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Monsoon caused Indus Valley decline

The Indus Valley civilization flourised between the time period of 3300 – 1700 BCE. Around 1900 BCE, people started leaving and the cities started to decline. There are many reasons attributed for this decline, and the theories include tectonic activity along the Indo-Asian plate boundary, or flooding. Another reason could be the disappearance of the Ghaggar-Hakra river system which was part of Sarasvathi. Then there is the infamous Aryan invasion theory.

Now according to new research, it was not Aryans, but monsoons, which were responsible for the demise of the Indus Valley Civilization. Geologist Anil Gupta of IIT Kharagpur studied the effect of monsoons over the past 10,000 years and have come to the conclusion that a strong monsoon helped the civlization grow, while a weakening monsoon might have led to its decline.

The Arabian Sea sediments and other geological studies show that the monsoon began to weaken about 5,000 years ago. The dry spell, lasting several hundred years, might have led people to abandon the Indus cities and move eastward into the Gangetic plain, which has been an area of higher rainfall than the northwestern part of the subcontinent.

“It’s not high temperatures, but lack of water that drove the people eastward and southward,” Gupta said.

About 1,700 years ago, the monsoon began to improve again, leading to increased farm produce for several centuries and contributing to the relative prosperity in India during the medieval ages, from AD 700 to 1200. [Indus cities dried up with monsoon]

7 Responses to Monsoon caused Indus Valley decline

  1. Srijith May 2, 2006 at 10:29 pm #

    There is a difference between stating that the decreasing Monsoon contributed to the decline of Indus valley civilization and saying that it caused the decline.

    Since newspaper reports are not something that can be relied on to convey the difference, I wonder which of the two is the finding.

  2. JK May 4, 2006 at 10:07 am #


    I wrote to Prof. Anil Gupta who wrote this paper and he replies

    “It is difficult to say at this stage that the monsoon was the sole cause of Indus valley decline. But it is sure that it was a major cause.”

  3. naresh May 22, 2006 at 3:26 am #

    is there real proof that the saraswati river did exist or is it still,just a myth ? also is there proof of an aryan invasion and if so, were they really a race, or were they a warrior army of mixed races ?

  4. varnam June 19, 2006 at 12:14 pm #

    New Facts about the Ganga Plain

    Usually history books depict the development of ancient Indian Civilization as starting from Mehrgarh (from 7000 – 3300 BCE) and then moving to the Indus Valley. The Indus Valley civilization flourished from 3300 BCE to 1700 BCE and then…

  5. Sabarish Sasidharan July 26, 2006 at 12:01 am #

    I recently saw a vedi in a TV program, mention one of the verses from the vedas which i quote below “One pond is equivalent to 10 wells. One lake is equivalent to 10 ponds. One son is equivalent to 10 lakes. One tree is equivalent to 10 sons”.

    Wondering if such thoughts evolved after they went through such hardships due to lack of monsoon? If so, how did they figure out that trees were important to preserving the water table and the ecosystem.

    One more incoherent thought, the Indus valley cities do not appear to use much wood for construction either.

  6. Sudarsan September 15, 2006 at 12:38 am #

    The disappearance of a civilization like IVC,which is the most extensive civilization on the basis of area covered,foreign trade relation,town planning,drainage system and other innumerable contributions. All these indicate that the IVC was deep rooted with unprecedented development,probably lack the chance of disappearance due to a mere change of monsoon.It may be one among the numerous causes behind its decline. Another important aspect is that we were not able to decipher the Indus script,great are the findings but greater are its ever lasting contribution which is yet to get digested to our 21st century man.

  7. Ghanshyam Roy April 10, 2009 at 12:58 am #

    I want to know somthing from Mr. Anil Gupta, please help!
    May it (decline of IVC) be correlated with El- Nino & La Nina events, known as southern oscillation in Pecific Ocean??

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