• The Indus valley civilization (IVC) was a bronze age civilization located in the western region of south Asia .• The civilization was spread over some 1,260,000 km, making it the largest ancient civilization.• The Indus valley is one of the worlds earliest urban civilizations,• At its peak, the Indus civilization may have had a population of well over five million. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in handicraft and metallurgy .• the civilization is noted for its cities built of brick, roadside drainage system, and multistoried houses.
The Indus ValleyCivilization is also knownas the HarappanCivilization, as the first ofits cities to be unearthedwas located atHarappa, excavated in the1920s in what was at thetime the Punjab provinceof British India (now inPakistan).
Excavation of Harappan sites has been ongoing since 1920, with important break through occurring as recently as 1999. There were earlier and later cultures, often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan, in the same area of the Harappan Civilization.
The Harappan civilization is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to distinguish it from these cultures.Up to 1999, about 1,056 cities and settlements have been found, of which 96 sites have been excavated mainly in the general region of the Indus river and its tributaries.
Among the settlements were the major urban centers of Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Ganweriwala, Dholavira, an d Rakhigarhi.The Harappan language is not directly attested and its affiliation is uncertain since the Indus script is still deciphered. A relationship with the Dravidian or Elamo- Dravidian language family is favored by most accounts.
A sophisticated andtechnologically advanced urbanculture is evident in the IndusValley Civilization making themthe first urban centers in theregion. The qualityof municipal town planningsuggests the knowledge of urbanplanning and efficient municipalgovernments which placed ahigh priorityon hygiene, or, alternatively, accessibility to the means ofreligious ritual.
From a room that appears to have been setaside for bathing, waste water was directedto covered drains, which lined the majorstreets. Houses opened only toinner courtyards and smaller lanes. Thehouse-building in some villages in theregion still resembles in some respects thehouse-building of the Harappan.The ancient Indus systems of sewerage anddrainage that were developed and used incities throughout the Indus region were farmore advanced than any found incontemporary urban sites in the MiddleEast and even more efficient than those inmany areas of Pakistan and India today.
Archaeological records provide noimmediate answers for a center of poweror for depictions of people in power inHarappan society. But, there areindications of complex decisions beingtaken and implemented. For instance, theextraordinary uniformity of Harappanartifacts as evident inpottery, seals, weights and bricks. Theseare the major assumptions:
There was a single state, given thesimilarity in artifacts, the evidence forplanned settlements, the standardizedratio of brick size, and the establishment ofsettlements near sources of raw material.There was no single ruler but several:Mohenjo-Daro had a separateruler, Harappa another, and so forth.Hardpan society had no rulers, andeverybody enjoyed equal status.
Various sculptures, seals, pottery, gold jewelry, andanatomically detailed figurines in terracotta, bronze,and steatite have been found at excavation sites.A number of gold, terra-cotta and stone figurines ofgirls in dancing poses reveal the presence ofsome dance form. Also, these terra-cotta figurinesincluded cows, bears, monkeys, and dogs. The animaldepicted on a majority of seals at sites of the matureperiod has not been clearly identified.Various sculptures, seals, pottery, gold jewelry, and anatomicallydetailed figurines in terracotta, bronze, and steatite have been found at excavationsites.
A number of gold, terra-cotta and stone figurines of girls in dancing poses reveal the presence of some dance form. Also,these terra-cotta figurines included cows, bears, monkeys, and dogs.The animal depicted on a majority of sealsat sites of the mature period has not been clearly identified
Sir John Marshall is known to have reacted withsurprise when he saw the famous Indus bronzestatuette of a slender-limbed dancing girl in Mohenjo-Daro:Many crafts "such as shellworking, ceramics, and agate and glazed steatite beadmaking" were used in the making ofnecklaces, bangles, and other ornaments from allphases of Harappan sites and some of these crafts arestill practiced in the subcontinent today. Some make-up and toiletry items (a special kind of combs(kakai), the use of collyriumand a special three-in-one toiletrygadget) that were found in Harappancontexts still have similar counterpartsin modern India.] Terracotta female figurines were found (ca. 2800-2600 BCE) which had red color applied to the "manga" (line of partition of the hair).
Seals have been found at Mohenjo-Daro depicting a figure standing on itshead, and another sitting cross-legged in whatsome call a yoga-like pose (see image, the so-called Pashupati, below).A harp-like instrument depicted on an Indusseal andtwo shell objects found at Lothalindicate the use of stringed musicalinstruments. The Harappans also madevarious toys and games, among them cubical dice (with one to six holes on the faces),which were found in siteslike Mohenjo-Daro.
The Indus civilizations economy appears to havedepended significantly on trade, which wasfacilitated by major advances in transporttechnology. The IVC may have been the firstcivilization to use wheeled transport. These advancesmay have included bullock carts that are identical tothose seen throughout South Asia today, as well asboats. Most of these boats were probably small, flat-bottomed craft, perhaps driven by sail, similar tothose one can see on the Indus River today;
During 4300–3200 BCE ofthe chalcolithic period (copper age), the IndusValley Civilization area shows ceramicsimilarities with southern Turkmenistan andnorthern Iran which suggest considerablemobility and trade. During the Early Harappanperiod (about 3200–2600 BCE), similarities inpottery, seals, figurines, ornaments, etc.document intensive caravan trade with CentralAsia and the Iranian plateau.
Some Indus valley sealsshow swastikas, which are found in otherreligions (worldwide), especially in Indianreligions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, andJainism. The earliest evidence for elementsof Hinduism are alleged to have been presenbefore and during the earlyHarappan period. Phallic symbols interpreteas the much later Hindu Shiva lingam havebeen found in the Harappan remains.
Many Indus valley seals show animals. One motifshows a horned figure seated in a posturereminiscent of the Lotus position and surrounded byanimals was named by early excavators Pashupati(lord of cattle), an epithet of thelater Hindu gods Shiva and Rudra.the Harappan people worshipped a Mother goddesssymbolizing fertility, a common practice amongrural Hindus even today. However, this view hasbeen disputed by S. Clark who sees it as aninadequate explanation of the function andconstruction of many of the figurines.
Around 1800 BCE, signs of a gradual decline began toemerge, and by around 1700 BCE, most of the citieswere abandoned. In 1953, Sir MortimerWheeler proposed that the decline of the IndusCivilization was caused by the invasion of an Indo-European tribe from Central Asia called the "Aryans".As evidence, he cited a group of 37 skeletons found invarious parts of Mohenjo-Daro, and passages in theVedas referring to battles and forts. However, scholarssoon started to reject Wheelers theory, since theskeletons belonged to a period after the citysabandonment and none were found near the citadel.
A possible natural reason for the IVCs decline isconnected with climate change that is also signaledfor the neighboring areas of the Middle East: TheIndus valley climate grew significantly cooler and drierfrom about 1800 BCE, linked to a general weakeningof the monsoon at that time. Alternatively, a crucialfactor may have been the disappearance ofsubstantial portions of the Ghaggar Hakrariver system. A tectonic event may have diverted thesystems sources toward the Ganges Plain