Counter-intuitive influence of Himalayan river morphodynamics on Indus Civilisation urban settlements

Ajit Singh, Kristina Jørkov Thomsen, Rajiv Sinha, Jan-Pieter Buylaert, Andrew Carter, Darren F. Mark, Philippa J. Mason, Alexander L. Densmore, Andrew Sean Murray, Mayank Jain, Debajyoti Paul, Sanjeev Gupta

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    432 Downloads (Pure)

    Abstract

    Urbanism in the Bronze-age Indus Civilisation (similar to 4.6-3.9 thousand years before the present, ka) has been linked to water resources provided by large Himalayan river systems, although the largest concentrations of urban-scale Indus settlements are located far from extant Himalayan rivers. Here we analyse the sedimentary architecture, chronology and provenance of a major palaeochannel associated with many of these settlements. We show that the palaeochannel is a former course of the Sutlej River, the third largest of the present-day Himalayan rivers. Using optically stimulated luminescence dating of sand grains, we demonstrate that flow of the Sutlej in this course terminated considerably earlier than Indus occupation, with diversion to its present course complete shortly after similar to 8 ka. Indus urban settlements thus developed along an abandoned river valley rather than an active Himalayan river. Confinement of the Sutlej to its present incised course after similar to 8 ka likely reduced its propensity to re-route frequently thus enabling long-term stability for Indus settlements sited along the relict palaeochannel.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1617
    JournalNature Communications
    Volume8
    Issue number1
    Number of pages14
    ISSN2041-1723
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

    Bibliographical note

    Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

    Keywords

    • CLIMATE-CHANGE

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Counter-intuitive influence of Himalayan river morphodynamics on Indus Civilisation urban settlements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this