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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • Indus Valley Culture
  • prehistoric archaeology
  • South Asia
  • Mesolithic-Neolithic transition
  • archaeosociomodeling
  • adaptive dynamics

Index Terms

  • 9810 General or Miscellaneous: New fields (not classifiable under other headings)
  • 0439 Biogeosciences: Ecosystems, structure and dynamics
  • 1605 Global Change: Abrupt/rapid climate change
  • 0510 Computational Geophysics: Agent-based models



A Simulation of the Neolithic Transition in the Indus Valley

Carsten Lemmen

Institute of Coastal Research, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Geesthacht, Germany

Aurangzeb Khan

Institute of Coastal Research, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Geesthacht, Germany

The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was one of the first great civilizations in prehistory. This Bronze Age civilization flourished from the end of the fourth millennium B.C. It disintegrated during the second millennium B.C.; despite much research effort, this decline is not well understood. Less research has been devoted to the emergence of the IVC, which shows continuous cultural precursors since at least the seventh millennium B.C. To understand the decline, we believe it is necessary to investigate the rise of the IVC, i.e., the establishment of agriculture and livestock, dense populations, and technological developments in 7000–3000 B.C. Although much archaeological information is available, our capability to investigate the system is hindered by poorly resolved chronology and by a lack of fieldwork in the intermediate areas between the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia. We thus employ a complementary numerical simulation to develop a consistent picture of technology, agropastoralism, and population developments in the IVC domain. Results from this global land use and technological evolution simulator show that there is (1) fair agreement between the simulated timing of the agricultural transition and radiocarbon dates from early agricultural sites, but the transition is simulated first in India then Pakistan; (2) an independent agropastoralism developing on the Indian subcontinent; and (3) a positive relationship between archeological artifact richness and simulated population density that remains to be quantified.

Citation: Lemmen, C., and A. Khan (2012), A simulation of the Neolithic transition in the Indus Valley, in Climates, Landscapes, and Civilizations, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 198, edited by L. Giosan et al., 107–114, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2012GM001217.


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