~5000 years oldest Smart city of World–Harappa, Lothal
The Indus Valley lay forgotten and undiscovered for thousands of years.
Around 4,500 years ago, Harappa was one of the busiest cities in the Indus Valley.
The city was laid out in blocks, with some areas surrounded by strong walls.
There were public wells, which people might have used to wash their clothes, and sewers which carried the waste water away to nearby fields.
There were also workshops where beads, shells and stone tools have been found.
Kalibangan means ‘black bangles’, after the large number of terracotta bracelets found at the site.
Archaeologists have also found what they think might be the oldest evidence of a ploughed field here.
The ancient Indus farmers would have probably used oxen to pull a plough, before sowing seeds for their crops. Around 5,000 years later, some people in the Indus Valley are still farming in this way!
Lothal was an important port city. From here, trading ships set sail to other Indus cities and parts of Asia and Africa.
The people of Lothal were skilled craftworkers. They made pottery, including beautiful jars decorated with bulls, horses and birds. They also made intricate jewellery from gold, ivory and gemstone beads.
They used copper to make ornaments of animals, as well as tools, arrowheads and fish hooks.
Mohenjo-Daro was once a busy, bustling city, home to around 35,000 people.
Streets were laid out in a grid, with different areas for rich and poor people. The houses were made from clay bricks and some were two storeys tall.
Archaeologists have discovered a ‘Great Bath’ in Mohenjo-Daro. It looks like a swimming pool, but may have been a temple where priests and rulers bathed in religious ceremonies.
In 1826, a British traveller in India called Charles Masson came across some mysterious brick mounds. He thought they looked like old castles, but didn’t know who built them.
Thirty years later, in 1856, engineers building a railway found more bricks. They carted them off and continued to build the railway. These bricks were the first evidence of the lost Indus city of Harappa.
In the 1920s, archaeologists began to excavate the sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. They had uncovered the remains of two long-forgotten cities and found the Indus Valley civilization.Cities of the Indus valley
Find out more about some of the cities in the Indus Valley
The Indus river begins high up in the Himalayan mountains (the tallest mountain range in the world), and flows nearly 3,000 kilometres to the Arabian Sea. As the river moves downstream it carves out a valley. This is where the Indus people settled.
The first farmers liked living near the river because it kept the land green and fertile for growing crops. These farmers lived together in villages which grew over time into large ancient cities, like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
|The Indus is the longest river in Pakistan, it’s over 3,000 kilometers long
The Indus people needed river water to drink, wash and to irrigate their fields. They may also have used water in religious ceremonies. To the Indus people, their river was ‘The King River’.
Indus traders weighed their goods on scales, using stone weights. The scale pans here are made of copper.
Weighing scale was discovered first time in world in India-
Indus Valley trade?
Indus Valley cities lived by trade. Farmers brought food into the cities. City workers made such things as pots, beads and cotton cloth. Traders brought the materials workers needed, and took away finished goods to trade in other cities.
Trade goods included terracotta pots, beads, gold and silver, coloured gem stones such as turquoise and lapis lazuli, metals, flints (for making stone tools), seashells and pearls.
Minerals came from Iran and Afghanistan. Lead and copper came from India. Jade came from China and cedar tree wood was floated down the rivers from Kashmir and the Himalayas
Sargon of Akkad was a king in Mesopotamia, an ancient civilisation which the Indus people traded with.
Indus Valley traders did not use money. So they probably exchanged goods – say, swapping two sacks of wheat for one basket of minerals.
The traders weighed their goods on balance scales, using stone cubes as weights.
The weights were made from cubes of a flinty rock called grey chert. The smallest cube was very light, weighing less than 1 gram! The heaviest was over 11 kilograms – a bit more than 4 bags of supermarket potatoes.
Writing on baked seals?-way of paying tax.
In 1872, archaeologist Alexander Cunningham was puzzled by a flat piece of stone from Harappa which had writing on it. It was a seal. Another archaeologist, Rakhal Banerji found more seals in 1919.
Over 3,500 seals have now been found. Most are square or oblong, and small, about 25 mm across. They are made from steatite or faience, usually baked hard. Each seal has a picture and writing on it, carved with a copper tool.
Pressed into soft clay, a seal left an impression (a copy of the picture and writing). When the clay dried hard, it could be used as a tag which could then be tied to a pot or basket.
Indus Valley traders probably used seals like labels, to show who owned a sack of grain, or that the correct city tax had been paid.
This strange animal with one horn is called a unicorn. Above it is some Indus writing.
Many seals have pictures of animals on them. Animals on seals include elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, fish-eating crocodiles (gharial) and zebu (humped cattle).
