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Indus Valley Civilization Introduction

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Presentation on theme: "Indus Valley Civilization Introduction"— Presentation transcript:

1 Indus Valley Civilization Introduction
The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the world's first great urban civilizations. It flourished in the vast river plains and adjacent regions in what are now Pakistan and western India.

2 Timeline Indus Tradition Early Food Producing Era ca. 6500 - 5000 B.C.
Regionalization Era ca B.C. Indus Civilization - Harappan Culture Integration Era B.C. Late Harappan Period or 1000 B.C. Post-Indus Tradition Painted Grey Ware B.C. Northern Black Polished Ware B.C. Early Historic Period ca. 600 B.C.

3 Indus Valley Civilization
The earliest cities became integrated into an extensive urban culture around 4,600 years ago and continued to dominate the region for at least 700 years, from 2600 to 1900 B.C. It was only in the 1920's that the buried cities and villages of the Indus valley were recognized by archaeologists as representing an undiscovered civilization.

4 Indus Valley Civilization
∙South Asia's first cities were established around 2600 B.C. in what is now Pakistan and western India. The peoples who built and ruled these cities belong to what archaeologists refer to as the Harappan Culture or Indus Civilization. This civilization developed at approximately the same time as the early city states of Egypt and Mesopotamia.

5 Society Although there were economic and cultural contacts between these early urban societies, significant differences are seen in their respective artistic styles, symbols, technologies and social organization. These differences can be attributed to the fact that each civilization evolved from local cultures which have roots extending back to the earliest Neolithic farming and pastoral communities, dating in Pakistan and India to around 6500 B. C.. This urban civilization spread over a vast geographical region from the high mountains of Baluchistan and Afghanistan to the coastal regions of Makran, Sindh and Gujarat.

6 Cities Large cities ( Mohenjo-daro and Harappa) and smaller towns grew up along the major trade routes as administrative and ritual centers. ∙During the full urban phase of this civilization, there is evidence for trade contact with the surrounding cultures in the Arabian gulf, West and Central Asia and peninsular India.

7 The Beginnings of Art, Symbol and Technology
The Indus Valley civilization developed out of earlier farming and pastoral communities that inhabited the plains and western mountainous regions of Baluchistan and Afghanistan. These communities are referred to as pre- or Early Indus cultures and each had its own distinctive artistic style. These regional styles are most clearly observed in various painted designs on pottery, different types of clay figurines, toys, seals and ornaments. Although the styles of expression are different, trade and exchange networks connected the various regions and allowed for the distribution of raw materials, finished goods, technological knowledge and food items. These items included precious stones, copper, sea shells, chert for stone tools and probably many other commodities such as grain, wool and livestock. The gradual dispersal of specific artistic styles and motifs along with specific types of ornaments indicates that there was a gradual integration of these communities though marriage alliances, ritual interaction and eventually political treaties.

8 Neolithic Mehrgarh Located at the base of an important pass, the site of Mehrgarh in Baluchistan, Pakistan provides evidence for the earliest agricultural and pastoral communities in South Asia. The first inhabitants of Mehrgarh, dating to around 6500 B. C., were farmers who cultivated wheat and barley as their main grain crops and had herds of cattle, sheep and goats. Although in the earliest period they had not yet begun to make pottery, they lived in mud brick houses, wove baskets and adorned themselves with elaborate bead ornaments made of shell and colored stones. Some of these beads appear to have been traded from distant areas or were collected during pastoral migrations. Around 5500 B. C. the earliest forms of pottery have been discovered along with new types of ornaments and more developed architecture. The earliest forms of pottery have shapes that are similar to baskets and many of the designs on the vessels may replicate woven motifs on the earlier baskets. These decorative motifs were not simply for ornamentation, but undoubtedly had some ritual significance and were symbols that served to distinguish different family groups or communities.

