Indus Valley Civilization


Pastoralists from Eurasia and Farmers from current Turkey came and settled here in the Indus Valley region and developed civilization by introducing farming. It was earlier belief, the truth is the hunter and gathers from South Asia (India and Pakistan) were settled and learned farming and other techniques by own. It was proved by later discoveries, because the time we started farming, there was nomadic life prevailed in Turkey and Eurasia. Many pieces of evidence are found in Iran and Turkmenistan to support this theory.

So, today is the time to know about one of the oldest civilizations in the world i.e. the Indus Valley Civilization.

Indus Valley Civilization

It was an agriculture-based society, indigenously developed in the chalcolithic period, was a cultural and political entity that flourished in the northern region of the Indian subcontinent between 7000 – 600 BCE. It is commonly referred to as the Indus-Sarasvati Civilization (according to Vedic sources, it flowed adjacent to the River Indus) and the Harappan Civilization (as it was the ancient city of Harappa in the region, the first one found in the modern era). None of these names derive from any ancient texts because a writing system (known as Indus Script or Harappan Script) civilization developed has not yet been deciphered. Written from right to left and considered bidirectional.

It was developed in the Indian and Pakistan region. The correct origin, development, decline, and fall of the civilization are not known. Some of the well-known sites are Kot Diji at Sindh, Kalibangan in Rajasthan, Rupar in Punjab, Banavali in Haryana, Lothal Dholavira, and Surkotada in Gujrat, else you can see on the map.

So, modern archaeologists have established a probable chronology:

  • Pre-Harappan – c. 7000 – c. 5500 BCE (neolithic period, agriculture development and domestication of animals and plants and production of tools and ceramics was started)
  • Early Harappan – c. 5500 – c. 2800 BCE (trade strongly established with Egypt, Mesopotamia, and possibly with China. Ports, docks, and warehouses built near waterways by communities)
  • Mature Harappan – c. 2800 – c. 1900 BCE (construction of the great cities like Lothal, and Dholavira and prevalent urbanization)
  • Late Harappan – c. 1900 – c. 1500 BCE (the decline of the civilization with a wave of migration of the Aryan people from the north, Iranian Plateau. Physical evidence suggests climate change driven flooding, drought, and famine. A loss of trade relations with Egypt and Mesopotamia were contributing factors)
  • Post Harappan – c. 1500 – c. 600 BCE (cities are abandoned and people moved to the south, civilization has already fallen by the time Cyrus II invades India in 530 BCE.

Discovery & Early Excavation

James Lewis was a British soldier serving in the East India Company Army. He was an avid numismatist (coin collector) who was especially interested in old coins and, excavating ancient sites on his own. One of these sites was Harappa, found in 1829 CE. When he returned to Britain he published his book Narrative of Various Journeys in Baluchistan, Afghanistan, and Punjab in 1842 CE. Attracted the attention of the British authorities in India and, especially, Alexander Cunningham (the founder of ASI in 1861).

Cunningham began excavations of the site and published his interpretation in 1875 CE (in which he identified and named the Indus Script). In 1904 CE, a new director of the ASI was appointed, John Marshall (l. 1876-1958 CE), who later visited Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro (1924), ordered the sites to be fully excavated are now best-known excavated cities of this culture. (located in modern-day Pakistan).

Architecture of Indus Valley Civilization (IVC)

Architecture i.e. Town Planning was developed here to its zenith it includes Public Bath, Dockyard, Granaries, Market, Assembly hall, Drainage system. Two areas were built upper called “citadel” and lower called “lower town.” In 3 millennium BC, it was planned and executed. It was a walled city to prevent excavation or flood water. Burned bricks were used of a standard size of 1:2:4 in interlocking pattern. Roads cut at 90 degrees. It introduces us to the social, political, and economic authority of that time.

House: Some are one-story some are two stories are made of wood and baked brick. The wood architecture was perishable, not survived. Most of the houses have wells, stairs to reach the second story, bathing area, etc. Some big buildings such as pillared hall and courtyard may be for administration purpose and business centers. Public Bath is 39 feet in length, 23 feet in width, and 9 feet in height. A tank-type structure with stairs on two sides, and changing rooms on three sides. It is functional till today with no cracks. Made with baked bricks and then plastered and coated with natural tar to make it water impermeable. It reflects the importance of cleanliness in that particular region. Granaries, to store grain found mostly in citadel show the difference in society. However, they could be needed only when there is a surplus of grains. It is an intelligent construction over a platform with strategic air ducts to preserve grains for a long time.

The drainage system mostly resembles today’s pattern with periodic loose tills for cleaning purposes, more advanced even than that of the early Romans. Dockyard on the Sabarmati river was made to maintain natural flow by studying tides. Lockgate system to maintain tidal flow and canal opening to maintain river’s natural flow.

Artefacts

Everything was made for purpose only, expressions, body postures, moods are very realistic. Many types of the sculpture of bronze, copper, terracotta, seat, and stone are found.

