What Was the Indus Valley Civilization?

Article Details
  • Written By: Michael Anissimov
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 April 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
England's Elizabeth I bathed only once a month, while Isabella I of Spain reportedly bathed just twice in her life.  more...

May 28 ,  1999 :  Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" went back o  more...

The Indus Valley Civilization, abbreviated IVC, was a sophisticated ancient civilization that existed from 3300 BC, the start of the Bronze Age, to 1500 BC, in the late Bronze Age. The peak of its flourishing was around 1900 BC. The Indus Valley Civilization was remarkably advanced for its time, making achievements in engineering, farming, city planning, and artwork not duplicated by other civilizations until hundreds of years later. As its name suggests, IVC was centered in the Indus valley region in present-day Pakistan and parts of India and Afghanistan.

The Indus Valley Civilization was contemporaneous with Bronze Age cultures in Turkey, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Minoan Crete. These cultures were some of the first examples of widespread urbanization, with cities of thousands of people supported by extremely productive farmers. It is known that the Indus Valley Civilization traded by sea with Mesopotamia, and had complex systems of docks and tidal locks for their coastal cities. Although no evidence of IVC irrigation exists, this may have been erased by repeated floods. Their primary crop was barley.

Among the structures built by engineers include impressive dockyards, warehouses, granaries, brick platforms, protective walls, covered drains, and numerous houses. Unlike the Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures, there is no evidence or palaces or temples, or kings, armies, and priests for that matter. The cities of the Indus Valley Civilization may have actually been at peace for each other for over a thousand years. If large battles had taken place, presumably there would be some evidence for them, as there is still ample evidence for battles among the Greek city states, for instance. The cities placed large emphasis on hygiene, and in one city a large bath complex was excavated.

Over fifty cities of the IVC have been excavated since digging began in 1921. These cities are spread over an area larger than the present-day nation of Pakistan, indicating a large country including many tens of thousands or even more than a hundred thousand people. This was clearly one of the first well-established civilizations on Earth.

Although the Indus Valley Civilization was not truly literate, they did create pictograms called Indus Valley script. Over 400 distinct symbols have been found on seals, ceramic pots, and other media, including a signboard that one hung over the gate of a citadel in the Indus city of Dholavira. But these symbols came in strings far too short to represent any true written language: the longest length of symbols found in a single inscription is 26. Some of these inscriptions were mass-produced using molds, a phenomenon with no parallel in other ancient civilizations. The Indus Valley Civilization was also adept at measuring length, mass, and time. The smallest length division known for an Indus scale was about 1.7 mm, while the smallest weight unit was about a gram. Advanced in their metallurgy, the Indus civilization produced copper, bronze, lead, and tin.

You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?