1EARLY CIVILISATIONS OF THE NORTHWESTPREHISTORY AND THE INDUS CIVILISATIONWhen the great cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were discovered inthe 1920s the history of the Indian subcontinent attained a new dimension.The discovery of these centres of the early Indus civilisation was a majorachievement of archaeology. Before these centres were known, the Indo-Aryans were regarded as the creators of the first early culture of thesubcontinent. They were supposed to have come down to the Indian plainsin the second millennium BC. But the great cities of the Indus civilisationproved to be much older, reaching back into the third and fourth millennia.After ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, this Indus civilisation emerged asthe third major early civilisation of mankind.Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro show a surprising similarity although theywere separated by about 350 miles. In each city the archaeologists foundan acropolis and a lower city, each fortified separately. The acropolis, situ-ated to the west of each city and raised on an artificial mound made ofbricks, contained large assembly halls and edifices which were obviouslyconstructed for religious cults. In Mohenjo-Daro there was a ‘Great Bath’(39 by 23 feet, with a depth of 8 feet) at the centre of the acropolis whichmay have been used for ritual purposes. This bath was connected to an elab-orate water supply system and sewers. To the east of this bath there was abig building (about 230 by 78 feet) which is thought to have been a palaceeither of a king or of a high priest.A special feature of each of these cities were large platforms which have been interpreted by the excavators as the foundations of granaries. In Mohenjo-Daro it was situated in the acropolis; in Harappa it was immediately adjacent to it. In Mohenjo-Daro this architectural complex,constructed next to the Great Bath, is still particularly impressive. Its foun-dation, running east to west, was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide. On thisfoundation were 27 compartments in three rows. The 15-foot walls of these are still extant. These compartments were very well ventilated and,in case they were used as granaries, they could have been filled from outside11110111011101110111411117
the acropolis. At Harappa there were some small houses, assumed to bethose of workers or slaves, and a large open space between the acropolisand these buildings.The big lower cities were divided into rectangular areas. In Mohenjo-Daro there were nine such areas, each about 1,200 by 800 feet. Broad mainstreets, about 30 feet wide, separated these parts of the city from each other.All the houses were connected directly to the excellent sewage systemwhich ran through all the numerous small alleys. Many houses had aspacious interior courtyard and private wells. All houses were built withstandardised bricks. The width of each brick was twice as much as its heightand its length twice as large as its width.