The Basics of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa
What we know about the cities of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa in the Indus River Valley is very limited because a very large part of their culture was demolished when they were invaded by Indo-European people. Because of this, we are unsure of the influences this civilization actually had on future Indian civilizations, and most of what we know is from archaeological finds and guesswork. The Indus Civilization is among one of the largest civilizations in history, more than 1,500 archaeological cites have been found. We have learned that Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa were part of a prosperous urban civilization that emerged sometime around 2500 B.C.E. The Indus River Valley Civilization supported several other cities in addition to Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, which had running water and a sewage system. This civilization had trading contacts with Mesopotamia, but wasn't influenced much by it because Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa ended up developing their own distinct alphabet and artistic forms. Another reason we know so little about the Indus River Valley civilization is because it's writing has yet to be deciphered. From the ruins of these great cities and various archaeological finds, we can deduce several things. The cities were built in a grid pattern of wide, narrow streets, and thick walls surrounded them. Many people lived in sturdy brick houses with up to 3 stories, and some had bathrooms and toilets connected to the world's first sewer system. There was also an elaborate canal system within and around the city that provided a reliable source of water for growing wheat and barley. In addition, there is evidence that people in the Indus River Valley herded animals such as sheep, cattle, and goats. The Indus River Valley Civilization had a highly developed knowledge of math and a sophisticated system of weights and measures. The bricks in all the different Indus Valley cities are the same size, suggesting that there was a common government that ruled over the entire Indus River Valley. Other objects that archaeologists have stumbled upon include musical instruments, toys, games an pottery. Evidence of combs, soap, medicine, and dentistry point to this being a very sanitary and hygienic civilization. For trade, artisans made jewelry and traders sold cotton cloth and hard wood from teak trees in the valley. It is believed that the Indus River Valley contained over 5 million people.
What Happened to the Indus River Valley Civilization?
The Indus River Valley Civilization quickly declined between 1800 and 1700 B.C.E. for unknown reasons. Some speculate that a flood or an earthquake caused the people of this civilization to leave, but the more likely cause is that the civilization was defeated by another culture. There is some evidence that battles occurred, and it is possible that it was actually the Aryans, hunting and herding people from Central Asia, that defeated the Indus River Valley Civilization and came back 500 years later to settle the area. The epics written by the Aryans speak of their conquests of great cities, and it is possible that they are referring to the cities of the Indus River Civilization. The Indo-European invaders combined their religious and political ideas with those that had existed in the Indus River Valley civilization.
Life in the Indus River Civilization
The Indus River Civilization was one of the most advanced societies of its time. The simple fact that there was a sewage system in 2500 B.C.E. goes to show just how ahead of its time this civilization was. As previously mentioned, these people seemed to care a great deal about personal hygiene, which was uncommon for cultures at the time. The job specialization varied, allowing them to create a variety of luxury items for trade and the upper classes. Also, the civilization had an extensive trading system. With with trading contacts such as Mesopotamia, it displays the level of prosperity of cities like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. There were significant class distinctions, as in all societies, but to exactly what extent, we are unsure. This civilization prospered mostly due to its location on the banks of the Indus River, following the trend of prosperous early civilizations being located in and along river valleys.