RS7 Hittite and Indus

Anthropology 5 - Fall 2009
Review Sheet 6 - Hittite Indus Valley and Harappan Civilization
Hittite c. 1650 – 1200 B.C. E.
- poorly known civilization
- centered on northern Anatolian plateau (at times extended into Syria and the Levant)
- spoke an Indo-European language; located in central Anatolia
- borrowed culturally from Mesopotamian civilization
- they became acculturated while still maintaining their traditional values and outlook on life
- minority control over local population began by conquest c. 17th century B. C. E.
- first organized into small, independent city-states
- by 1500 B. C. E. developed a strong, centralized feudal empire that controlled the local population
- they maintained control both through military and diplomatic processes
Hittite was one of the three great empires during the 2 nd millennium B.C. E., i.e., also Egypt and Mitanni east of the Euphrates
- each of these kingdoms controlled a large area of territory surrounded by a hinterland that lay more or less under their influence
- these three states competed directly in the coastal zone of the eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea
- this region consisted of many small and prosperous city-states
- in particular fought and bargained with the Egyptians over the Middle East and eventually pushed the Egyptians out of Syria and
political system
- theocracy with the king performing necessary priestly duties
- a hierarchy of officials supported the king who ruled the empire based on a rigid feudal system of landownership, governance, and
- agriculturally self-sufficient without irrigation
- land was excellent for stock raising (e.g., sheep, goats, cattle, horses)
- abundance of natural resources: wood, minerals (silver and copper), tin from the Iranian plateau, obsidian, semi- precious stones
- extensive trade with both the interior and maritime states, in particular, gold, copper, tin, pottery and as intermediaries in many other
commodities, e.g., hardwood, amber, tortoiseshells, elephant tusks, hippopotamus teeth, ostrich eggs, olive oil, etc.
collapse - three primary factors:
1) impact of barbarian tribal migrations
- triggered massive movement of Anatolian peoples southward both by land and sea
- Cyprus was attacked, many towns in Syria and Palestine were devastated
- c. 1200 B.C. E. Egypt just managed to repel a gigantic sea raid, Rameses III repelled the sea peoples
2) rigid feudal system and growth of local officials
3) lack of maritime power
Indus Valley and Harappan Civilization
Environment, geography, and geology of Southwest Asia
- extremely complex region and cultural traditions
- c. 12,000 B. P. widespread hunter-gatherer groups over south central Asia
- numerous and violent tectonic activity (i.e., Indian plate subsiding under the Euro-Asian plate)
- resulted in environmental changes, e.g., deposition of alluvium from annual flooding; changing river courses; disappearance of a major
river system c. 4000 B.P. (i.e., Saraswati River)
- creation of the Himalaya Mountains, extending from the Hindu Kush in the west to Assam in the east
- mountains rings the north and northwest bordering the alluvial plains of the Indus River, this merges into the Thar Desert in east (500’
above the floor plain), then the Deccan plateau, more fertile and once densely forested
- north and east of central tablelands is the Ganges River basin Bihar, Bengal, and Bangladesh; this vast alluvial corridor has great
rainfall from the monsoons and extends east into dense rainforests on into Southeast Asia
- by c. 10,000 B.P. the climate was very similar as today, i.e., end of the Pleistocene era and beginning of current Holocene era
- c. 5000 B.P. state level societies and agriculture began
- c. 3000 B.P. local areas were very different then today; humans deforested and modified the landscape (i.e., building materials;
firewood; draining of marches and clearing of forests for agriculture)
- Indus River like the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates rivers, is essentially a river flowing through the desert, and without the water and silt it
carries, settlement of the region would be extremely limited
Indian subcontinent
- surrounded by the Himalaya Mts. to north, Arabian Sea to east, Indian Ocean to southeast, and Bay of Bengal on west; tropical
rainforest restrict access in the east
- several mountain ranges run north – south through central India, making high barriers and deep valleys
Indus Valley and Harappan Civilization
- not much is known about this civilization
Cultural development
- distinct cultural development, i.e., climatic and environmental factors somewhat isolated this region
- outside influences and different ethnic peoples filtered in and affect development and create distinct cultural identities
- similar to Mesopotamian harsh environment (i.e., very hot summers and cold winters) and cultural development
- social organization based chieftains, priests, and kin leaders who acted as intermediaries between the people and the gods
- c. 4700 B.P. a hierarchy of political control existed that ruled a state level society
Early Harappan period - first appearance of agriculture is c. 6500 B. P., but hunting and gathering remained important for thousands of
years; and is still today in some local areas
Mehrgarh region – Mohenjodaro and Harappa
- c. 6000 B.P. domesticate wheat and barley, sheep, goats, and cattle were diffused into this area from west Asia
- not until later were indigenous plants domesticated, i.e., cotton and rice
- early farming villages of mud-brick houses developed, surrounded by defensive walls, large irrigation systems
1) indigenous innovation
2) diffusion from Mesopotamia as result of more direct trade (i.e., by sea)
- but many unique indigenous cultural features
- most probably indigenous evolution with some diffusion from both Egypt and Mesopotamia
Mature Harappan period c. 4500 – 4050 B.P.
