Harappan Civilisation :
The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. A
long with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia it was one of three early civilizations of the Old World, and of the three the most widespread covering an area of 1.25 million km2.
It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, one of the major rivers of Asia, and the Ghaggar-Hakra River, which once coursed through northwest India and eastern Pakistan.
Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin).
The Indus cities are noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, and clusters of large non-residential buildings.
The Indus Valley Civilization is also known as the Harappan Civilization, after Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated in the 1920s, in what was then the Punjab province of British India, and is now in Pakistan. The discovery of Harappa, and soon afterwards, Mohenjo-Daro, was the culmination of work beginning in 1861 with the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India in the British Raj.
The Harappan civilization is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to distinguish it from these cultures. By 1999, over 1,056 cities and settlements had been found, of which 96 have been excavated, mainly in the general region of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra Rivers and their tributaries.
The Harappan language is not directly attested and its affiliation is uncertain since the Indus script is still undeciphered.
Skeletal remains at Harappan sites belonged to proto-Australoid, Mongoloid, Mediterranean and Alpine
The mature phase of the Harappan civilization lasted from c. 2600 to 1900 BCE. With the inclusion of the predecessor and successor cultures—Early Harappan and Late Harappan, respectively—the entire Indus Valley Civilization may be taken to have lasted from the 33rd to the 14th centuries BCE. The Early Harappan, Mature Harappan, and Late Harappan phases are also called the Regionalisation, Integration, and Localisation eras, respectively, with the Regionalization era reaching back to the Neolithic Mehrgarh II period.
"Discoveries at Mehrgarh changed the entire concept of the Indus civilization", according to Ahmad Hasan Dani, professor emeritus at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad. "There we have the whole sequence, right from the beginning of settled village life
The Indus Valley Civilization encompassed most of Pakistan and parts of northwestern India, Afghanistan and Iran, extending from Balochistan in the west to Uttar Pradesh in the east, northeastern Afghanistan to the north and Maharashtra to the south.
The geography of the Indus Valley put the civilizations that arose there in a highly similar situation to those in Egypt and Peru, with rich agricultural lands being surrounded by highlands, desert, and ocean.
Recently, Indus sites have been discovered in Pakistan's northwestern Frontier Province as well. Other IVC colonies can be found in Afghanistan while smaller isolated colonies can be found as far away as Turkmenistan and in Gujarat. Coastal settlements extended from Sutkagan Dor in Western Baluchistan to Lothal in Gujarat.
An Indus Valley site has been found on the Oxus River at Shortughai in northern Afghanistan, in the Gomal River valley in northwestern Pakistan, at Manda, Jammu on the Beas River near Jammu, India, and at Alamgirpur on the Hindon River, only 28 km from Delhi.
There is evidence of dry river beds overlapping with the Hakra channel in Pakistan and the seasonal Ghaggar River in India.
Many Indus Valley (or Harappan) sites have been discovered along the Ghaggar-Hakra beds. Among them are: Rupar, Rakhigarhi, Sothi, Kalibangan, and Ganwariwala.
Early Harappan :
The Early Harappan Ravi Phase, named after the nearby Ravi River, lasted from circa 3300 BCE until 2800 BCE. It is related to the Hakra Phase, identified in the Ghaggar-Hakra River Valley to the west, and predates the Kot Diji Phase (2800–2600 BCE, Harappan 2), named after a site in northern Sindh, Pakistan, near Mohenjo Daro.
The earliest examples of the Indus script dated to 3rd millennium BC. Discoveries from Bhirrana, Rajasthan, in India, by archeologist K. N. Dikshit indicate that Hakra ware from this area dates from as early as 7500 BC.
Kot Diji (Harappan 2) represents the phase leading up to Mature Harappan, with the citadel representing centralised authority and an increasingly urban quality of life. Another town of this stage was found at Kalibangan in India on the Hakra River.
Trade networks linked this culture with related regional cultures and distant sources of raw materials, including lapis lazuli and other materials for bead-making. Villagers had, by this time, domesticated numerous crops, including peas, sesame seeds, dates, and cotton, as well as animals, including the water buffalo. Early Harappan communities turned to large urban centres by 2600 BCE, from where the mature Harappan phase started.
Mature Harappan :
By 2600 BCE, the Early Harappan communities had been turned into large urban centres. Such urban centres include Harappa,Ganeriwala, Mohenjo-Daro in modern day Pakistan, and Dholavira, Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi, Rupar, and Lothal in modern day India. In total, more than 1,052 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region of the Indus Rivers and their tributaries.
The quality of municipal town planning suggests the knowledge of urban planning and efficient municipal governments which placed a high priority on hygiene, or, alternatively, accessibility to the means of religious ritual.
Within the city, individual homes or groups of homes obtained water from wells. From a room that appears to have been set aside for bathing, waste water was directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets. Houses opened only to inner courtyards and smaller lanes. The house-building in some villages in the region still resembles in some respects the house-building of the Harappans.
