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Geography of the Rigveda, with river names; the extent of the Swat and Cemetery H cultures are indicated.
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Stone Age before 3300 BCE
- Mehrgarh Culture 7000–3300 BCE
Indus Valley Civilization 3300–1700 BCE
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The Cemetery H culture developed out of the northern part of the Indus Valley Civilization around 1900 BCE, in and around western Punjab region located in present-day India and Pakistan. It was named after a cemetery found in "area H" at Harappa.

The Cemetery H culture is part of the Punjab Phase, one of three cultural phases that developed in the Localization Era of the Indus Valley Tradition.[1] It is considered to be part of the Late Harrappan phase.

The distinguishing features of this culture include[2]:

  • The use of cremation of human remains. The bones were stored in painted pottery burial urns. This is completely different from the Indus civilization where bodies were buried in wooden coffins. The urn burials and the "grave skeletons" were nearly contemporaneous.[3]
  • Reddish pottery, painted in black with antelopes, peacocks etc., sun or star motifs, with different surface treatments to the earlier period.
  • Expansion of settlements into the east.
  • Rice became a main crop.
  • Apparent breakdown of the widespread trade of the Indus civilization, with materials such as marine shells no longer used.
  • Continued use of mud brick for building.

The Cemetery H culture also "shows clear biological affinities" with the earlier population of Harappa.[4]

The archaeologist Kenoyer noted that this culture "may only reflect a change in the focus of settlement organization from that which was the pattern of the earlier Harappan phase and not cultural discontinuity, urban decay, invading aliens, or site abandonment, all of which have been suggested in the past."[5]

Remains of the culture have been dated from about 1900 BCE until about 1300 BCE. Together with the Gandhara grave culture and the Ochre Coloured Pottery culture, it is considered by some scholars a nucleus of Vedic civilization.

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