Indus River Valley Civilization

Note: Because archaeologists have yet to decipher the Indus River Valley's system of writing and therefore have a lack of readable texts, little is known about the religious institution, social organization of classes, or the political institutions

3.gif31732630.jpgIndusCivilization-Map.jpgElam-Indus.jpgharappa.jpg<- Harappa todaymohenjodaro.jpg<- Mohenjo-Daro (notice the well planned and organized system of construction in the city)
<- animation of what some think that life in the cities was like

look to slides 40-55 for information about Indus River Valley. also good to look at for other civilizations. also at

  • the civilization flourished from approx. 2600 to 1900 BCE
  • the culture is best known from the remains of the two major cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro
    • Harappa: 3.5 miles in circumference and house population of 35,000
      • located on the northwest frontier between farmland and herding land and was used as an access for the acquisition of raw materials (such as metals and precious stones) from Afghanistan and Iran
    • Mohenjo-Daro: the largest of the cities of the valley
      • centrally located in the extensive floodplain of the Indus River -- the large scale of construction, the orderly grid of streets, and standardization of building materials are evidence of central planning/administration
  • most people lived in smaller settlements -- had similar artifacts/organization as the cities meaning extensive trade of goods within the valley
  • settled agriculture dates back to 5000 BCE
  • causes of the rise of the urbanization, population increase, and technological advances that occurred in the mid-3rd millennium BCE are unclear
  • little is known of social organization of classes
  • strong central authority as evident in the consistent and uniformity of the construction of the cities
  • seat of authority may have been the citadel (an elevated, enclosed compound containing large buildings)
  • little is known of religious institutions
  • little is known of religious institutions. cannot decipher their writing. when Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa collapsed rapidly, so did their religions.
  • a mother goddess represented fertility
  • worships animals to some extent -- did not hunt large amounts of animals at one time
  • early signs of Hinduism
  • historians think that the public baths and the idea of running water may have played a role in the religions
  • polytheism
  • most metal objects were utilitarian tools and other everyday objects -- metals were available to a broad cross-section of the population in the indus valley. in the middle east metal was primarily reserved fro the elite class
    • greater quantity of metal in the Indus Valley than in Mesopotamia or Egypt
  • skilled in irrigation
  • potter's wheel
  • foundations of large public buildings used mud bricks fired to rocky hardness in kilns (the usual sun-dried bricks dissolved quickly in floodwaters)
  • system of writing with more than 400 signs (archaeologists have yet to decipher)
  • extensive trade of goods within the valley
  • widespread trading contacts -- goods were moved on rivers within the zone of the Indus Valley culture
    • had ready access to the metal and precious stones of Iran and Afghanistan
    • merchants served as middlemen in long-distance trade to obtain raw metals from the northwest and shipping them to the Persian Gulf
  • plain of more than 1 million acres from the mountains of western Pakistan east to the Thar Desert in the Sind region of modern Pakistan
  • covered an area much larger than Mesopotamia
  • the Indus River Valley civilization covered an area much larger than the zone of Mesopotamia civilization
  • region has little rainfall but farmers are able to plant at least two crops a year due to flooding:
    • twice a year the river overflows and inundates surrounding land as far as 10 miles. In March and April melting snow from the Pamir and Himalaya mountains feed the floods. In August the great monsoon brings rains that cause a flood.
    • In ancient times the Hakra River ran parallel to the Indus and supplied water to a second cultivable area (the river has since dried up)