The ancient Indus systems of sewerage and drainage that were developed and used in cities throughout the Indus region were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in the Middle East and even more efficient than those in many areas of Pakistan and India today.
The advanced architecture of the Harappans is shown by their impressive dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms, and protective walls. The massive walls of Indus cities most likely protected the Harappans from floods and may have dissuaded military conflicts
The purpose of the citadel remains debated. In sharp contrast to this civilization's contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, no large monumental structures were built.
There is no conclusive evidence of palaces or temples—or of kings, armies, or priests. Some structures are thought to have been granaries. Found at one city is an enormous well-built bath (the "Great Bath"), which may have been a public bath. Although the citadels were walled, it is far from clear that these structures were defensive. They may have been built to divert flood waters.
Steatite seals have images of animals, people (perhaps gods), and other types of inscriptions, including the yet un-deciphered writing system of the Indus Valley Civilization. Some of the seals were used to stamp clay on trade goods and most probably had other uses as well.
• There was a single state, given the similarity in artifacts, the evidence for planned settlements, the standardised ratio of brick size, and the establishment of settlements near sources of raw material.
• There was no single ruler but several: Mohenjo-daro had a separate ruler, Harappa another, and so forth.
• Harappan society had no rulers, and everybody enjoyed equal status.
Indus Valley Seals :
The people of the Indus Civilization achieved great accuracy in measuring length, mass, and time. They were among the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures. A comparison of available objects indicates large scale variation across the Indus territories.
Their smallest division, which is marked on an ivory scale found in Lothal, was approximately 1.704 mm, the smallest division ever recorded on a scale of the Bronze Age. Harappan engineers followed the decimal division of measurement for all practical purposes, including the measurement of mass as revealed by their hexahedron weights.
Arts & Crafts:
Various sculptures, seals, pottery, gold jewelry, and anatomically detailed figurines in terracotta, bronze, and steatite have been found at excavation sites.
A number of gold, terracotta and stone figurines of girls in dancing poses reveal the presence of some dance form. Also, these terracotta figurines included cows, bears, monkeys, and dogs.
The animal depicted on a majority of seals at sites of the mature period has not been clearly identified. Part bull, part zebra, with a majestic horn, it has been a source of speculation. As yet, there is insufficient evidence to substantiate claims that the image had religious or cultic significance, but the prevalence of the image raises the question of whether or not the animals in images of the IVC are religious symbols.
Docks of ancient Lothal :
The Indus civilization's economy appears to have depended significantly on trade, which was facilitated by major advances in transport technology.
The IVC may have been the first civilization to use wheeled transport. These advances may have included bullock carts that are identical to those seen throughout South Asia today, as well as boats.
Most of these boats were probably small, flat-bottomed craft, perhaps driven by sail, similar to those one can see on the Indus River today; however, there is secondary evidence of sea-going craft. Archaeologists have discovered a massive, dredged canal and what they regard as a docking facility at the coastal city of Lothal in western India (Gujarat state). An extensive canal network, used for irrigation, has however also been discovered .
During 4300–3200 BCE of the chalcolithic period (copper age), the Indus Valley Civilization area shows ceramic similarities with southern Turkmenistan and northern Iran which suggest considerable mobility and trade. During the Early Harappan period (about 3200–2600 BCE), similarities in pottery, seals, figurines, ornaments, etc. document intensive caravan trade with Central Asia and the Iranian plateau.
Decline of Indus Valley Civilisation :
It has been proposed that the decline of the Indus Civilization was caused by the invasion of an Indo-European tribe from Central Asia called the "Aryans".
Today, many scholars believe that the collapse of the Indus Civilization was caused by drought and a decline in trade with Egypt and Mesopotamia.
It has also been suggested that immigration by new peoples, deforestation, floods, or changes in the course of the river may have contributed to the collapse of the IVC.
? Previously, it was also believed that the decline of the Harappan civilization led to an interruption of urban life in the Indian subcontinent. However, the Indus Valley Civilization did not disappear suddenly, and many elements of the Indus Civilization can be found in later cultures.
A possible natural reason for the IVC's decline is connected with climate change that is also signalled for the neighbouring areas of the Middle EastThe Indus valley climate grew significantly cooler and drier from about 1800 BCE, linked to a general weakening of the monsoon at that time.
Alternatively, a crucial factor may have been the disappearance of substantial portions of the Ghaggar Hakra river system. A tectonic event may have diverted the system's sources toward the Ganges Plain, though there is complete uncertainty about the date of this event, as most settlements inside Ghaggar-Hakra river beds have not yet been dated.
The actual reason for decline might be any combination of these factors. A 2004 paper indicated that the isotopes of sediments carried by the Ghaggar-Hakra system over the last 20 thousand years do not come from the glaciated Higher Himalaya but have a Sub-Himalayan source.
They speculated that the river system was rain-fed instead and thus contradicted the idea of a Harappan-time mighty "Sarasvati" river.Recent geological research by a group led by Peter Clift investigated how the courses of rivers have changed in this region since 8000 years ago, to test whether climate or river reorganizations are responsible for the decline of the Harappan.