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Structure of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 16th, 2019

The history of these two cities is rich in civilization matters, religion, economic empowerment and development of the east. The history surrounding the land between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris known as Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt is one that can be closely related to the Indus valley cities.

This paper is going to discuss the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro of the Indus valley. Generally, the Hindu religion can be traced back to the Indus valley. The two words sound the same that is, Indus and Hindus. In fact “Their chief god was Indra, god of the storm, whose weapon was the thunderbolt, and he rode to battle in a golden chariot drawn by two ruddy horses. As puramdara, the ‘fortdestroyer’, he gave the nomadic Aryans victory over the sophisticated agriculturalists living in the cities of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro” (Cotterell 60).

Mesopotamia is attributed to agrarian revolution and industrialization. The most featured activities were discovery of clothes through the use of the spinning jenny, the domestication of animals, and the discovery of plantation farming. This really changed the world and put Mesopotamia in the books of history which will go a long way. The road of civilization owes a lot to the land between rivers Euphrates and the Tigris.

Other remarkable activities are the fields of mathematics that led to the calendar system, astronomy in the predictions of eclipses, and medicine where diagnosis, prognosis and physical examination were invented. “Could this old world, which man has overthrown, be rebuilt, could human cunning rescue its wasted hillsides and its deserted plains from solitude or mere nomad occupation, from barrenness, from nakedness, and from insalubrity, and restore the ancient fertility and healthfulness of Mesopotamia” (Marsh 64)

The Indus valley also had remarkable things that were recorded about it. And because of that, excavations have continued to demystify its cities. The studies are mainly on economic, religious, social cultural, political, science and art. This paper examines them basing the facts on the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro cities of the Indus valley.The Indus valley is also well recorded in the records of civilization of the human beings.

It is said that the Indus valley activities can be traced back in to the 19th century. However, “the story of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization developed gradually. It does not enter the archaeological record until 1924 when Sir John Marshall began excavations at Harappa. Awareness of Harappa remains, however, goes back to the nineteenth century” (Javonillo 2). The banks of the Indus River are now the Pakistan and western India.

Someone may wonder why it took a lot of time for the Indus Valley to be documented as much as Mesopotamia despite its significance it has in civilization. It might have been due to the poor technological and education systems in place. The cities’ history was recorded after archaeologists started excavation. In this paper the structure of the two cities is considered basing the study on the economic, political, agricultural, technological, science, art and humanities, and the history of excavation along the Indus Valley.

Brief History on Excavation

Like it has been indicated earlier, excavation started in the early 1820’s. The two cities are the major towns of Indus Valley that is Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. During the 19th century and, “In 1826 an English visitor called Charles Masson sawthe ruins.Some years later another visitor, an archaeologist named Sir Alexander Cunningham, visited Harrappa, but the ruins had been knocked down and all that was left was a huge mound of stones and rubble.

Four hundred miles away from Harrappa was a large area of ruined brick mounds” (Evans 2). The people who lived nearby thought that it was a very old burial site and called it Mohenjo-daro meaning ‘Mound of the Dead’. This is what attracted the archaeologists to study the remains of the two towns.

The traveller Masson saw the sites but he lacked the knowledge to determine the age of the ruins and their significance. However the archaeologist Alexander after seeing the site was interested to know exactly what was there and demystify the name Mohenjo Daro.Javonillo (67) explains that, “The late Dr. George F. Dales, Jr. of the University of California at Berkeley led the last major excavation of the site in 1964-65 (Kenoyer 2005).

Most recent archaeological work has been under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which deemed Mohenjo-Daro a World Heritage Site in 1980.”

This clearly shows that the two cities were a major concern to the world. It is said that excavation was difficult because of two major concerns namely: the intensity of weathering and the desire to conserve the site. Weathering is understood to be what determines which information can be found and from what. Some of the excavated material that may have had important information may have been so much worn out such that it was difficult to get any information from them.

Despite the fact that the excavated material was delicate to handle there was need to keep them safe in the archives. They were not going to be used and then thrown away. The fact that they had to be stored somewhere was a challenge because they had to be handled carefully.

Generally speaking, the cities were built on brick and stone on firm foundation. It is recorded that they had the most sophisticated water and sewerage system in the ancient times. Most activities were recorded on stone tablets and stone tablets. Trade was practiced with developed weights and measurements that facilitated it.

Their children also had games that were developed using beads and other stone components. All this obviously indicated that there was a system of administration in the cities. May be they had a mayor for the city as shown in the section of political organization in the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro.

The people of the Indus Valley Civilization also developed a writing system which was used for several hundred years. However, unlike some other ancient civilizations, we are still unable to read the words that they wrote (British Museum, 2012).

This one apparently shows that their alphabet could have been complicated or they wrote in a way that would protect their civilization showing how sophisticated they were. But the worry is no more that of the Indus Valley but today’s world which keeps information that is encrypted with passwords. Hopefully there will be more sophisticated tools to learn the current when it is ancient.

Structure of Harappa and Mohenjero Daro

How they came about

It is said that the ancient Indus Valley was larger than the famous ancient Egypt. However, that cannot be said conclusively. The Harappa and Mohenjero Daro were first discovered by an English traveller who saw ruins and was fascinated with them. Later on another traveller who was an archaeologist visited the site and thus the process of serious excavation started.

The Indus valley produced many remains that clearly indicated the economic, spiritual, political, and socio-cultural activities that the people who lived there carried out. The figure below shows a section of the ruins.

Section of the ruins

(BBC 2012)

Jansen (165) asks the question whether the cities were imported or they are original. In his explanation he says that, “Since the cities appeared to emerge suddenly, many archaeologists have thought that the concept of town planning in the Indus valley was the result of outside influence, or, as Wheeler wrote as recently as 1968 in his ‘Cambridge History of India’, an‘idea imported from Mesopotamia at the height of the Sumerian civilization and adapted in the Indus valley by the local populations” Jansen (165).

