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Indus Valley Civilisation

The Indus Valley Civilisation existed through its early years of 3300-1300 BCE, and its mature period of 2600-1900 BCE. This Civilisation extended along the Indus River from what today is northeast Afghanistan, into Pakistan and northwest India with Sutkagan Dor (or Sutkagen Dor) in Baluchistan is the westernmost known archaeological site in Afghanistan, Alamgirpur located in Meerut district, Uttar Pradesh, India the easternmost site, Manda in J&K the western most site and Daimabad in Ahmednagar, Maharashtra the southern most site.

Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were thought to be the two great cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, emerging around 2600 BCE along the Indus River Valley in the Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. Their discovery and excavation in the 19th and 20th centuries provided important archaeological data about ancient cultures.

Phases of Indus Valley Civilisation:

PhasesTime PeriodFeatures
Pre-Harappanc. 7000 – c. 5500 BCEThis phase shows evidence of agricultural development, domestication of plants and animals, and production of tools and ceramics.
Early Harappanc. 5500-2800 BCEThis phase shows evidence that Ports, docks, and warehouses were built near waterways by communities living in small villages.
Mature Harappanc. 2800 – c. 1900 BCEHarappa and Mohenjo-Daro are both flourishing c. 2600 BCE. Other cities, such as Ganeriwala, Lothal, and Dholavira are built according to the same models.
Late Harappanc. 1900 – c. 1500 BCEPhysical evidence suggests climate change caused flooding, drought, and famine. Loss of trade relations with Egypt and Mesopotamia and ever changing climate conditions led to the decline of civilisation
Post-Harappanc. 1500 – c. 600 BCEThe cities were abandoned, and the people had moved south. The Civilisation had already fallen by the time Cyrus ll invaded India in 530 BCE.
Early Excavation:

In 1912,several Harappan seals were discovered by an English civil servant John Faithfull Fleet working with the Indian Civil Services, . This prompted an excavation campaign from 1921-1922 by Sir John Hubert Marshall, Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, which resulted in the discovery of Harappa. By 1931, much of Mohenjo-Daro was also excavated. Later in time the next director of the Archaeological Survey of India, Sir Mortimer Wheeler, led further excavations. After partition of India in 1947, bulk of the archaeological finds were inherited by Pakistan. By 1999, over 1,056 cities and settlements had been found, of which 96 have been excavated.

Major Sites of Indus Valley Civilisation:
YearSiteLocationExcavated byFindings
1921HarappaSahiwal District, Punjab in the banks of RaviDaya Ram SahniPiece of Pottery with Indus Script, Cubical Limestone Weight, Faience Slag Sandstone ,statues of Human anatomy, Copper Bullock cart, Granaries, Coffin burials (Only founded in Harrapa), Terracotta Figurines.
1922Mohenjo-DaroLarkana District Of Sind on the bank of IndusR. D BanerjeeGreat bath, Granary, Unicorn Seals (Most numbers of it in here), Bronze dancing girl statue, Seal of a man with deers, elephants, tiger and rhinos around- Considered to be Pashupati Seal), Steatite statue of beard man Bronze buffalo.
1929SutkagendorBaluchistan on Dast riverSteinTrade point between Harappa and Babylon, Flint Blades, Stone Vessels, Stone Arrowheads, Pottery, Bactria-Margiana Archaeological Complex (BMAC) associated Copper-Bronze Disc .
1931ChanhudaroMullan Sandha, Sind on the Indus riverN G MajumdarBangle Factory, InkPot, Bead makers shop, The footprint of a dog chasing a cat, Cart with a seated driver. Note: It is the only city without a citadel
1935AmriClose to Balochistan, on the bank of Indus riverN G MajumdarAntelope evidence Rhinoceros’ evidence.
1953KalibanganHanumangarh District, Rajasthan on the bank of Ghaggar riverAmlanand GhoseLower fortified town Wooden drainage Copper Ox Evidence of earthquake Wooden plough Camel’s bone Fire alters Furrowed land
1964SurkotadaGujaratJ P JoshiBones of horses Beads Stone Covered Beads
1974BanawaliFatehabad district of HaryanaR S BishtOval shaped settlement The only city with radial streets Toy plough The largest number of barley grains
1985DholaviraGujarat in Rann of KutchR S BishtExclusive water management Only site to be divided into three parts Giant water reservoir Unique water harnessing system Dams Embankments Stadium Rock – Cut architecture

