Imperial College London

Dr Philippa J Mason

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Earth Science & Engineering

Senior Teaching Fellow



+44 (0)20 7594 6528p.j.mason Website




G31Royal School of MinesSouth Kensington Campus






BibTex format

author = {Gupta, S and Singh, A and Thomsen, KJ and Sinha, R and Buylaert, JP and Carter, A and Mark, DF and Mason, PJ and Densmore, AL and Murray, AS and Jain, M and Paul, D},
doi = {10.1038/s41467-017-01643-9},
journal = {Nature Communications},
title = {Counter-intuitive influence of Himalayan river morphodynamics on Indus Civilisation urban settlements},
url = {},
volume = {8},
year = {2017}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Urbanism in the Bronze-age Indus Civilisation (~4.6–3.9 thousand years before the present, ka) has been linked to water resources provided by large Himalayan river systems, although the largest concentrations of urban-scale Indus settlements are located far from extant Himalayan rivers. Here we analyse the sedimentary architecture, chronology and provenance of a major palaeochannel associated with many of these settlements. We show that the palaeochannel is a former course of the Sutlej River, the third largest of the present-day Himalayan rivers. Using optically stimulated luminescence dating of sand grains, we demonstrate that flow of the Sutlej in this course terminated considerably earlier than Indus occupation, with diversion to its present course complete shortly after ~8 ka. Indus urban settlements thus developed along an abandoned river valley rather than an active Himalayan river. Confinement of the Sutlej to its present incised course after ~8 ka likely reduced its propensity to re-route frequently thus enabling long-term stability for Indus settlements sited along the relict palaeochannel.
AU - Gupta,S
AU - Singh,A
AU - Thomsen,KJ
AU - Sinha,R
AU - Buylaert,JP
AU - Carter,A
AU - Mark,DF
AU - Mason,PJ
AU - Densmore,AL
AU - Murray,AS
AU - Jain,M
AU - Paul,D
DO - 10.1038/s41467-017-01643-9
PY - 2017///
SN - 2041-1723
TI - Counter-intuitive influence of Himalayan river morphodynamics on Indus Civilisation urban settlements
T2 - Nature Communications
UR -
UR -
VL - 8
ER -