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Unformatted text preview: d an area
many times larger than either Middle Kingdom Egypt or
Third Dynasty Ur, yet the archaeological finds show it to
have been remarkably homogeneous. City layouts, building construction, weights and measures, seal inscriptions,
patterned pottery and figurines, and even the burnt brick
used for buildings and flood walls are unusually uniform in
all Indus towns, suggesting an integrated economic system
and good internal communications.
Indus culture was also remarkably constant over time.
Because the main cities and towns lay in river lowlands subject to flooding, they were rebuilt often, with each reconstruction closely following the previous pattern. Similarly,
the Indus script, known from more than 2,000 stamp seals
and apparently using both pictographic and phonetic symbols, shows no evidence of change over time. This evidence CRAIMC01_001-039hr.qxp 8/12/10 3:57 PM Page 25 Chapter 1 of stability, regularity, and traditionalism has led scholars to
speculate that a centralized government, perhaps a conservative (priestly) theocracy rather than a more unstable royal
dynasty and court, controlled this far-flung society.
Cities Both Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro apparently had
populations of more than 35,000 and were meticulously designed on a similar plan. To the west of each stood a large,
walled citadel on a raised rectangular platform about 800 by
1,400 feet in size. East of this the town proper was laid out
on a north–south, east–west grid of main avenues, some as
wide as 30 feet. The citadel apparently contained the main
public buildings. A large bath with a brick-lined pool, a subterranean furnace, and columned porticoes have been excavated at Mohenjo-Daro. Both Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro
had buildings tentatively identified as temples.
The periphery of each city had a cemetery and a large
granary for food storage. The town “blocks” formed by the
main avenues were crisscrossed by small, less rigidly
planned lanes, off which opened private houses, sometimes
of more than one story. The typical house was built around
a central courtyard and presented only blank walls to the
lanes or streets outside, an arrangement still common in
many Near Eastern and south Asian cities. The Birth of Civilization 25 college granary great
bath stupa 200 meters
200 yards Map 1–5. Mohenjo-Daro Perhaps the most striking feature of these cities was a
complex system of covered drains and sewers. Private
houses were serviced by wells, bathrooms, and latrines, and
the great bath at Mohenjo-Daro was filled from its own large
well. The drainage system that served these facilities was an
engineering feat unrivaled until the time of the Romans,
nearly 2,000 years later (see Map 1–5).
Economic Life The economy of the Indus state or states
was based on agriculture. Wheat and barley were the main
crops; rice, peas, lentils, sesame, dates, and cotton were also
important. Cattle, dogs, cats, goats, sheep, and fowl were
raised, and elephants and water buffalo were likely used as
beasts of burden. The Indus valley people wove cloth from...
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