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12 October 2014
Ancient Harappan reservoir dwarfs that of Mohenjo Daro

A 5,000-year-old stepwell has been found in one of the largest Harappan cities - Dholavira, near the Arabian Sea, in what is now western India. Rectangular, 73.4 metres long, 29.3 metres wide, and 10 metres deep, it is the largest, grandest, and best furnished ancient reservoir discovered so far in the country.
     "This is almost three times bigger than the Great Bath of Mohenjo Daro that's 12 metres in length, 7 metres in width, and 2.4 metres in depth," said superintending archaeologist VN Prabhakar. "We will conduct spot analysis in December as various surveys have indicated other reservoirs and stepwells may be buried in Dholavira," Prabhakar continues. "We also suspect a huge lake and an ancient shoreline are buried in the archaeological site that's one of the five largest Harappan sites and the most prominent archaeological site in India belonging to the Indus Valley civilisation."
     Experts will use 3D laser scanning, remote sensing technology, and ground-penetrating radar to investigate the advanced hydraulic engineering used by Harappans for building the stepwell. "We will study how water flowed into the well and what was the idea behind water conservation," says Prabhakar. The team will also excavate various tanks, stoneware, finely furnished brick blocks, sanitation chambers and semi-precious stones hidden at the site.
     Precious stones like carnelian were in great demand during the Harappan era. Gujarat was the hub of bead and craft manufacturing industries. "Agate carnelian beads were also coveted," Prabhakar says.
     Other scientists are studying the various forms of pottery unearthed from the site to identify the diet followed by Harappans. "Through pottery typology, we'll find out whether different communities lived in Dholavira," Rai said. The team will also analyse precious copper and bronze artefacts.

Edited from The Times of India (8 October 2014)

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