Home BIG STORY Drought Wiped Out Indus Valley : Study

Drought Wiped Out Indus Valley : Study


London, March 4 :

In a ground-breaking discovery led by an Indian-origin palaeoclimatologist, researchers have found that a 200-year-long monster drought nearly 4,200 years ago doomed the Indus Valley civilisation in present Pakistan and northwest India.

(pic source; pbs.org)
(pic source; pbs.org)

Based on isotope data from the sediment of an ancient lake, the researchers suggest that the monsoon cycle, which is vital to the livelihood of all of South Asia, essentially stopped there for as long as two centuries to wipe out the Indus Valley civilisation — also knows as the Harappan civilisation.

“The Indus Valley was characterised by large, well-planned cities with advanced municipal sanitation systems and a script that has never been deciphered.

But the Harappans seemed to slowly lose their urban cohesion, and their cities were gradually abandoned,” explained Yama Dixit, a palaeoclimatologist at University of Cambridge.

The team examined sediments from Kotla Dahar — an ancient lake near the northeastern edge of the Indus Valley area in Haryana — that still seasonally floods.

The team assigned ages to sediment layers using radiocarbon dating of organic matter.

In various layers, they collected the preserved shells of tiny lake snails which are made of a form of calcium carbonate called aragonite.

The team also looked at the oxygen in the argonite molecules, counting the ratio of the rare oxygen-18 isotope to the more prevalent oxygen-16.

Yama Dixit
Yama Dixit

Kotla Dahar is a closed basin, filled only by rain and runoff and without outlets. During drought, oxygen-16, which is lighter than oxygen-18, evaporates faster so that the remaining water in the lake and, consequently, the snails’ shells, become enriched with oxygen-18.

The team’s reconstruction showed a spike in the relative amount of oxygen-18 between 4,200 and 4,000 years ago.

The data, published in the journal Geology1, suggests that the regular summer monsoons stopped for some 200 years.

According to Anil Gupta, director of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology in Dehradun, this work fills a gap in the geographic record of ancient droughts.

But large questions still remain.

“What drove this climate change 4,200 years ago? We do not see major changes in the North Atlantic or in the solar activity at that time,” he said.



  1. unacceptable findings. those indus valley inhabitants are human being….they can move,migrate b’cos they have their own legs to walk…..to better place.they wont jst sit & wail b’cos of drought. & wait for their dead bodies to decay….. they are wise & advanced people……

    • Hi, That was well said in the article that the cities were abandoned, means that people left their habitats and migrated from there.

    • I will give you the possible reasons :

      2000 BC, the nearest inhabitants to Harappa on the west was Mesopotamia (present day Iran) and on the north east was in China (near Beijing – 1700 BC) Both are thousands of kilometers away with dreaded desert on the west towards Mesopotamia and mountains on the east towards Chinese civilisation.

      The main source of water was Saraswati river (as quoted in Vedas) and no mention of other present day major rivers like Ganga or Narmada. It is likely these present day rivers were not there those days or had different routes which Harappans were not aware of.

      So, when drought would have started, people would have scattered into groups and started moving. But due to absence of support from other civilisations, surviving on the own like nomads and continuously searching for food and water surely would have taken a toll on the majority of the population.

  2. Could it be that destruction of forest and cultivation of crops started the halt of cloud and rain cycle? We are experiencing the phenomena currently, known as El nino.

  3. Congrats to the scientists for this important discovery. This demolishes the leftist-missionary propaganda that “light-skinned Vedic Aryans” destroyed the IVC. Such a false propaganda has wreaked enormous damage to the Indian identity. The next government should take the revision of history texts on a war-footing to rid it completely of leftist disinformation. The next generation of Indian children should not be indoctrinated, and should nurture a strong Indian identity.

