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IN THE EARLIEST CITIES
Saving an old building
Jaspal and Harpreet were playing cricket in the lane outside their home when they noticed the people who were admiring the dilapidated old building that the children called the haunted house. “Look at the architecture!” said one of the men. “Have you seen the fine wood carving?” asked one of the women. “We must write to the Minister so that she makes arrangements to repair and preserve this beautiful house.” Why, they wondered, would anybody be interested in the old, run down house?
The story of Harappa
Very often, old buildings have a story to tell. Nearly a hundred and fifty years ago, when railway lines were being laid down for the first time in the Punjab, engineers stumbled upon the site of Harappa in present-day Pakistan. To them, it seemed like a mound that was a rich source of ready made, high quality bricks. So they carried off thousands of bricks from the walls of the old buildings of the city to build railway lines. Many buildings were completely destroyed.
Then, about eighty years ago, archaeologists found the site, and realised that this was one of the oldest cities in the subcontinent. As this was the first city to be discovered, all other sites from where similar buildings (and other things) were found were described as Harappan. These cities developed about 4700 years ago. Very often, old buildings are pulled down to make way for new construction. Do you think it is important to preserve old buildings? What was special about these cities?
Many of these cities were divided into two or more parts. Usually, the part to the west was smaller but higher. Archaeologists describe this as the citadel. Generally, the part to the east was larger but lower. This is called the lower town. Very often walls of baked brick were built around each part. The bricks were so well made that they have lasted for thousands of years. The bricks were laid in an interlocking pattern and that made the walls strong.
In some cities, special buildings were constructed on the citadel. For example, in Mohenjodaro, a very special tank, which archaeologists call the Great Bath, was built in this area. This was lined with bricks, coated with plaster, and made water-tight with a layer of natural tar. There were steps leading down to it from two sides, while there were rooms on all sides. Water was probably brought in from a well, and drained out after use. Perhaps important people took a dip in this tank on special occasions. Other cities, such as Kalibangan and Lothal had fire altars, where sacrifices may have been performed. And some cities like Mohenjodaro, Harappa, and Lothal had elaborate store houses.
1. How do archaeologists know that cloth was used in the Harappan civilisation?
2. Why were metals, writing, the wheel, and the plough important for the Harappans?
3. Make a list of all the terracotta toys shown in the lesson. Which do you think children would have enjoyed playing with the most?
4. Make a list of what the Harappans ate, and put a tick mark against the things you eat today.
Please refer to attached file for NCERT Class 6 History In The Earliest Cities
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