Indus Valley Civilization, an ancient civilization located in Pakistan and northwest India is the earliest known urban culture in the Indian subcontinent. Evidence of religious practices date back to approximately 5500 BCE and around 3000 BCE there were seen the first signs of urbanization.
The civilization was at it’s peak between 2500-2000 BCE. Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa suggest a greatly developed culture comprising of a city life with well-built houses having wells and bathrooms and an elaborate drainage system. They were well-planned urbanized cities having established trade contacts with the near east.
Harappa was the first of the Indus Valley sites to be found. All cities excavated from here on are also known as Harappan culture considering the similarities in building structures, brick size, pottery etc.
Harappan city speaks of great architectural planning that was unparalled in the ancient world. The city was laid out in a grid like pattern that had the orientation of the streets and buildings based on cardinal directions. Many drinking wells and an extremely well organized drainage system are the characteristics of the city.
Seals are the common objects found throughout the Harappan cities, with various motifs. Some are inscribed with figures which are prototypes to later Hindu religious figures. The use of seals is seen to decline when the civilization declined.
Like other cities, Harappan economy was based on agriculture supplemented by the production and trade of craft and commodities.
The period between 2600-1900 BCE saw the city at it’s peak of economic expansion growth. There was an increase in trade, craft technology and based on evidence; many people belonging to different classes and occupations lived together.
Excavations in 2001 uncovered a workshop that manufactured seals and inscribed tablets. This find was significant in terms of offering a chronology for the development of the Indus script.
Harappa was a city with skilled artisans who could make objects of bronze, gold, silver, glazed ceramic, terracotta and semi-precious stones.
One of the largest settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization, Mohenjo-daro is situated in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. A high level of social organization is suggested looking at the size of the site and the public buildings and facilities.
The city is divided into two parts- The Citadel and Lower City. The Citadel comprised of the public baths and residential houses. One of the most outstanding structures is the Great Bath which is well preserved. According to most scholars this was used for religious purpose.
The most famed Dancing Girl is an artifact found at this site. The bronze artifact is around 4500 years old and was found in one of the houses.
Another famous statue found is that of the priest king which has a circular space on the forehead suggestive of being a forerunner to the ‘third-eye’ of Hindu myth.
A gold disc excavated at the same location fits perfectly into the circular space.
Ancient Mesopotamian texts mention trading with two seafaring places – Makkan and Meluha – in the neighborhood of India in the third millennium BCE. These texts refer to Meluha as an aquatic culture, where water and bathing played an important role. Similarity in the seals found in Mesopotamia supports this theory. A number of Indus Valley objects have been found buried with Mesopotamians.
Various theories for the end of the Indus Valley Civilization have been put forth of which drying up of the river which led to mass migration westwards has been unanimously accepted.