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Fat residue in Harappan pots indicate meat consumption

Date: 12 December 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous


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



The study analysed the lipid residue in pottery found at the ancient sites using modern technology and same to the conclusion.



  • The high proportions of cattle bones may suggest a cultural preference for beef consumption across Indus populations, supplemented by the consumption of mutton/lamb.

  • The analysis of lipid residues involved extraction and identification of the fats and oils that were absorbed in the vessels.

  • Lipids are relatively less prone to degradation and have been discovered in pottery from archaeological contexts around the world. However, they have seen very limited investigation in ancient ceramics from South Asia.

  • The study was the first to look into the absorbed lipid residues in pottery from multiple sites, including Rakhigarhi, Farmana, and Masudpur.


Indus Valley Civilization

  • The Indus Valley Civilisation was a Bronze Age civilisation in the north-western regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE.

  • The civilization was first identified in 1921 at Harappa in the Punjab region and then in 1922 at Mohenjo-Daro, near the Indus River in the Sindh (Sind) region.



  • The site of Rakhigarhi is one of the five known biggest townships of Harappan civilization on Indian sub-continent. Five interconnected mounds spread in a huge area from the Rakhigarhi's unique site.

  • The archaeological excavations revealed mature Harappan phase represented by planned township having mud-brick as well as burnt-brick houses with proper drainage system. 

  • Other antiquities included blades; terracotta and shell bangles; beads of semiprecious stones, terracotta, shell and copper objects; animal figurines, toy cart frame and wheel of terracotta; bone points; inscribed steatite seals.