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Learning from Indus Civilization

Updated on March 16, 2019

The features that have defined the Indian Civilization apart from the socio-political, philosophical scientific artistic and other cultural components which have painted a complex picture of India as a civilization is the geographically protected subcontinent lies Himalayan range and in the north of Indian ocean. Where on the perfect spot thrived the first seed of civilization about 7000 years before.

I am intrigued by the foundation of Indian civilization ie the Sarasvati Sindhu Civilisation has such a vast expanse in terms of geography. Of course, it was not world's first urban settlement in the civilization such as on the bank to Tigris in case of Mesopotamian civilization and Nile in terms of Egyptian civilization, but what is difficult to imagine is how these cities were communicating.


The sites were discovered as far as Suktogun Dor in Iran with Shortugai near Oxus river to ganged valley near Delhi to Gujarat/ Maharashtra in south. we have technologies of controlling or administrating cities or trade, over vast expanse of land but how Sindhu people were able to do this is remarkable and something to ponder upon.

Scholars earlier thought that there was sudden emergence new race and had possibility of conquest or migration of Aryans that might be resulted in settlements but M. Jansen has pointed out on the bases of the study that has been done on skeletons found at the burial ground near Mohan Jo Daro ( the city of dead), that bones were dated at different time periods and have not revealed any conflicts. The sudden appearance of civilization is a result of planned effort.



Cities: The cities were walled, protected urban settlement divided into two sections. The first area includes a raised earthen platform ie upper city has more open spaces and bigger structure as compared to the structure in lower city hence has thought to be owned by the higher authorities and administration.

The second section belonged to the citizens of the urban settlement have mixed housing. Some of the houses have similar planning as the houses from upper town but on a smaller scale. The urban dwellings were tightly packed with well-defined streets aligned with the cardinal direction. The houses had no or fewer window openings on the streets. The houses have an open courtyard in the centre. Some of the houses were two-storied with master bedroom on the first floor

The urban city of Indus valley civilization is well known for its urban sanitation system which includes wells, tanks, covered drainage running under the roads with the appropriate slope. The technology of construction of wells either it is a tapered brick well or circular rings well both are ingenious techniques of construction.

The storm drains were constructed to harvest the rainwater and planned according to the highest precipitation which is common sense and still contrasting with today's scenario where we plan according to the average precipitation.


What is different in Indus which was different from its counterpart civilizations was the type of settlement and administrative approach towards its citizen.


Economy: Indus people were majorly traders and artisans which can be analyzed by the seals, weights, pottery and other materials that have been found on the sites across the sea at different locations such as Dilmun (Gulf of Oman), Sumeria and gonur tepe, Merv and many other parts.

Sumerian used to call Indus Melluha and the trade of Sumer and Meluha also suddenly stopped for an unknown reason. There used to be the trade of goods and materials of luxury between Egypt, and Melluha. The semi-precious stone like lapis lazuli and carnelian stone used to be extracted from mines in Sar e sang, Shortigai in Badakhshan province of Afghanistan.

Sophisticated jewellery with microbeads and long beads used to be a speciality of Indus artisans. That elongated beads are still part of the tradition of the people of India especially women wear this kind of jewellery, but use and production of microbeads we don't use today, and it is a sophisticated technique which we had lost.

There was evidence of practising to dentistry when the skeletons from Mehrgarh have been studied by Pro. Andre Crucina from the University of Missouri- Columbia discovers 11 drilled crown.

There was no evidence of kings, slaves or forced labour but the sense of hierarchy can be observed in the architectural style of housing as well as urban zoning.

Game of chess shows idea of hierarchy and administration.
Game of chess shows idea of hierarchy and administration.

The construction of massive reservoirs and tanks shows the planning for the draught as well as heavy monsoon floods. The marvellous water management system was present in the city but there was no evidence of irrigation and canal system for agricultural practices.


Social: What is important is the social cohesion and social justice that people of Indus valley civilization have achieved which was absent in Mesopotamian as well as in Egyptian civilization. While indulging in the trade with each other these features of civilization have not been exchanged.

Decline of the Civilization:

Decline of the Civilization: Like any other Metropolitan city this city also reached the necropolis state. People had enjoyed prosperous and abundant life but suddenly the city has declined around 1900 BC, some of the people also stayed back but rest of the people moved out to another part of the country in 1800 BC. The reasons why they migrated is not clear.

There are some theories by scholars and most accepted theory is that there might be some tectonic changes that have happened during the time of Indus valley civilization which has led to shift of stream towards the east and dried up the Gaggar Hakra river stream. Also, the recollection of Indus was started to disappear unlikely to its contemporary like Mesopotamia and Egypt.

However, the people did not disappear and civilization migrated to the Ganges plain and adapted into/adopted to the Ganga Vindhya civilization. If not people the concepts and ideologies did travel to Ganges civilization which people of India somehow carries today also.

The most beautiful idea about India is the long and continuous history which has to keep evolving for 5000 years, and persistent enough to take the wrath of constant invasions by different kingdoms and empires and created a complex mechanism in which it is adapting according to the climate, growth, technologies that are coming with growth but still deeply rooted in that 5000 old traditions that we follow within generations.


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    • Larry Slawson profile image

      Larry Slawson 

      14 months ago from North Carolina

      Very interesting article! Thank you for sharing!

    • AshutoshJoshi06 profile image

      Ashutosh Joshi 

      15 months ago from New Delhi, India

      I wonder if we will ever know the origin or the end? Much of it is still remains an assumed state!


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