The ancient site at Kot Diji was the forerunner of the Indus Civilization. The occupation of this site is attested already at 3300 BCE. The remains consist of two parts; the citadel area on high ground (about 12 m), and outer area. The Pakistan Department of Archaeology excavated at Kot Diji in 1955 and 1957.
Located about 24 kilometers south of Khairpur in the province of Sindh, Pakistan, it is on the east bank of the Indus opposite Mohenjo-daro.
The site is situated at the foot of the Rohri Hills where a fort (Kot Diji Fort) was built around 1790 by the Talpur dynasty ruler of Upper Sindh, Mir Suhrab, who reigned from 1783 to 1830 AD. This fort built on the ridge of a steep narrow hill is well-preserved.
Early Harappan towns (4000–3000 BCE)
The development of these farming communities in different parts of Baluchistan and Lower Sind ultimately led to urbanization. The earliest fortified town to date is found at Rehman Dheri, dated 4000 BCE in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa close to River Zhob Valley. Other fortified towns found to date are at Amri (3600–3300 BCE) and Kot Diji in Sindh and at Kalibangan (3000 BCE), India at the Hakra River.
Kot Diji culture (3300–2600 BCE)
The site covers 2.6 ha. The earliest occupation of this site is termed ‘Kot Dijian’, which is pre-Harappan, or early formative Harappan.
At the earliest layer, Kot Diji I (2605 BC), copper and bronze were not used[ The houses and fortifications were made from unbaked mud-bricks. Lithic material, such as leaf-shaped chert arrowheads, shows parallels with Mundigak layers II-IV. The pottery seems to anticipate Harappan Ware. Later, bronze was used, but only for personal ornaments. Also, use of the potters wheel was already in evidence.
The Early Harappan phase construction consists of two clearly defined areas. There is a citadel on high ground for the elites separated by a defensive wall with bastions at regular intervals. This area measures about 500 ft x 350 ft. The Outer area, or the city proper, consisted of houses of mud bricks on stone foundations.
Pottery found from this site has designs with horizontal and wavy lines, or loops and simple triangular patterns. Other objects found are pots, pans, storage jars, toy carts, balls, bangles, beads, terracotta figurines of mother goddess and animals, bronze arrowheads, and well-fashioned stone implements. A particularly interesting find at Kot Diji is a toy cart, which shows that the potter’s wheel permitted the use of wheels for bullock carts.
Progress towards Harappa Phase
Kot Diji site is 25 kms (15 miles) south of Khairpur town in the Khairpur District of Sindh. Archaeologists say that the discovery of this pre-historic site has furnished information of high significance since it pushed back the pre-history of Pakistan by at least an other 300 years from about 2,500 BC to 2,800 BC. Evidence of new cultural element of pre-Harappan and pre-Moenjodaro date has been found at Kot Diji. The excavations there have proved that the Indus Valley Civilizations people borrowed or developed some of the basic cultural elements of the Kot Dijians. The site consists of two parts: one comprising the citadel area on the high ground where the ruling elite lived and outer area inhabited by the common man. The Kot Diji culture is marked by well- furnished well-made pottery and houses built of mud-bricks on stone foundations. In fact, the Kot Dijian ceramics through different in form and technique are no way less artistic then the sophisticated back-on-red pottery of Harappans. The Harappans borrowed some of the basic cultural elements from Kot Diji. The Harappan decorated designs such as the “fish scale ” intersecting circles and the pipal leaf pattern were evolved from the Kot Dijian decorated elements like the horizontal and wavy lines, loops and simple triangular patterns. There is a no proof yet of the place or the regions from where the Kot Dijians arrived in the Indus Valley. Kot Diji situated between Ranipur and Khairpur on the highway from Hyderabad, on the east bank of the Indus close to Rohri. Worth site trip. Khairpur is dotted with historical sites. The Kot Diji Fort, said to be built by the Talpurs, stands on a high hill with massive walls surrounding an elaborate complex of exquisite homes, ornate canopies, marbled courtyards, promenades and long corridors with arched entryways. The corridors run along deep rooms which now lay dark and can get infested with bats. Another architectural classic is the Faiz Mahal, built in 1798 as the palace of the Talpur family in Khairpur Mirs. Besides, there are other palaces, tombsites in Kot Diji and the surrounding areas. The present successor of the Talpur Dynasty, Mir Ali Murad Khan Talpur, who acceded to the Pakistani state in 1956, is a conservationist and has to his credit an impressive wildlife sanctuary called the Mehrano, known for its black buck, and hog deer, both of which have become rare in Sindh.
The north-western part of Thar Desert lies in Khairpur district. Rohri Hills are a tourist attraction for the tombs of Pir Ubhan Shah near Kotdiji, Shadi Shaheed near Layari, Tehsil Kotdiji and Pir Baqir Shah near Choondko. Mehrano, Nara, Kalmi Quran, Thar Dhani, shah jee machine at solangi and many other sites also draw tourist traffic.
Glazed steatite beads were produced. There was a clear transition from the earlier Ravi pottery to what is commonly referred to as Kot Diji pottery. Red slip and black painted designs replaced polychrome decorations of the Ravi Phase. Then, there was a gradual transformation into what is commonly referred to as Harappa Phase pottery.
Early Indus script may have appeared at Kot Diji on pottery and on a sealing. The use of inscribed seals and the standardization of weights may have occurred during the Kot Diji period.
Late Kot-Diji type pots were found as far as Burzahom in Jammu and Kashmir.
There are obvious signs of extensive burns over the entire site, including both the lower habitation area and the high mound (the fortified town), which were also observed at other Early Harappan sites: Period III at Gumla, Period II at Amri, Period I at Naushero. Signs of cleavage were observed at Early Harappan phase Period I at Kalibangan. The cause of the disruptions and/or abandonment of these sites toward the end of the Early Harappan phase remains unexplained.
Rani Kot (600-1843 AD)
According to legends, the wall existed during Umayyad rule and later under the Abbasid rule. The Soomro tribe inhabited the fort and later the Samma tribe positioned large infantry formations inside the fort.
The Mughal Emirs armed the walls of the fort with cannons and muskets. They were the first to renovate the entire structure. The Kalhora tribe later gained control of the fort, and finally the Talpurs saw the fort as a strategic asset especially during the reign of Mir Fatih Ali Khan Talpur, until they were defeated and overthrown by the British Empire, in 1843 AD.