HIST- 161 Midterm
Indus Valley Civilization
Asia is a vast landmass with numerous natural environments, which support primarily two types of livelihood i.e. farming and herding. Fall of sufficient rain and presence of rivers allowed for irrigation, farmers worked the soil. Thus, the earliest urban cultures of Asia arose especially in the river area i.e. in Southwest, South and East Asia. In and around these areas people developed large states with different cultures hence, distinguished from each other in terms of urban and literate knowledge. The culture that developed in South Asia was the Indus Valley Culture, arose around 2600 B.C.E and existed for more than 700 years. Agriculture was often impossible beyond Asia’s river valleys. Domestication of horses for long distance migrations enabled speakers of Indo- European languages to arrive at Indian subcontinent along with Western China and Western Europe for settlement or trade. By 8000 B.C.E. agriculture was developed by the people of Southwest Asia that slowly was adapted by the inhabitants of other regions of Asia, especially in river valleys where the soil was fertile. Also, people used river water to irrigate crops when rainfall was insufficient. By 5000 B.C.E. farmers had settled throughout some valleys in China, and by 3000 B.C.E. agriculture had also spread in some parts of Asian subcontinent, including the Indus Valley. Local conditions played an important role in determining what crops people would grow. In western Indian subcontinent people cultivated wheat and barley because of the environment conditions prevailed there.
Overall knowledge about the Indus Valley culture is less known because its script has not yet been deciphered. Scholars thus finding it difficult to explore the verbal expressions of their ideas or the language they spoke. According to the archaeological evidence, it appears the geographical spread of the Indus culture was spread over some 1100 miles from the northernmost side of the Indus River to the Arabian Sea and some 800 miles from east to west. And the valley existed in fertile agricultural zones with abundant rainfall. Around 3200 B.C.E., villagers in the Southwestern Asia started to build strong settlements. The culture continued and thrived even more in 2600 B.C.E. which resulted in the formation of the mature Indus culture. People from the villages moved into cities for some unknown reasons. This gives the proof of the presence of cities with large populations sharing cultural characteristics even being so far apart with some local differences. There were five well engineered major cities with beautiful architecture that flourished in this civilization. They were surrounded by thick mud- brick walls and contained various sectors. Each city had a high sector that was set on a mud- brick platform with monumental buildings and lower sectors with residences and workshops. The interior layout was planned using the grid pattern running from north to south and east to west. Streets were up to thirty- three wide creating city blocks. Hence, it is evident people of that civilization consciously planned cities and villages with a particular pattern in mind. The most advanced and the biggest city is considered to be Mohenjo- Daro. One of the great examples of architecture and engineering is the Great Bath which was a huge structure used for bathing purposes for the people. Great amount of attention was paid to the sanitation system in the Harappan cities which was the most advanced system ever seen in the ancient world. Presence of private bathrooms, wells and sewage systems that were connected to the main channels underneath the streets proves the existence of well-engineered cities that made way for future civilizations.
Scholars are uncertain about the religious beliefs of the Indus Valley people. They agree to some extent that later Indian