|Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Various elements of urban civilisation in the Harappan Culture. Possible factors responsible for its decline.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Indus Valley civilisation is the oldest urban civilisation discovered till date. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River. The civilisation is noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, large and new techniques in handicraft.
Elements of urban civilisation in the Harappan Culture:
- Planned towns: The Harappan culture was distinguished by its system of town planning. Both Harappa and Mohenjodaro had a citadel, and this was possibly occupied by members of the ruling class. Below the citadel in each city lay a lower town with brick houses, that were inhabited by the common people.
- Drainage system: The drainage system was very impressive. Sometimes these drains were covered with bricks and sometimes with stone slabs. Sewers were connected to the whole city.
- Grid system: The arrangement of the houses in the cities is followed by a grid system, with roads at virtually right angles to each other. Every house had a tiled bathroom and its own well. Evidence of the flush system has been found.
- Burnt bricks: Fired Bricks were used for foundation, and unfired bricks were used for walls. The most important public place of Mohenjodaro seems to have been the great bath, is a fine example of beautiful brickwork. The floor of the bath was made of burnt bricks. They even had shower systems.
- Technology and Crafts: The rise of towns in the Indus was based on agricultural surplus, the making of bronze tools, various other crafts, and widespread trade and commerce. The people of Harappa used many tools and implements of stone, but they were very well acquainted with the manufacture and use of bronze. Several other important crafts flourished in Harappan towns.
- Trade and Commerce: The importance of trade in the life of the Indus people is supported by granaries found at Harappa, Mohenjodaro, and Lothal. Numerous seals, a uniform script, and regulated weights and measures covering a wide area were found. The Harappan conducted considerable trade in stone, metal, shell, etc., within the Indus culture.
- Social organisation: Excavations indicate a hierarchy in urban habitation. Two localities are attributed to the city of Harappa. The citadel or the first locality was where the ruling class lived and the lowest tower was where the common people lived. However, whether hierarchy in settlements corresponded to occupational divisions or socio-economic differentiation is not clear.
Possible factors responsible for its decline:
- Foreign Invasion: Many historians believe that the Aryan invasion is the reason for the decline of Harappan culture. There is archaeological proof of genocide with unburied skeletal remains scattered everywhere in Mohenjodaro. An autopsy on these skeletons reveals damages that must have been caused by sharp objects or weapons.
- Floods: The massive floods in the Indus can be one of the causes for the extinction of the Harappan culture. Repeated floods must have forced the people to flee the inundated places and set up permanent habitat elsewhere. As a consequence came the decline of Harappa.
- Droughts: Many historians believe that there was a fall in the average rainfall in the cities leading to the formation of desert-like conditions. This led to the decline in agriculture on which most of the trade was dependent. Owing to this, people of the Indus Valley started shifting to some other location leading to the decline in the entire civilisation.
- Tectonic disturbances: Geographically, the Harappan culture occupied an area that was prone to earthquakes. Repeated seismographic vibrations might have led to decline of Harappan culture.
- Change in the Course of the river Indus: Some Historians attribute the decline of the Harappan culture to the river Indus changing its course frequently. Water scarcity must have led to the migration of the Harappan people to other places.
- Epidemic: Outbreak of the plague epidemic is claimed to be the possible reason for the decline of Harappan civilisation. The scattered skeletal remains suggest an epidemic like plague. Though there is no concrete proof of the outbreak of plague in the region.
The multiple causes, enumerated above were responsible for the decline of Harappan culture. Although no concrete evidence is present that can lead to any conclusion. The Harappa was one of the greatest and oldest civilisation, that reflects how old and deep are roots of civilisation and urbanisation in India. How and when the civilisation came to an end remains uncertain.