The Indus Valley Civilization History Essay

The Indus Valley civilisation is besides known as the Harappan Civilization after the small town named Harappa, in what is now Pakistan, where the civilisation was foremost discovered. It is besides known as the Indus Civilization because two of its best-known metropoliss, Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, are situated along the Bankss of the Indus River. This name is inaccurate. Most of the civilisation ‘s colonies were situated along the every bit monolithic Ghaggar-Hakra river system, which is now mostly nonextant. The Indus Valley civilisation extended over a big part of contemporary Pakistan and western India. It flourished between 2600 and 1900 BC.

Forgotten to history prior to its rediscovery in the 1920s, the Indus civilisation — as it is more normally ( if inaccurately ) called — ranks with its coevalss, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, as one of the three earliest of all human civilisations, as defined by the outgrowth of metropoliss and composing.

The Indus civilisation was non the earliest human civilisation ; Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt developed metropoliss somewhat before the Indus civilisation did. Nevertheless, the Indus civilisation was by far the most geographically extended of the three earliest civilisations. Over 1000 colonies have been found, the bulk along the way of the nonextant Ghaggar-Hakra river, which one time flowed — like the Indus — through what is now known as the Indus Valley. ( It is due to the Ghaggar-Hakra ‘s prominence that some bookmans, with justification, prefer to talk of the Indus Valley civilisation instead than the Indus civilisation ; for the interest of brevity, this article will utilize the older terminology. )

Other Indus civilisation colonies were situated along the Indus and its feeders or spread every bit widely as Mumbai ( Bombay ) to the South, Delhi to the E, the Persian boundary line to the West and the Himalayas to the north. Among the colonies are legion metropoliss, including Dholavira [ ? ] , Ganeriwala [ ? ] , Harappa, Lothal, Mohenjo-daro and Rakhigarhi [ ? ] . At its extremum, its population may hold exceeded five million people. In changeless, close communicating were towns and metropoliss separated by distances of 1000 kilometer.

For all its accomplishments, the Indus civilisation is ill understood. Its really being was forgotten until the twentieth century. Its authorship system remains undeciphered. Among the Indus civilisation ‘s enigmas are cardinal inquiries, including its agencies of subsistence and the causes of its sudden, dramatic disappearing, get downing around 1900 BC. We do non cognize what linguistic communication Indus civilisation spoke. We do non cognize what they called themselves. All of these facts stand in stark contrast to what is known about its coevalss, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.

Table of contents

1 Predecessors

2 Emergence of Civilization

3 Cities

4 Economy

5 Agribusiness

6 Writing

7 Decline and Collapse

8 Bequest

9 External Mentions


The Indus civilisation was predated by the first agriculture civilizations in south Asia, which emerged in the hills Baluchistan, to the West of the Indus Valley. The best-known site of this civilization is Mehrgarh, established around 6500 BC [ ? ] . These early husbandmans domesticated wheat and a assortment of animate beings, including cowss. Pottery was in usage by around 5500 BC [ ? ] . The Indus civilization grew out of this civilization ‘s technological base, every bit good as its geographic enlargement into the alluvial fields of what are now the states of Sindh and Punjab in modern-day Pakistan.

By 4000 BC, a typical, regional civilization, called pre-Harappan, had emerged in this country. ( It is called pre-Harappan because remains of this widespread civilization are found in the early strata of Indus civilisation metropoliss. ) Trade webs linked this civilization with related regional civilizations and distant beginnings of natural stuffs, including lapis lazuli and other stuffs for bead-making. Villagers had, by this clip, domesticated legion harvests, including peas, benne seed, day of the months, and cotton, every bit good as a broad scope of domestic animate beings, including the H2O American bison, an animate being that remains indispensable to intensive agricultural production throughout Asia today.

