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MOHENJODARO & HARAPPA

     

   
From the beginning of the 4th
millennium BC, the individuality of the early village cultures began to
be replaced by a more homogenous style of existence. By the middle of
the 3rd millennium, a uniform culture had developed at settlements
spread across nearly 500,000 square miles, including parts of Punjab,
Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Baluchistan, Sind and the Makran coast.

This earliest known
civilization in India, the starting point in its history, dates back to
about 3000 BC. Discovered in the 1920s, it was thought to have been
confined to the valley of the river Indus, hence the name given to it
was Indus Valley civilization. This civilization was a highly developed
urban one and two of its towns, Mohenjodaro and Harappa, represent the
high watermark of the settlements.
Subsequent archaeological excavations established that the contours of
this civilization were not restricted to the Indus valley but spread to
a wide area in northwestern and western India. Thus this civilization is
now better known as the Harappan civilization. Mohenjodaro and Harappa
are now in Pakistan and the principal sites in India include Ropar in
Punjab, Lothal in Gujarat and Kalibangan in Rajasthan.

Urban Development

The emergence of this
civilization is as remarkable as its stability for nearly a thousand
years. All the cities were well planned and were built with baked bricks
of the same size; the streets were laid at right angles with an
elaborate system of covered drains. There was a fairly clear division of
localities and houses were earmarked for the upper and lower strata of
society. There were also public buildings, the most famous being the
Great Bath at Mohenjodaro and the vast granaries. Production of several
metals such as copper, bronze, lead and tin was also undertaken and some
remnants of furnaces provide evidence of this fact. The discovery of
kilns to make bricks support the fact that burnt bricks were used
extensively in domestic and public buildings.

Occupations

Evidence also points to
the use of domesticated animals, including camels, goats, water
buffaloes and fowls. The Harappans cultivated wheat, barley, peas and
sesamum and were probably the first to grow and make clothes from
cotton.Trade seemed to be a major activity at the Indus Valley and the
sheer quantity of seals discovered suggest that each merchant or
mercantile family owned its own seal. These seals are in various
quadrangular shapes and sizes, each with a human or an animal figure
carved on it. Discoveries suggest that the Harappan civilisation had
extensive trade relations with the neighbouring regions in India and
with distant lands in the Persian Gulf and Sumer (Iraq).

Society and Religion

The Harappan society was
probably divided according to occupations and this also suggests the
existence of an organized government. The figures of deities on seals
indicate that the Harappans worshipped gods and goddesses in male and
female forms and has also evolved some rituals and ceremonies. No
monumental
sculpture survives, but a large number of human figurines have been
discovered, including a steatite bust of a man thought to be a priest,
and a striking bronze dancing girl. Countless terra-cotta statues of
Mother Goddess have been discovered suggesting that she was worshipped
in nearly every home.

By about 1700 BC, the
Harappan culture was on the decline, due to repeated flooding of towns
located on the river banks and due to ecological changes which forced
agriculture to yield to the spreading desert. Some historians do not
rule out invasions by barbarian tribes of the northwest as the cause of
the decline of the Harappan civilisation. When the initial migrations of
the
Aryan people into India began about 1500 BC, the developed Harappan
culture had already been practically wiped out.

      

 


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