The History of Indus Valley Civilization

Table of Contents


More than 5 thousand years ago during the Bronze age, when Egypt and Mesopotamia sprouted, great cities blossomed along the flood plains of the Indus and Saraswati Rivers in modern day Pakistan and India (Jonathan, 2002.p.116). Harappa was the first city to be excavated, hence the name Harappan civilization. This civilization was once considered a subsidiary of the Mesopotamian culture; nevertheless, archeological findings proved this conviction a fallacy.

Harappan culture, actually precedent the Mesopotamian civilization by two hundred years (Daine & Sarah, 2010. p.213). Finally, researchers have drawn a clear-cut finding that ancient urban civilization in Indus developed autonomously. Hitherto, the Indus valley script remains inexplicable. Nonetheless, the copious seals uncovered by researchers, pottery and the ancient ruins of Indus Valley cities, have assisted archeologists to amass incisive account of the civilization.

The most primitive traces of Indus Valley civilization were discovered along the Indus river after excavations were performed in the primeval cities of Mahenjodaro and Harappa. The conclusion drawn out thereof, suggested a highly composite civilization which must have developed around five hundred years ago.

Subsequent scholarly research carried out by historians has handed over more detailed information on the Indus valley and its dwellers (Thapar,1996. p.97). The presumption is that the valley was preoccupied by Dravidians, who might have been relocated by Aryans, endowed with sophisticated armory and military technology, as they relocated to India.

The Indus valley Civilization 5000 – 1800 BC

As the research has established, from the 5th millennium BC urbane towns were constructed along the Indus River by agriculturists who practiced crop farming. The cities had sophisticated structures and fortified walls to offer protection from external attacks. The towns were highly advanced with drainage systems for sewer waste, every mud-brick house had an oven (Richard, 2006. p.34).

By the year 2500 BC, two cities namely Harappa and Mohenjo-daro became highly developed and their lifeline was dependent on the Indus river. In accordance to the evinced archeological indication, these two cities were highly regulated and managed. The streets were structured on a rectangular lattice pattern and a well synchronized sewage system, with holes for repair and maintenance was in place.

The two main cities in the Indus Valley civilization were located four hundreds kilometers apart and the planning of building structures was done with keen brilliancy. Both cities, had elaborate spacious streets which allowed ease in traffic flow, the corners of their buildings were rounded to ensure that carts could turn easily.

The evidence of larger houses with two or three storey alludes to the intellect of the residences of this civilization (Dianne & Sarah, 2010. p.74). conversely, communal buildings entail a high degree of societal order and organization. For instance, the great granary found in the city of Mohenjo-daro was properly planned and constructed with bays which made it easy for the residents to receive carts bringing in staple crops from the outer populace(Kosambi,1985. p.65).

Ensuing probe in to the agrarian world of the Indus valley inhabitants suggest that they farmed four main clothes namely rice, barley sesame and cotton. The carvings of elephants signify that the populace had domesticated the animal for labor force.

The city structures comprised of twelve major blocks constituting of individual houses as the basic units of the cities. The major economic activity in this civilization was agriculture which was highly fruitful with ability to generate food enough to support thousands of urban residents who were unnecessarily farmers.

Farmers fully utilized the thriving alluvial soils, and superior irrigation schemes which helped them to accumulate harvest in superfluity. The major challenge to the civilization was fluctuating climatic changes and external threat from assailants.

2500 BC Indus Seals

Just like in every other civilization, the bureaucrats had the upper hand and carried on managerial and administrative tasks, compelling them to keep records in writing. The Indus script has not been decrypted to date, but there are numerous seals that have been carved in soapstone.

The seals show elaborate portrayal of animals and a list of reserved symbols. The caption lacked longer scripts and texts recommending that the writing were restricted to trade and accounting work (Rahman, 2001.p.79). It is assumed that the signs and symbols in the written script were used to elaborate quantities their values and ownership of properties.

The far-reaching excavations into the ancient ruins of the Indus valley have helped historians to decipher the arts and crafts designed in the prehistoric era.

A glut of information has been garnered through the artifacts obtained from the civilization; researchers recovered gold, jewels, bronze, pottery and terracotta alluding into the nature, beliefs and values of the residences in the civilization (Kosambi,1985. p.103). There were innumerable women carvings which portrayed them as beautiful adorned in jewel, suggesting that the Indus people were sophisticated and urbane.

The populace of Indus Valley comprised of highly religious people, as some seals reveals; there were figures of people sitting in Yoga opposition.

There, were multiplicity of gods and goddesses in the civilization, for instance, there was a female deity named mother goddess which is prominently seen on the seals. Besides being religious, the people in this civilization exercised trade and their elaborate transport was developed through a waterway, later as the excavations reveal there was a canal built in these cities to allow ease of transporting agricultural products.

Decline Of Indus Valley Civilization

The order and organization highly characteristic of the Indus valley civilization began to dimish as the archeologists came to establish around 1900 BC (Jonathan, 2002. p.27). The gigantic imposing buildings of the past began to dwindle paving a way for feeble constructions which were inhabited by declining population.

Researchers have accrued the decline of the once outstanding civilization to depletion of the agricultural base owing to consecutive floods which rocked the Indus valley inhabitants. Another school of thought suggests that the discovery of many unburied bodies in a street in Harappa could mean that there was a sudden attack by Aryans which maimed and terminated the civilization.

The Indus valley civilization thrived for a time but was later dilapidated owing to climatic variations which wrought forth harsh, colder and drier conditions. Dry conditions caused the river Ghaggar Hakra system which was the lifeline to the civilization to dry up shrinking the economic activities into insignificance. However, researchers have not been able to pin point the particular reason why Indus valley civilization came to extermination.


Indus Valley civilization is renowned for its vast agrarian growth and advancement; it was a forerunner of well structured constructions. The civilization also birthed a codified written language for accounting activities spurred by the numerous economic activities which took place in the hub of the cities garnering so much growth, urbane life styles and development.

The level of intelligence and creativity elaborated by the inhabitants of the Indus Valley is astounding, that the civilization sprouts up autonomously remains highly debatable with skeptics suggesting that the civilization borrowed heavily from Mesopotamia.

The steady decline leading to the eventual end of the civilization leaves many questions answered. Researchers have come up with tentative suggestion why the highly promising civilization was exterminated. The most persuasive narrative on to the demise of the civilization states that internal decline owing to floods and changes in the climate led to the end of Indus valley civilization.


Daine, P. M. and Sarah, E. L. (2010). Everyday Life in South Asia.Pennyslivia: Indiana University Press.

Jonathan, M. J. (2002). Analysing Cultures and Societies of the Indus tradition. New Delhi: National Book Trust.

Kosambi, D. K. (1985). The Culture and Civilization of prehistoric India. London: Routledge.

Rahman, S. (2001). The first Early Indus Valley Site discovered. Journal of Asian Civilization 56(4): 2-34.

Richard, H. J. (2006). Excavations At Harappa 2000-2001: New Depths In Historical Chronology. Paris: Penguin Publishers.

Thapar, R. N. (1996).Historical View Of India: (Vol 11). England: Penguin.

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