Emergence of Civilization

By 2600 BC, some pre-Harappan colonies grew into metropoliss incorporating 1000s of people who were non chiefly engaged in agribusiness. Subsequently, a incorporate civilization emerged throughout the country, conveying into conformance colonies that were separated by every bit much as 1,000 kilometer. and muffling regional differences. So sudden was this civilization ‘s outgrowth that early bookmans thought that it must hold resulted from external conquering or migration. Yet archeologists have demonstrated that this civilization did, in fact, arise from its pre-Harappan predecessor. The civilization ‘s sudden visual aspect appears to hold been the consequence of planned, deliberate attempt. For illustration, some colonies appear to hold been intentionally rearranged to conform to a witting, well-developed program. For this ground, the Indus civilisation is recognized to be the first to develop urban planning.


The Indus civilisation ‘s preference for urban planning is apparent in the larger colonies and metropoliss. Typically, the metropolis is divided into two subdivisions. The first country includes a raised, earthen platform ( dubbed the “ Citadel ” by early archeologists ) . The 2nd country ( called the “ lower metropolis ” ) contains tightly packed places and stores, every bit good as chiseled streets that were laid out to a precise program. A system of unvarying weights and steps was in usage, and streets and back streets are of stiffly unvarying breadth in virtually all Harappan sites. The chief edifice stuff was brick, both fired and sun-baked, of a strictly standardised size. The largest metropoliss every bit many as 30,000 people.

As seen in Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, the best-known ( and perchance the largest ) metropoliss, this urban program included the universe ‘s first urban sanitation systems. Within the metropolis, single places or groups of places obtained H2O from Wellss. From a room that appears to hold been set aside for bathing, waste H2O was directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets. Although the well-engineered system drained waste H2O from the metropolis, it seems clear that the streets were far from fragrant. Houses opened merely to inner courtyards and smaller lanes.

The intent of the “ Citadel ” remains a affair of argument. In crisp contrast to this civilisation ‘s coevalss, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, no big, monumental constructions were built. There is no conclusive grounds of castles or temples — or, so, of male monarchs, ground forcess, or priests. Some constructions are thought to hold been garners. Found at one metropolis is an tremendous, well-built bath, which may hold been a public bath. Although the “ Citadels ” are walled, it is far from clear that these constructions were defensive. They may hold been built to deviate inundation Waterss.

Most metropolis inhabitants appear to hold been bargainers or craftsmans, who lived with others prosecuting the same business in chiseled vicinities. Materials from distant parts were used in the metropoliss for building seals, beads and other objects. Among the artefacts made were beautiful beads made of glassy rock ( called faience [ ? ] . The seals have images of animate beings, Gods etc. , and letterings. Some of the seals were used to stomp clay on trade goods, but they likely had other utilizations. Although some houses were larger than others, Indus civilisation metropoliss were singular for their evident equalitarianism. For illustration, all houses had entree to H2O and drainage installations. One gets the feeling of a huge, middle-class society.


The Indus civilisation ‘s economic system appears to hold depended significantly on trade, which was facilitated by major progresss in conveyance engineering. These progresss included bullock-driven carts that are indistinguishable to those seen throughout South Asia today, every bit good as boats. Most of these boats were likely little, flat-bottomed trade, possibly driven by canvas, similar to those one can see on the Indus River today ; nevertheless, there is secondary grounds of sea-going trade: late, archeologists have discovered a monolithic, dredged canal and docking installation at a coastal metropolis.

Judging from the dispersion of Indus civilisation artefacts, the trade webs economically integrated a immense country, including parts of Afghanistan, the coastal parts of Persia, northern and cardinal India, and Mesopotamia. A Sumerian lettering appears to utilize the name Meluhha to mention to the Indus civilisation. If so, it is the lone grounds we possess that might propose what Indus civilisation people called themselves.


