The Indus Valley Civilization

The Discovery

The Indus Valley civilization was stumbled upon as late as the early 20th century by a British officer in India. The civilization spread across parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Baluchistan and Sind. Some of the main centers of the civilization have been discovered at Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Lothal, Ropar and Kalibangan.

The 1st Urban Civilization

The primary reason why the Indus Valley civilization has been so widely acclaimed is that it was an urban civilization. The civilization was town based and there were granaries that stored the grain that was believed to have been brought in from the adjoining agricultural lands. Most city dwellers may have been traders or artisans, reflecting a high degree of occupational specialization for a culture that developed so early. Art and culture were fairly well developed, as may be judged from the exquisite sculpture of the bronze dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro.

Town Planning

Town planning was one of the key achievements of the Indus Valley people. Roads were straight and cut at right angles, something that is a rare sight even in cities of today. Cities were planned systematically, with residential, governance and administrative quarters clearly demarcated. All houses, offices, granaries etc. were built with baked bricks of the same size.

Sophisticated sewerage systems were in place, with an elaborate system of covered drains. The Indus civilization is home to the world’s first urban sanitation system, again one that is far superior to what is seen in most parts of the country today.

Trade of Goods

A second astounding aspect of the Indus Civilization was the standardization of weights and measures. The much spoken of seals are a striking achievement of the Indus people that allowed for authentication of goods that were traded. The sheer quantity of seals discovered suggests 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. Trade was extensive, and Indus seals have been found in Persian Gulf and Sumer.

The fact that the script used by the Indus people has still not been deciphered would imply that there is a lot more to the civilization that remains unknown to us.