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Satellite image of the Indus River system showing the study sites. Stars indicate drilling locations. Black dots indicate trenches. White squares show sampling points on modern river from Alizai et al. (2011a). Buried channels to the east of the study area are from Saini et al. (2009). Dashed lines show former course proposed in this study.  

Satellite image of the Indus River system showing the study sites. Stars indicate drilling locations. Black dots indicate trenches. White squares show sampling points on modern river from Alizai et al. (2011a). Buried channels to the east of the study area are from Saini et al. (2009). Dashed lines show former course proposed in this study.  

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The Harappan Culture, one of the oldest known urban civilizations, thrived on the northwest edge of the Thar Desert (India and Pakistan) between 3200 and 1900 BCE. Its demise has been linked to rapid weakening of the summer monsoon at this time, yet reorganization of rivers may also have played a role. We sampled subsurface channel sand bodies pred...

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The identity of the river along which the famous Harappan Civilization developed and the causes of the demise of this culture are topics of considerable debate. Many of the Harappan sites are located along the ephemeral Ghaggar river within the Thar Desert in the northwestern India and adjacent Pakistan. The Ghaggar was also thought to be the mythi...

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... The lost Saraswati River were fed by the two perennial rivers like Sutlej in the northwest and Yamuna in the southeast of the region. Due to tectonic upliftment, Yamuna River had abandoned the Ghaggar channel during 49 to 10 ka (Clift et al. 2012). Then, Sutlej would have been the only pathway for depositing the Higher Himalayan sediments into the Ghaggar River (Figure 11a). ...
... Thus, Sutlej River was the main source of fluvial sediment to the Ghaggar-Hakra palaeochannel in the past. In the downstream of Ghaggar River near Kalibangan, the channel flow near Fort Abbas, Chak and Marot in Pakistan stopped during 7.3 to 5 ka (Clift et al. 2012). However, Khonde et al. (2017) stated that this river continued till around 10 ka as recorded by the sediments in Great Rann of Kachchh, just before its entry into the Arabian Sea. ...
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Remote Sensing technique with multi-sensor satellite images is found to be a useful tool in delineation of the palaeochannel network in arid to semi-arid regions in India. Principal Component Analysis method with fused images (optical and microwave data) shows a wide N-S trending Sutlej Palaeochannels (SPC) and narrow NE-SW trending palaeochannels in central Punjab. High-resolution Electrical Resistivity Tomography (HERT) survey and litholog data analysis provide good groundwater prospect zone of the palaeochannel. Interpretation of 2D resistivity tomograms with Wenner-Schlumberger method exhibit a thick zone of low resistiv-ity layer (saturated coarse-grained sand) at a depth of 40 m. Integrated geo-tectonic study provides clue that the river migration of Sutlej River from N-S to E-W direction was due to a major tectonic upliftment in the Himalaya. Geochronological data analysis indicates that the avulsed channel of SPC was the main course of old Ghaggar River, linked to the 'Lost Saraswati River' in northwest India. ARTICLE HISTORY
... Recent research on the Saraswati (e.g., Clift et al., 2012;Sinhala et al., 2013;Khan and Sinhala, 2019) reveals that satellite images finally began to resolve the Saraswati question by linking the channel of the Hark, more than 10 km wide, to the Sutlej downstream from the big river's mountain exit. Geological and geophysical data show that "Saraswati" has existed since the Indus Valley Civilization (1200 BC) in the north-western Indian subcontinent (Chatterjee et al., 2019;Gibling, 2021, his Figure 15.1). ...
... Focusing on the paleo-Sutlej trace, these studies showed that the modern Sutlej River was flowing through the Ghaggar-Hakra paleochannel or the Sarasvati before diverting to its modern course during the Holocene (Saini et al., 2009;Giosan et al., 2012;Clift et al., 2012;Singh et al., 2017;Chatterjee et al., 2019). They further postulated that there could have been sediment contribution from a paleo-Yamuna River as well, which in turn suggests that the Yamuna River might have flowed westward in the past into the Ghaggar-Hakra paleochannel. ...
