At the foot of the Himalayas in Northwest India and Pakistan is a lush valley nourished by the majestic Indus River flowing from the snowcapped mountains to the North. Toward the end of the Stone Age this spot presented early humans, hunter-gatherers at the time, with a perfect location for early settlements.
Evidence of early human activity in the region dates back as far as 6000 BCE, the ancestors of what would later become the Indus Valley Civilization evolved over several millennia. Each important civilization advancement was the harbinger of a new era in culture and prosperity.
The first important civilization advancement was the advent of religious ceremonies and practices that date back as far as 5000 BCE, this did much to organize the population of the Indus River Valley Civilization.
More innovations were soon to follow, by 4000 BCE the Indus Valley Civilization had developed agriculture and the lush valley was soon dotted with prosperous farming communities. The abundance of food propelled a population growth as well and pretty soon the communities were turning into small villages.
Soon urbanization was all the rave and cities were becoming centers of religious practice, thriving trade routes and even artistic development. The Indus Valley Civilizations had two major cities and was set for its imminent Golden Age of prosperity, trade and arts at the beginning of 2500 BCE.
This age of prosperity and plenty would last for the next 500 years. Archaeological records from the region tell us much about the way of life during the times of this ancient civilization.
Life in the Indus River Valley Civilization during its Golden Age
Life was good in the Indus River Valley between 2500 and 2000 BCE. Agriculture was a booming success, artisans were developing amazing works of bronze and there were authoritative bodies in place to set regulations for particulars of burials, the size of bricks and many other aspects of daily life.
There are two major cities that survive in ruins today, but they are in a suitable condition to indicate the way people lived in the Indus River Valley. Mohenjo-Daro is further South in the valley and the other is Harappa, which is closer to the Himalayas.
From the evidence this great civilization has left us we can see that the life of a well to do Indus River Valley resident must have been pretty decent. Homes are certainly attractive and many featured private wells, there is also evidence of bathrooms and a rudimentary degree of indoor plumbing.
The social systems that governed this society had none of the caste systems that would dictate classes in later civilizations in this region. As a matter of fact, the social systems in the Indus Valley civilizations were superior to those of Sumeria or Babylon which were its contemporaries.
There is evidence of trade routes from the Indus Valley Civilization to many other civilizations of its time including Mesopotamia, other areas of India, Persia and possibly even Egypt far to the West. There are Sumerian texts that refer to trading done with the “People of the Black Land” or the “Meluhhaites”, which many historians believe refers to the Indus Valley Civilization — these date back as far as 2000 BCE.
Trade was done by ox drawn cart and by sea routes carrying goods like pottery, ornamental metalwork and jewelry, cosmetic appliances, shell works and even glazed beads. The “People of the Black Land” also had a system of writing which historians and archaeologists have been unable to decipher to this very day.
Their glyphs or runes are seen consistently in their architecture, artisanal crafts and artwork, yet no on can understand what they mean. Perhaps it was a way of signing their name or even an early method of branding, no one knows for sure.
Another big question that has historians stumped about this great civilization is if the two major cities and many villages were actually part of a single civilization or rather many different city states all living together and working in harmony.
We assume they must have been a fairly peaceful people because their seem to be no evidence of a standing military or any military campaigns. Because we still can’t decipher the written code we have no records of battles or anything else to use for reference.