Contents Indus Plain Largest Civilization in Ancient World Harappan Civilization Timing City Structure Culture Trade & Economy Pictograms/ Writing 1st Urban Sanitation Current Sanitation Fall of Indus River Civilization / Climate Change
India has had civilizations as far back as 200,000 years ago From 8000-5000 B.C.E. there were Neolithic villages west of the Indus River valley in the Iranian Plateau Because water covers much of the oldest remains, archaeologists and historians aren’t sure exactly how far back in time Harappan civilization stretches. The earliest strata indicates that by 2500 B.C.E., Harappan civilization was well established. Ancient Civilizations in India
Largest Civilization in Ancient World A Civilization of large scale cities. Indus River was largest known Civilization in Ancient World. Mohenjo Daro and Harappa were urban giants, Bronze Age Manhattans. Over 200,000 people in Harappa at height of the civilization.
LocationDried-up tributaries of Indus River: Known as Ravi River and Saraswati River
Intro to HarappanCivilization Like the Nile and Tigris/Euphrates river valleys, the Indus Valley deposited alluvial soil across its flood plain, allowing early farmers to establish agriculture. Indus river people domesticated poultry, elephants, sheep, and goats. This civilization was the 1st to cultivate cotton by ~5000 B.C.E., for the production of cloth. (Predates Egyptian production)
Intro to Harappan Civilization By ~3000 B.C.E. the Dravidian People had built a complex society with large urban centers. Harappan civilization controlled an area of roughly 500,000 sq. miles. The Harappan “empire” was at least twice as big as either Egypt or Mesopotamia.
Harappan Civilization Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were the major cities (pop. 35-40,000) and regional centers. There were about 300 smaller settlements along the Indus River. City of Mohenjo-Daro emerged with Harappa in 2600 BC. This civilization with writing system, was re-discovered in 1920. The people used copper and bronze knives, spheres, and arrowheads. There were centralized administrative buildings for each city Images: archaeologyonline.net and controlled management of their geologic area.
Timin g Indus Valley Civilization Re-discovered in early 1920’s. Existed from 4000BC to 500BC. High Period 2900BC to 1900BC. Far older than the Bible, Greek or Roman Civilizations. Same time-line as Ancient Egyptian Civilization.
Excavation of Harappa.HarappanCivilization By 2500BCE, communities had been turned into urban centers. 6 urban centers 3 in India: Gonorreala, Dokalingam, Mangalore 3 in Pakistan: Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Diki In total, over 1052 cities and settlements have been found. The city was named Harappa, because it was the first city discovered of the Harappan civilization.
Successive Cities Harappan cities did not develop slowly, which suggests that whoever built these cities learned to do so in another place. As the Indus flooded, cities were rebuilt on top of each other. Archaeologists have discovered several different cities, one built over the other, each built a little less skillfully. The most skillful was on bottom. It would appear that builders grew less able or less interested in perfection over time. Each city is a marvel, and each greatly advanced for its time.
Cities Cities. Of Harappa & Mohenjo-Daro: Were constructed of the same type and shape of bricks. Both served as capitols of their respective provinces. They were laid out in grids. These people were incredible builders. The remains of the cities signifies there were no social class in this civilization.
City Structure Image from: Spiffykiffy.wordpress.com There is no evidence indicating royal authority or a significant military. There are city walls, a large granary, and a fortified citadel in each of the two major cities, indicating that Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were organizational centers.
COURTYARD Image from: Mohenjador.net It was considered to be the most fascinating culture of its time. 1052 towns and villages once were part of this civilization. The advanced architecture of the Harappans is shown by their impressive dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms, and protective walls. The massive citadels of Indus cities that protected the Harappans from floods and attackers were larger than most Mesopotamian ziggurats.
Streets Everywhere there are straight streets & well built homes! Cities are well organized with roads in a perfect city grid layout. At MD, narrow streets & alleyways are off major streets, leading down into private neighborhoods. The streets of the Indus cities are oriented towards the cardinal directions.
Houses Houses were one or two stories high, made of thick, baked brick walls, with flat roofs, and high ceilings to keep the rooms cool during the hot summers. Each was built around a courtyard, with windows overlooking the courtyard. The outside walls had no windows. The dwelling places in the cities indicate a large degree of social stratification, but nearly all houses had indoor plumbing with showers and toilets.