... Reconstruction of drainage reorganization in the Sutlej-Yamuna drainage divide remains a key requirement for understanding the human-landscape interaction with implications for water security along the Ghaggar-Hakra paleochannels during the time of the Harappan civilization (5.7-3.3 ka). Whereas several studies on provenance of sediment have confirmed the connectivity of the Sutlej catchment with the Ghaggar-Hakra system, through the paleo-Sutlej branch during the Holocene (Saini et al., 2009;Clift et al., 2012;Singh et al., 2017;Chatterjee et al., 2019), the hypothesized connectivity of the Yamuna catchment with the Ghaggar-Hakra had remained speculative. Interestingly, isotope source fingerprinting of sediment older than 4.5 ka in the Ghaggar-Hakra paleochannel suggests sourcing from the Higher Himalayan through either the Sutlej or Yamuna or both (Fig. 10A). ...
... Interestingly, isotope source fingerprinting of sediment older than 4.5 ka in the Ghaggar-Hakra paleochannel suggests sourcing from the Higher Himalayan through either the Sutlej or Yamuna or both (Fig. 10A). Such a scenario could be explained only through a south-flowing Sutlej (e.g., Saini et al., 2009;Clift et al., 2012;Singh et al., 2017;Chatterjee et al., 2019) and a westflowing Yamuna (Dave et al., 2019;Khan and Sinha, 2019). Because results of this study establish that the paleochannel Y1 did not connect to the Yamuna catchment, the only possible pathway for the Yamuna into the Ghaggar-Hakra river system could have been the paleochannel Y2 (Fig. 1). ...
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In the northwest Indo-Gangetic plains, the linkage of the Ghaggar-Hakra paleochannel with the Sarasvati River of early Indian literature and the Harappan (or Indus) civilization poses an important case for understanding drainage reorganization and human-landscape interactions. Among the major paleochannels of the Ghaggar-Hakra, sediment provenance studies on the paleo-Sutlej branch show its connectivity with the Sutlej catchment during the Holocene. However, evaluation of the role of fluvial morphodynamics on the Harappan settlements remains restricted because of limited effort to identify drainage reorganization of the paleo-Yamuna and its connectivity to the Ghaggar-Hakra paleochannel. Here we focus on the sediment deposits in the Markanda Valley, upstream of the northernmost purported paleochannel (Y1) of the river Yamuna, to explore the possible connectivity of the Yamuna catchment with the Ghaggar-Hakra paleochannel through Y1. We analyzed sediment samples from fan surfaces, fluvial terraces, and the modern riverbed for trace element and Sr-Nd isotope geochemistry to identify source signatures. Chronology of the samples, available through Singh et al. (2021), shows aggradation of the fan (57.7 ka) and T-1 to T-5 fluvial terraces during 13.1 to 6.0 ka, and deposition of paleoflood sediment during 3.9–3.8 ka. Results of provenance analysis suggest that sediment in the Markanda Valley was primarily derived from the silicate rocks of the Subathu-Dagshai-Kasauli Formations and the Siwalik Group of the Sub-Himalayas, thus implying that the river Yamuna was not connected to the ancient Ghaggar-Hakra river system (the Sarasvati) through the paleochannel Y1 during the Holocene. The Late Holocene sediment in the Ghaggar-Hakra plains (<4.5 ka), like the sediment in the Markanda Valley, was derived from the sub-Himalaya and transported through Y1, whereas the depositional pathway for the older sediment (>4.5 ka), having sources in the Himalayan hinterland, was likely the southernmost paleochannel (Y2) of the Yamuna.
... Till about 25 ka, the oscillating Sutlej used to feed the Ghaggar-Hakra-Nara valley at different points, after which an extremely dry glacial climate, the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 25-18 ka), severely restricted the stream discharge . When the SW monsoon recovered after the LGM, the Ghaggar valley began to receive discharge mainly from the small Siwalik streams (Clift et al., 2012;Singh et al., 2017;Singh & Sinha, 2019). The Sutlej had by then abandoned the Ghaggar part of the valley to flow through the Beas valley in the west, and the combined flow used to discharge through the Hakra-Nara segment. ...