  4. How the Civilization just be washed out because of the drought? I cannot agree more with “daichuipao” they had legs the inquisitiveness to live and learn about surrounding couldnot die because there was a drought ..A detailed finding is missing …

  5. There is a great error in this entire theory. There is no such thing as Sindhu or Indus civilization which was a fiction of the British educated archeologists who connected the remains to the nearest river as only river sustained the largely ancient agrarian economies. The entire ruins lie on either side of the now extinct Saraswati river whose dried up river bed was made out by an Indian scientist using satellite mapping technology. This theory is further strengthened by the folklore of the Saraswat community of Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Bengal who trace their origins to the banks of River Saraswati which had dried up aprx 5000 years ago around the end of Mahabharata. In all probability after all hopes of the river regenerating were lost, this group migrated in two batches to Gomantak (present day Goa) and to Vangadesh (Bangal/bangladesh). These people most lived in hermitages and helped in performing sacrifices conducted by the kings of yore.

    • What a shit conspiracy theory… the real indus valley civilization should be who moved to tamil nadu… the dravidians… they still have the agrarian economies and community connect that one can feel…

    • The DNA decoding in the coming generation is going to decode everything and these idiotic conspiracy theorists would be exposed via their own DNA… enough chaining india with fake theories… this one looks like another propaganda…

  6. Yes, I go with Mahabharat – Kurukshetra yudha. Atleast Indian text books at schools should respect Indian culture, otherwise more educated people start disregarding Indian culture. Seems like going to China for masala dosha or going to Andaman to eat pizza.

  7. Sir, the study did not say that all of them died due to drought. They abandoned the city.

    “…But the Harappans seemed to slowly lose their urban cohesion, and their cities were gradually abandoned…”

  8. Indus valley civilization was dependent on the Indus Valley. The very reason they settled there was due to perennial availability of run off water from the melting snow of the Himalayas.

    A good try to fool people into believing that there was no Aryan invasion of India. Like many questionable theories, no wonder this study was also funded by the Brahmins in the Indian Govt and bureaucracy. They only have the power to influence the people who have been suppressed for more than 3000 years with their caste system.

    Reminds me of India introducing the Rupee symbol through a southerner and claiming it as based on Devangiri script while it is actually Hindi’s R.

  9. An attempt to bulldoze the gullible minds that have been suppressed since the advent of Mahabharata. Recent growth in the literacy of the suppressed have enlightened them and they have started to realize the truth. To prevent rebelling against the so called forward caste people, they are attempting to influence through such studies. Young non-forward caste people should be careful of these totally politically motivated studies. People have been fooled by the unscrupulous forward castes and their alliance.

  10. What abt the high levels of radiation found in the so called Indus civilization..do droughts cause such thing??

  11. I wrote a novel about a city comparable to the IVC cities — Whip of the Wild God: A Novel of Tantra in Ancient India — fiction, based on my own non-scholarly research — check it out on Amazon.com if you like….or read the first 3 chapters on my blog for free: miraprabhu.wordpress.com. Interesting how this debate will never die….a fascinating epoch in our history.

  12. How long we should live with myths, illogical interpretations, imaginations,curses, boons, fictions, invasions, Aryans, etc? With the openness of education to everyone, information revolution, computer, internet and exchange of thoughts in realistic mind, the actual truths are being read and seen by present generation people. However fooling of people by hiding,suppression and misinterpretation of facts still continues. There are, in several parts of the world, people leading such life which may be as old as beyond 1000 years old when compared to modern USA or UK. We Indians, in many fields and areas, are 100 to 500 years backward in certain modern living conditions or life style, modern science and technology, culture and civilisation, when compared to USA and some of European countries! Therefore, let us compare and copy good things in modern living and civilisation that are seen and practiced by people around the world, to give equal rights and opportunities, basic human dignity, without still imposing myths, curse, boons, reincarnations, etc of the unseen past, not seen or may be not allowed to have access or to see by everyone born and lived as human beings! The manipulations and dominance of priestly class in society for their advantage, still seen in every religion!

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