Some several thousand years ago there once thrived a civilization in the Indus Valley. Located in what's now Pakistan and western India, it was the earliest known urban culture of the Indian subcontinent. (1) The Indus Valley Civilization, as it is called, covered an area the size of western Europe. It was the largest of the four ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. However, of all these civilizations the least is known about the Indus Valley people.
The Harappan Civilization also known as the Indus valley civilization is considered to be one of greatest civilizations of all times.
Who Explored It ?
The men behind the excavation of Harappan Civilisation were John Marshal, Director General of Archaeological survey of India and his colleagues R.D. Bannerji. Later on many more cities are explored like Ropar near Chandigarh, Lothal near Ahmedabad, Kalibangan in Rajasthan Kot Diji and Chanhudaro in Sindh, Dholavira in Kutch district of Gujarat.
It existed from 2600 to 1900 BCE. 20th century excavations led to the discovery of many sites associated with it which threw light on the trade and practices followed by the people of this civilization.
Geographical Extent: - Excavations have revealed that the civilization had spread across a large area as far as Afghanistan, Baluchistan and Jammu and including parts of both India and Pakistan.
Agriculture:- People were involved in agricultural activities involving production of wheat, barley, lentil, chickpea and seasame. Traces of Rice are rare to find at the sites. Fishing was also one of the activities practiced by people. Domestication of animals was followed in the civilization which is proved by the presence of animal remains at the sites. The animals used were sheep, goat, buffalo and pig. Seals are a source of information which have depicted animals such as ox. Excavations have revealed ploughed fields at Kalibangan on which multicropping was practiced. Traces of canals are found at some sites while remains of water reservoir were found at Dholavira.
Planned Urban Centre:- One of the distinct feature of the Indus valley civilization is the Urban Planning. The city was divided into two sections “Citadel” and “lower town”. The Citadel was used for public purposes including warehouse, the Great Bath. The city had well developed Drainage system and the roads were laid in a grid pattern cutting each other at 90 degrees. The Residential buildings were centered on a courtyard. The bricks used were of equal shape and sizes. All these features reflect a high degree of town planning.
Trade: - The Harappan civilization had trading relations with other civilizations including Oman and Mesopotamia. There have been a mention of Harappan civilization in Mesopotamian text where it has been referred as “ Melluha” and are known as “seafarers”. The shipping dock at Lothal supports the theory.
Industry:- Excavations have revealed certain manufacturing sites. The manufacturing included bead making, seal making, shell cutting and metal work. Crafts was also one of the prominent practices.
Social customs:- Burial of people have revealed that the people believed in “afterlife”.
A number of artifacts are found at these burial sites which supports the theory. Many seals have depicted “spiritual faith”. Social stratification is difficult to determine.
The End:- The reason behind the sudden end of the Harappan Civilization is difficult to ascertain. There a number of theories trying to explain the end :-
a) Regular floods destroyed the area
b) Drying up of rivers due to climate change
c) Natural calamity like earthquake and epidemics wiped out the civilization
d) Aryan invaders who destroyed the civilization
e) Encroachment of surrounding desert rendering the infertile area.