9 Urban Character of the Indus Valley Civilization
Around 2600 B.C. the various regional cultures were united in what is called the Indus Valley Civilization. It is also commonly referred to as the Harappan culture after the town of Harappa (where it was first discovered. This civilization was organized around cities and towns that were located at major cross roads and in rich agricultural regions. The ruling communities of these cities developed a distinctive form of writing. They appear to have controlled a vast geographical area, some 650, 000 square kilometers . This area is twice as large as that controlled by Mesopotamian or Egyptian cultures at this same time in history. Hundreds of Harappan settlements have been discovered, and archaeologists have been able to excavate different types of sites in each of the major regions. The earliest excavations focused on large cities located along the Indus river and its tributaries; Mohenjo-daro on the Indus ( (Sindh, southern Pakistan) and Harappa on the Ravi River (Punjab, northern Pakistan). Other equally large cites have been found along the dried up Hakra-Nara River to the east, including two unexcavated sites that are almost as large as Mohenjo-daro, Ganweriwala (Cholistan, Pakistan) and Rakhigarhi (Harayana, India). A fifth major town that has been excavated, Dholavira, is located on a small island that controlled the trade through the Greater Rann of Kutch (Gujarat, India). Several smaller towns, rural villages, mining, trading and coastal settlements have also been excavated in both Pakistan and western India.

10 Environment and Subsistence
These settlements are spread out over a vast and diverse geographical area (from the lapis mining region in mountainous northern Afghanistan (to the bountiful coasts of the Arabian in the south. It stretched from the rugged highland pastures of Baluchistan in the west, to the mineral rich deserts of Cholistan and Thar in the east.. The core region of this civilization was the vast alluvial plains of the Indus River and the now dried up Ghaggar - Hakra river. Watered by snow melt and seasonal monsoon rains, these plains provided fertile agricultural land, grazing grounds, fish, abundant wild animals and forest resources that were essential for feeding the large populations in the urban centers. Excavations at the ancient mounds revealed well planned cities and towns built on massive mud brick platforms that protected the inhabitants against seasonal floods. In the larger cities the houses were built of baked brick (while at smaller towns most houses were built of sun-dried mud brick. The settlements had major streets running North-South and East-West, with smaller streets and alleys connecting neighborhoods to the main thoroughfares. The houses were often two storied and usually had a bathing area (supplied with water from a neighborhood well (. All of the houses were connected to an elaborate city-wide drainage system that reflects a well organized civic authority Mohenjo-daro has a large water tank that may have served as a public or ritual bathing area. Other important structures include possible granaries and industrial complexes)that suggest some level of state control of economic resources and production.

11 City Organization Excavations at the ancient mounds revealed well planned cities and towns built on massive mud brick platforms that protected the inhabitants against seasonal floods. In the larger cities the houses were built of baked brick (while at smaller towns most houses were built of sun-dried mud brick. The settlements had major streets running North-South and East-West, with smaller streets and alleys connecting neighborhoods to the main thoroughfares. The houses were often two storied and usually had a bathing area (supplied with water from a neighborhood well (. All of the houses were connected to an elaborate city-wide drainage system that reflects a well organized civic authority Mohenjo-daro has a large water tank that may have served as a public or ritual bathing area (. Other important structures include possible granaries () and industrial complexes) that suggest some level of state control of economic resources and production.

12 Utilitarian and Decorative Objects
Indus artisans produced a wide range of utilitarian and decorative objects using specialized techniques of stone working, ceramics and metallurgy. Copper and bronze were used to make tools, mirrors, pots and pans. Bone, shell and ivory were turned into tools, jewelry, gaming pieces and especially furniture inlay. Silver and gold utensils and ornaments were crafted. Fine ceramic objects, such as stoneware bangles and glazed faience ornaments were also made. These objects may have been produced for the wealthy merchants and ruling classes, because identical utensils and ornaments were made in terracotta probably for ordinary people.

