Human Skeletal Remains from Harappa (A Rare Book)

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Item Code: NAB766
Author: Nirmal Kumar Bose
Publisher: Anthropological Survey of India, Kolktata
Pages: 278 (Illustrated B/W)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 12.5inch X 10.0inch
Weight 1.76 kg
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Book Description

The Anthropological Survey of India has great pleasure in submitting the first report en the Harappan skeletal, remains.

The Archaeological Survey of India began excavation in Harappa in 1921 and carried it on till after 1946. Dr B. S. Guha, who was originally attached to the Zoological Survey of India as Anthropologist, was entrusted with the task of reporting on the skeletal remains. He was responsible for the work till his retirement from the Anthropological Survey in 1954.

During his tenure of office as Director, Dr Guha succeeded in training up a fairly large number of very able assistants through whom the major portion of the work was actually conducted. Mr H. K. Bose who was originally employed by the Archaeological Survey was, in the main, responsible for the lifting up of the skeletons from 1930 to 1947. Later on, as a member of the staff of the Anthropological 1 Survey of India, he was also responsible for reconstruction. The main work of reconstruction, however, was entrusted by Dr Guha to Mr M. Biswas, Senior Technical Assistant in the Survey. Mr Biswas is a skilled craftsman and had the advantage of training under Dr B. S. Guha, Dr A. K. Mitra, Dr B. K. Chatterjee, and Mr H. K. Bose. In the work of cleaning, preservation and partly of reconstruction others who helped were Messrs P. Gupta, B. N. Chatterji, J. N. Biswas, and H. N. Das.

There is a story behind the delay after which it has been possible to present the scholarly world with at least the first report on Harappan remains.

The Harappan remains were removed to Banaras on account of the war. Unfortunately, during the heavy floods of 1943, several boxes containing the precious material were slightly damaged. It was only in 1948 that the remains were once more removed to Calcutta. By that time the Anthropological Survey of India had come into being as an independent department. Since 1948 the work has gone on steadily in the Osteology Laboratory of the Anthropological Survey in Calcutta.

In the Census Report of 1931, Vol. 1, Part Ill, Dr B. S. Guha described briefly the important features of the Harappan skeletons which had been recovered up to that time. It is obvious from a foot-note at page lxviii of the same report that a description of the Harappan human remains had already been sent to the press. But nothing is known of what happened about its printing. No copy was also available in the office of the Survey. Some notes prepared by Dr Guha were, however, incorporated in Excavation at Harappa, Vol. 1, by M. S. Vats. Sir Mortimer Wheeler’s paper entitled ‘Harappa 1946: The Defences and Cemetery R 37’, published in Ancient India, No. 3, 1947, contains descriptive notes on the graves t of Cemetery R 37 and Cemetery H st I, both exposed in 1946.

It appears from our office records, that some dioptographic drawings were prepared at Banaras; but these are not traceable, Later on, Dr B. K. Chatterjee and Mr G. D. " Kumar also prepared the draft of a report on Harappan skeletons, which, could not however be utilized, for several reasons, during the preparation of the present report.

All measurements and drawings presented here are the result of the labours of Messrs P. Gupta, P. C. Dutta, A. Basu, A. Pal, Miss B. Sinha and Mrs A. Ray. This group worked on the skeletal material reconstructed by their predecessors from the 1st of August 1961 to the end of December 1961. The report was prepared by Messrs P. Gupta, P. C. Dutta and A. Basu between January 1962 and July 1962.

It may be pointed out here that the report on such a precious collection as Harappa ought to contain basic data as well as a comparison with skeletal material recovered from other contemporary sites. A comparison is also possible with the physical characteristics of different populations inhabiting India and the neighbouring countries at the present time. However valuable the latter part of the work may be, it was considered advisable to publish the basic data first of all for the use of the scholarly world. The work of comparison or inference drawn from them can be undertaken at any time later on by scholars either in India or abroad.

It has been with this end in view that the basic data are now being published. It will also be noted from the report that the scholars responsible for it have been very guarded in the nomenclature of various physical types described. Under advice, the types have been designated as A and B, split up into several sub-types. It was decided that it would be better not to give names to types as has already been done by previous authors; for that might suggest inferences which may not eventually be borne out by later discoveries or comparisons. But the present writers have been careful in indicating what names have been given to their types or sub-types by other scholars; so that the reader may easily equate one with the other.

As organizational head of the Anthropological Survey of India, I beg to place on record my appreciation of the enthusiasm and expeditiousness with which young scholars have prepared the report; and the skill and accuracy of craftsmanship with which Mr M. Biswas and others have actually succeeded in reconstructing the skeletal remains. My thanks are also due to a great measure to Stenographer Mr B. N. De, Photographer Mr S. Chattopadhyay, Artists Messrs R. C. Dey and B. N. Bagchi and Statisticians Messrs H, K, Nag, D. P. Mukherjee, M. N. Kaul and S. Chatterjee. Mr H. N. Mukherjee has been of assistance in proof-correction and preparation of the copy. Mr Arun Chakrabarti has been very largely responsible for efficient printing of the report. Messrs Venus Printing Works, Calcutta, to whom the task was entrusted, have shown admirable patience and courtesy; and it has also been on account of their appreciation of the importance of the work that it has been possible for the report to be printed within a reasonably short period of time.

Last, but not least, my thanks are due to my friend Mr J. M. Datta, formerly a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society and of the Royal Economic Society, who has contributed a brief, but significant chapter on the population of Harappa. The data placed at his disposal have not naturally been sufficient; yet, he has thrown out a few suggestions with regard to the population which are certainly thought-provoking.


Foreword – Nirmal Kumar Bose v
The Archaeological Background – A. Ghosh 1
Demographic Notes on Harappa Skeletons – J.M. Datta 6
Human Remains from Harappa – P. Gupta, P.C. Dutta & A. Basu 13
Anthropological Introduction 13
Square (Cemetery) R 37 18
Area G 289 81
Area (Mound) AB 113
Cemetery H Stratum II (Open Burials) 118
Cemetery H Stratum I (Jar Burials) 149
General Observations 177
References 181
Appendix 183
Collective Tables i-xc
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