Seals

Seals were of different shapes (triangular, circular, rectangular) and sizes with an average size of 2×2 inches. The most used stone is steatite found in the river bed is soft and easy to use. Other than this agate, chert, copper, iron, ivory, faience, and terracotta material used. Some were made of Gold and Silver. They are pictographic with a motif (human or animal) at the center and some inscriptions at the top in their script (undeciphered till date) with little variations. The common animal motifs used are the unicorn, humped bull, rhinoceros, tiger, elephant, goats, bison, etc. Sometimes monsters also, evidence of cow is not found. Seals were used for trading purposes, to ensure the delivery of undisturbed product as we use today also. Some seals were found with dead bodies as amulets also for educational purposes because some carry symbols like pie (π) and Swastik (卐).

Pashupati seal: Pashupati means “Lord of animals” seated cross-legged in yogic mudra with elongated half-closed eyed. It was found in Mohenjo-Daro, is a human deity figure, considered as a figure of “Lord Shiva.” Wearing a headgear had three horns. Motif is surrounded with animals on left elephant and tiger on right rhinoceros and buffalos and under there is the presence of two antelope.

Sculpture

Bronze figure are widely practiced throughout IVC by the “Lost wax technique.” First, a figure of wax was made, then coat the fully structured figure with clay and dry. Then heat and remove the inner melted wax and replace it with the molten metal. 

Dancing Girl’s oldest bronze sculpture of height 4 inches with full of expression and mood recovered from Mohenjo-Daro. She is wearing only an ornament, bangles on her left hand, amulets and bracelets on her right hand, a necklace with a good hairstyle. She is standing in the “Tribhnagan position” (three bends in the body). A Bull from Kalibangan, standing with head turned right with full expressions. Goat, Dog, and Bird from Lothal.

Terracotta sculpture they are of crude shape, hand made with the “Pinching technique.” They are mostly founded in Kalibangan. Toys, animal figurines, miniatures carts, and sculptures were made. An important figure is the “Mother Goddess” a crude structure found in most of the sites is standing female with prominent breasts. Wearing loincloth, necklace, girdles, fan-shaped headgear. Considered to be worshiped by people for prosperity and fertility. Toy cart with a movable head attached with wire and others are the bird, animals (bulls- anatomically perfect), pair of squirrels (very natural and realistic)

Bearded priest, a stone figure carrying shawl from under right hand to over left hand with trefoil pattern recovered from Mohenjo-Daro. Half closed elongated eyes, seems like meditating. The same figure was also found in Sumerian sites that may be exchanged for trade. An emulate in the right hand and woven fitted headgear.

Image result for red torso ivc
Taken from google…. Red Male Torso

Red stone male torso, it is frontal male body made of baked clay. Shoulders and abdomen are prominent, neck and shoulders have holes for attachments. It shows us natural physic of human body.

Pottery

Pottery mostly recovered from the citadel area were painted wear, plain pottery, knobbed wear. Potteries are wheel made on “Potter’s wheel”. Used in household (are of various shape and size) for decorative purpose, perforated pottery for staining, miniature vessels for children to play, incised wear for dishes base. Polychrome pottery (more than one color) red, green, black are more used colors However, white and yellow are less used colors.

The stone weight made of chert were used.

Ornaments, a large variety of materials were used such as precious metal, gemstone, bone, and backed clay. Most ornaments were worn by men and women both however, girdles, earing, and anklets were worn by women only. Beads factories were situated in Channudaro and Lothal. Various shapes such as triangular, circular, elongated, cylindrical, spherical, etc. They were fashion cautious people, they used cosmetics, lipsticks, eyeliner, and face painting, ornaments were recovered from dead bodies. The fabric of cotton, wool are worn by rich and poor alike.

Image result for ornaments ivc

Life of Indus people

Economic Life

Farmers and herders provide food to craftsmen, scribes, and rulers. Industries were both large scale industries and cottage industries. Agriculture based society with wheat and barley as main produce along with that they also produce sesame, mustard, and cotton. Knowledge of irrigation techniques and canals, various farming implements and established different areas for cattle grazing and crops. Domestication of sheep, goat, buffalos. People were specialized with skills, some were goldsmiths, brickmakers, stonecutters, weavers, boatbuilders, and terracotta manufacturers.

Foreign trade with Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, and Iran of wheat, barley, pea, oilseeds, fish products, cotton goods, pottery, beads, terracotta figures, and ivory products. They used to import gold, copper, tin, semi-precious stones by using the “Barter system.” As there is evidence of bullock cart, may be used for moving long distances for trade.

Image result for trade ivc
Barter system, exchange of materials (money not used)

Political life

The people seem to have been primarily artisans, farmers, and merchants. There is no evidence of a standing army, no palaces, and no temples. Each city seems to have had its own governor but, it is speculated, there must have been some form of centralized government in order to achieve the uniformity of the cities.

As other sites were unearthed, the same degree of sophistication and skill came to light as well as the understanding that all of these cities had been pre-planned. Unlike those of other cultures which usually developed from smaller, rural communities, the cities of the Indus Valley Civilization had been thought out, a site chosen, and purposefully constructed prior to full habitation. Further, they all exhibited conformity to a single vision which further suggested a strong central government with an efficient bureaucracy that could plan, fund, and build such cities.

