Judging from the dispersal of Indus civilization artifacts, the trade networks, economically, integrated a huge area, including portions of Afghanistan, the coastal regions of Persia, northern and western India, and Mesopotamia. There is some evidence that trade contacts extended to Crete and possibly to Egypt. There was an extensive maritime trade network operating between the Harappan and Mesopotamian civilizations as early as the middle Harappan Phase, with much commerce being handled by "middlemen merchants from Dilmun" (modern Bahrain and Failaka located in the Persian Gulf). Such long-distance sea trade became feasible with the innovative development of plank-built watercraft, equipped with a single central mast supporting a sail of woven rushes or cloth. Several coastal settlements like Sotkagen-dor (astride Dasht River, north of Jiwani), Sokhta Koh (astride Shadi River, north of Pasni), and Balakot (near Sonmiani) in Pakistan along with Lothal in India testify to their role as Harappan trading outposts. Shallow harbors located at the estuaries of rivers opening into the sea allowed brisk maritime trade with Mesopotamian cities. Agriculture The nature of the Indus civilization's agricultural system is still largely a matter of conjecture due to the limited amount of information surviving through the ages. Some speculation is possible, however. Earlier studies (prior to 1980) often assumed that food production was imported to the Indus Valley by a single linguistic group ("Aryans") and/or from a single area. But recent studies indicate that food production was largely indigenous to the Indus Valley. Already the Mehrgarh people used domesticated wheats and barley and the major cultivated cereal crop was naked six-row barley, a crop derived from two-row barley. Archaeologist Jim G. Shaffer (1999: 245) writes that the Mehrgarh site "demonstrates that food production was an indigenous South Asian phenomenon" and that the data support interpretation of "the prehistoric urbanization and complex social organization in South Asia as based on indigenous, but not isolated, cultural developments." Indus civilization agriculture must have been highly productive; after all, it was capable of generating surpluses sufficient to support tens of thousands of urban residents who were not primarily engaged in agriculture. It
relied on the considerable technological achievements of the pre-Harappan culture, including the plough. Still, very little is known about the farmers who supported the cities or their agricultural methods. Some of them undoubtedly made use of the fertile alluvial soil left by rivers after the flood season, but this simple method of agriculture is not thought to be productive enough to support cities. There is no evidence of irrigation, but such evidence could have been obliterated by repeated, catastrophic floods.
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- Spring '13
- Indus Valley Civilization, Indus Valley, Indus River valley, Indus Civilization