... The lost Saraswati River has been postulated to be a large river system in the plains of North-West India. It has been posited in several studies (Kar, 2021;Singh et al., 2017;Clift et al., 2012;Danino, 2010;Valdiya, 2016;Radhakrishna and Merh, 1999) that this river flowed during the Late Pleistocene and Holocene, in the tract presently occupied by the Ghaggar-Hakra system (Fig. 1). Naruse (1985), Raikes (1968), Stein (1942) sought to connect the Harappan Civilisation to this large river. ...
... More than a century later, this hypothesis of the lost Saraswati River that drained the Punjab-Haryana plain in the Sutlej-Yamuna interfluve continues to be explored by geoscientists, archaeologists, historians, and Indologists who are not only interested in the growth and demise of the Harappan civilisation, but in assessing the utility of palaeochannels in the management of groundwater resources in water-stressed regions (CGWB, 2016). These explorations have been intensified in the past few decades, particularly with the application of remote sensing technologies, subsurface geophysical methods for stratigraphic analysis, radiometric and luminescence chronology, and stable isotope analysis to this longstanding problem (Chatterjee et al., 2019;Clift et al., 2012;Giosan et al., 2012;Orengo and Petrie, 2017;Saini et al., 2009;Singh et al., 2017;Sinha et al., 2013;Kar, 2021). As a consequence of these investigations, that are spread over different areas of the Punjab-Haryana plain, the Thar in Rajasthan, and the Kutch region, a near-continuous about 1000 km palaeochannel from the Himalayan Mountain front downstream of Roopnagar in the Punjab-Haryana plains to Kutch (Fig. 1) has been reconstructed (Gupta et al., 2011(Gupta et al., , 2004Bhadra et al., 2009;Kar and Ghose, 1984;Rajawat et al., 2003Rajawat et al., , 1999. ...
... Thus, in the past decade, several studies have suggested that the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers flowed in this interfluve region in the Late Pleistocene and Holocene along the present course of the modern Ghaggar River Singh and Sinha, 2019;Chatterjee et al., 2019;Clift et al., 2012;Dave et al., 2019). The Sutlej River flowed into the main stem of the lost Saraswati River near Shatrana and the Yamuna River joined near Suratgarh (Fig. 1). ...
Article
It has been suggested over a century ago that the Saraswati was a large river that flowed in the Sutlej-Yamuna interfluve, a region that is now devoid of any such large river system. This large river was commonly related to the Saraswati River described in the Rig-veda, and was correlated with the discovery of several Harappan sites in the region. Presently, there is only the ephemeral Ghaggar River that flows here with its limited discharge along the abandoned course of the ‘lost’ Saraswati. Also, it was hypothesised earlier that this region was drained by the waters from the drainage basins of both the glacier/monsoon-fed Sutlej and Yamuna rivers. It therefore stands to reason that this region should preserve evidence of the record of the past discharge variability that impacted this region prior to the major drainage reorganisation. This study is an attempt to reconstruct the palaeohydrology of the Saraswati River. We investigate the hypothesis, that the ancient Saraswati River used to carry a combined flow of the Sutlej, Ghaggar and Yamuna river catchments. To examine this important question, we use the channel belt width, catchment area and average annual discharge of different rivers presently flowing on Indus-Ganga-Brahmaputra plains in the Himalayan Foreland. We use these variables to establish the empirical scaling relationships between the channel belt width and average annual discharge to the catchment area. We observed rivers having a larger catchment usually carry a higher discharge and have a wider channel belt. Finally, we use these empirical scaling relationships to estimate the channel belt width and average annual discharge of the lost Saraswati River at the time when it possibly carried the combined flow of the Sutlej, Ghaggar and Yamuna rivers catchments. We obtained the average annual discharge discharge of the Saraswati River of about an order of 3000 m³s⁻¹ and channel belt width of about 11 km at the location downstream of the postulated confluence of the Sutlej and Yamuna rivers at Suratgarh.
