Historical and Archaeological Findings in News

Cattle meat residue found in Indus Valley vessels


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Various IVC sites

Mains level: IVC

A new study has found the presence of animal products, including cattle and buffalo meat, in ceramic vessels dating back about 4,600 years at seven Indus Valley Civilization sites in present-day Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.

The Karnataka Assembly has passed the controversial Karnataka Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill, 2020, amid protests.

Beef politics has always gained traction in India being a cheap source of protein for masses versus religious sentiments of the fundamentalists.

How was the study conducted?

  • The study is the first to look into the absorbed lipid residues in pottery from multiple sites, including Rakhigarhi, Farmana and Masudpur.
  • Lipids are relatively less prone to degradation and have been discovered in pottery from archaeological contexts around the world.

Key findings

  • The high proportions of cattle bones suggest a cultural preference for beef consumption across Indus populations, supplemented by the consumption of mutton/lamb.
  • The study found little evidence of dairy products. However, there could be regional differences as a recent study of vessels in Gujarat had found evidence of dairy products.
  • About 50-60% of domestic animal bones found at Indus Valley sites come from cattle/buffalo.
  • It says that at Harappa, 90% of the cattle were kept alive until they were three or three-and-a-half years, suggesting that females were used for dairying production, whereas male animals were used for traction.

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