LOWER TOWN Crafts Quarters – are identified by large quantities of manufacturing debris, such as stone beads, shell ornaments, glazed faience ornaments, stone tools and gold working. Image from: Mohenjador.net
Image from: Mohenjador.net The Grainery of Harappa A large brick structure that was built on a massive brick foundation over 45m x 45m. Two rows of 6 rooms, each arranged along a 7m wide central hall. Each room is 15.2m x 6.1m and has 3 sleeper walls with air spaces in between.
RINGSTONESRingstones were used as supports for wooden poles andtimbers for doors, gates, and fake walls made of fabric, woodor woven fronds.
Water / Irrigation Systems “Sometime in the third millennium B.C., the Harappan civilization of the Indus Valley built water systems that in many ways would rival and surpass any other water system, except that of the Romans, until the middle of the 19th century.” (Carter) It was the Harappan civilization that gave us the plumber and the first indoor plumbing. The mains that carried wastewater to a cesspit were tall enough for people to walk through. “Even today, nothing like this exists for nearly half of the worlds population." (Carter)
Earliest Form of Sanitary Engineering 1st known toilets and running water in residential buildings in the world. By 2500BC, highly developed drainage system where wastewater from each house flowed into the main drain. The ancient Indus systems of sewage and drainage that were developed and used in cities throughout the Indus Empire were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in the Middle East and even more efficient than those in some areas of modern Pakistan and India today.
First Urban Sanitation System The people had water borne toilets in each house. The houses were lined with drains covered with burnt clay bricks (burning makes clay harder, more dense). The system had manhole covers, chambers, etc., to facilitate maintenance. It was the first form of sanitary engineering. From a room that appears to have been set aside for bathing, waste water was directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets.
Houses and Running Water Each home had its own private drinking well and its own private bathroom. Clay pipes led from the bathrooms to sewers located under the streets. These sewers drained into nearly rivers and streams.
Town Planning / Sanitary Sewers Scientists have found giant reservoirs for fresh water. They have also found that even the smallest house at the edge of each town was linked to that towns central drainage system. They not only drained waste water out, but also had a system to pump fresh water into the homes, similar to modern plumbing. After the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, the science of engineering disappeared from India. Today, many towns in So. Asia still do not even come close to the detail, organization and depth of hydro-engineering that was used over 4500 years ago!
The Pool/ Great Bath About 2200 B.C., Mohenjo Daros people built what archaeologists regard as the most spectacular feature yet discovered: a pool 39’ long, 23’ wide, and 8’ deep. The brick walls were sealed with bitumen, and the floor was slanted toward a corner drain. There are two flights of steps into this commodious tank, used 4,000 years ago.
Mohenjo-Daro Bath The Great public bath at Mohenjo-Daro. The earliest public water tank; 2 staircases led down into the tank. Predates Roman baths by @2000 years ! Was ritual cleanliness an important part of Harappan religion?
Earthen Tanks of Today “On another day I watched crews excavate a huge stone-lined cistern. Men dug, and women (often laborers in India) bore away the debris, walking gracefully with laden pans upon their heads. Their saris and veils– red, orange, yellow–lit up the sere countryside.” “Numerous reservoirs were scattered about Dholavira, and some may have been used for ritual bathing. But mainly, the people were thinking not to let a single drop of water escape. No freshwater river flowed into the salty coastal regions; hence Dholavira must have relied heavily on the monsoon rains. Two gullies near the city were dammed to catch water when it came; ditches diverted it into reservoirs.” (Edwards, M.)
Current Sanitary Conditions Visiting India, Edwards learned that only 232 of the nations 5,003 towns had sewer systems. Citizens of the other 4,771 communities used dry latrines or nothing at all. The sacred Ganges River, known as Maa Ganges (Mother Ganges), is a source of drinking water as well as a place to bathe and scatter ashes after cremation. The river festers with untreated sewage and bodies that are only partially cremated, yet people cook with Ganges water. (Edwards, M.)
