In the arid scrubland of the Thar Desert, just 205 km from the vibrant city of Bikaner in Rajasthan, is evidence that ancient settlers tilled the land and lived off its bounty around 4,700 years ago. And what a bounty it must have been! For here, archaeologists have found evidence of the earliest-known ploughed agricultural field in the Indian subcontinent, on the outskirts of an ancient city near the now dried-up Ghaggar River.
These fields have been unearthed at the site of Kalibangan, which was inhabited by two sets of settlers – pre-Harappans and the Harappans – at different points in time. The fields were worked by the pre-Harappans in 2,700 BCE, while the Harappans settled here around a century later. The site gets its name from the dense distribution of bangle fragments found on the surface (Kalibangan means ‘black bangles’).
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