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INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION

Updated on April 14, 2012

INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION

MOUND OF THE DEAD

Imagine a city built 4000 years ago, with three storied houses and bathrooms attached. Having an elaborate drainage system and magnificent public baths. Then suddenly around 1700 BC this city is abandoned, leaving ample traces of it existence but no hints for its disappearance---that is the mystery of Mohenjo-daro which literally means ‘Mound of the dead'.

Mohenjo-daro (now in Pakistan) and Harrapa were cities which were part of a civilization which existed on the banks of the river Indus (Sindhu). At a time when urban dwellings were unheard of, Mohenja daro and Harrappa were exceptions. Separated nearly 400 miles apart, they were cities which were part of the Indus valley civilization which sprawled all over the Indus plain (the Punjab and Sind) and parts of Northern Rajasthan and Kathiawar.

URBAN CULTURE

The ruins of Indus Valley civilization was first discovered in 1826 by a British Army deserter named James Lewis. In a small town in Punjab called Harrappa, He noticed a large mound, but the importance of this discovery was not fully appreciated. Three decades later Sir Alexander Cunningham, who was the head of the Archaeological Survey of India, rediscovered this site in 1853. It was an accidental discovery, because he was actually trying to follow the trail of Chinese pilgrims who visited Buddhist cities. But unlike Lewis, Sir Alexander Cunningham realized its importance and once again excavated the site in 1856. Though what he discovered was some ancient pottery and stone tools, his findings generated some interest amongst scholars.Rediscovered in 1922 by R.D.Banerji, it was later excavated by Sir John Marshall during the 1930s which greatly helped in throwing some light on this lost civilization which is also known as Harrappan civilization. It is estimated that during its heyday Indus valley civilization must have had nearly five million inhabitants. The cities had grid-like well laid out streets with buildings made out of baked bricks. What is noteworthy is that even during the later Vedic period of the Aryans, wood was the main raw material for houses. The Harrappans were however very different. Theirs was an urban culture with a high degree of social organization and urban planning. Imagine individual houses having access to water from wells, and protected from noise and odour. Imagine streets with covered drains and havings buildings with underground furnace for heated public baths.

THE CITADEL

Mohenjo-daro is a city divided into two parts. The Citadel and the Lower City. Much of the Citadel has been excavated, but the Lower city remains a mystery. The last major excavation was done in 1964-65 after which it was suspended. This was in order to protect the existing exposed structures.

The citadel was the nerve center of civic and religious life. It was also the hub of socializing. The great bath for example was located here. The lower city on the other hand was the residential area.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND RELIGIOUS LIFE

As Indus valley script has not been deciphered, our understanding of Harrapan social life is limited to the information provided by numerous seals and artifacts found in these sites.

Though Indus valley civilization was urban in nature, agriculture was its mainstay. Apart from agriculturists there were others too like potters, metal workers, artisans, builders etc. This indicates the level of sophistication of this ancient civilization.

The Harrapans had trade links both inside and outside the Indian sub-continent. Within the Indian sub-continent they maintained links with Baluchistan, Rajasthan, Gujarat and southern India. Their trading partners outside the sub-continent were North Eastern Afghanistan, North Eastern Persia and Central Asia. The existence of seals similar to Indus Valley civilization indicates that they had trade links with Mesopotamia, Sumer and Akkad. The existence of the dockyard at Lothal, imply that trade could have been over sea. But then there are no clear evidences to vouch for this.

Their religious beliefs can be deduced from the existence of various kinds of seals. Scholars of the opinion that Harrapans probably worshipped Rudra or Shiva in his Pashupati form on the basis of some seals showing a three-faced deity in a sitting posture. This is further reinforced by the existence of cylindrical shaped stones in the form of a LINGA which are symbolic of Shiva. Many scholars are of the opinion that later Aryans may have included Shiva in the pantheon of Hindu Gods at a later date.

THE GREAT MYSTERY

The mystery of Mohenjo-daro is not only due to its disappearance, but also its script which has not been deciphered yet. The most puzzling ones are the seals which come in all shapes, square rectangular etc, with human and animal motifs on the one side and inscriptions on the other. Who were these people? How did they suddenly disappear? We do not have answers for this...at least not yet.

LINKS

Photo gallery

http://www.mohenjodaro.net/

Mohejo-daro

http://library.thinkquest.org/20176/mohenjodaro.htm

Comments

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  • profile image

    sukhman 5 years ago

    not gud

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    Sasha 5 years ago

    wat the hell!!! most of the info is not their!!! what are the discoveries n stuff!!!

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    taha usman 5 years ago

    its good and helps a lot

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    Maura 6 years ago

    Is there any info on the medicine practiced in the Indus Valley civilization? For a culture so ahead of its time in urban living complete with public and private baths, a citywide sanitation system, what do we know about their cosmology and origins? Great site btw. Was this a peaceful goddess culture?

  • ram_m profile image
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    ram_m 6 years ago from India

    thank you Ravi shankar

  • ram_m profile image
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    ram_m 6 years ago from India

    thank you marcelle

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    Ravi Shankar 6 years ago

    Very much useful in the exam projects

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    marcelle 6 years ago

    nice but what about the gracires

  • ram_m profile image
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    ram_m 7 years ago from India

    thank you vasant dave

  • ram_m profile image
    Author

    ram_m 7 years ago from India

    thank you pooja

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    Vasant Davé 7 years ago

    Interesting article.

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    POOJA 7 years ago

    2 good for studies

  • ram_m profile image
    Author

    ram_m 7 years ago from India

    Thank you gunjan

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    gunjan 7 years ago

    iam sorry bbudoyono ,mahabharata is not at all related with harappa

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    gunjan 7 years ago

    can anyone give me some more information about the houses of harappan civilization

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    gunjan 7 years ago

    not bad

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    chandra 7 years ago

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    brandon 7 years ago

    that is really6 nice

  • Bbudoyono profile image

    Bbudoyono 8 years ago

    Nice hub. How about the great story of mahabarata? Was it from these cities ?

  • ram_m profile image
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    ram_m 8 years ago from India

    thanks nupur

  • ram_m profile image
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    ram_m 8 years ago from India

    thanks pruthvi

  • ram_m profile image
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    ram_m 8 years ago from India

    thanks palak

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    nupur 8 years ago

    its mazing for noing about history

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    pruthvi 8 years ago

    not bad

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    shruti  8 years ago

    a great help 4 my project

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    palak 8 years ago

    very nice for studies

  • ram_m profile image
    Author

    ram_m 8 years ago from India

    Thank you for your relevant query. There was indeed a deity known as RUDRA which was an early form of the later Hindu god Siva. ” Some scholars believe that Rudra was originally a non-Aryan fertility god of the Indus Valley. There are seals found at Harappa which bear the image of an ithyphallic deity. Further information is available in the following book http://books.google.com/books?id=yMFwMHH4HzMC&...

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    Steven Sadleir 8 years ago

    In this culture, was there a deity named "An"? The Proto-Shiva figure? If anyone can guide me to a reference I would appreciate it. sadleir1@cox.net Thank you, Steven

  • ram_m profile image
    Author

    ram_m 8 years ago from India

    Thank you Lakshmi. Hope to add a few more info on indus scripts shortly.

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    lakshmi 8 years ago

    help full for studies

  • profile image

    lakshmi 8 years ago

    help full for studies