Harappan Culture One striking feature of Harappan civilization was that throughout the large territory there was a remarkable degree of standardization in not only in architectural styles, but also weight and measures and even brick sizes. The layout of the major cities indicates that they were planned before they were built, rather than rising up organically as the population grows, like today.
Harappan Burial Rituals There are very few grave sites throughout the Harappan lands; in other civilizations, grave burials normally help historians understand the beliefs of ancient cultures. This lack of evidence means that there aren’t as many preserved luxury goods. Simple burials. Early Harappan burial sites yielded simple wooden coffins which were entombed in a rectangular pit with burial offerings in pottery vessels. Offerings: Gold, agate, jasper, steatite, and greenstone. In addition, cremation of Human remains and bones were also stored in pottery burial urns. Images: archaeologyonline.net
Standardized Weights & Measures Cubical weights were found in graduated sizes in Harappa. These weights conform to the standard Harappan binary weight system that was used in all of the settlements. Probably for controlling trade and quite possibly for collecting taxes. The smallest weight is 0.856g and the most common weight is @13.7g. (a 1/16 ratio)
Trade & Economy It was mainly an urban culture Majority agriculture Traded with Mesopotamia Mostly brick houses and fortified administrative and religious centers Seals were used to identify property and shipment Wheel-made pottery & animal cultivation Image: chemistryland.com
Agricultural Base Terraced fields Fishing with hooks Image: fao.org Earthen walls were built to control the River’s annual flooding. Crops grown include wheat, barley, peas, melons, rice, vegetables, fruit s and sesame. This civilization was the 1st to cultivate cotton for the production of cloth. Several animals were domesticated, including the elephant, sheep, pigs, zebus (cow), and water
Trade networks linked this culture Economy with related regional cultures and distant sources of raw materials including lapis lazuli and other materials for bead making. These people were traders across Persian Gulf. Inhabitants of the Indus Valley traded with Mesopotamia, So. India, Afghanistan, and Persia. Between 2300-1750 B.C.E. the Harappan people traded pearls, gems, copper, and ivory for Mesopotamian wool, leather, and olive oil.
Pictogram Writing The Harappan people used pictographic script. 3500 specimens of the script survive in stamp seals carved out of stone, in molded terra cotta, faience amulets, pottery fragments, and in other inscribed objects. Along with the pictographs are more realistic pictures of animals, cultic scenes, and deity worship. The origins of Indus writing can be traced to the Ravi Phase in Harappa: from 3300 – 2800BC. Image from: thenagain.info
Pictogram Writing Artifacts found are small square steatite seals of human and animal motif Writings couldn’t be analyzed despite the help of philologists from all over the world Writings are also hard to match with proto- Dravidian, proto-Sramanic, vedic, or non-vedic scripts
Language / Writing In addition to inconvenient water, Harappan civilization remains mysterious because historians can’t read Harappan script. The civilization consisted of literate people who used Dravidian language to communicate. Harappan script seems to have used 400 characters that were both phonetic and logographic on thousands of clay seals and copper tablets.
Art Their art works were very small and used as personal possessions. Harappan artisans produced many beautiful ornaments and statues. Some art statuary seems to have an early Mesopotamian / Assyrian influence.
Holocene Climate Changes 1 During Early Holocene this region was an open steppe rich in grasses, Artemisia and sedges. @ 7500BP early agriculture and land alteration. Appearance of charcoal and Cerealia type pollen. Increase in mesophytic vegetation between 5000 to 3500 BP. (Singh et al,1974) to represent the moistest period of Holocene. During the Early Holocene, So. Asian may have been 2o to 4o warmer than present with increased summer rainfall relative to that at present, creating a very hospitable climate for a civilization to flourish. Pollen bearing sediments suggest far greater ppt than at present time. Bryson & Swain 1981 estimate that ppt of Western Rajasthan between 10,000 to ~ 3,500BP (1500BC) may have been 3x that of present.
