Harappan civilization
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Harappan civilization

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Harappan civilization Harappan civilization Document Transcript

  • Harappan Civilization One of the most fascinating yet mysterious cultures of the ancient world is the Harappan civilization. This culture existed along the Indus River in present day Pakistan. It was named after the city of Harappa which it was centered around. Harappa and the city of Mohenjo-Daro were the greatest achievements of the Indus valley civilization. These cities are well known for their impressive, organized and regular layout. Over one hundred other towns and villages also existed in this region. The Harappan people were literate and used the Dravidian language. Only part of this language has been deciphered today, leaving numerous questions about this civilization unanswered. Back to "Indus Valley Civilization" Chronology Artifacts and clues discovered at Mohenjo-Daro have allowed archaeologists to reconstruct this civilization. The similarities in plan and construction between MohenjoDaro and Harappa indicate that they were part of a unified government with extreme organization. Both cities were constructed of the same type and shape of bricks. The two cities may have existed simultaneously and their sizes suggest that they served as capitals of their provinces. In contrast to other civilizations, burials found from these cities are not magnificent; they are more simplistic and contain few material goods. This evidence suggests that this civilization did not have social classes. Remains of palaces or temples in the cities have not been found. No hard evidence exists indicating military activity; it is likely that the Harappans were a peaceful civilization. The cities did contain fortifications and the people used copper and bronze knives, spears, and arrowheads. The Harappan civilization was mainly urban and mercantile. Inhabitants of the Indus valley traded with Mesopotamia, southern India, Afghanistan, and Persia for gold, silver, copper, and turquoise. The Mesopotamian model of irrigated agriculture was used to take advantage of the fertile grounds along the Indus River. Earthlinks were built to control the river's annual flooding. Crops grown included wheat, barley, peas, melons, and sesame. This civilization was the first to cultivate cotton for the production of cloth. Several animals were domesticated including the elephant which was used for its ivory. Most of the artwork from this civilization was small and used as personal possessions. The first objects unearthed from Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were small stone seals. These seals were inscribed with elegant portrayals of real and imagined animals and were marked with the Indus script writing. The seals suggest a symbolic or religious intent. Stone sculptures carved in steatite, limestone, or alabaster depict a male figure who may have represented a god. Pottery figures were shaped into humans and animals. Very few bronze figures have been recovered. The Harappan civilization experienced its height around 2500 BC and began to decline about 2000 BC. The causes of its downfall are not certain. One theory suggests that the Aryan people migrated into this area. Aryan religious texts and human remains in
  • Mohenjo-Daro suggest that the Aryans may have violently entered the area, killing its inhabitants and burning the cities. However, another theory supported by more recent evidence suggests that this civilization may have begun to decline before the Aryans arrived. The inhabitants of the Indus valley dispersed before the Aryans slowly entered the area as a nomadic people. The Aryans were then able to take over this area since most of the inhabitants had previously left. One cause of the dispersal of the Harappans could have been a result of agricultural problems. Topsoil erosion, depletion of nutrients from the soil, or a change in the course of the Indus River may have forced these people to leave their towns and move northeastward in search of more fertile land. The earliest traces of civilization in the Indian subcontinent are to be found in places along, or close, to the Indus river. Excavations first conducted in 1921-22, in the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, both now in Pakistan, pointed to a highly complex civilization that first developed some 4,500-5,000 years ago, and subsequent archaeological and historical research has now furnished us with a more detailed picture of the Indus Valley Civilization and its inhabitants. The Indus Valley people were most likely Dravidians, who may have been pushed down into south India when the Aryans, with their more advanced military technology, commenced their migrations to India around 2,000 BCE. Though the Indus Valley script remains undeciphered down to the present day, the numerous seals discovered during the excavations, as well as statuary and pottery, not to mention the ruins of numerous Indus Valley cities, have enabled scholars to construct a reasonably plausible account of the Indus Valley Civilization. Some kind of centralized state, and certainly fairly extensive town planning, is suggested by the layout of the great cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. The same kind of burnt brick appears to have been used in the construction of buildings in cities that were as much as several hundred miles apart. The weights and measures show a very considerable regularity. The Indus Valley people domesticated animals, and harvested various crops, such as cotton, sesame, peas, barley, and cotton. They may also have been a sea-faring people, and it is rather interesting that Indus Valley seals have been dug up in such places as Sumer. In most respects, the Indus Valley Civilization appears to have been urban, defying both the predominant idea of India as an eternally and essentially agricultural civilization, as well as the notion that the change from ‘rural’ to ‘urban’ represents something of a logical progression. The Indus Valley people had a merchant class that, evidence suggests, engaged in extensive trading. Neither Harappa nor Mohenjodaro show any evidence of fire altars, and consequently one can reasonably conjecture that the various rituals around the fire which are so critical in Hinduism were introduced later by the Aryans. The Indus Valley people do not appear to have been in possession of the horse: there is no osteological evidence of horse remains in the Indian subcontinent before 2,000 BCE, when the Aryans first came to India, and on Harappan seals and terracotta figures, horses do not appear. Other than the archaeological ruins of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, these seals provide the most detailed clues about the character of the Indus Valley people. Bulls and elephants do appear on these seals, but the horned bull, most scholars are
  • agreed, should not be taken to be congruent with Nandi, or Shiva’s bull. The horned bull appears in numerous Central Asian figures as well; it is also important to note that Shiva is not one of the gods invoked in the Rig Veda. The revered cow of the Hindus also does not appear on the seals. The women portrayed on the seals are shown with elaborate coiffures, sporting heavy jewelry, suggesting that the Indus Valley people were an urbane people with cultivated tastes and a refined aesthetic sensibility. A few thousand seals have been discovered in Indus Valley cities, showing some 400 pictographs: too few in number for the language to have been ideographic, and too many for the language to have been phonetic.