Indus civilisation agribusiness must hold been extremely productive ; after all, it was capable of bring forthing excesss sufficient to back up 10s of 1000s of urban occupants who were non chiefly engaged in agribusiness. It relied on the considerable technological accomplishments of the pre-Harappan civilization, including the Big Dipper. Still, really small is known about the husbandmans who supported the metropoliss or their agricultural methods. Some of them doubtless made usage of the fertile alluvial dirt [ ? ] left by rivers after the inundation season, but this simple method of agribusiness is non thought to be productive plenty to back up metropoliss. There is no grounds of irrigation, but such grounds could hold been obliterated by repeated, ruinous inundations.

The Indus civilisation appears to disconfirm the Oriental Despotism [ ? ] hypothesis, which is concerned with the beginning of urban civilisation and the province. Harmonizing to this hypothesis, metropoliss could non hold arisen without irrigation systems capable of bring forthing monolithic agricultural excesss [ ? ] . To construct these systems, a despotic, centralised province emerged that was capable of stamp downing the societal position of 1000s of people and tackling their labour as slaves. It is really hard to square this hypothesis with what is known about the Indus civilisation. There is no grounds of irrigation — and what is more, there is no grounds of male monarchs, slaves, or forced mobilisation of labour.

It is frequently assumed that intensive agricultural production requires dikes and canals. This premise is easy refuted. Throughout Asia, rice husbandmans produce important agricultural excesss from terraced, hillside rice Paddies [ ? ] , which result non from bondage but instead the accrued labour of many coevalss of people. Alternatively of edifice canals, Indus civilisation people may hold built H2O recreation strategies, which — like patio agribusiness [ ? ] — can be elaborated by coevalss of small-scale labour investings. In add-on, it is known that Indus civilisation people practiced rainfall harvest home [ ? ] , a powerful engineering that was brought to fruition by classical Indian civilisation but about forgotten in the twentieth century. It should be remembered that Indus civilisation people, like all peoples in South Asia, built their lives around the monsoon, a conditions form in which the majority of a twelvemonth ‘s rainfall occurs in a four-month period. At a late discovered Indus civilisation metropolis in western India, archaeologists discovered a series of monolithic reservoirs, hewn from solid stone and designed to roll up rainfall, that would hold been capable of run intoing the metropolis ‘s demands during the dry season.

The nature of the Indus civilisation ‘s agricultural system is still mostly a affair of speculation. But the affair is of import. It is possible that this civilisation teaches an of import lesson. By agencies of corporate societal action and harmonious integrating with the natural environment, human existences may hold one time created considerable economic prosperity without societal inequality or political subjugation. If this is so the Indus civilisation ‘s accomplishment, it is among the most baronial in all human history.


The Indus civilisation remains cryptic in another manner: Despite legion efforts, bookmans have non been able to decode the Indus book. One job is the deficiency of grounds. Most of the known letterings have been found on seals or ceramic pots, and are no more than 4 or 5 characters in length ; the longest is 26 characters. There is no grounds of a organic structure of literature. A complicating factor: No 1 knows which linguistic communication Indus civilisation people spoke ; likely campaigners are the Dravidian linguistic communication household, the Munda, the Indo-Aryan, and Sumerian. Were it known which linguistic communication was spoken by Indus civilisation people, bookmans might derive hints that could assist them decode the book. But no 1 knows.

Because the letterings are so short, some bookmans wonder whether the Indus book fell abruptly of a true authorship system ; it has been suggested that the system amounted to little more than a agency of entering individuality in economic minutess. Still, it is possible that longer texts were written in perishable media. Morever, there is one, little piece of grounds proposing that the book embodies a well-known, widespread, and complex communicating system. At a late discovered Indus civilisation metropolis in Western India, grounds has been found that appears to be the leftovers of a big mark that was mounted above the gate to the metropolis. Possibly it was designed to inform travellers ( who would hold been legion ) of the metropolis ‘s name, correspondent to the welcome marks seen today along main roads taking to major metropoliss.

Decline and Collapse

For 700 old ages, the Indus civilisation provided its peoples with prosperity and copiousness and its craftsmans produced goods of exceling beauty and excellence. But about every bit all of a sudden as the civilisation emerged, it declined and disappeared. No 1 knows why.

