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History of the Indus Valley Civilization

Important Facts About the History of the Indus Valley Civilization

Indus valley civilization is a rich civilization and one of the most important civilizations that existed in the world. The power, beauty, richness, prosperity, unique culture, etc., of this civilization has always fascinated the historians and archeologists in the world. Scroll down to learn about the history of Indus valley civilization.
Suganya Sukumar
Last Updated: Jul 22, 2017
Indus valley civilization is one of the first great civilizations in the world history. This civilization originated at the bank of the Indus river valley which is situated in Punjab and Sindh, at approximately 2500 BC and flourished until 1800 BC. Some Indian historians believe that it dates back to 2300 BC, on the basis of carbon dating evidences. According to Sanskrit language, Indus is called Sindhu, and the river Sarasvati joins it and drains into the sea. So, it is also called Sindhu-Sarasvati civilization. It is also known as Harappan Civilization. The usage of bronze metals was very prominent and so the civilization derived one more name, Bronze Age Civilization.
Historical Aggregation
Like other civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia, the Harappan civilization flourished in a region that despite low rainfall was irrigated by a great river Indus. The civilization covered a very wide area and the discovery of new sites is constantly extending the known range of its cultural influence. The citadels of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa were both built on artificial mounds on riverside sites. Major buildings were significant and the sanitation and drainage system is one of the hallmarks of Indus civilization which shows careful planning under close state control. Also, this civilization had a highly developed socio-economic system and a fine writing system. It has left important evidence that depict an important stage in India's history, and also one of the first highly developed urban groups in the world.
Area and Jurisdiction
This civilization, originated in India and it extends from the major rivers in India such as Chenab (Jammu) in the north to Godavari (Ahmednagar) in the south. It covers around 200 sites in the Kutch-Saurashtra part of Gujarat. The total area covered by the civilization is 12,99,600 km2, which extends from the borders of Baluchistan to Rajasthan and from Himalayas to Gujarat.
The Archaeological Department in India, carried out excavations on the banks of the river Indus and Ravi, under the direction of Sir John Hubert Marshall and found Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, the two major cities of this civilization. Mohenjo-daro was discovered in Larkana district of Sindh in Pakistan and Harappa in Montgomery district of Punjab and Pakistan. One more important city named Lothal was discovered in Ahmedabad of Gujarat in India. Other major centers of Indus civilization were Kalibangan, Dholavira, Rakhigarhi, Ganeriwala, Daimabad and Sutkagen Dor. The result of these excavations revealed that this civilization existed before the emergence of Aryans in India. It flourished during the same period when many important and old civilizations such as the Egyptian civilization, Babylonian civilization, Assyrian civilization, etc., existed.
Aspects of Indus Culture
The Indus culture remained unchanged for several centuries, but due to geographical locations and resource variations, there were some differences that prevailed in certain regions. For example, people in Mohenjo-daro used baked bricks for construction works, whereas people in Dholavira used stone masonry, because stone is rare in Mohenjo-daro. They used bronze and copper metals for making tools and weapons, and not iron. They weaved cotton and made clothing. Harappans used bullock or ox carts for their transportation purposes. Seals that depicted animals such as bulls, rhinos and elephants were prevalent in the civilization. The art and crafts presents the lifestyle of Harappans. Terracotta objects were very common in the architecture of this civilization.
The Indus valley people, used irrigation based agriculture, and they grew rice, wheat, barley, etc., and also raised animals such as cows, dogs, camels, pigs, dogs, cats and horses. Pea is one of the apparent sources available during this civilization. They used sickles made of stone blades, which are attached to the wooden sticks for cultivation purposes.
Political System
The merchants and traders took the leadership and made a central government. They used weapons such as ax, spear, dagger, bow and arrows, etc., to protect the people and their land from intruders.
Religious Beliefs
Indus people worshiped the Hindu God, Pashupatinath, and they also idolized stones, trees and animals. These people regarded buffalo horns and pipal trees as sacred and they made priestly figures with horns, which are decorated with pipal leaves and worshiped them as deities.
Town Planning
The houses and buildings were built with uniformity and standard materials. The baked-brick blocks were made with standard proportions of materials. The building and houses had a fine drainage system and were built with good planning.
The decline of the Indus Valley civilization began to start between 2000 and 1750 BC. Many historians claim different causes for the decline of the civilization such as floods, earthquakes, Aryan invasions, etc. But some scholars believe that it is a wrong perception to look for the causes of decline of the civilization, because, the stylistic continuity from the Harappan phase is still prevalent in some parts of India like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, etc.
Black Dagger
Red ax