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A Mystery of Ancient India

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The Ancient Indus Valley
The Indus Riddle

About 2500 B.C., one of the world's first great civilizations arose in the Indus River valley, in what is now Pakistan and western India.

As with the civilizations in Egypt, China, and the Fertile Crescent, the Indus River people depended on the river for their daily needs. They farmed in the rich soil that the river dumped on its banks. They traded along the river with other ancient neighbors. These people were unique, though. They had advanced farther on the civilization scale than any of their ancient counterparts.

Scholars do not know who the leaders of this first great civilization were, but they do believe that the leaders may have had twin capitals&emdash;at Harappa and at Mohenjo-daro, the former on the Indus itself and the latter 400 miles away on the Ravi River, a tributary of the great Indus. Archaeological remains uncovered at these two great city sites suggest that the Harrappan civilization, as it is commonly known, was a great one indeed.

At each site, a citadel atop a high mound dominates the city landscape and offers protection for the city proper below. The people stored grain in large warehouses in preparation for a famine. They developed a system of weights and measures to facilitate trade with other cultures, mainly Meso-potamia. They were the first people in the world to grow cotton and fashion it into dyed cotton cloth. They dug ditches and canals to irrigate their farms. They had their own system of writing that has yet to be deciphered. They used a common currency.

Most striking of all is their civil engineering. They planned the patterns of their cities, laying out streets in rectangular patterns and including drainage systems that led to brick-lined sewers. They lived in brick buildings, some two and three stories high. In almost every respect, they were an advanced people. Yet, by 1700 B.C., the Harappan Civilization had disappeared.

 Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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