The Indus civilization, 3300-1300 BCE, is also called Indus valley civilization or Harappan civilization. This is the earliest known urban culture of the Indian subcontinent. This was extended from modern-day northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. Little is known about the Indus River Valley Civilization’s institutions and systems of governance, but it is believed that the important innovations of this civilization include standardized weights and measures, seal carving, and metallurgy with copper, bronze, lead, and tin. It is also said that this civilization likely ended because of climate change and migration. Nowadays, scholars are still piecing together information about this mysterious civilization, but they have learned a great deal about it since its rediscovery.
The Life of the Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the three “Ancient East” societies that are considered are among the most widespread. The Indus Valley Civilization has a lifespan which is separated into three phases: Early Harappan Phase (3300-2600 BCE), Mature Harappan Phase (2600-1900 BCE) and Late Harappan Phase (1900-1300 BCE). According to studies, the Indus Valley Civilization may had a population of about five million people. The society of this civilization is also called a Bronze Age society when the inhabitants were prone to develop new techniques in metallurgy. They started to work with copper, bronze, lead, and tin. They also used different products for making handicrafts. The Indus cities are also known for their baked brick houses and non-residential buildings.
Two cities have been excavated at the sites of Mohenjo-Daro on the lower Indus, and at Harappa, further upstream. According to research, residents of this civilization enjoy the developed life. Their houses were comfortable for them as most of them had wells, bathrooms as well as drainage system. There is evidence that there was contact between the Indus Valley Civilization and the Near East. According to some documents, the Indus valley people are referred to as Meluhhaites and the Indus valley is called Meluhha.
The Indus Valley Civilization also had a writing system. However, till now it remains a mystery. People have failed to understand it and that is why the Indus civilization is one of the least known civilizations in the world. Archaeologists have found some examples of their writing system in pottery, carved stamp seals, amulets and even in copper tablets.
Based on evidence, it is believed that the people of Indus Valley Civilization loved games and toys. This evidence came from the fact that the archaeologists found more and more of toys during excavations. This gave me them a reason to assume that most of the inhabitants of this civilization were children. They also found engraved grid markings and playing pieces which also shows that the Indus people have played chess. Dice cubes with six sides have also been found and the archaeologists started believing that the people of the Indus Civilization have invented the dice too.
Harappa and Mohenjo Daro
As it was mentioned above, the Indus Valley Civilization is also referred to as the Harappan Civilization, after Harappa. This was a fortified city in modern-day Pakistan and it was the first of its sites to be excavated in the 1920s. It is said that Harappa has been a home of about 23,500 residents who lived in sculpted houses that came with flat roofs made of red sand and clay. The city spread over 150 hectares and the modern village of Harappa was used as a railway station during the Raj but it suffered heavy damage during the British period of rule.
Mohenjo Daro is considered to have been built in the 26th century BCE. This city was the largest and most popular one in the Indus Valley Civilization. Mohenjo Daro was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980. However, it was abandoned around 1900 BCE when the Indus Civilization went into sudden decline.
Based on archaeologists’ research, people of the Indus River Valley had a highly advanced knowledge of mathematics. Archaeologists have also found evidence of musical instruments, toys and games, and pottery. People of the Indus Civilization are also believed to be interested in cleanliness. When these two cities have been excavated, the experts found combs, soaps, and medicine. This was evidence that these people paid much attention to the clean lifestyle. Moreover, the cities were also practicing some form of dentistry. This was found out when the archaeologists found a gravesite with the remains of people whose teeth had been drilled. These archaeologists have also found jewelry made in Harappa as far away as Mesopotamia. Traders also sold cotton cloth and hardwood from the teak trees that grew in the valley.
The Indus Valley Civilization was also remarkable for its apparent egalitarianism. It is considered that there was a central authority but it is unknown how the society functioned and its distribution of power. Indus Valley people worshiped trees such as Neem and Banyan; animals like Bulls and Elephants; and stones in the form of Lingam and Yoni as sources of potency and divine.
The Indus Script
The Indus Script is a collection of symbols. They have been found on artifacts. Archaeologists have found 400 different symbols on seals, tablets, ceramic pots etc. However, the writing system of the Indus Valley Civilization has not been deciphered yet. It is also worth mentioning that there have been attempts to link the Indus script with other scripts in India but there are not results till now. Moreover, many other scholars have said that Indus script is not linked at all to other scripts.
Rituals and Beliefs
Hardly can you find much information about rituals and beliefs of the Indus Valley Civilization. Though this information is limited at present, some studies state that people of this civilization were used to worship deities, especially fertility deities. Religious activities were performed by priests. Harappan Civilization was also fond of ritualistic baths. The archaeologists have also found seals which include pictures of people doing meditation and sitting in a crossed legged posture.