– The Indus Valley civilization, also called the Harappan civilization was one of the world’s largest and oldest civilization. The Indus Valley people built hundreds of sites that stretched in hundreds of miles in every direction.
Archaeologists and historians estimate the Indus Valley civilization might be much older than previously thought. Based on recent discoveries, there is reason to think the Indus Valley civilization may be at least 8,000 years old making it 2,500 years older than previously dated. This would also mean the Indus Valley civilization pre-dates Egypt’s pharaohs and Mesopotamia that is often mentioned as the cradle of human civilization.
Despite the its interesting ancient history, the Indus Valley civilization is often neglected and little attention is paid to the astonishing accomplishments of the ancient people who during their time built complex ancient cities, developed the Indus script that we still cannot fully decipher and watched movements of celestial objects.
The Indus civilization takes its name from the Indus River, one of the major rivers that runs through the region where the Indus people settled. The vast Indus Valley Civilization had technologically advanced Bronze Age cities that once flourished from northern India and Pakistan to Iran, and surrounded the river systems that fed the fertile Indus Valley.It was long assumed the Indus Valley civilization flourished between 3,300-1,300 B.C., but a team of researchers from Indian institutes including IIT Kharagpur, Institute of Archaeology, Deccan College Pune, Physical Research Laboratory and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) used carbon dating techniques on several artifacts from the Bhirrana site in India and came to the conclusion that a critical gap in information exists in our present understanding of the Harappan civilization.“Our study pushes back the antiquity to as old as 8th millennium before present and will have major implications to the evolution of human settlements in Indian sub-continent,” Anindya Sarkar, a professor at the department of geology and geophysics at IIT Kharagpur said.
Excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro have revealed the Indus people were skilled planners and builders. The ancient cities Harappa and Mohenjo Daro had a complex design. They were laid out in a rectangle, organized in a grid and featured wide roads, large homes, citadels, and granaries. Canals allowed for irrigation. A drainage system of sewers lined with bricks was likely the first sanitation system in the world.
Both cities were approximately 400 miles (640 km) apart. Each city occupied roughly one square mile (2.6 sq km).
Located west of the Indus River in Larkana District, Sindh, Pakistan, Mohenjo Daro had a population of about 40,000 and Harappa had a population of about population of about 30,000. Mohenjo Daro was not only the largest city of the Indus Valley civilization, but one of the world’s earliest major urban centers. The is no evidence of kings or queens, Mohenjo Daro was likely governed as a city-state, perhaps by elected officials or elites from each of the mounds.
Was Mohenjo Daro home to an unknown advanced civilization far ahead of its time? Excavations in Mohenjo Daro revealed startling artifacts, relics and ruins that suggest its inhabitants used technology and constructed buildings that were unique to the ancient world. How and from whom did these remarkable people acquire knowledge of such sophisticated technology?
Probably the most impressive building was a bath-house having absolutely no equal in cities until the Roman period. It was covered with a pool measuring 40 feet by 23 feet, with a steam-bath and a hot-air heating system.
When the city flourished, fresh water was supplied by a network of over 700 unique wells for drinking water, constructed in form of cylindrical shafts several meters deep. Mohenjo-Daro’s citizens used them long before Egypt and Mesopotamia, where water was still fetched from rivers to be stored in cisterns.
The city’s engineers and masons also built bathrooms in every home while polishing the tiles of its grand ritual bath to a highly burnished waterproof glaze.
Unique water supply from wells was integrated with a drainage system. Waste water along with sewage from houses was channeled into a complex system of drains running along and below the streets.
There is still very little information about the Harrapan language. A large collection of written texts on clay and stone tablets unearthed at Harappa have been carbon dated 3,300-3,200 BCE. The ancient tablets contain trident-shaped, plant-like markings that appear to be written from right to left.
Researchers still cannot agree whether it was an encoded language at all and whether it is related to Indo-European and South Indian language families. One of the reasons why the Indus script still remains undeciphered is because it contains symbols that have never been encountered before.
The Indus script is thought to have evolved independently of the writing in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Researchers are using technological advances in computer science to attempt to decipher it.
While excavating in in Goa, India, Dholavira, the second-largest Harappan settlement, scientists found evidence of large walls that were built as protection against tsunamis.
The massive walls found at Dholavira with maximum wall thickness of up to 18 m are extraordinary. The presence of extremely thick protective walls thus implies that the Dholavirans were probably aware of the magnitude of destruction caused by tsunami waves and severe storms. The fortalice style of Harappan architecture is also evident at a few other sites, such as Kalibangan, Banawali, Rakhigarhi, Harappa and Lothal.
The two greatest cities, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa share relatively the same architectural layout.
The Indus civilization collapsed around 2,000 B.C. The antiquity and decline of the Bronze Age Harappan civilization is an enigma in archaeology.
What really happened to the Indus civilization is still unknown. One possibility is that the civilization may have declined with the change in weather and the drying up of the Indus River. Another option is that people shifted their crop patterns from the large-grained cereals like wheat and barley during the early part of intensified monsoon to drought-resistant species of small millets and rice in the later part of declining monsoon and thereby changed their subsistence strategy.”
Changing the crop resulted in “de-urbanisation” as the cities’ larger storage facilities were abandoned for smaller personal storage spaces.
Were the people in Mohenjo Daro and Harappa wiped out by an invading force? Archaeologists have discovered skeletons in contorted positions and groupings that suggest anything but orderly burials. Many are either disarticulated or incomplete. The interpretation of this grisly discovery is still a subject of debate and many researchers thinks there is not enough evidence to claim an invading force was responsible for a massacre in Mohenjo Daro.
Scientists are still piecing together information about this mysterious civilization, but they have learned a great deal about this fascinating ancient civilization that most likely pre-dats the Egyptian pharaohs and Mesopotamina.
The ancient history of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa is controversial and the Indus Valley civilization is still shrouded in mystery.
Written by Ellen Lloyd – AncientPages.com
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About the author:Ellen Lloyd –is the owner of AncientPages.com and an author who has spent decades researching ancient mysteries, myths, legends and sacred texts, but she is also very interested in astronomy, astrobiology and science in general.