General character the indus culture covered an area

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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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