History of Punjab: The Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
This earliest known civilization that encompassed the Punjab dates back to about
3000 BC. Discovered in the 1920s, it was thought to have
been confined to the valley of the river Indus, hence the name given to it was Indus
Valley civilization. Very little is known of how and why this civilization came about,
but it was a highly developed urban one and two of its
towns, Mohenjodaro and Harappa, represent the high watermark of the settlements.
Subsequent archaeological excavations established that the
civilization was spread to a wide area
in northwestern and western India. Thus this civilization is known as the
Indus Valley Civilization
The emergence of this civilization is as remarkable as its stability for nearly a
thousand years. All the cities were well planned and were built with baked bricks of
the same size; the streets were laid at right angles with an elaborate system of
covered drains. There was a fairly clear division of localities and houses were
earmarked for the upper and lower strata of society. There were also public buildings,
the most famous being the Great Bath at Mohenjodaro and the vast granaries.
Production of several metals such as copper, bronze, lead and tin was also undertaken
and some remnants of furnaces provide evidence of this fact. The discovery of kilns
to make bricks support the fact that burnt bricks were used extensively in domestic
and public buildings.
Art Work from Civilization
Evidence also points to the use of domesticated animals, including camels, goats, water
buffaloes and fowls. The Harappans cultivated wheat, barley, peas and sesamum and were
probably the first to grow and make clothes from cotton. Trade seemed to be a major
activity at the Indus Valley and the sheer quantity of seals discovered suggest that
each merchant or mercantile family owned its own seal. These seals are in various
quadrangular shapes and sizes, each with a human or an animal figure carved on it.
Discoveries suggest that the Harappan civilization had extensive trade relations with the
neighbouring regions in India and with distant lands in the Persian Gulf and Sumer (Iraq).
Society and Religion
The Harappan society was probably divided according to occupations and this also
suggests the existence of an organized government. The figures of deities on seals
indicate that the Harappans worshipped gods and goddesses in male and female forms
and has also evolved some rituals and ceremonies. No monumental sculpture survives,
but a large number of human figurines have been discovered, including a steatite
bust of a man thought to be a priest, and a striking bronze dancing girl. Countless
terra-cotta statues of Mother Goddess have been discovered suggesting that she was
worshipped in nearly every home.
Decline of the Civilization
By about 1700 BC, the Harappan culture was on the decline, due to repeated flooding of
towns located on the river banks and ecological changes which forced agriculture
to yield to the spreading desert. Some historians do not rule out invasions by
barbarian tribes of the northwest as the cause of the decline. When the initial migrations of the Aryan people into India began about
1500 BC, the developed Harappan culture had already been practically wiped out.
Indus Valley in Decline