Indus River Valley civilizations Overview The Indus River Valley Civilization, 3300-1300 BCE, also known as the Harappan Civilization, extended from modern- day northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. Important innovations of this civilization include standardized weights and measures, seal carving, and metallurgy with copper, bronze, lead, and tin. Little is understood about the Indus script, and as a result, little is known about the Indus River Valley Civilization’s institutions and systems of governance. The civilization likely ended due to climate change and migration. Geography and time-frame In 1856, British colonial officials in India were busy monitoring the construction of a railway connecting the cities of Lahore and Karachi in modern-day Pakistan along the Indus River valley. As they continued to work, some of the laborers discovered many fire-baked bricks lodged in the dry terrain. There were hundreds of thousands of fairly uniform bricks, which seemed to be quite old. Nonetheless, the workers used some of them to construct the road bed, unaware that they were using
ancient pieces. They soon found among the bricks stone items made of soapstone, featuring intricate artistic markings. Though they did not know it then, and though the first major excavations did not take place until the 1920s, these railway workers had happened upon the remnants of the Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization , after Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated, in what was then the Punjab province of British India and is now in Pakistan. Initially, many archaeologists thought they had found ruins of the ancient Maurya Empire, a large empire which dominated ancient India between c. 322 and 185 BCE. Before the excavation of these Harappan cities, scholars thought that Indian civilization had begun in the Ganges valley as Aryan immigrants from Persia and central Asia populated the region around 1250 BCE. The discovery of ancient Harappan cities unsettled that conception and moved the timeline back another 1500 years,situating the Indus Valley Civilization in an entirely different environmental context.
Relief map of Pakistan including the origins of the Indus Valley empire, Mehrgarh, in the foothills of a mountain pass. Map shows Pakistan, Afghanistan, the northwest part of India and Punjab, and part of the Arabian Sea. Scholars are still piecing together information about this mysterious civilization, but they have learned a great deal about it since its rediscovery. Its origins seem to lie in a settlement named Mehrgarh in the foothills of a mountain pass in modern-day Balochistan in western Pakistan. There is evidence of settlement in this area as early as 7000 BCE. The Indus Valley Civilization is often separated into three phases: the Early Harappan Phase from 3300 to 2600 BCE, the Mature Harappan Phase from 2600 to 1900 BCE, and the Late Harappan Phase from 1900 to 1300 BCE.
This map shows the extent of the Indus Valley Civilization during the Mature Harappan Phase. Civilization is highlighted
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- Fall '19
- Indus Valley Civilization, Indus River valley