The phrase "early civilizations" usually conjures up images of Egypt and Mesopotamia, and their pyramids, mummies, and golden tombs. But in the s, a huge discovery in South Asia proved that Egypt and Mesopotamia were not the only "early civilizations. A thriving, urban civilization had existed at the same time as Egyptian and Mesopotamian states — in an area twice each of their sizes. The people of this Indus Valley civilization did not build massive monuments like their contemporaries, nor did they bury riches among their dead in golden tombs.
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Also known as Soapstone, steatite is a talc-schist, which is a type of metamorphic rock. It is very soft and has been a medium for carving for thousands of years. It was located in modern-day India and Pakistan, and covered an area as large as Western Europe. The people of the Indus Valley, also known as Harappan Harappa was the first city in the region found by archaeologists , achieved many notable advances in technology, including great accuracy in their systems and tools for measuring length and mass.
Harappans were among the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures that conformed to a successive scale. The smallest division, approximately 1. It stands as the smallest division ever recorded on a Bronze Age scale. Another indication of an advanced measurement system is the fact that the bricks used to build Indus cities were uniform in size. Harappans demonstrated advanced architecture with dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms, and protective walls.
The ancient Indus systems of sewerage and drainage developed and used in cities throughout the region were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in the Middle East, and even more efficient than those in many areas of Pakistan and India today.
Harappans were thought to have been proficient in seal carving, the cutting of patterns into the bottom face of a seal, and used distinctive seals for the identification of property and to stamp clay on trade goods. Seals have been one of the most commonly discovered artifacts in Indus Valley cities, decorated with animal figures, such as elephants, tigers, and water buffalos.
Harappans also developed new techniques in metallurgy—the science of working with copper, bronze, lead, and tin—and performed intricate handicraft using products made of the semi-precious gemstone, Carnelian. Terracotta works also included cows, bears, monkeys, and dogs. In addition to figurines, the Indus River Valley people are believed to have created necklaces, bangles, and other ornaments. The Indus River Valley Civilization created figurines from terracotta, as well as bronze and steatite.
It is still unknown whether these figurines have religious significance. The Harappan Civilization may have been the first to use wheeled transport, in the form of bullock carts that are identical to those seen throughout South Asia today. The docks and canal in the ancient city of Lothal, located in modern India. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Indus River Valley Civilization constructed boats and may have participated in an extensive maritime trade network. Trade focused on importing raw materials to be used in Harappan city workshops, including minerals from Iran and Afghanistan, lead and copper from other parts of India, jade from China, and cedar wood floated down rivers from the Himalayas and Kashmir.
Other trade goods included terracotta pots, gold, silver, metals, beads, flints for making tools, seashells, pearls, and colored gem stones, such as lapis lazuli and turquoise. There was an extensive maritime trade network operating between the Harappan and Mesopotamian civilizations. Harappan seals and jewelry have been found at archaeological sites in regions of Mesopotamia, which includes most of modern-day Iraq, Kuwait, and parts of Syria. Long-distance sea trade over bodies of water, such as the Arabian Sea, Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, may have become feasible with the development of plank watercraft that was equipped with a single central mast supporting a sail of woven rushes or cloth.
During the Early Harappan period about BCE , cultural similarities in pottery, seals, figurines, and ornaments document caravan trade with Central Asia and the Iranian plateau. Harappans are believed to have used Indus Script, a language consisting of symbols. A collection of written texts on clay and stone tablets unearthed at Harappa, which have been carbon dated BCE, contain trident-shaped, plant-like markings.
Indus Script. As many as distinct Indus symbols have been found on seals, small tablets, ceramic pots, and more than a dozen other materials. Typical Indus inscriptions are no more than four or five characters in length, most of which are very small. The longest on a single surface, which is less than 1 inch or 2. The characters are largely pictorial, but include many abstract signs that do not appear to have changed over time.
The inscriptions are thought to have been primarily written from right to left, but it is unclear whether this script constitutes a complete language. At TED , he explained how he was enlisting modern computational techniques to read the Indus language. The Harappan religion remains a topic of speculation. It has been widely suggested that the Harappans worshipped a mother goddess who symbolized fertility.
In contrast to Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations, the Indus Valley Civilization seems to have lacked any temples or palaces that would give clear evidence of religious rites or specific deities. Some Indus Valley seals show a swastika symbol, which was included in later Indian religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Many Indus Valley seals also include the forms of animals, with some depicting them being carried in processions, while others showing chimeric creations, leading scholars to speculate about the role of animals in Indus Valley religions.
One seal from Mohenjo-daro shows a half-human, half-buffalo monster attacking a tiger. This may be a reference to the Sumerian myth of a monster created by Aruru, the Sumerian earth and fertility goddess, to fight Gilgamesh, the hero of an ancient Mesopotamian epic poem. This is a further suggestion of international trade in Harappan culture.
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A Brief Introduction to the Ancient Indus Civilization
The civilisation's cities were noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, clusters of large non-residential buildings, and new techniques in handicraft carnelian products, seal carving and metallurgy copper, bronze, lead, and tin. The Harappan language is not directly attested, and its affiliation is uncertain since the Indus script is still undeciphered. The Indus Valley Civilisation is named after the Indus river system in whose alluvial plains the early sites of the civilisation were identified and excavated. A section of scholars use the terms "Sarasvati culture", the "Sarasvati Civilisation", the "Indus-Sarasvati Civilisation" or the "Sindhu-Saraswati Civilisation", because they consider the Ghaggar-Hakra river to be the same as the Sarasvati ,    a river mentioned several times in the Rig Veda , a collection of ancient Sanskrit hymns composed in the second millennium BCE.
8a. Early Civilization in the Indus Valley
Jump to navigation. The greater Indus region was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia and China. It was not discovered until the 's. Most of its ruins, even its major cities, remain to be excavated. The ancient Indus Civilization script has not been deciphered. Many questions about the Indus people who created this highly complex culture remain unanswered, but other aspects of their society can be answered through various types of archaeological studies.
Although modern Harappa has a legacy railway station from the British Raj period, it is a small crossroads town of 15, people today. The site of the ancient city contains the ruins of a Bronze Age fortified city, which was part of the Indus Valley Civilisation centred in Sindh and the Punjab , and then the Cemetery H culture. The ancient city of Harappa was heavily damaged under British rule, when bricks from the ruins were used as track ballast in the construction of the Lahore—Multan Railway. In , a controversial amusement park scheme at the site was abandoned when builders unearthed many archaeological artifacts during the early stages of building work. A number of other sites stretching from the Himalayan foothills in east Punjab , India in the north, to Gujarat in the south and east, and to Pakistani Balochistan in the west have also been discovered and studied. Although the archaeological site at Harappa was damaged in  when engineers constructing the Lahore - Multan railroad used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast , an abundance of artifacts have nevertheless been found. As early as Harappa, located in west Punjab, attracted the attention of Daya Ram Sahni , who gets credit for preliminary excavations of Harappa.