... The main reason for the lack of consensus amongst these issues is paucity of surface signatures and subsurface geological data in the nearly two-thousand-kilometer-long Quaternary landscape from the Himalaya to the Arabian Sea. Today the plains are intensely cultivated and access to the subsurface is extremely constrained even though several studies have attempted to fill data gaps (Saini et al. 2009;Saini and Mujtaba 2010;Clift et al. 2012;Sinha et al 2013;Singh et al. 2016Singh et al. ,2017. Earlier work, based on the study of more than 100 shallow wells, riverbank and quarry litho-sections coupled with remote sensing and field-based tracing of the drainages, has provided a framework of the shallow subsurface stratigraphy and chronology of the major events during last ~30 ka BP (Saini et al. 2009;Saini and Mujtaba 2010;Mehdi et al. 2016). ...
... Zircon is a weathering resistant mineral whose age represents cooling time at or above 750 o C. For U-Pb isotopic dating of zircon and electron probe micro analyzer (EPMA) total Th-U-Pb chemical dating of monazite, grains were separated from two grey micaceous fluvial sand samples from Sirsa and one from the Bhagirathi catchment from Gangotri and were processed. Though, Zircon dating has been widely used for provenance fingerprinting of sediments in Indo-Gangetic plains (Alizai et al. 2011;Gehrels et al. 2011;Clift et al. 2012;Singh et al. 2016) monazite has generally not been targeted. Using both of these minerals, this study was carried out to target the provenance of fluvial sand of Sirsa area (TFS). ...
... Studies utilizing extensive detrital zircon data have been carried out in context of the palaeochannels of northwest India (Alizai et al. 2011;Clift et al. 2012;Singh et al. 2016) but have produced some confusing results. For example, comprehensive sampling of the detrital zircons from the Indus River and all its tributaries, as well as the Ghagghar and the Yamuna Rivers and the bedrock of the Sutlej River was supplemented with age data from the zircon chemistry to establish provenance markers (Alizai et al. 2011). ...
Article
The Quaternary sediments and landscapes of the plains of north-western Haryana and the ancient settlement mounds distributed across them have great potential to reveal the history of the evolution and disappearance of palaeorivers and their relationship to the Indus Civilization and Early Historic periods in northwest India. There are numerous palaeochannels in Haryana, and their distribution and burial in the subsurface creates difficulties for accessing the archives and proxies necessary for developing insight into the timing of river flow and shift, and its relationship to settled populations. This paper investigates the deep and shallow subsurface sedimentary lithology of an area around Sirsa that is close to the course of the modern Ghagghar River. The paper presents additional age constraints provided by dates from the site of Rakhigarhi and examines a sedimentary substrate of a new archeological mound situated on the palaeochannel identified at a mound near Dhir village. New AMS radiocarbon dates of drifted charcoal from natural and cultural strata suggest human activity and/or natural burning in this region as early as 10405 to 10190 cal BP (8455 to 8240 cal BC). The substrate sediments recorded at Dhir mound indicate flooding events after the urban phase of the Indus Civilization. Supplementary material at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5604984
... As both crustal deformation and the adjustment of the drainage system to it are recorded by the fluviallyconditioned topography over a time scale of millions of years, analysing and deciphering landscape metrics provide unique and important clues concerning the regional tectonic history (Clark et al., 2004;Clift et al., 2006;Zhang et al., 2019;Zheng et al., 2021). Besides the geoscience significance, river captures may have affected human societies if the capture event occurred in the recent past (Clift et al., 2012). ...
... The age distributions for a number (typically at least~100) of detrital zircons extracted from fluvial deposits can reveal changes in fluvial system provenance that informs on river system connections and their re-organization (Clift et al., 2012;Ingersoll et al., 2013;Chen et al., 2017). We thus collected modern fluvial deposits of the Jialing and Hanjiang Rivers at Lueyang and Liangshan, respectively (see Figs. 1 and 2 for locations). ...
