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Winter Rain, Summer Rain: Adaptation, Climate Change, Resilience and the Indus Civilisation

TwoRains is an international and interdisciplinary ERC funded project investigating the interplay and dynamics of winter and summer rainfall systems, investigate the nature of human adaptation to the ecological conditions created by those systems. It is using the Indus Civilisation to ask the question “Does climate change really cause collapse?”


Project News!! 


Cameron Petrie interviewed by Radio Ecoshock

Click below to listen to Cameron Petrie discussing "How and Why Collapse Happens" with Radio Ecoshock:


Indus Valley 'urban' tag contested

Click below to see an article in The Telegraph, Calcutta, India on March 5th 2017 


"Farming rice in India much older than thought, used as a ‘summer crop’ by the Indus Civilisation"

Cambridge Global Food Security Initiative member Cameron Petrie and his colleague Jennifer Bates have discovered that rice was cultivated in India at the same time farming techniques were developed in China, around 2800BC, and 400 years earlier than previously thought. This suggests systems of seasonal crop variation that would have provided a rich and diverse diet for the Bronze Age residents of the Indus valley.


The Land, Water, Settlement project excavations in northwest India. Credit: C. Petrie

Dr Bates said: “It is certainly possible that a sustainable food economy across the Indus zone was achieved through growing a diverse range of crops, with choice being influenced by local conditions. It is also possible that there was trade and exchange in staple crops between populations living in different regions, though this is an idea that remains to be tested.”

Dr Petrie added: “Such a diverse system was probably well suited to mitigating risk from shifts in climate. It may be that some of today’s farming monocultures could learn from the local crop diversity of the Indus people 4,000 years ago.

Their research has been covered widely by international press:

The Times of India: Rice farming in India began much before Chinese rice arrived

Daily Mail: World's first curry was made 5,000 years ago: Indians have been eating their national dish since the Bronze Age

The Mirror: People have been getting takeaway curries for 5,000 years as dish first appeared in Bronze Age


"Rice farming in India much older than thought, used as 'summer crop' by Indus civilisation" 

More information...


"Enticing rice"

Exploring the domestication of rice in India


  By Luiseach Nic Eoin on Nov 25, 2016



"Farming rice in India much older than thought, used as a ‘summer crop’ by the Indus Civilisation"

Thought to have arrived from China in 2000 BC, latest research shows sustainable domesticated rice agriculture in India and Pakistan existed centuries earlier, and suggests systems of seasonal crop variation that would have provided a rich and diverse diet for the Bronze Age residents of the Indus valley.

Latest research on archaeological sites of the ancient Indus Civilisation, which stretched across what is now Pakistan and northwest India during the Bronze Age, has revealed that domesticated rice farming in South Asia began far earlier than previously believed, and may have developed in tandem with – rather than as a result of – rice domestication in China.

More information and video ...



Map of Study Area

                                                           Map of Study Area.

Rainfall systems are complex and inherently variable, yet they are of fundamental importance for understanding the past and planning for the future due to their potential for direct impact on food security and hence the sustainability of human settlement in particular areas. Given that human populations can adapt their behaviour to a wide range of climatic and environmental conditions, it is essential that we understand the degree to which human choices in the past, present and future are resilient and sustainable in the face of variable weather conditions, and when confronted with abrupt events of climate change.

TwoRains will investigate the resilience and sustainability of South Asia’s first complex society, and the most enigmatic of the early Old World civilisations, the Indus Civilisation (c.3000-1500 BC with an urban phase spanning c.2500-1900 BC). The Indus was unique amongst early civilisations in that it developed across a range of distinctive environmental and ecological zones, where the distribution of westerly winter rains overlapped with the rains of the Indian Summer Monsoon (ISM).

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