Here we are going back to the ages of 2600-1900 BCE, where we will found a fairly good picture of India’s most developed society. This is the age of first urbanisation in India that is Indus-Valley Civilisation. One can also call it as Bronze Age Civilisation. Because in that time period Bronze tools were made and used for various purposes.
Archaeological evidence shows that it was the most extensive and advanced civilisation of that time. Indus-Valley Civilisation was contemporary to the Mesopotamian, Sumerian, Egyptian Civilisation. But it had the most efficient civic administration and effective town planning system.
Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Banawali, Kalibangan, Lothal, Chahundaro etc. were the most prominent cities of this civilisation. One can also call it as Harappan Civilisation. There are pieces of evidence that the Harappan society appeared to have been free from the warfare.
It is evident that the Harappan people were well-established traders and had their links with the contemporary civilisations of the world. Let’s have a brief look at the geographical extension of the Indus-Valley Civilisation.
Indus-Valley Civilisation: Geographical Extension
Indus-Valley Civilisation flourished over the bank of the river Indus. It grew in the north-western part of Indian subcontinent. And from here it extends southwards and eastwards. It covers the parts of present-day Pakistan and India. In India, it covers Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Jammu-Kashmir and Western Uttar Pradesh region. In Pakistan, it spread over the Baluchistan, Sindh and Punjab province.
It formed a triangular, Jammu in the north to the Narmada river in the south and from the Makran coast of Baluchistan in the west to Meerut in the north-east. Its extension is undoubtedly bigger than its contemporary Egyptian and Mesopotamian Civilisation.
One can conclude from here that rivers had always been provided economic, cultural and societal viability to the people. So, it is one of the reasons why people worship rivers. In the present world also, the population numbers and density is larger at the bank of rivers as compared to the other regions.
Rivers provide fertile and cultivable plains to its people so the agricultural activities can take place. Rivers also facilitate its people with coastal trade and enable them to trade with the far away civilisations. So, this factor also worked in the case of this ancient Indus-Valley Civilisation and its contemporary civilisations.
Town Planning and Structures
The Indus-Valley Civilisation had most advanced town planning ever seen in the India. Even today, after 5000 years, Indian cities are pale in comparison with the Harappan or Indus-valley Civilisation. The town planning was so sophisticated that present days engineers are also amazed by the archaeological evidence.
The town was divided mainly into two parts. One was Citadel i.e. Acropolis or Upper City, which is assumed to be resided by the members of the ruling class if any exists. Another part of town was lower town, which was assumed to be inhabited by the common people.
Dholavira site of present day Gujarat is the exception of this town planning. In Dholavira the town is divided into three parts, one is Citadel and other two are lower cities.
Though it is not evident that there was a Monarchy system in the Indus-Valley Civilisation but it seems that there was certainly a ruling clan. Because without which this efficient administration was not certainly possible.
Indus-Valley Civilisation: Grid System
The remarkable feature of this civilisation is that the Houses in the town were so well arranged that they followed a grid pattern. Roads cut each other almost at right angle i.e. at 90°. The drainage system was so proper that during the rainy season there was no over flooding roads.
At the present day scenario, we are still facing problems of congested roads and improper slope of roads, but 5000 years before in the Indus-Valley Civilisation, our ancestors had shown the best example of civil engineering. One should not always criticise our past as backwards but rather should understand correctly about our past civilisations.
Great Structures: Great Bath, Granaries, Ploughed Farm etc.
The Indus-Valley Civilisation had extremely large structures. The structures were made using burnt bricks. It was a unique feature of the Indus-Valley Civilisation when we compare it with its contemporary civilisations. One may find the use of baked bricks in the Mesopotamia at a very low level but the case of Egyptian civilisation it is totally absent.
Great Bath and Great Granary found in the Mohenjodaro is the best example of the beautiful work of burnt bricks. The Great Bath is similar to the stepwell structure of the present day. In the citadel of Harappa, six granaries were found. It is assumed that these were used to store the food grains. In Kalibangan (Rajasthan), one found a ploughed farm and many houses with wells.
