One of the earliest evidences of human civilization in India is found in ancient Indus valley civilization. The Indus valley cities were one of the first cities that came into existence and formed the basis of civilization. The Indus river valley civilization lasted from 3300 - 1700 B.C. It basically flourished from 2600 - 1800 B.C. This civilization is also known by the name of Harappan civilization since the first city to be excavated was Harappa. The two main cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro that were excavated are located in the modern day Pakistan.
The epicenter of the Harappan civilization was in the fertile plains of
River Indus. The settlements have been found as far as Baluchistan in
Pakistan and Gangetic plain in India. It is estimated that around 5000
years back, a group of nomads came to India from Sumeria, which is the
modern day Iran. They passed through the Himalayas where they discovered
a rich and fertile land which was irrigated by a number of rivers like
Indus, Ravi, Chenab, Sutlej and Beas. This was the fertile plain of the
modern day Punjab. As compared to Iran, which is essentially a desert
and arid land, this land was blessed with ample water and other natural
resources. There was enough wood to burn and enough clay to make bricks.
The real essence and foundation of civilization was formed by the twin
cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. This is because the kind of planning
principles that were used over here have been followed without any
changes at all other sites. The two cities were located at a distance of
around 400 kilometers from each other. The planning of the cities was
done brilliantly. They had strong outer walls for defense and were
spread over a square mile. The street were planned and constructed in a
way that it allowed smooth flow of traffic and smoothly rounded corners
made sure that carts could turn easily without hassles.
The cities were divided into 12 major blocks. The basic unit of city
planning was individual household. Their main occupation was
agriculture. Their agriculture was highly productive and they generated
surplus that could support thousands of urban residents who were not
necessarily engaged in agriculture. The farmers made full use of the
fertile lands that flourished in alluvial soil. Their irrigation method
was highly advanced though there are no evidences to support the same.
They could have been destroyed in the devastating floods that kept
repeating every time.
Extensive excavation projects in this site have helped archaeologists
and historians to understand the arts and crafts of this era. A variety
of sculptures, seals, jewelry in gold, pottery and statues in bronze,
terracotta and steatite have been found in these excavations. One of the
most famous of these artifacts is the bronze statue of the slender
limbed "Dancing Girl". This was found in the site of
Mohenjo-daro. Many crafts like ceramics, shell carvings, make up items,
special combs, etc. were also found, thus giving crucial idea about the
lifestyle of these people.
The people of Indus valley civilization believed in Gods as well and
certain seals show a figure sitting in a Yoga - like posture surrounded
by animals. This figure was called Pashupati. Other seals show the
symbol of Swastika embellished on them. They also worshipped a female
entity, which was named as Mother Goddess. They carried on trade and
transportation via a highly developed waterway. A canal that was built
by them was found during excavations.
The civilization flourished for many years before finally declining
rapidly. One of the main causes that contributed to the decline of Indus
valley civilization is changing patterns of climate. Apparently the
climate of Indus valley changed over the years making it colder and
drier. As a result, the Ghaggar Hakra river system shrunk and its major
portions dried up. It is also said that a major tectonic shift may have
diverted the natural resources towards the Gangetic Plain. However, the
real and definite cause for the decline of the civilization is not known
and it is speculated to be a result of various factors including the