The Indus Civilization was one of the most important Bronze Age civilizations. It was comparable in its achievements to the Egyptians and it is often claimed that it was very influential in the development of later societies in the Indian subcontinent. However, the reason why this ancient civilization fell is one of the ancient world’s biggest mysteries. Research on historical monsoon patterns may have solved this puzzle. It now appears that climate change was responsible for the decline and fall of the Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan culture.
Dr. Nishant Malik, from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York state, developed a mathematical model. He wrote in the journal Chaos that he and his colleagues developed a ‘hybrid framework appropriate for identifying distinct dynamical regimes and transitions in a paleoclimate time series’. Three different statistical methods were used to understand the climate in ancient times and in particular the level of monsoon rainfall. Sky News reports that Dr. Malik’s ‘ model applied dynamical systems theory to paleoclimate data - for instance, data on rainfall based on the presence of a particular isotope in stalagmites in a cave.’
When the Monsoon Pattern Changed the Ancient Civilization Fell
The model found that around 5,200 years ago a warm period known as the Holocene Climate Optimum ended. This meant that glaciers expanded and cast more sunlight back into space and this cooled the planet. As a result, the differences in temperature between the land masses and the oceans increased and this was critical in the formation of monsoons. The end of the Holocene Climate Optimum meant that the level of monsoon rainfall increased.
The Indus Valley Civilization was dependent on the monsoons, just as succeeding cultures in South Asia were. Dr. Nishant Malik is quoted by the Daily Mail as saying “The region where Indus Valley Civilization bloomed is semiarid, bestowed with several glacier-fed rivers, for example, the Indus river and many of its tributaries.” The people of the Harappan culture often built their settlements and urban centers along the Ghaggar–Hakra river, which is dependent on the monsoons. Dr. Malik explained, “Hence, the Indus Valley Civilization was critically dependent on monsoon driven rainfall, a highly dynamic phenomenon.”
Link to original article titled "Climate Change, Not Aryan Invaders, Caused Dramatic Fall of Indus Valley Civilization."
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