13 The Indus Script: Seals and Writing
The most unique objects were square seals made of stone and engraved with symbols and animal motifs. The most common animal on the seals is a mythical unicorn while Abstract or pictographic symbols that were engraved above the animals represent the Indus form writing. The presence of writing on seals, as well as on pottery and other objects, indicates that the Indus people had developed a system for recording the names of deities, or people or materials. On the average, the inscriptions are very short, consisting of about seven symbols. Scholars have not yet been able to decipher these short inscriptions and will not be able to do so until some longer texts or bi-lingual inscriptions have been discovered.

14 Harappan Religion and Belief Systems
Without the aid of written texts it is difficult to reconstruct the Indus religion. They made clay figurines of animals and women that probably were used in special rituals. Soft limestone was used to carve small sculptures of deities or important people Many of the seals have narrative scenes that appear to represent deities and ceremonies The Indus people buried their dead in wooden coffins along with many pottery vessels (69 to 72), that were probably filled with food for the afterlife. Most individuals, both male and female were buried with some simple ornaments, such as shell or copper bangles and agate beads. Elaborate ornaments of gold, silver and precious stones were never included in the burials and must have been inherited by the living relatives. No royal burials have been found.

15 Research and Misconceptions
Research on the Indus Valley Tradition has been going on since the first discovery of inscribed seals at Harappa in the late 1800s, and scholars from all of the major countries of the world have been involved in this research. Major excavations were begun at the larger sites in the 1920s and numerous excavations at smaller sites have broadened our understanding of this unique culture. However, there are still many misconceptions about this culture that have resulted from the theoretical and cultural biases of the earliest excavators. Some of these misconceptions are that the Indus urban society was the result of colonization from Mesopotamia to the west (in modern Iraq); that it appeared suddenly from unknown origins; that is was a strictly uniform culture ruled by a priest-king from two major capitals; and then disappeared, leaving no influence on later cultural developments. One of the major misconceptions is that invasions of so-called Aryans destroyed the Indus cities and established a totally new culture and language in the subcontinent. It should be noted that most scholars have rejected the invasion hypothesis for the end of the Indus cities because there is no archaeological, biological or literary reference to support this theory. An important reason for the perpetuation of these misconceptions is that the general public and academic community have had very little exposure to information about this ancient culture or the later cultures that developed Pakistan and western India.

16 Trade and Exchange The Indus cities were connected with rural agricultural communities and distant resource and mining areas through strong trade systems. They used pack animals, river boats, and bullock carts for transport. This trade is reflected in the widespread distribution of exquisite beads and ornaments , metal tools and pottery that were produced by specialized artisans in the major towns and cities. Cotton, lumber, grain, livestock and other food stuffs were probably the major commodities of this internal trade. A highly standardized system of weights was used to control trade and also probably for collecting taxes .There was also external trade with Central Asia, the Arabian Gulf region and the distant Mesopotamian cities, such as Susa and Ur.

17 Legacy of the Indus Cities in Modern Pakistan and India
Although earlier scholars thought that the Indus civilization disappeared around 1700 B.C., recent excavations in Pakistan and western India indicate that the civilization gradually became fragmented into smaller regional cultures referred to as Late or post-Harappan cultures. The ruling classes and merchants of the major urban centers were no longer able to control the trade networks that served to integrate such a vast geographical area. The use of standardized weights, writing and seals became unnecessary as their social and political control gradually disappeared. The decline of the major urban centers and the fragmentation of the Indus culture can be attributed in part to changing river systems that disrupted the agricultural and economic system. Around 1700 B.C. the tributaries of the Hakra-Nara River became diverted to the Indus system in the west and the Jamuna River to the east. As the river dried up people migrated to the central Indus valley, the Ganga-Yamuna Valley or the fertile plains of Gujarat in western India. The Indus river itself began to change its course, resulting in destructive floods. Certain distinguishing hallmarks of the Indus civilization disappeared. Others, such as writing and weights, or aspects of Indus craft technology, art, agriculture and possibly social organization, continued among the Late and post-Harappan cultures. These cultural traditions eventually became incorporated in the new urban civilization that arose during the Early Historical period, around 600 B.C.


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