Food Habit & Ritual Practices Of Harappan People Deciphered

A study, jointly conducted by the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeosciences (BSIP), Lucknow, and Archeological Survey of India (ASI), New Delhi has recently published their findings from material found during the excavation of a Harappan archaeological site at 4MSR (earlier known as Binjor) in western part of Rajasthan (near Pakistan border) between 2014 and 2017.

What were found during excavation?

  • At least seven big-size brown ‘laddoos’, two figurines of bulls, and a hand-held copper adze (a tool similar to an axe, used for cutting or shaping wood.

What they deciphered

High Protein Food

  • The Harappan people used to consume high-protein, multigrain ‘laddoos’ (food balls) around 4,000 years ago, which indicates that the inhabitants practised agriculture under good (wet) climatic conditions.
  • Primary microscopic investigations showed that these were composed of barley, wheat, chickpea and a few other oilseeds. The presence of pulses, starch and protein was further confirmed by discovery of significant excesses of magnesium, calcium and potassium. These laddoos had cereal and pulses, and moong dal dominated the ingredients.

First Evidence of Ritual Practice

  • The presence of seven food balls along with typical Harappan tools/items near the banks of Ghaggar (erstwhile Saraswati) hinted that Harappan people made offerings, performed rituals. This is the first evidence to show that Harappan people performed some rituals on the banks of river Saraswati (now extinct). Though the nature of the ritual is not clear it could be akin to ‘pind daan’ (offering of homage and food to ancestors) according to archeologists.