The impact of climate change on ancient societies is a topic that has immense contemporary interest and relevance, and the rammifications of the so-called "4.2 ka event" are much debated. South Asia’s Indus Civilisation is often cited as an example of a victim of a global "megadrought", but the archaeological evidence suggests that such a reductive narrative is too simplistic. The Indus Civilisation was contemporaneous with Old Kingdom Egypt and the later phases of the Early Dynastic period, the Akkadian Empire and the Ur III dynasty in Mesopotamia, but it stands as a markedly different instance of early complexity. This presentation will introduce the Indus Civilisation and highlight what we have learned from the collaborative Land, Water and Settlement and TwoRains projects. It will discuss the diversity of Indus urbanism and Indus settlement networks. It will explore the ramifications of the fact that Indus cities were considerable distances apart and situated in diverse ecological zones within the greater region occupied by Indus populations, and the majority of the population appears to have lived in medium- and small-sized rural settlements in the intervening areas. It will also consider the climatic parameters that affected Indus populations – which includes both winter and summer rainfall regimes – and outline the ways that Indus populations were adapted to an unpredictable environmental context and able to respond to the complex dynamics of a changing climate 4000 years ago.

About the Presenter

Cameron A. Petrie is Professor in South Asian and Iranian Archaeology at the Department of Archaeology, University of Cambridge. He has been collaborating with Prof. R.N. Singh and Banaras Hindu University on the Land, Water and Settlement, TwoRains, TIGR2ESS and now the MAHSA projects since 2007. He joined Cambridge in 2005 as the Research Councils UK Fellow in South Asian and Iranian Archaeology, and was appointed as a lecturer in 2010, senior lecturer in 2014, reader in 2016 and professor in 2022. Prior to Cambridge he was the Katherine and Leonard Woolley Junior Research Fellow at Somerville College Oxford (2003-2006), and completed his PhD at the University of Sydney (1998-2002). 

About Archaeology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Archaeology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of archaeological research and ideas amongst UQ archaeology students and staff. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment. It is hoped that anyone interested in current archaeological directions, both within and outside the School and University, will be able to attend and contribute to the series.


443; Michie Building (9)