THE LAND OF THE DEAD:
Lothal is the name of an ancient mound situated in the revenue jurisdiction of Saragwala Village in Dholka Taluka of Ahmedabad district in Gujarat state. The word 'Lothal' meaning 'place of the dead' in Gujarati language is said to have been formed by combining the words 'Loth' and 'thal' (sthal).
Lothal is essentially a single culture site. The Harappan Culture in all its variant forms is well represented here. The Harappans were attracted to Lothal not only by its sheltered harbour with a rich cotton and rice-growing hinterland but also by its bead-making industry.
With the birth of a planned Harappan port-town in Phase II, Lothal enjoyed great prosperity owing to foreign trade. It became a busy industrial centre importing pure copper and producing bronze belts, fish-hooks, chisels, spearheads and ornaments, which were supplied through normal trade channels all over the western province and beyond.
The excavations revealed five phases of seemingly continuous occupation. Of these, the first four are the premature Harappans and the fifth, the later phase of the culture. The settlement was rectangular on plan and consisted of two parts; the citadel and the lower city.
Of the structures exposed within the citadel, the warehouse is built on high podium with sixty-four blocks of mud-bricks. Baked and twisted clay sealings of normal Indus type, presumably fallen from the stores bales had been recovered from the ducts between the blocks. The lower city contained apart from the residential sector, the market as also the industrial area.
The most individualistic structure was an oblong basin covered on all sides with baked-brick, and having necessary gaps for a sluice gate, inlet, etc., which is identified as a dock for small ships. The occurrence of a circular seal of Persian Gulf style at the site points to the existence of maritime trade with west Asia.
The finds include a number of seals, chert blades and fishhooks of copper or bronze. There are some new shapes and designs in the pottery, which are considered to be non-Indus and show regional manifestation.
Beyond the city wall on northwest of the settlement, there was the cemetery. The people buried their dead in an extended position in oval or rectangular grave-pits in which pottery and other objects were also interred. The unique feature of the burials at Lothal, however, is the occurrence, in some of the graves, of skeletons of two persons.
THE TOWN PLAN:
The Indus dichotomy of dividing the city into a citadel or Acropolis and a Lower Town was followed in planning Lothal. The Ruler and his entourage lived in the acropolis where houses were built on 3m high platforms and provided with all the civic amenities including paved baths, underground drains and a well for potable water.
The Lower Town, which also enjoyed civic amenities, was subdivided into two sectors. The north-south arterial street flanked by shops was the main commercial centre in which the rice merchant and ordinary craftsmen lived together. The residential sector lay to the east and west of bazaar.
While planning the town, Lothal engineers accorded high priority to two other needs, the fulfillment of which depended upon the economic prosperity of the inhabitants. The first one was a dock for berthing ships and the second a warehouse for storing and examining cargo.
The dock built on the eastern flank of the town is an engineering feat of the highest order. Its very location away from the main current avoided silting but at the same time ships could have access to the dock in high tide.
The second need, namely the warehouse, arose from the large volume of cargo, which Lothal had to handle. Hence, a warehouse was built close to the acropolis on a 3.5 m high podium of mud-bricks to serve as a clearing-house for incoming and outgoing cargo.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Air: Nearest airport is Ahmedabad .
Rail: Situated at a distance of 6 km from Lothal-Bhurkhi Railway Station on the Ahmedabad Bhavnagar meter gauge section of the western Railway.
Road: It is well connected by an all weather road with Bhurkhi, Ahmedabad, Dholka and other major towns such as Bhavnagar and Rajkot.
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