- Harappan civilization is more comparable to Egypt, i.e., not as urbanized as Mesopotamia
- there are no great palaces or temples (at least not yet found)
- important trade relationship with pastoralists to the northwest and in the highlands
Mohenjodaro and Harappa
- two largest cities in the Indus Valley, i.e., Harappan culture
- 35,000 – 40,000 inhabitants in irregular and net-like urban areas, with parallel streets, water and drainage systems, baths, etc.
India caste system had it origins because the civilized conquering peoples from the north did not integrate the various primitive
communities that occupied southern and eastern India, rather, they incorporated these people as castes, fitting them into the Hindu
confederation of cultures as semi-autonomous, functioning entities
- local culture and social traditions were not destroyed, but fitted into Indian civilized social structures
- taboos on personal contact across caste lines and elaborate rules for bodily purification in case of inadvertent infringement suggest the
importance fear of disease probably had in defining a safe distance between the various social groups (p91)
- these cities were located not directly on the major rivers, but within the river system with its tributaries and channels
- the annual flooding of the Indus and Saraswati rivers require construction of massive flood barriers around these cities
Manu and the Flood, c. 4100 B.P. – mythology of the Harappan culture
- this account is different from Bible version (based on God being enraged by man’s disobedience and wickedness); this version much
closer to the original Sumerian tale in the Epic of Gilgamesh; India’s version is a natural occurrence and Manu was saved by an act of
kindness; these stories serve the purpose of introducing a new progenitor of the human race- collapse probably due to environmental
causes, e.g., salination of soil, flooding, or tectonic activity which change river course or just several years of major floods
- written language has never been deciphered
Vedic Period
- by 3500 B.P. the Harappan civilization had collapsed due to environmental problems, e.g.,: changes in river courses, in particular the
Saraswati River and catastrophic flooding along the Indus River
- urban centers declined and abandoned and population shirts to rural settlement and to the Ganges River basin
Indo-Aryans c. 3500 B.P. resulted in major changes in Indian history
- barbarians who originated in the central Asian steppe, from area of the Black and Caspian Seas
- these were tall, long headed, and light colored skinned people
- spoke an Indo-European language and wrote in Sanskrit (first Indian written history to be translated)
- they drive earlier people south, these are the Dravidian speaking peoples, who are shorter and dark-skinned
- they were pastoralist, herding cattle, which was the basis for their economy
- each tribe had a rajah and kinship was basis of social organization
- women had a high social status, marriage was monogamous and confined to clan
Modern conditions - based on three pillars of traditional Indian society
1) autonomous village, consisting of tens of thousands of small farming committees, with headman and village council of elders; they are
almost totally independent from central government (as long as they paid their taxes; this system lasted until British rule
2) caste system has its origins during this period, Aryans originally had only 2 classes: nobility and
commoners; when they conquered the Dravidian people they were far out numbered and wanted to maintain their racial purity
3) joint-family – the family is the economic unit of production and wealth
- the same environmental and cultural factors discussed above continue to influence contemporary circumstances, e.g., lack of centralized
political organization and control, kinship based social organization, traditional economic systems
- Mongol invasion and hegemony also greatly affect this area, i.e., destruction of entire societies and cultures
in the 13th and 14th centuries