The drainage system of these cities was so proper that perhaps no other Bronze age or present day civilisation gave so much attention to the health and cleanliness as the Harappan did. That is why after the 70 years of independence we are yet struggling to have a healthy and clean environment. But our ancestors were well aware of these things. They always gave importance to the cleanliness and health.
Agriculture and Domesticated Animals
As it is obvious any civilisation which flourishes in the cradles of the river must have fertile agricultural lands. So, Indus river here provided a fertile land for agriculture. Indus people mainly sowed the seeds of wheat and barley as their food grains.
But at the Gujarat coast in Lothal rice cultivation is also evident. As the Indus river provided huge fertile land, there was a good supply of timber also. The wooden ploughshare and stone sickles used for harvesting the crops.
In a whole Indus people produced wheat, barley, peas, mustard, sesamum and rice etc. And one most interesting fact is that farmers of the Indus-Valley Civilisation produced sufficient food grains not only for their consumption but also for the town people as there was a barter system. Granaries were the storehouse for these food grains.
Another interesting fact is that Indus people were the first to produce cotton. Cotton was produced in the Mehrgarh region of the present day Pakistan.
Harappan practised agriculture so they kept a large number of animals with them. They domesticated Oxen, Buffaloes, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Cat, Deer, Rhinoceros, Humped Bulls, Dogs, Elephant, Asses and Camels (Beast of Burden) etc.
Technology and Crafts
As it was a Bronze Age civilisation. So, the Indus people used tools of Bronze. Bronze is a mixture of Tin and Copper.
In the case of Indus-Valley Civilisation, They obtained Copper from the Khetri mines of Rajasthan and brought Tin from the Afghanistan and Hazaribagh region. The Bronze Smith made Bronze tools by Lost-Wax Technique. The bronze dancing girl is the best example of fineness of the work of the Harappan artist. Except for a necklace, she is naked.
Important crafts were seal making, textile work (woven cotton piece recovered from Mohenjodaro), spinning weavers, brick lying, boat making, terracotta figurine making, gold jewellery making etc. Pottery was one of the important craft of Indus people. Glossy and shining pottery was prevailing in Indus-Valley Civilisation.
Harappan people used weights and measures for trade and other transactions. Numerous articles used for weights and they mostly were weighing in 16 or multiple of 16.
Script of Indus-Valley Civilisation
The script of Indus-Valley Civilisation is not deciphered yet. But it is a kind of pictograph. In which numerous animals, trees etc. carved on the stones or seals. Unlike the Mesopotamians and Egyptians, Harappans did not write long inscriptions.
As soon as the script of the Indus-Valley Civilisation will have deciphered, one will be able to know more about their contributions, ideas and beliefs.
Religious Beliefs of Indus People
They were mainly nature worshippers. They worshipped Mother Goddess. Because in one terracotta figurine, it had seen that a plant is growing out of the embryo of women.
A seal representing a male deity has found from the site of Indus-Valley Civilisation. This was probably a prototype of Pashupati Mahadeva. This male deity is represented in the sitting posture of a yogi and surrounded by a rhinoceros, an elephant, a tiger and has a buffalo below his throne. At his feet appear two deer.
Indus people also worshipped trees and animals. They also used to wear amulets. Probably they believed that ghosts and evil forces would no harm them after they wear these amulets.
Trade and Commerce
The Indus people have given a huge importance to the commerce over conquest. They were having their trading links with the contemporary civilisations via sea route. As they built many boats and seals to trade outside their area. Probably they traded through a barter system. Because the seals of Indus-Valley Civilisation had recovered from the Mesopotamia and Egypt.
As Indus people have established their Marvel in the agriculture field. Probably in return for the finished goods and foodgrains, they procured metals from their contemporaries.
In the final or the late Harappan ages, the Indus-Valley Civilisation faced many natural challenges because of which this civilisation slowly disappeared from the sight. But from this extraordinary structured and well-planned civilisation, one can say that India was a pioneer in shipping, metallurgy and textile production.
It had a flourishing agriculture and external trade. It had established its own systems which were far superior to its contemporary civilisations. One should not forget our extraordinary past and should always do better to have a sustainable and planned future.
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