Indus River Valley

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Indus River Valley (Harappa)
Day 1
Map of India
 Civilization
 Hierarchy
 Economy
 Barter
 Monotheism
 scribe

- achievement
- specialization
- surplus
- polytheism
- institution
Day 2
Many Unknowns

Archeological sites not excavated until
the 1920’s

Enormous territory

Writing not yet deciphered

Literally piecing together history
Indus River
Fertile
Plain
Hindu-Kush and
Himalaya
Mountain Ranges
Location, Location, Location!

Geographic Benefits:
 Mountain Ranges offer protection
 Source of rivers
 Monsoons

River Valley Perks:
 Flooding
 Soil

Access to private beaches:
 Ports for trade
Monsoons

Dominates climate

Winter Monsoon (Oct-May)
 dry air from northeast

Summer Monsoon (June)
 picks up moisture from the Indian Ocean
Monsoons

People depend on summer monsoons to
provide life giving rain

Monsoon late -crops die causing famine

Monsoon brings too much rain-rivers
overflow causing deadly floods
In Comparison…..

How does the geography and climate of the
Indus River Valley compare to other river
valley (agrarian ) civilizations we have
studied?

Make a prediction: Will the Indus River
Valley civilization evolve in a similar fashion
to Egypt and Mesopotamia or will it develop
unique qualities we have yet to see? Decide
on an answer and defend your argument in a
well written paragraph.
DAY 3
Urbanized Society

Planned cities
 Mohenjo Daro
 Harappa

Laid out in grid pattern
 Streets and alleyways off of major streets lead to
private neighborhoods
 Houses with thick walls and high ceilings to keep
the rooms cool in the hot summer months

Houses of varying size
 Between1and 3 floors
 Same pattern – enclosed courtyard
Map of Mohenjo-Daro
Cities Centered On…
Citadel-walled fortress that housed
assembly halls, granaries, and public baths

Cities Centered On…
Crafts quarter/Central Market
 Evidence of workshops, beads, shell
ornaments, glazed pottery ornaments,
stone tools and even gold

Social Structure

Ruling Elite
 Not known if cities were ruled by priests or
wealthy merchants
Priest class
 Division of labor:

 City planners
 Merchants
 Artisans

- Architects
- Farmers
Similar housing structures suggest social
divisions were not great
Political Structure-Central Gov’t


Theocracy???
Public Works:






Plumbing and sewage systems
Public baths
Granaries
Levees
Standardized measures and weights
Walls for protection
 Floods
 Invasion

Limited conflict
 Few weapons found …. Why?
Public Works
Granary at Mohenjo-Daro
World’s first sewage system?
Indus Valley (Harappan) Economy
Irrigated agriculture was used to take
advantage of the fertile grounds along the
Indus River
 Both brick and earthen walls were built
to control the annual flooding
 Domesticated Animals included:





Elephant
Water Buffalo
Oxen
Goats
Economic Resources

Natural Resources
 Fresh water and timber
 Materials such as gold, silver, semi-precious stones
 Marine resources

Agricultural Resources
 Domesticated crops included wheat, barley, peas,
sesame seeds, dates and cotton

First civilization to cultivate cotton for
the production of cloth
Trade

Possible because of central location
 Exported timber
 Imported precious metals/stones
Evidence of substantial trade with
Mesopotamia
 Marketplaces or crafts-quarters in cities
like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa buzzed
with activity

Religion

Not much is known about religious
practices
 No monumental symbols of religion

Believed to be polytheistic:
 Prayed for good harvests and protection from
floods
 River often changed course
 Unpredictable flooding
 Animals
Religion

Statues and Figurines indicate worship of
 Mother goddess
 Fertility gods
 Links to Hinduism?
Religion

Archeological evidence suggests belief in
an afterlife
Technology

Planned Cities:
 Straight streets in grid-like pattern
 Public water supply (baths)
 Public and private sanitation

Standardization of:





Weights
Measurements
Oven-baked bricks
Distance
Astronomy and Geometry?
Technology – Written Language
Alphabet
contained over
400 symbols
 Not yet
deciphered
 Pictographic or
Phonetic?
 Stamps and
seals

Day 4
What happened to this Civilization?

Everything we have examined about the Indus
River Valley (Harappan) civilization to this point
suggests that it was a well organized and thriving
civilization. However, something happened that
caused this civilization to vanish from history for
close to 3,000 years. Many theories have been
developed to explain the mysterious end to this
early Indian civilization; some of which we will
examine. Before looking at the theories take a
few minutes and predict what historians believe
was the true cause of the Harappan decline.
Theories

We do know that between 2000 BC and
1500 BC cities like Mohenjo-Daro and
Harappa were abandoned

There are two major theories that exist:
 Natural Catastrophe and Nomadic Invasion
The Case for Natural Disaster
Some historians argue that natural
catastrophes or disasters led to the
demise of this great civilization
 Tectonic events such as earthquakes
could have:

 Caused the river to migrate
 Shifted the river’s floodplains

Climatic changes
 Rainfall decreased and caused sustained drought
The Case for Natural Disaster

Over farming and deforestation may have
depleted the soil making it useless

Evidence:
 Archeological work at Mohenjo-Daro suggests that
the river migrated
 Some cities were believed to have been rebuilt
several times
 Indian Plate boundary very close
 Most of the ancient civilization is now desert
The Case for Aryan Invasion

The Aryan Invasion theory suggests that
pastoral nomads (Aryans) from the plains
of Asia migrated and conquered Harappan
settlements
The Case for Aryan Invasion
Religious texts describe conquests of
great cities
 Human remains that suggest traumatic
deaths
 Similarities between perceived religious
symbols of Harappan cities and Hinduism
 Indo-European language
 Social structure - Varnas

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