Indians are proud of their 5,000 year civilization, and the Indus Valley Civilization or the Harappan civilization is where it all began.
The Indus Valley Civilization is the same thing as the Harappan Civilization, and it is named so because they found the Indus Valley Civilization first, and then later realized that this is much more than just on the banks of the Indus River.
For Indians wondering how is it that they keep hearing about the Indus river, but don’t know where it is — the answer is that because most of it is in modern day Pakistan.
The other river of this period is the Saraswati which has now dried up.
Harappan Civilization Period: The time period consists of 3,300 BCE to 1,300 BCE so about 2,000 years.
There are three periods of Harappan civilization:
- Early Harappan: 3,300 BCE to 2,600 BCE
- Mature Harappan: 2,600 BCE to 1,900 BCE
- Late Harappan: 1,900 BCE to 1,300 BCE.
There are a lot of fascinating things about this civilization, but what amazed me most was how incredibly good their town planning was.
An excerpt from India: A History
Along the lower Indus and its tributaries had grown up one of the world’s first urban societies, a contemporary of those on the Nile and the Euphrates and a rival for the tag of ‘the cradle of civilisation’….
…The ubiquitous bricks, for instance, are all of standardised dimensions, just as the stone cubes used by the Harappans to measure weights are also standard and based on a modular system.
Road widths conform to a similar module; thus streets are typically twice the width of side lanes, while the main arteries are twice or one and a half times the width of streets. Most of the streets so far excavated are straight and run either north – south or east – west.
City plans therefore conform to a regular grid pattern and appear to have retained this layout through several phases of rebuilding. In most cases the ground plan consists of two quite separate settlements, one apparently residential and commercial (‘the lower town’), and the other elevated on a massive brick platform (‘the citadel’) and endowed with more ambitious structures.
‘The citadel’ invariably lay to the west of ‘the lower town’. Clearly Harappan settlements were not just India’s first cities and townships but its first, indeed the world’s first, planned cities and townships. Town-planning not being conspicuous in the subcontinent’s subsequent urban development, they have been hailed as the only such examples until, in the eighteenth century AD, Maharajah Jai Singh decided to lay out his ‘pink city’ of Jaipur in Rajasthan.What made all this consistency even more remarkable was the area throughout which the Harappans sustained it. With Mohenjo-daro and Harappa nearly six hundred kilometres apart, it was immediately obvious that the ‘Indus valley’ civilisation was more extensive than its contemporaries – Egypt’s Old Kingdom and Mesopotamia’s Sumeria. The Indus valley, however, has proved to be only the core area. Subsequent to the discovery of its two principal sites (Mohenjo-daro in Sind and Harappa in the Panjab) the Harappan civilisation has been steadily expanding by more than a province a decade.
Here’s a good map of the area:
What is a little saddening is that it is not yet known what led to the ruin and destruction of this civilization, but historians have ruled out foreign invasion and destruction, and the most likely cause posited is some sort of flooding.
Since reference is made here to the cradle of civilization, that’s going to the topic for my next post.