Social life

Dresses of men and women are in the two-piece, one upper and one lower garment. Beads were also carried by both men and women however, bangle, bracelet, girdles, anklet, finger rings, and earrings were for women only. Cosmetics was very prevalent, marble, balls, dice for children. Fishing, hunting, and bullfight was done during pass time. Axe, dagger, spearheads, bow, the arrow of copper and bronze were used as war weapons.

Image result for house in ivc

Cultural life

They worshiped male (Pashupati), female (mother goddess), trees, animals, rivers. Complete burial system, post-cremation burial in Mohenjo-Daro, coffins of burnt bricks, fire altars were used to prevent bad luck. They consider both good luck and bad luck as swastika and cross sign are good luck, and wear amulets to get away from bad luck. No evidence of sati, it seems like a secular society.

Ruler and counterpart have resided in citadel and others in the lower town. Total population of civilization is thought to be around 5 million and its territory stretched over 90 miles (1,500 km) along Indus. King sent people to other places to acquire metal, precious stones as:

  • Copper from Rajasthan and Oman
  • Tin from Afghanistan and Iran
  • Gold from Karnataka
  • Precious stones from Gujrat, Iran and Afghanistan
  • Shells and cowry from Nageshwara and Balakot
  • Lapis lazuli stone from Shortughai.

End of civilization

No completely satisfactory theories, may a natural calamity like flood, drought, or decline fertility of soil, uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources led by climate change. Drying up of the Sarasvati River, an alteration in the path of the monsoon which watered crops, overpopulation of the cities, a decline in trade with Egypt and Mesopotamia or may be any occasional earthquake or silting of area by major flooding. Other evidence is invasion of Aryans, with superior weapons and swift horses. Rig Veda mention found of herded skeleton in the area called “Aryan Invasion theory”. Early Iranians self-identified as Arians, meaning “noble” or “free” or “civilized”, until it was corrupted by Europeans racist to serve their agenda, any one or a combination of any of the above were responsible for decline.

Current situation

Rakhigarhi site is being excavated since 2004, located in Hisar district Haryana on the bank of Ghaggar Hakra River. This site provide evidences of pre-indus and mature-indus valley period. Earlier seven mounds were excavated, now many other are being excavated. But the process is facing so many problems the survival and displacement of locals, encroachments by locals, theft of artefacts by locals and other. People stayed here were traders, travel a lot and spread there gene all over due to this South Asia has same genetic history. In 2012 Global Heritage Fund has declared ‘One of 10 most endangered heritage site of Asia’. India need to take care of it and preserve and ASI (Archeological survey of India) should take necessary steps to secure the site.

Keeladi site in Tamil Nadu of Sangam age on the bank of River Vaigai. It is thought that when Indus valley civilization destroyed, people moved and settled here. Some glimpse of language of Indus are visible here, urbanization, literacy, use of animal (cow, fox, oxen), weaving industry. This was literate society, used Tamil Brahmi Language and was agrarian society. High standard of living with tilled roofed houses and graffiti marks are found in earthenware.

Kotada Bhadli, Gujarat last year evidences found of dairy production at industrial level. Cattles, water buffalos, sheep and goat were found.

As excavations of the sites of the Indus Valley Civilization continue, more information will contribute to a better understanding of its history and development. Recognition of the culture’s vast accomplishments and high level of technology and sophistication has been increasingly coming to light and gaining greater attention. Already, the Indus Valley Civilization is referenced as one of the three greatest of antiquity alongside Egypt and Mesopotamia, and future excavations will almost surely elevate its standing even higher.

(Pictures from google)

World meaning:

Amulets: “ताबीज” an ornament or small piece of jewelry thought to give protection against evil, danger, or disease.

Faience: “मिट्टी और चीनी मिट्टी के बर्तन, जिन पर बेल-बूटे गढ़े हों” glazed ceramic ware, in particular decorated tin-glazed earthenware of the type which includes delftware and maiolica.

Motif: ” नमूना” a decorative image or design, especially a repeated one forming a pattern.

Perishable: “नष्ट होनेवाला” Liable to spoil or decay

Pictographic: “चित्रात्मक” Expression and communication by means of pictures and drawings

Zenith: “शीर्षबिंदु” The highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body.

Inscriptions: “शिलालेख” write or carve (words or symbols) on something, especially as a formal or permanent record.

Undeciphered: “अपठित” not converted into normal language or understood.

Published by Neel Kamal

My name is Neelkamal. Here, I will provide the content effective for everyone who want to learn more and more. And if you want, I am open for your suggestion to write on. I have done M.Sc in Biotechnology and also read about the Political, Social, Environmental issues. So, my blog will surrounds upon topics related to these subjects.

4 thoughts on “Indus Valley Civilization

  1. Hey Neel Kamal! It was a thorough and comprehensive post! I am glad I came across your blog. It is great to know a person who wants to share their knowledge and opinions. Keep posting😄

    Liked by 1 person

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