The most commonly pictured animal on Indus seals is a ‘unicorn’. In ancient stories, the unicorn was a mythical beast, usually looking like a horse, with one horn.
Some people think the Indus Valley ‘unicorn’ is really a cow sideways-on. It may have been a ‘good luck’ charm, or the badge of an important group of traders.
This Indus seal shows an animal with three heads: bull, unicorn and antelope.
Indus Valley traders crossed mountains and forests. They followed rivers walking along the river bank. They also used boats. In a boat, it was easier and quicker going downstream (the same direction as the river was flowing).
Some traders carried goods on their backs. Others drove wooden carts pulled by bullocks. Archaeologists have found clay models of carts, which look like the bullock-carts still seen in India and Pakistan today.
Traders probably journeyed in groups. At night they made camp, or slept in roadside hotels. Sometimes it was safer to travel in groups, for protection against robbers or hungry tigers.
Some traders settled in other lands. Traders from another civilisation called Mesopotamia made their homes in Indus cities, and people from the Indus Valley went to live in cities in Mesopotamia.
Indus Valley boats
A picture on one seal shows an Indus Valley boat with raised ends (prow and stern), a rolled-up sail, and a square cabin. A man at the stern (back) has a long oar, possibly to steer. A flat-bottomed boat could travel in shallow water. It could be pushed by a pole, by paddles, or by the wind in its sail. Bigger boats went out to sea.
Boats in ancient times were made of wood, or bundles of reeds. Modern experiments have proved that even reed boats could cross oceans. Boats like ancient Indus Valley craft are still used in India, Pakistan and in the Arabian Gulf
An Indus river boat, shown on a seal. You can see its raised ends, a cabin, and a steersman using long oars.
Trade with Mesopotamia
Sargon of Akkad (2334 to 2279 BC) was a king in Mesopotamia. This was one of the first ancient civilisations. We know Indus Valley traders went there, because Indus seals have been found in Mesopotamia.
Indus potters made plain everyday pots, and fine decorated pots like this one.
Sargon’s scribes kept written records of ships from other lands. So we learn that the Mesopotamians bought gold, copper and jewellery from ‘Meluhha’. Was Meluhha the Mesopotamian name for the Indus civilisation? Or was it the Indus Valley people’s own name for their land?
To reach Mesopotamia, Indus ships sailed west. They probably kept close to land. Bits of old Indus pottery found on beaches in Oman, in the Gulf, came from storage jars left behind by traders.
The rhino pictured on this Indus seal is an Indian rhinoceros, a different species from the rhinos that live in Africa.
Lothal , near Gujrat, a part of industrial town of Indus Valley civilization- was famous for making beads.
This bracelet is made from polished stones. Jewel-stones were brought from mines in the mountains by traders.
The Indus cities were neatly planned. They had straight roads which criss-crossed in a grid pattern to form city blocks.
The main streets were almost 10 metres wide – wide enough for two bullock carts or elephants to pass each other. Drains ran along the edge of the streets to carry rubbish away and wells were dug for clean water.
Some cities, like Mohenjo-Daro, had high walls. These walls had gateways so people could come and go. Some city districts inside were raised on mounds. The highest mound was known as the citadel, which might have been where the priests or rulers lived.
Most Indus buildings were made from mud bricks. Over time, people built new houses on top of old ones. So, over hundreds of years, the cities grew higher and higher. Some houses were seven metres above the old houses at the bottom!
What can we learn from Indus Valley writing?
The Indus people wrote on soft clay using pointed sticks or by scratching marks onto stone and metal.
People wrote the first line from right to left, the second line from left to right, and so on.
What can we learn about the writing that was left behind? Well, not very much. Indus Valley writing used at least 400 picture-signs – they were not letters like in our alphabet. But the longest bit of writing found has only 26 characters.
|These seals with writing on were found in the city of Mohenjo-Daro.
No one knows what language the Indus people spoke, and no one has yet been able to read their writing.
Some experts think the Indus language may have been similar to Tamil, which is spoken today by people in southern India and Sri Lanka.
Pictures on seals and other artefacts show what look like figures of gods. But we don’t know what the Indus people called them.
One looks like a mother goddess. People might have believed this goddess gave health and fertility to people, animals and plants.
Plants, trees and animals were probably important to Indus people. The pipal or fig tree is shown on many seals, and is still a sacred tree for many Buddhists and Hindus.
Hinduism also places importance on ritual bathing. Many people believe the ‘great bath’ found in Mohenjo-Daro suggests the Indus people held similar beliefs about purity.
Some people think that the Indus religion shaped early Hindu beliefs.
The figure on this seal is probably an Shiva god. He has three faces, a horned headdress, and lots of arm-bangles.
Source – bbc
BBC World history
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