The Indus Valley Civilization (the Harappan Civilization or the Indus Civilization or the Indus River Valley Civilization) is one of the earliest civilizations in the world. The civilization flourished around the Indus River basin and its tributaries consisting of present-day Pakistan and northwest India. In India, the largest Harappan site is located in Haryana Rakhigarhi, and the second-largest is in Dholavira, Gujarat. Construction of well-planned cities by using bricks, and proper drainage system are the main features of this civilization. At the time of its height, the Indus Valley Civilization geographically extended to Egypt or Mesopotamia. On the basis of archaeological research and radiocarbon dating, the origin of the Indus Valley Civilization lies between 3300 – 1300 BCE. Though people used to live on the banks of the Indus River before this period it was only during the Bronze Age when they actually started living as civilized and urban societies. Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were the two prominent cities of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Facts about Indus Valley Civilization
Mohenjo-Daro is the largest site and Allahdino is the smallest site of the Indus Valley Civilization. The Indus Valley Civilization had a total population of over five million. Most of its people were artisans and traders. Merchants were very wealthy and given extra political powers. Towns were laid down in a rectangular pattern. Most of the houses were two-story and very spacious. Town planning is a unique feature of the Indus Valley Civilization. There were well-built granaries, citadels, burial grounds and bathing platforms.
The towns used to have great baths. Though the exact purpose of baths is not clear it is believed that these might be used for religious bathing.
Brick-lined sewers are another very prominent feature of the Indus Valley Civilization. Mohenjo-Daro is the most prominent of all cities of the civilization with respect to the sewerage system. Bricks used in construction were built in the ratio of 4:2:1 having 11 inches length, 5.5 inches width and 2.75 inches depth.
Length, mass and time were accurately measured by the people of the Indus Valley Civilization. Also, the system of uniform weights and measures was developed by them.
People were familiar with certain new techniques in metallurgy. They used these techniques to produce lead, copper, tin and bronze.
Art was in its full form during the Indus Valley Civilization. At the time of excavation, many bronze, copper and pottery products along with terra-cotta toys have been excavated. Steatite seals engraved with animal figures are however the most notable among all these. The most common of all animals that were used on seals was the Humpless bull or unicorn.
There are three stages of Harappan Civilization which are Pre-Harappan, Harappan and Post-Harappan known as Rojde, Desalpur and Surkotada respectively
Lothal, Balakot, Suktagendor and Allahdin (Pakistan) are the cities in Harappan civilization that were the major ports of that time. Engineering skills were at their heights and it is clear from the construction of docks especially at Lothal. Wheels used in Haprappa were axeless. Roads especially in Mohenjo-Daro were as wide as 10.5 mt. Harappa also had wider roads having a width of 30 feet.
Similarities between the Indus Valley Civilization and the Egyptian River Valley Civilization have been noticed by scholars. First of all both civilizations were dependent upon the river system and flourished around the Indus and the Nile rivers respectively. It has also been found out that both of these civilizations had almost similar lifestyles and customs.
Limestone and steatite were the most common materials used to make stone sculptures in Harappa. Information about rituals and beliefs of the Indus Valley Civilization is limited at present. But according to studies, it is clear that people living in this civilization used to worship deities especially fertility deities. Religious activities were performed by priests. Ritualistic baths were part of the Harappan Civilization. On some of the seals, there are pictures of people doing meditation and sitting in a crossed-legged posture.
Also, there is very little information about the language used in the Indus Valley Civilization but some scholars believe its closeness to Vedic scripts.
Reason for Indus Valley Civilization decline
The major reason given by scholars regarding the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization was a shift in the course of rivers and natural disasters such as drought, flood, etc. Also, there was a decline in trade with Egypt and Mesopotamia. Some of the scholars also believe that wars with the Aryan Civilization may also be the reason for their decline.