History Optional Paper-1 Solution– 1993: Q.1 (a)
Q.1 (a) Write a short essay on: “The burial customs in the Indus Civilization.”
Harappan cemeteries have been located at sites such as Harappa, Kalibangan, Lothal, Rakhigarhi, Surkotada etc.
The most common method of burial was to place the body of the deceased in an extended position, with the head towards the north, in a simple pit or brick chamber.
Grave goods include food, pottery, tools, and ornaments but they were never too many or lavish. Clearly, the Harappans preferred to use wealth in life rather than bury it with their dead.
Normally, no coffin, structurally or orherwise was used but at Harappa, archaeologists found a woman’s body in a wooden coffin lined with reed mats.
At Kalibangan, symbolic burials with grave goods but no skeletons were found.
Fractional burials (where the body was exposed to the elements and the bones then gathered and buried) were found at Mohenjodaro and Harappa.
Mohenjodaro and Harappa also gave evidence of urn burials which point towards the existence of practice of cremation.
Multiple burials of men and women were discovered at Lothal. A unique funerary rite involving the simultaneous burial of two persons in the same grave-pit was observed at Lothal.
At Ropar cemetery, the body was laid in the grave with head to the north-west normally but in one case, the orientation was north-south.
Interestingly Harappan burials show little evidence of social hierarchies, unlike Mesopotamian or Egyptian where some interments may indicate considerable wealth.