- 1 Solution – 2014: Q.3 (b)

Q.3 (b) Do you think the Harappan civilization had a diversity of subsistence base? 


The Harappan civilisation covered an enormous area  and the diversity of the subsistence base was an important sustaining factor- if one food resource failed, people could turn to others.

Diversity of the subsistence base

(1) Agriculture

It was the mainstay of the subsistence base. Given the area covered by the civilization, there were regional variations in the plants grown by the farmers. The crop remains identified include rice, wheat, barley, sesame, watermelon seeds, peas, dates, millets, horse gram, green gram, etc. In addition to these, there were also evidences of grapes, cotton and henna.

(2) Animal husbandry 

Harappan sites have yielded remains of domesticated animals such as humped and humpless cattle, buffalo, sheep, and goat. Cattle and buffaloes were the most domesticated animals. They were used for meat, milk and draught animals. Goats and sheep were used for meat, wool, milk and as pack animals. Dog figurines suggest the domestication of this animal.


Bones of wild animals have been found at the Harappan sites. These include many varieties of deer, pig, boar, sheep, goat, ass and pig. Rhinoceros bones occur only at Amri and elephant and camel  bones occur only in small quantities.
The animals like rhinoceros, elephant, tiger, rabbits, peacocks, pigeons, ducks, monkeys etc  appear on seals, represented in figurines and paintings on pottery.

(4)Fishing and exploitation of riverine and marine resources

Bones of tortoise and fish have also been found. The discovery of marine catfish bones at Harappa suggests that coastal communities traded in dried fish in inland cities. At coastal sites in Gujarat, molluscs provided an important protein-rich element in people’s diet.

Therefore it can be concluded that the agriculture, animal husbandry, hunting and fisheries constituted the diverse subsistence base of the Harappan civilization.

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