Article
The eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau represents one of the morphologically most active regions on Earth, where the interplay of recent crustal deformation and subsequent fluvial landscape adjustment has affected the course of continental-scale rivers by river piracy events. Based solely on field observations, such an event has been hypothesised for two of the largest tributaries of the Yangtze River: the Jialing and Hanjiang Rivers. To test this hypothesis, we employ a novel combination of independent methods including a provenance study based on age distributions of detrital zircons from both modern riverbeds and river terraces and a morphometric analysis of river channels and drainage divides. We supported the morphometric analysis with a time-dependent numerical model describing the evolution of river channel long profiles and drainage divides in a succession of river capture events. Analysed zircon ages show clearly distinguishable distributions for the modern Jialing and Hangjiang Rivers, but similar distributions for the recent Hanjiang River up to its topmost terraces. This suggests that the capture of the Hangjiang headwaters by the Jialing River is unlikely to have taken place during the last 1.2 million years. However, several knickpoints in the main stem and the tributaries of the Jialing River cluster at an elevation of about 900 m and separate steeper (downstream) from less steep channel segments (upstream), which is consistent with the morphological expression of a major capture event. χ mapping indicates drainage divide asymmetry at catchment scale with on average steeper rivers on the Jialing side, whereas Gilbert metrics show a symmetric divide at hillslope scale. This numerical model explains this apparent contradiction by the travel time of capture-related knickpoints from the capture point towards the watershed, where χ mapping indicates divide asymmetry immediately after the river capture, while Gilbert metrics are only affected as soon as the knickpoints reach the channel heads and the divide effectively starts moving. Based on knickpoint travel distances and constraints on regional incision / uplift rates, we estimated the possible date of river capture to be Pliocene. This is earlier than the formation of the terraces investigated in the provenance study but recent enough that most of the drainage divides are still unaffected and currently almost stable. Only the wind gap located in the almost dry valley connecting the two competing drainage systems is likely to have shifted towards the Hanjiang side. We suggest that this resulted in the capture of another important tributary of the Hangjiang River (the Heishui River) by the Jialing drainage system. Our results illustrate the complex evolution of drainage networks along the eastern margin of the Tibetan Plateau, and highlight the importance for combining provenance and morphometric analyses in regions of active landscape rejuvenation where river captures are likely to occur.
... Timing and cause of drying up of Saraswati river have been debatable. A few studies posited the disengagement of the Saraswati river from its enduring glacier sources in the Himalaya (Clift et al., 2012;Giosan et al., 2012b;Singh et al., 2017;Khan and Sinha, 2019) conceivably led to the drying of Northwestern Indian paleo-channels, likely before the establishment of IVC. Whereas other studies proposed the steadying terrain, caused by the absence of uninterrupted flowing river, supported the flourishing of the IVC (Petrie et al., 2017;Singh et al., 2017). ...
Thesis
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This PhD thesis, prepared in Tartu University, addresses genetics of population history of the South Asian peoples. Inhabited considerably before the Last Glacial Maximum, the region harbors by now about 1.8 billion humans – almost a quarter of the global population. Therefore, understanding of present-day variation of the latter, in particular outside sub-Saharan Africa, is not possible without deeper knowledge about genetics of South Asian populations. This thesis is based on four published papers. The first one is focused on selected populations inhabiting northeastern Indus Valley, bearing, in particular, in mind ancient Indus Valley civilization and following it Vedic period. The second and the third paper address historically somewhat better known migrations, bringing to India religiously distinct Parsi and Jewish peoples. The fourth paper analyses the genetic variation of a populous Tharu tribe, living predominantly in Nepal, but also in northern provinces of India. Perhaps the most interesting finding of the first paper is that the presumably identified already in Vedic texts, Ror population exhibits significant genetic affinity with northern Steppe and West European peoples, testifying about prehistoric north to south migration(s). The arrival of Parsis to South Asia in 7th century was a consequence of the Islamization of Iran. Comparing Parsi genomes in their historic contexts, we observed their extensive admixture with South Asians, in particular, asymmetrically in paternal and maternal lineages. Nearly the same can be said about different Indian communities that preserved Judaist traditions: their genomes show affinities to peoples living in the Near and Middle East. As far as the genetically highly diverse Tharu tribe is concerned, a clearly distinct East Asian contribution can be seen, admixed with South Asian genetic heritage. It seems justified to identify the Tharu as cultural, rather than demic phenomenon.
