Aggressive Architecture

Fortifications of the Indus valley in the Mature Harappan phase.  

Fortifications throughout the world have been perceived as big, grandiose monumental structures. They are considered as inspiring monuments of the past and their construction would often have required a massive labour force. Fortifications can be "understood as features that delimit boundaries of settlements or boundaries of specific areas within settlements" (Düring 2011, 70).

From a historical viewpoint, fortifications have always been seen as purely defensive. That this is an overtly simplistic view and not always the case is shown for example by Connah (2000). In Africa for instance the enclosure of settlements is common practice. Connah has noted that city walls varied in function from domestic protection, to formal military presence, as well as serving a variety of other functions. McIntosh & McIntosh (1993, 279) argue that other functions might have included flood protection, civic identity, and the restriction or control of outsiders access to markets. However, as will be discussed in detail in chapter 3, some features of fortifications are purely militaristic and argue for a militaristic interpretation.

This thesis will deal with the question of fortifications, from a military perspective, in the Indus valley culture or Harappan civilization as it sometimes called.The ancient sites of India and Pakistan have left the world an insight into a unique civilization with many sites (large and small) which have fortification walls. Hundreds of sites are scattered around an area twice as big as Egypt with sizes varying from as small as 0.5 ha to 100 ha.

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Author: M.C. Petersen

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Keywords: Harappan,Fortifications,Architecture,Indus,India,Pakistan


M.C. Petersen

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