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Home >> Across Cultures  >> The heyday of the Indus Valley Civilisation

The heyday of the Indus Valley Civilisation

As humans, we’ve come a long way since we started our journey. From being helpless hunter-gatherers millions of years ago, today we’ve become self-sufficient settlers, surrounded by skyscrapers and modern technologies. With our engineering skills, we’ve developed cities and unimaginable infrastructures that our world looks like a scene from a science fiction movie. But, is it the first time in human history, when a civilisation has seemed like it’s well ahead of its time?

Let’s go back in time, 8000 years ago, even before the famed Egyptian Civilisation. How do we imagine our ancestor’s lives back then? If we’re honest, we’re probably imagining uncivilised humans who are learning the art of agriculture and farming or underdeveloped colonies which are yet to turn into proper villages. But, despite the odds, there was one civilisation that was prospering and thriving, faster than any other civilisations.

The Indus Valley Civilisation—one of the largest and most sophisticated civilisations in the history. While the earlier phases were predominantly pastoral, the mature phase showed tremendous signs of urbanisation. During its heyday (between 2500 and 2000 BCE), it had a population of five million! With technological advancements and engineering achievements far ahead of its time, this civilisation continues to amaze archaeologists and anthropologists to this day. So magnificent were their accomplishments—the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, for instance—that one could say, the innovations and ideas put forth by this civilisation contributed immensely to the present day developments. In this feature, Soulveda lists some of the Indus Valley civilisation’s greatest achievements.

Town planning

The people of the Indus Valley were visionaries who were sophisticated and organised. They had an excellent engineering and designing dexterity, which they also used in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene. This is evident from their town planning.

The streets were designed in a grid pattern. Roads were at least 10 meters wide and crossed at right angles. Over and above everything else, these streets were equipped to handle excess stormwater. Channels with underground pipes ran along the streets to dispose drainage and stormwater. The Harappans are said to have designed world-class drainage systems, including flush toilets and pipelines to channel fresh water into bathrooms.

Interestingly, whatever the Indus people produced, they also exported them to other civilisations.

Standardisation of metrics

Excavators have discovered stone cubes which were used by the Indus Valley people to measure weights. They have also found old measuring rods made of either copper or ivory that were standards for length measurement. Such discoveries point towards the fact that the people of Indus Valley were excellent in geometry and engineering. Probably, that is why the primitive engineers of the civilisation were able to design and create architectural masterpieces such as the city of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

That’s not all. Even in the fields of agriculture and metallurgy, weights, rulers, and measurements played an important role.

Economy and trade

Indus Valley people engaged themselves in various professions. Some were metallurgists and coppersmiths who used flint stones to make sharp tools, while others were engineers who constructed dockyards, protective walls and warehouses. They also had inclination towards art and crafts—they made jewellery, beads, pots, baskets etc.

Interestingly, whatever the Indus people produced, they also exported them to other civilisations. It is said that they traded predominantly with Persia, Mesopotamia, and China. They also dealt in the Arabian Gulf region, African regions and central parts of Asia. Exports included agricultural produce, pots, cotton, and precious items like gold, silver, gemstones, and pearls.

The Indus Valley Civilisation has tremendously contributed to the growth and development of the modern age. If we have come a long way today, it is because we have a strong bedrock of ancient civilisations. And furthermore, all that we’ve accomplished in our present age is not a standalone victory, but a collective achievement.


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