Around 1900 BC, marks began to emerge of mounting jobs. Peoples started to go forth the metropoliss. Those who remained were ill nourished. By around 1800 BC, most of the metropoliss were abandoned. In the centuries to come — and once more, in crisp contrast to its coevalss, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt — remembrance of the Indus civilisation and its accomplishments seemed to vanish from the record of human experience. Unlike the antediluvian Egyptians and Mesopotamians, Indus civilisation people built no immense, stone memorials to certify to their being. One could reason that they could non make so because rock was difficult to come by in the Indus Valley alluvial sediment. One could besides reason that the construct of an tremendous, intimidating memorial was foreign to their position of the universe.

To be certain, Indus civilisation people did non vanish. In the wake of the Indus civilisation ‘s prostration, regional civilizations emerged, all of which show the tarriance influence — to changing grades — of the Indus civilisation. In the once great metropolis of Harappa, entombments have been found that correspond to a regional civilization called the Cemetery H civilization. Some former Indus civilisation people appear to hold migrated to the E, toward the Gangetic Plain [ ? ] . What disappeared was non the people, but the civilisation: the metropoliss, the authorship system, the trade webs, and — finally — the political orientation that so evidently provided the rational foundation for this civilisation ‘s integrating.

In the past, many bookmans argued that the prostration was so sudden that it must hold been caused by foreign conquering. In the 19th century, some bookmans argued that “ superior ” Aryan encroachers, with their Equus caballuss and chariots, conquered the “ crude, ” “ dark, ” and “ weak ” peoples they encountered in ancient South Asia. Subsequently, these “ white ” encroachers intermingled with the autochthonal “ dark ” population, and grew “ weak ” — and hence ripe for repeated conquering. It was portion of a larger, fabulous narration that was used to legalize the English colonisation of the “ weak ” and “ dark ” peoples of India. These thoughts were developed before the find of the Indus civilisation itself, when it was assumed that the pre-Aryan Indian populations lived crude lives. When the civilisation was discovered in the 1920s, these statements were adapted to show the Indo-Aryans as energetic barbaric warriors who overthrew a inactive or peaceable urban civilization. In the words of the archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler, the Indo-Aryan war God Indra ‘stands accused ‘ of the devastation.

Current thought does non give much acceptance to the position that the Indo-Aryans were responsible for the prostration of the Indus civilisation, or that ‘ ” white ” encroachers displaced or subordinated “ dark ” indigens. Centuries would go through before Cardinal Asiatic Indo-Aryans appeared in South Asia. Even so, there is no grounds — an vague Vedic mention notwithstanding — that these peoples conquered a civilisation. The facts are these: by the clip the Central Asiatic peoples arrived, the Indus civilisation had collapsed.

What caused the prostration? It seems undeniable that a major factor was climatic alteration. In 2600 BC, the Indus Valley was verdant, forested, and pullulating with wildlife. It was wetter, excessively. Floods were a job and appear, on more than one juncture, to hold overwhelmed certain colonies. A point in fact: Indus civilisation people supplemented their diet with hunting, a fact that is all but impossible when 1 considers today ‘s dessicated, denuded environment. By 1800 BC, the clime is known to hold changed. It became significantly cooler and drier. But this fact entirely may non hold been sufficient to convey down the Indus civilisation.

The important factor may hold been the disappearing of significant parts of the Ghaggar-Hakra river system. A tectonic event may hold diverted the system ‘s beginnings toward the Ganges Plain, though there is some uncertainness about the day of the month of this event. Such a statement may look doubtful if one does non recognize that the passage between the Indus and Gangetic plains sums to a affair of inches, and is all but unperceivable. The part in which the river ‘s Waterss once arose is known to be geologically active, and there is grounds of major tectonic events at the clip the Indus civilisation collapsed. The river ‘s very being was unknown until the late twentieth century, when geologists used satellite photographs to follow its former class through the Indus Valley. If the Ghaggar-Hakra river system dried up when the Indus civilisation was at its tallness, the effects would hold been lay waste toing. Refugees would hold flooded the other metropoliss. The “ critical mass ” needed for economic integrating would hold collapsed.

