Dairy Production in Indus Valley Civilisation

This is the first time it’s been proved scientifically that dairy production was in place in the Indus Valley civilization in 2500 BCE, and the earliest known evidence of dairy production.

  • The year 2020 marks 100 years of discovery of Indus Valley Civilisation.

    By analysing residues on ancient pots, researchers show the earliest direct evidence of dairy product processing, thus throwing fresh light on the rural economy of the civilisation

  • The study, published in the journal Nature, was led by Kalyan Sekhar Chakraborty, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto Mississauga, and dates dairy production to 2500 BCE

Technique Used:

The results were based on molecular chemical analysis of residue in shards of pottery found at the archaeological site of Kotada Bhadli, a rural settlement located in Gujarat.Pots are porous. So as soon as we put any liquid form of food, it will absorb it. The pot preserves the molecules of food such as fats and proteins. Using techniques like C16 and C18 analysis we can identify the source of lipids.

Of the 59 samples studied, 22 showed the presence of dairy lipids. Through a process called stable isotope analysis, the researchers were also able to identify the type of ruminant used for dairy, and concluded that these were cattle, like cows and buffalo, rather than goats and sheep.

Evidence of Animal Husbandry in Indus Valley Civilisation:

The team was also able to show which type of animals were being used for dairy production. They studied the tooth enamel from fossils of cattle, water buffalo, goat and sheep found in the area. Cows and water buffalo were found to consume millets, while sheep and goats ate nearby grass and leaves.

A preliminary study suggested that most of the cattle and water-buffalo died at an older age, suggesting they could have been raised for milk, whereas the majority of goat/sheep died when they were young, indicating they could have been used for meat.

The Harappans did not just use dairy for their household. The large herd indicates that milk was produced in surplus so that it could be exchanged and there could have been some kind of trade between settlements. This could have given rise to an industrial level of dairy exploitation.

More About Indus Valley Civilisation

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