Water Supply Harappa Early Holocene Climate shift Harappan Civilization Collapse
Global Climate Change 2 It is believed that there was a significant amount of global climate change, because of expansion of arctic air which may have caused drought. Using NE Arabian Sea sediment cores, geochemist Michael Staubuasser examined the link between the abrupt climate change @4200 BP (2200BC) and the collapse of the Harrappan Civilization in the Indus River Valley. Oxygen isotope shifts in a sediment core revealed a sharp decline in the outflow from the Indus River 4200BP that transformed the Indus River Valley Civilization from a highly urban phase to a rural post-urban phase. Cultural centers such as the large cities of Mohenjo – Daro & Hrappa, were almost completely abandoned. The Saraswati River was totally dry by 1900BC.
Fall Of Harappan Civilization Annual Precipitation The reduction of average rainfall over the Indus River watershed restricted Harappan farming in the Indus Valley and left large city populations unsustainable.
River Avulsion Harapa lies on an old terrace of the Ravi River. River avulsion also has important archaeological significance for this region. The tributaries of the Indus (Ravi, Sutlej, Sarawati) have had a very dynamic nature. The Earliest Phase of the Ravi River was 3300-2800 BC. This is when Pre-Harappan regional culture emerged and subsequently the great Indus River Civilization. By 2600BC, The Indus valley was verdant, forested and teeming with wildlife. Since then, there has been frequent avulsion and sediment deposition. Harappa now lies some 20 km south of the present Ravi River. Both ancient site and modern town are located on south bank of a channel that often carries water during the summer monsoon floods, which was once the main course of the Ravi. The Ravi River meandered @ Harappa. At least 3 meanders of different ages were identified through soil analysis @ Harappa.
Climate Change Background In So. Asia, the Himalayas create the monsoon The monsoon provides the water that supports agriculture in this region As the monsoon declined over time it shifted east As precipitation in the region declined, river dried up and the Indus Valley cities died.
MonsoonandPopulationShift As the Monsoon shifted East to Ganges Plain many Indus people followed monsoon and migrated to Ganges Plain @ 1500BC Same time as Arian invasion from the North. Arian’s : “ Civilized Ones”.
Graphs and Primary Sources Wright, R.P., M. Afzal Khan & J. Schuldenrein.; 2005a. The emergence of satellite communities along the Beas drainage: preliminary results from Lahoma Lal Tibba and Chak Purbane Syal, in C. Jarrige & V. Lef`evre (ed.) South Asian Archaeology 2001 (Proceedings of the 16th International Conference of the European Association of South Asian Archaeologists, College de France, Paris, 2-6 July 2001): 327-35. Paris: Recherche sur les civilisations. Wright, R.P., J. Schuldenrein, M. Afzal Khan & S. Malin-Boyce. 2005b. The Beas River landscape and settlement survey: preliminary results from the site of Vainiwal, in U. Frank-Vogt & H.-J. Weisshaar (ed.) South Asian Archaeology 2003 (Proceedings of the 17th International Conference of the European Association of South Asian Archaeologists, Bonn, 7-11 July 2003): 101-11. Aachen Linden Soft. 48 Amundson, R. & E. Pendall. 1991. Pedology and Late Quaternary environments surrounding Harappa: a review and synthesis, in R.H. Meadow (ed.) Harappa Excavations 1986-1990: a multidisciplinary approach to third millennium urbanism (Monographs in World Archaeology 3):13–27. Madison (WI): Prehistory Press.
Primary Sources Singh, G., R.D. Joshi, S.K. Chopra & A.B. Singh. 1974. Late Quaternary history of vegetation and climate of the Rajasthan Desert, India. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (Series B, Biological Sciences) 267(889): 467-501. Singh, G., R.J. Wasson & D.P. Agrawal. 1990. Vegetational and seasonal climatic changes since the last full glacial in the Thar Desert, northwestern India. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 64: 351-8. Staubwasser, M., F. Sirocko, P.M. Grootes & M. Segl. 2003. Climate change at the 4.2 ka BP termination of the Indus Valley civilization and Holocene South Asian monsoon variability. Geophysical Research Letters 30: 1425-9. Schuldenrein, J. 2002. Geoarchaeological perspectives on the Harappan sites of South Asia, in S. Settar & R. Korisettar (ed.) Indian Archaeology in Retrospect, Volume 2 (Protohistory), Archaeology of the Harappan Civilization: 47-80. New Delhi: Indian Council of Historical Research/Manohar Bindeswar Pathak, Ph.D., D.Litt. at the International Symposium on
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