The most likely account is that the causes were multiple — and, in their collection, ruinous. In the worsening old ages, Indus civilisation people tried to hang on to their old manner of life, but in the terminal, they gave up. By 1600 BC, the metropoliss were deserted. In the nineteenth century, British applied scientists discovered that the abundant bricks found in the ruins — in which they expressed no apparent wonder — provided first-class natural stuffs for railroad building. They proceeded to destruct much of the available archeological grounds.


The relationship between the Indus civilisation and the early Sanskrit linguistic communication civilization that produced the Vedic texts of Hinduism is ill-defined. It is perplexing that the most ancient Vedic texts — unwritten traditions that were non written down until long after Central Asians had settled in the Gangetic Plain and intermingled with its autochthonal occupants — speak of a beautiful river, the Sarasvati river. They recall a thriving, Utopian life style that emerged along its Bankss. The texts besides seem to depict the sad narrative of the river ‘s disappearing. Still, all the grounds suggests that the supposed writers of the earliest Vedas — “ Indo-european ” migrators from Central Asia — did non look until many centuries after the Indus civilisation ‘s prostration.

Are the ancient Vedic mentions to the Sarasviti River strictly fabulous? Did they refer to some other river? Did they refer to the Ghaggar-Hakra river? We are in the kingdom of speculation. To perplex affairs, this topic has been drawn into the struggle that divides India and Pakistan. Still, it is possible Vedic civilisation, originating centuries after the Indus civilisation ‘s ruin, evolved in a duologue between Central Asian immigrants and autochthonal, small town peoples, who may hold recalled — possibly mythologically — the Indus civilisation ‘s magnificence and its prostration.

This reading squares with some of the grounds. The “ Aryan ” migrators who arrived in India centuries after the Indus civilisation ‘s prostration were related to other peoples who migrated to the Middle East and Europe during the same period ; all these peoples brought with them a typical faith focused on the worship of a Sun God. In India, these beliefs shortly gave manner to a well more advanced and sophisticated spiritual tradition, Hinduism, which looks to the most ancient Vedas as a beginning of legitimacy but departs from them philosophically in important ways. It is possible ( but however a affair of speculation ) that the Indus civilisation ‘s bequest contributed to Hinduism ‘s development. As several archeologists have noted, there is something indescribably “ Indian ” about the Indus vale civilisation. Judging from the abundant statuettes picturing female birthrate that they left buttocks, Indus civilisation people — like modern Hindus — may hold held a particular topographic point in their worship for a female parent goddess and the life-affirming rules she represents ( see Shakti and Kali ) . Their seals depict animate beings in a manner that seems to propose fear, possibly boding Hindu strong beliefs sing the sacredness of cowss. Like Hindus today, Indus civilisation people seemed to hold placed a high value on bathing, personal cleanliness, and shacking with one ‘s extended household.

Possibly the most of import bequest of the Indus civilisation, if such a bequest exists, was its passive resistance. In amazing and dramatic contrast to other ancient civilisations, the archeological record of the Indus civilisation provides small or no believable grounds of ground forcess, male monarchs, slaves, societal struggle, political subjugation, gross societal inequalities, prisons, and the other afflictions that we associate with civilisation. Make the Indus civilisation contribute in some manner to the construct of ahimsa ( passive resistance ) , one of the most of import of all Hindu beliefs? Possibly we will ne’er cognize. But we should retrieve the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “ I have nil new to learn the universe. Truth and non-violence are every bit old as the hills. ”

External Mentions

hypertext transfer protocol: // has descriptions and exposure of archeological diggings.

hypertext transfer protocol: // shows how the Indus Valley Civilization has become combative in contemporary Indian political relations, giving a sum-up of present cognition.

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