How did Indian culture and the First Indian Civilizations Develop

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Harappan Well and Bathing Platform

Indian culture developed over thousands of years before Christ and was in fact the first most developed ancient civilisation in the world.

The source of Indian civilization came from the development of an Agrarian society about 7000 years ago. Before that, in 4000 BCE small primitive mud-brick villages developed in Pakistan and India. In the valleys of Baluchistan inhabitants domesticated goats and sheep. Then in 6000 BCE there was possibly a developed society in West Rajasthan on the Saravati River. Two thousand years later villages like Amri grew close to the Indus River in Sind. They had copper tools, decorated pottery and houses with stone walls or stone foundations.

Harappa

Sites from the city of Harappa, a sophisticated city civilization that existed about 5000 years ago showed that it was the most extensive and developed civilization in the world at that time. Pottery wheels existed in 3500 BCE, wheat and barley was grown, and sheep and goats were domesticated plus the Indian humped-back cow. Soapstone seals contain a language that has not yet been deciphered, while small statues depicting people were made of marble, alabaster and soapstone. There were copper and bronze weapons, ornaments and tools.

The City of Harappa

In Harappa all the buildings were made of pink colored mud bricks. Indeed, they were the first planned built urban centers, with grid patterns of roads and lanes in place. The city was divided into twelve blocks whilst corners were rounded so as to allow traffic and carts to turn easily. Exports of the city included cotton, which was grown and spun into cloth. There is evidence that Harappa traded with Sumer in Mesopotamia, where soapstone seals were found in Ur. Imports included lapis lazuli, turquoise, silver and tin from Afghanistan; and jadeite from Tibet made into ornaments. Trade was done by the Arabian Sea from the port of Lothal.

Houses of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro

The houses of Harappa consisted of rooms facing a central courtyard with effective drainage from bathrooms to the street that took away waste in sewers away from the city. All houses contained a bathing platform and a latrine and had tiled bathroom floors. In Mohenjo-Daro, a second city that existed in Sind, 350 miles from Harappa were built larger public buildings like a granary and a large pool for ritual washing. The cities had internal fortifications in the form of citadels but had no outside protection, suggesting that a small caste ruled over the majority of people.

The Decline of Harappa

Harappa could not last forever and was destroyed probably by a combination of earthquakes and floods. It was around this time that a light-skinned people arrived from the North-West of India. They found a society that was made up of the residual residents of Harappa, living now in small villages that were more primitive. In 1500 BCE a second influx of people arrived who were called aryas, meaning the nobility. They are now considered to be Indo-Europeans but looked down on the people already living in the area at the time. However they were not particularly sophisticated in terms of culture; they were mostly made up of herdsman and hunters who worshipped deities who represented the elements of nature. Their architecture was inferior to that of Harappa, made of wooden small hut houses grouped in the earth and wooden palisades.

Development into the Sixth Century BCE

By the eighth century BCE the populations had mingled and the population spread East to North India and to the Ganges River. By the sixth century BCE rice was being planted and iron was being used. Kings were chosen to rule the people, as evidenced by the King Manu, who states early king percentages of produce and livestock for tax purposes. It was during this time that complex legends and religious strictures were being developed, which would be modified over a thousand years to create the basis of Hinduism.

Reference:

  1. A Short history of Asia, Colin Mason, Palgrave, London, 2005