Harappan Civilizations Describe Indian Geography and Indian Politics

After domestication came farming. Indian geography was very much suitable for farming. Fire was a force here, too. Slash-and-burn agriculture is one of the oldest and simplest ways to clear the land of trees. Once used extensively by primitive tribes, it is still used today in some places, like Borneo. The process: slash the bark on the tree, which stops the sap from flowing and eventually kills the tree. The leaves die and fall off, allowing sunlight to filter onto the forest floor where the fallen leaves decompose into fertilizer. Then crops are planted. In two or three years, when the soil starts to show signs of being depleted of nutrients, the dead trees are burned, the ash provides fertilizer, and more crops are planted. Unfortunately, this requires constantly moving into new areas and destroying the forests.

The first cultivated plants were barley, then wheat from wild grasses. There are about 30,000 varieties of wheat. Ancient wheat had several layers of protection, including a very hard inedible outer covering called chaff, which had to be roasted to be removed. Then friction had to be applied to the wheat to separate it from the chaff, a process called threshing. This was done by having oxen walk on the wheat, or by hitting it. The chaff was lighter than the wheat, so it could be blown or fanned away. Then the wheat had to be ground to make flour. This was done by hand until animals began to be used around 800 B.C during Harappan civilization. These flours were stone ground and coarse ground, and most likely still contained bits of chaff or fine particles of stone. The problem was that heating the wheat to remove the chaff killed what makes it rise-gluten. So the earliest breads were flat, more like crackers. Some examples that still exist are Indian chapati, flour and water baked on a hot griddle; also flour and water, but quick fried; and Jewish matzo, which is baked. An important change occurred about 7000 BC: wheat with a weaker chaff began to be grown, so the roasting step could be skipped and the gluten was free to rise. Leavened bread was born, probably first in Egypt, and it was probably an accident.

Settling down and farming allowed humans to have some foods it is impossible to have if you are a nomad. One of these is wine. This wine still plays a dominant role in Indian politics. It takes two years before vines bear fruit, and there is a very short time frame, just a few days, during which the grapes have to be picked and crushed-until recently, by stomping on them. Then they must be kept at a temperature that will allow them to ferment, and stored. It is impossible to wander around and to make wine, too. So, two of the earliest professions were growing vines and making wine

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