A history of the Ancient Indus River Valley Civilizations Topics The Indus Valley, Character and Significance Map Of Indus Valley The Indus Valley And The Genesis Of South Asian Civilization Edited By: R. A. Guisepi Introduction Like Sumer, Egypt, and other early civilizations in the Middle East, civilizations first developed in East and South Asia in the vicinity of great river systems. When irrigated by the massive spring floods of the Yellow River, the rich soil of the North China plain proved a superb basis for what has been the largest and most enduring civilization in human history. Civilization first developed in the Indus River valley in present-day Pakistan in the middle of the 3d millennium B.C., more than a thousand years earlier than it did in China. In fact, the civilization of the Indus valley, usually called Harappan after its chief city, rivals Sumer and Egypt as humanity's oldest. But like Sumer and its successor civilizations in the Middle East, Harappan civilization was unable to survive natural catastrophes and nomadic invasions. In contrast to the civilization of the Shang rulers in China around 1500 B.C., Harappa vanished from history. Until the mid-19th century it was "lost" or forgotten, even by the peoples who lived in the vicinity of its sand-covered ruins. Important elements of Harappan society were transmitted to later civilizations in the Indian subcontinent. But unlike the Shang kingdom, Harappa did not survive to be the core and geographical center from which a unified and continuous civilization developed like that found in China. The difference in the fate of these two great civilizations provides one of the key questions in dealing with the history of civilized societies: What factors permitted some civilizations to endure for millennia while others rose and fell within a few centuries? Between about 1500 and 1000 B.C., as the great cities of the Indus region crumbled into ruins, nomadic Aryan invaders from central Asia moved into the fertile Indus plains and pushed into the Ganges River valleys to the east. It took these unruly, warlike peoples many centuries to build a civilization that rivaled that of the Harappans. The Aryans concentrated on assaulting Harappan settlements and different Aryan tribal groups. As peoples who depended primarily on great herds of cattle to provide their subsistence, they had little use for the great irrigation works and advanced agricultural technology of the Indus valley peoples. Though they conserved some Harappan beliefs and symbols, the Aryan invaders did little to restore or replace the great cities and engineering systems of the peoples they had supplanted. Eventually, however, many of the Aryan groups began to settle down, and increasingly they relied on farming to support their communities. By about 700 B.C., their priests had begun to orally record the sacred hymns and ritual incantations that had long been central to Aryan culture. In the following centuries, strong warrior leaders built tribunal units into larger kingdoms.
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- Fall '19
- Indus Valley Civilization, Indus River valley