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Land, Water and Settlement

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Composite satellite image showing the study region


Environmental constraints and human responses in northwest India between 2000 and 300 BC: Investigating the cultural and geographical transformations from the collapse of Harappan urbanism to the rise the great Early Historic cities

Archaeologists and geographers have long debated the possible link between environmental change and the rise and fall of the earliest civilizations in South Asia. This collaborative project is the first stage of a broader programme that will integrate geographical and archaeological field research and analysis to reconstruct the transforming cultural and environmental landscape of northwest India in the critical period between 2000 and 300 BC. This was when the courses of a number of major rivers are believed to have shifted.

This project marks the first integrated investigation of the environmental and cultural processes that accompanied these shifts and their impact on cultural development, and brings together the best of Indian and British expertise in the relevant human and environmental sciences. Understanding how and why past Indian societies responded to environmental threats and changes has critical resonance with current questions of human response to climatic and environmental change.

The Land, Water and Settlement project was funded by a UKIERI Standard Award in December 2006, and initial planning and remote sensing work was carried out in 2007, before systematic fieldwork was carried out between 2008 and 2014. A comprehensive overview of the project has been published in Current Anthropology:

Petrie, C.A., Singh, R.N., Bates, J., Dixit, Y., French, C.A.I, Hodell, D., Jones, P.J., Lancelotti, C., Lynam, F., Neogi, S., Pandey, A.K., Parikh, D., Pawar, V., Redhouse, D.I., Singh, D.P. 2017. Adaptation to variable environments, resilience to climate change: investigating Land, Water and Settlement in northwest India, Current Anthropology 58.1: 1-30. [].



banaras hindu university logouniversity of cambridge shield  A Banaras Hindu University and University of Cambridge collaborative project. 



Updated:2008-05-02. First published:2008-03-14

Copyright © 2008--2008 Cameron Petrie