Notable advances in technology, including great accuracy in their systems and tools for measuring length and mass were made. The smallest division, approximately 1.6 mm, was marked on an ivory scale found in Lothal, in the modern Indian state of Gujarat.

Indication of use of an advanced measurement system because of the fact that the bricks used to build Indus cities were uniform in size. Harappans demonstrated advanced architecture with dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms, and protective walls. The ancient Indus systems of sewerage and drainage developed and used in cities throughout the region were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in the Middle East, and even more efficient than those in many areas of Pakistan and India today.

Seals have been one of the most commonly discovered artefacts in Indus Valley cities, decorated with animal figures, such as elephants, tigers, and water buffalos. Harappans were probably proficient in seal carving, the cutting of patterns into the bottom face of a seal. They used distinctive seals for the identification of the property and to stamp clay on trade goods.

Harappans were familiar with the technique of metallurgy (the science of working with copper, bronze, lead, and tin) and performed intricate handicrafts using products made of the semi-precious gemstone, Carnelian etc.

Script and Religion of Indus Valley People:

A collection of written texts on clay and stone tablets was unearthed at Harappa, a language consisting of symbols, which have been carbon-dated to 3300-3200 BCE, and it contained trident-shaped, plant-like markings. This Indus Script suggests that writing developed independently in the Indus River Valley Civilisation from the script employed in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. The inscriptions are thought to have been primarily written from right to left, but it is unclear whether this script constitutes a complete language.

Harappans probably worshipped a mother goddess who symbolised fertility. In contrast to Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilisation seems to have lacked any temples or palaces that would give clear evidence of religious rites or specific deities. Some Indus Valley seals show a swastika symbol, which was included in later Indian religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

Trade And External Contacts:

The docks and canal in the ancient city of Lothal, Gujrat suggests that the Indus Valley Civilisation constructed boats and may have participated in an extensive maritime trade network. Archaeologists have found Harappan seals and jewelry at archaeological sites in regions of Mesopotamia, encompassing most of modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Syria. The civilization’s economy appears to have depended significantly on trade. Trade focused on importing raw materials to be used in Harappan city workshops, minerals from Iran and Afghanistan, lead and copper from other parts of India, jade from China, and cedarwood from the Himalayas and Kashmir. Other trade goods included terracotta pots, gold, silver, metals, beads, flints for making tools, seashells, pearls, and coloured gemstones, such as lapis lazuli and turquoise.

The Decline of Indus Valley Civilization :

The Indus Valley Civilization declined around 1800 BCE due to re-occuring floods and drought which led to migration of people to different locations. Archaeological evidence indicates that trade with Mesopotamia, located largely in modern Iraq, seemed to have ended.

The Aryan Invasion Theory(c 1800-1500 BC):

The Indus Valley Civilisation may have met its demise due to invasion.According to one theory proposed by British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler, the Indus River Valley was suddenly overwhelmed and conquered by a nomadic, Indo-European group called the Aryans. Wheeler, who served as the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1944 to 1948, suggested that the presence of many unburied corpses in the upper levels of the Mohenjo-Daro archaeological site indicated victims of war. The theory suggested that by using horses and more advanced weapons against the peaceful Harappan people, the Aryans may have easily defeated them.

Some scholars dismiss this theory by explaining that the skeletons were not victims of invasion massacres, but rather the remains of hasty burials.

Also Read : Indus River Valley civilizations

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