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Harappan Civilization

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  • 1. Harappan Civilization 2500-1500 B.C.E. IX Eng ‘C’
  • 2. Ancient Civilizations in India
    • 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.
  • 3. Mysteries of Harappa
    • In addition to inconvenient water, Harappan civilization remains mysterious because historians can’t read Harappan script.
    • Harappan script seems to have used 400 characters that were both phonetic and logographic on thousands of clay seals and copper tablets.
  • 4.
    • 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 also domesticated poultry, sheep, and goats and grew cotton by ~5000 B.C.E.
    • By ~3000 B.C.E. the Dravidian People had built a complex society with large urban centers.
    • Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were the major cities (pop. 35-40,000) and there were about 300 smaller settlements along the Indus River.
    • 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.
  • 5. Mohenjo-Daro
  • 6. Organization
    • There is no overt evidence indicating royal authority or the usual stress on military might, but there were 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.
    • The dwelling places in the cities indicate a large degree of social stratification, but nearly all houses had indoor plumbing with showers and toilets. There was also a large public bath at Mohenjo-Daro. Was ritual cleanliness an important part of Harappan religion?
    • 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. It also indicates that like later Indian peoples, the Harappans may have cremated their dead.
  • 7. Great Bath- Mohenjo Daro
  • 8. Harappan Culture
    • Another 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 grew.
    • Between 2300-1750 B.C.E. the Harappan people traded pearls, gems, copper, and ivory for Mesopotamian wool, leather, and olive oil.
    • Harappan artisans produced many beautiful ornaments and statues.
    • Their religion, like those of most early agricultural societies, was concerned with fertility and procreation.
  • 9.  
  • 10. Decline of Harappa
    • By 1900 B.C., Harappan civilization was already on the decline. The traditional explanation was that aggressive Indo-Aryans destroyed Harappan civilization.
    • The more recent evidence indicates that Harappan civilization broke down from within, probably due to environmental factors. Careless deforestation degraded the integrity of the Harappan landscape and ruined the farm lands.
  • 11. Continuity or Change?
    • Thirty unburied skeletons in Mohenjo Daro indicated a catastrophic earthquake or fire took place there.
    • Between 1700-1500 B.C. people were abandoning the cities. They had completely collapsed by 1500 B.C.
    • The eternal question of historians of India has been “how much continuity was there between Harappan and Classical Indian civilizations?"