Dairy Production in Indus Valley Civilisation | UPSC

Dairy Production in Indus Valley Civilisation | UPSC


Evidence of dairy production in the Indus Valley Civilisation

      WHY IN NEWS:

A new study has shown that dairy products were being produced by the Harappans as far back as 2500 BCE.

MINISTRY? :- Ministry of Culture
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 1 : Ancient History : Indus Valley Civilisation


For PRELIMS since 2020 is the 100th anniversary of IVC . You need to pay a lot of attention on rural economy, society , commerce and livestocks in IVC.

For MAINS can you guess the initial cuisines which were made out of diary products ?


Traces indicate that milk may have been boiled before consumption


  • The year 2020 marks 100 years of discovery of Indus Valley Civilisation.
  • When we talk about Harappans, we always refer to the metropolitan cities and the big towns.

But we have no idea of the parallel economy — agro-pastoral or rural.

  • We know they had great urban planning, trading systems, jewellery making.
  • But we don’t have any idea how the common masters were living during the Harappan times.
  • Their lifestyle and how they were contributing in the larger network is still unknown.

Dairy Production in Indus Valley Civilisation | UPSC

Analysis of residues on ancient pots shows the earliest evidence of dairy processing.


Researchers show the earliest direct evidence of dairy product processing, thus throwing fresh light on the rural economy of the civilisation.


  • Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and
  • Archaeology at the Deccan College Postgraduate and Research Institute, Pune.



  • The studies were carried out on 59 shards of pottery from Kotada Bhadli, a small archeological site in present-day Gujarat.

It is a village located in Nakhatrana taluka of Kutch district in Gujarat.

  • The excavation exposed a residential complex consisting of nine rooms , a fortification wall and a bastion.
  • This site belongs exclusively to the late mature phase.
  • The site falls on the trade route that starts from Dholavira in Gujarat to lower Sindh of Pakistan.

Dairy Production in Indus Valley Civilisation | UPSC


  • The team used molecular analysis techniques to study the residues from ancient pottery.
  • Pots are porous.So as soon as we put any liquid form of food, it will absorb it.
  • The pot preserves the molecules of food such as fats and proteins.
  • Using techniques like C16 and C18 analysis researchers identify the source of lipids.
  • Harappans made curd or cheese is very difficult to pinpoint.
  • Traces were seen in cooking vessels indicating that milk may have been boiled and consumed.

Researchers found residues in a bowl showing that either heated milk or curd could have been served.

  • There are also remains of a perforated vessel, and similar vessels were used in Europe to make cheese.
  • So it is possible that they were further processing milk into different forms.


  • The Research team was also able to show which type of animals were being used for dairy production.
  • They studied the tooth enamel from fossils of cattle, water buffalo, goat and sheep found in the area.
  • Cows and water buffalo were found to consume millets, while sheep and goats ate nearby grass and leaves.

A preliminary study suggested that most of the cattle and water-buffalo died at an older age.

  • This suggests that they could have been raised for milk.
  • The majority of goat/sheep died when they were young, indicating they could have been used for meat.
  • The large herd indicates that milk was produced in surplus so that it could be exchanged .
  • There could have been some kind of trade between settlements.
  • This could have given rise to an industrial level of dairy exploitation.


  • The Indus civilization apparently evolved from the villages of neighbours or predecessors, using the Mesopotamian model of irrigated agriculture.
  • The civilization met sufficient skill to reap the advantages of the spacious and fertile Indus River valley .

The new civilization, doubtless with a well-nourished and increasing population, would obtained a secure foothold on the plain.

  • The civilization subsisted primarily by farming, supplemented by an appreciable but often elusive commerce.
  • Wheat and six-row barley were grown; field peas, mustard, sesame, and a few date stones have also been found.
  • Some of the earliest known traces of cotton also have been found.
  • Domesticated animals included dogs and cats, humped and shorthorn cattle, domestic fowl, and possibly pigs, camels, and buffalo.
  • The Asian elephant probably was also domesticated, and its ivory tusks were freely used.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

The most fascinating thing about the Indus Valley Civilisation is that it is faceless — there is no king, no bureaucratic organisations.

  • There are these very close regional interactions between settlements, a symbiotic relationship of give and take that helped the civilisation survive for so long.
     SOURCES:THE HINDU | Dairy Production in Indus Valley Civilisation | UPSC



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