This recently discovered site is offering many new facts about the ancient Indus civilization's growth and persistence in Gujarat. For more than seven hundred years during third and second millennia BCE, the Indian subcontinent was the home of Harappans, whose civilization rivaled other contemporary civilizations of Mesopotamia, and dynastic Egypt. The Harappans established themselves over the regions of what are now Pakistan and northwestern India covering an area of 680,000 square kilometers, an area twice the size of the Egypt or Mesopotamia (Kenoyer 1998).
Along with the general similarities in style and symbols over a vast area, specific regional styles give us some insight into the many different communities that were integrated into these first cities of the subcontinent. Without deciphering the Indus texts it is difficult to understand how these Harappan cities and towns were functioning. However, by combining ethnographic and archaeological studies (ethnoarchaeology), archaeologists are now beginning to understand the Harappan people and provide meaning to the mute artifacts that they left behind.
One such small but important craft and trading town of this civilization is being excavated since 1996 by a team of archaeologists from the Department of Archaeology and Ancient History of the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda on the southeastern coast of Gulf of Kutch at Gola Dhoro in Gujarat.
The excavations at the site for the past eight years have outlined the importance of such smaller settlements that are far removed from the core area situated near specific resource areas, in the economic development of the Harappan civilization.
The site locally known as Gola Dhoro is situated half a kilometer northeast of a sleepy village of Bagasra (N 23 3' 30": E 70 37'10"). The settlement measuring 1.92 hectares is about 7.50 m high from the surrounding area. Archaeological excavations suggest that the settlement got its start perhaps from a small farming village. Subsequently a massive fortification wall measuring 5.20 m in width was built in three successive stages on the northern half of the site, leaving surprisingly little space of approximately 50 x 50 m, at any stage of its history, for the construction of residential houses and craft workshops. However, there are indications that people not only lived inside the fortification in mud brick houses but that some of its population also seems to have lived outside the fortified area in the lower southern half of the settlement that has not revealed any fortification as yet.
The prosperity of the settlement during this phase is not only reflected in the construction activities undertaken at the site, but also in flourishing craft and trading activities.
The unique geographical location of the settlement close to the Gulf of Kutch, North Gujarat and Saurashtra must have immensely contributed to the economic development of the settlement. Studies have revealed that the people of Gola Dhoro manufactured several craft items of shell, semiprecious stone, faience and copper, besides stockpiling and distribution of various raw materials like variegated jasper and shell to other Harappan workshops.