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The deluge of 7,500 BCE


Do we junk the submergence of Kathiyavad (Kusastha’i) and the crossing of Vimdhya by Agastya, because these do not seem to fit into the overall timeline? At least the first of these seems to be fairly well evidenced. Probably we need to abandon the assumptions on which we based our causal relations.

Perhaps the first assumption that we need to give up is that Kathiyavad that got submerged in 7,500 BCE was built by the ksatriya moving south-west from Mehrgadh. We now have sufficient evidence that before the ksatriya arrived in Kathiyavad, it was inhabited by the ‘bhil’, for whom we have used a more generic term ‘kur’. The bhil must have been hunter-gatherers to start with, or rather fisher-gatherers in the context of Kathiyavad. At least some of them must have slowly settled down to farming and trade. When the ksatriya arrived in Kathiyavad, they found them mining quartz and collecting shells, processing and trading in them. We know that the major commodities on which the ksatriya built their trading empire were the quartz beads, shells and shell ornaments, all of which were much in demand in the Near East and Mesopotamia; and that the ksatriya captured this trade from the bhil [The Bead Story, June 6 2019; The Shells Of Khirsara, June 13, 2019].

We do not know, however, since when the bhil were trading in quartz and shells, and on what scale; therefore we are unable to definitively link the submerged archaeological remains in the gulf of Khambhat to the bhil. Here, probably it may be more reasonable to assume a slow growth of the trade than set any cut off point. Another grey area that emerges in this context is the reference to a ‘citadel like structure’ in the context of the undersea archaeological finds; the NIOT(National Institute of Ocean Technology) report also refers to ‘basement like features found in a grid pattern’ [Kathiroli et al, 2002: A New Archaeological Find in the Gulf of Cambay, Gujarat, in Journal Of Geological Society Of India, Volume 60, Number 4, 419]. It is interesting that we find a reference to ‘citadels’ and ‘fortification walls’ in the description of Khirsara:“An extraordinary feature about Khirsara is that it not only had an outer fortification wall around it, but every complex inside had its own fortification wall, be it the citadel, the warehouse, the factory with its habitation annexe and even the potters’ kiln, which lay outside the outer fortification wall” [Nath et al, 2013: Fortified Factory at Harappan Metropolis Khirsara, Gujarat, in Heritage : Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies in Archaeology, 1, 658]. Could the submerged structures be of bhil making? If yes, what could they be – quays, warehouses, factories, residential quarters, fortification walls?

The submergence of Kathiyavad around 7,500 BCE (Before Common Era) could be attributed to the end of the Ice Age. Formed by the deposition of silt from the rivers emptying in the gulfs of Kacca and Khambhat, Kathiyavad has been a group of islands for most of the time; probably till about third millennium BCE it was possible to navigate around it from the gulf of Kacca to gulf of Khambhat, it is only in the recent past that it is connected to the mainland through shallow salt water marshes (Rann of Kutch and Little Rann of Kutch), major part of which remains under water during the monsoon. The water bodies around it have repeatedly regressed and transgressed, and the islands have repeatedly surfaced and submerged, partly or wholly. So the 7,500 BCE event could very well be one of these; coming at the end of the Ice Age the submergence could have been massive. The area has also been seismically highly active [Gaur et al, 2013: Was The Rann Of Kachchh Navigable During The Harappan Times, in Current Science, Volume 105, 1489].

The second assumption that we need to give up is about crossing of Vimdhya by Agastya and the other migrations of ksatriya into Deccan. After settling in Mehrgadh the ksatriya seem to have set out exploring greener pastures. Their foray into Kathiyavad seems to have been driven by trade prospects, perhaps lured by the success of the bhil. Some of them seem to have set out to explore the sub-Himalayan plain and the peninsular India for farming. But here the dates pose a bit of a problem. The ksatriya seem to have penetrated the Gangetic plain by about 2,500 BCE to 2,000 BCE, as evidenced by the introduction of wheat and barley in Lahuradewa; and still later in the peninsular India – by about 1,900 BCE [Fuller et al, 2011: Finding Plant Domestication in the Indian Subcontinent, in Current Anthropology, Volume 52, Number S4, S348].Their movement into Gangetic plain and the Deccan does not seem to have anything to do with the submergence of Kathiyavad in 7,500 BCE, as they were yet to reach there. So the dates for the Agastya story and other migrations of ksatriya definitely need to be recalibrated; these other include the migration of ‘Somnath’ from Sorath to Mandes and the migration of kathiyavadi caddi to Komkan.

At this point it may be of interest to look at the observations by Quintana-Murci et al on ksatriya migrations in the sub-continent. While asserting the existence of genetic evidence for the occurrence of two major population movements, “of early farmers from southwestern Iran and of pastoral nomads from western and central Asia into India”, they place the first of these “between the sixth and the fifth millennia BCE”. This is not really inconsistent with the advent of the ksatriya in the Kachi-Bolan plain by 7,000 BCE; since Quintana-Murci et al are talking about India, they are most probably referring to the movement of the ksatriya into Kathiyavad and the Sarasvati valley; in Gangal’s Harappan Timeline too, clusters of new sites appear in Kathiyavad and Sarasvati basin between 5,000 BCE and 4,000 BCE [Gangal et al, 2010 : Spatio-Temporal Analysis Of The Indus Urbanisation, in Current Science, Volume 98, Number 6, 847]. So, probably we can take this as a good estimate of the movement of the ksatriya into Kathiyavad and the Sarasvati valley; their movement into Gangetic plain and the peninsular India was subsequent to this; say by about 2,500 BCE to 2,000 BCE.

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