... Recent geological research by a group led by Peter Clift investigated how the courses of rivers have changed in this region since 8,000 years ago. They found that sediment contributions from these glacial-fed rivers stopped at least by 10,000 years ago, well before the development of the Harappan civilization (Clift et al., 2011). This provides no evidence to support whether climate or river reorganizations should have been responsible for the cultural decline there. ...
Book
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本英文稿较早版本的中文版由中央党校出版集团-国家行政管理出版社出版。/// 西方主流世界史或其它类似教科书对人类自身因素和环境因素在世界文明发展过程中所起的的作用进行了高度简化,甚至对一些核心内容还有曲解。 本书利用早期出现的象形、会意等符号和人类共祖词概念,重新解读并再现了世界六大土著(或本土)文明——即美索不达米亚、古埃及、哈拉帕(印度河流域)、中国、中美洲和南美洲安第斯文明——的形成与发展轨迹。本书的叙事和分析主要集中在历史地理学和人类行为学两个层面上。本书以全新的视角,对目前西方主流教科书所介绍的看似无任何争议的观点和内容展开讨论,所呈现的许多发现是基于作者长期对各种古文字和人类共祖语言的研究。本书得出的许多结论有些出乎意料,但都是建立在严谨的逻辑判断或可靠的实证分析的基础之上。所有这些内容在目前流行的教科书中是看不到的,但却是人文特别是历史学学生需要了解的内容。
... In the last two decades, research has been focused on the G-H palaeochannel Clift et al., 2012;Giosan et al., 2012;Singh et al., 2017;Durcan et al., 2019;Chatterjee et al., 2019) and to some extent on channel Y2 (palaeo-Yamuna) (Dave et al., 2019;Khan and Sinha, 2019). However, these chrono-stratigraphic records are insufficient to estimate the evolution of the G-H palaeochannel's hydrological regime, in particular during the Holocene when the palaeochannel was deteriorating to an ephemeral river after the avulsion of the source rivers, the Sutlej and the Yamuna (Clift et al., 2012, Singh and. ...
Article
The human–landform interaction in the region of the Ghaggar–Hakra palaeochannel in the northwest Indo‐Gangetic plains during the Bronze Age Indus/Harappan civilisation (~4.6–3.9 thousand years before the present, ka bp) remains an enigmatic case due to a paucity of evidence regarding the hydrology of the then existing river. Here, we estimated the palaeohydrology of the foothill Markanda River in the sub‐Himalayan catchment of the Ghaggar–Hakra (G–H) palaeochannel. Our morphology and chronology results show aggradation of a fan (57.7 ka) during the Late Pleistocene and T–1 to T–5 fluvial terraces (13.1 to 6.0 ka) during the terminal Pleistocene to Holocene, and deposition of palaeoflood sediments (3.9–3.8 ka) over the T–3 terraces during the Late Holocene. Considering the known uplift rates along the Himalayan frontal thrust, and our estimated aggradation rates, we derived channel palaeogeometry and calculated peak discharge at the site of palaeoflood deposits. We conclude that the Markanda River's peak discharge was several orders of magnitude higher during the Late Holocene than the modern‐day peak discharge of 100‐year return period. The palaeoflood deposits represent larger flooding of the foothill rivers that sustained flows in the downstream reaches of the Ghaggar–Hakra palaeochannel during the Late Harappan civilisation.