Indus valley Civilization: Important aspects and new developments

Presence of animal products during Indus Valley civilisation

  • Recent studies have found the presence of animal products at seven Indus Valley Civilisation sites in present-day Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, including cattle and buffalo meat, in ceramic vessels dating back about 4,600 years.
  • New study has been published in the ‘Journal of Archaeological Science’. The University of Cambridge and Banaras Hindu University analyzed the lipid residue in pottery found at the ancient sites.
  • Researchers have analysed the lipid residues of the fats and oils that were absorbed in the vessels.
  • Lipids are relatively less prone to degradation and have been discovered in pottery from archaeological contexts around the world.

Other Findings

  • Both summer and winter-based cropping were practiced.
  • Evidence of barley, wheat, rice, different varieties of millets, a range of winter and summer pulses, oilseed, and fruit and vegetables, including brinjal, cucumber, grapes, and date palm were grown and consumed.

Sutlej, not Sarasvati, supported Indus Valley Civilisation

In a finding of 2018, Researchers refuted the theory that ‘lost’ River Saraswati supported the Indus Valley Civilisation.

  • Finding is based on the geological evidences collected by an international team of scientists led by Sanjeev Gupta, a geologist with Imperial College London.
  • Ancient urban settlements of Indus civilisation flourished about 4,600 years ago, along a course which the Sutlej abandoned some 8,000 years ago.
  • When the Sutlej River changed its course, it left a former channel in the landscape which was a topographic low. This served to capture and concentrate monsoon-fed river flow and contained excellent soils for agriculture. Thus the Sutlej formed the environmental template for the civilisation in this region.
  • Scientists identified that the present-day Ghaggar, (called Hakra in Pakistan), which is a seasonal river, flows through the former course of Sutlej.
  • Earlier it was claimed by some archaeologists that the Indus Valley settlements might have developed along the “lost” river of Sarasvati as there was enough geological and sedimentary evidence to show that the river that fed the Indus civilisation carried glacier headwaters. On this basis, it was called the Indus-Sarasvati Civilization.
  • Now the new study has resolved the controversy by establishing that the geochemical signature of glacial origins may have been left behind by the Sutlej, which originates in the ice-capped mountains.

Indus Valley civilisation

About Indus valley civilisation

Indus Valley civilization is the oldest urban civilization discovered to date. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River spreading across large parts of modern Pakistan, northwest and western India, and Afghanistan. The civilisation is noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, large and new techniques in handicraft.

Few major features of the Indus valley civilisation:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 of socio-economic differentiation is not clear.
Possible factors responsible for its decline:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 civilization.
  4. Tectonic disturbances: Geographically, the Harappan culture occupied an area that was prone to earthquakes. Repeated seismographic vibrations might have led to declining of Harappan culture.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 the 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.

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