This theory simply tries to indicate that the city was imported through the influence from Mesopotamia however; this has been highly contested by more recent archaeologist. The archaeologists have asked questions that cannot be answered by that simplistic theory.

The archeologists argue that the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro cities were unique cities with their own civilization known as the Harappian civilization. This civilization is said to spread to the upper parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and West India. Further it is recorded that the links that Harappa and Mohenjo Daro had with Mesopotamia were trade by land and sea. If this link was there then it means that both borrowed a leaf from each other.

This is mainly because if a business man performed business man from Mesopotamia then they would exchange ideas which would influence the activities of the other. And this would escalate throughout the city. Take an example of an architectural design. Once one a person has constructed a structure and it looks appealing to his friend he/she would lend it to his/her friend who would then modify it to suit his/her situation.

Because of this then there will be as series of passing the design which make it look like the people didn’t have their original ideas. This however may not be true because the excavated material may not necessarily be the only structures that existed on the two cities. After all there could have been similarities despite the fact that they developed independently because in both cases they were working to achieve the best in there time.

How did the cities look like?

The available documentation available from the excavation gives an insight how life was organized in terms of buildings and the streets with the sewerage system. It is depicted that the cities Harappa and Mohenjo Daro could have covered the largest area in ancient cities. This also means that perhaps they had the largest population which supported the existence of these large cities.

In fact that, “the population of Sumerian cities, thus calculated, ranged between 7,000 and 20,000; Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus valley must have approximated to the higher figure”(Karlovsky and Sabloff 10). This approximation clearly shows that the Indus valley was actually a very big civilization even more than the Mesopotamia where archaeological were extensively done.

In the excavation process many pictures were taken from hot air balloons. These photographs were then examined and various findings were recorded ranging from sophistication in the drainage system, the arrangement of the houses and the sewerage system. It is believed that from the studies those houses were arranged in a systematic order.

The systematic order conclusively was related to the construction of the houses at the same time. It was characteristic that houses were connected to the same drainage system at the same level which was highly associated to chronology. The houses were connected to baked soil pipes which were discharged to the streets.

The architectural activities were simply remarkable because the buildings comprised of staircases at the main door. The baking of soil also indicates that the civilization level was high at that time. The organization of the rooms was also something to reckon about. Some of the buildings had many rooms to which each one of them seemed to be having a specific use.

The two cities were just a master piece of the time in terms of town planning. This is concluded because of various reasons namely: the town had a serious drainage system, the sewerage seemed to be well planned, and pottery was used to make pipes and other drainage system facilities.

There was a clear indication that there were more spacious houses at the higher levels but at the lower level the room space was reduced drastically. Perhaps this was an indication of the large population as compared to an earlier lower population. Either way the town planning was well organized in order to accommodate everybody who belonged to the community. Granaries were also located in the studies this indicated that the cities tried to be self-sufficient in the planning.

The city streets were also aligned in a particular direction that eased navigation throughout the two cities. In fact the streets and the drainage system were constructed together so as to reduce the working on the infrastructure.

It would have taken a civilized society to think and plan their town in that manner. Most cities today have challenges with the drainage system. Some make construction during a dry season without considering the rainy season. More often than not the buildings usually block the rainwater and hence causing serious risks to the community.

These plans are usually approved by city planning engineers who do not consider other structures that may have been installed at the same location. These are usually known as infamous engineering errors.Just as the argument on the engineering faults on the Titanic ship that was allegedly the use of week bolts and nuts which perhaps would have stopped the accident from taking that magnitude.

The people of Harappa and Mohenjoro Daro

The people of the two cities were thepeople who were living in the mountains and foothills of the Himalayas moved down to the fertile plain of the INDUS Valley (Ziegler 451). Due to pressure on land that is more of barren and economic factors generally people had to migrate to fair places. This indeed was to increase the production of food to feed the population.

Shelter was also something to reckon about because building material were not available on the dry Himalaya slopes and it was wise to move to the Indus Valley so as to use the resources that were available. It seems like these people were creative and hard working individuals who really wanted to improve their way of living. They were of their own kind in the whole of Asia.

The people of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro were very unique in their own way but some things came out clearly during the excavations. These things recorded are the ones that make the two cities worth of studying in a history and a religious study class. The following things are remarkable about the people of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro:

  1. They are the earliest known civilization in south Asia
  2. They designed their cities in a grid pattern with a complex drainage and sewerage system
  3. They cultivated cotton which they spun and wove into decorated textiles and clothing
  4. They had evidence of trade activities and transport systems by land and sea
  5. They had complex housing designs of the time
  6. The Pottery and clay work was awesome and hence this illustrated improved technology and a civilization that was unique
  7. The use of copper metal in the manufacture of cattle driven carts
  8. The unique writing on stone tablets that nobody has been able to read up to date

In terms of religion it is believed that the people were polytheist and they believed in many gods. It is also believed that they believed that the cow was a sacred animal. There were very many small statues found in the cities which indicated that they worshiped them as gods. The horn was believed to be the god of fertility. The dead were buried in wooden caskets or coffins at particular place within the city. Clearly the people of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro were a sophisticated civilization of the time.

Some people say that Hinduism is so much associated with the way of worship of the Harappian civilization worship. These people were generally known as Harappians. Indeed, “Mohenjo Daro or “Mound of the Dead” is an ancient Indus Valley Civilization city that flourished between 2600 and 1900 BCE” (Kenoyer 2009). It is one of the cities with a great civilization in the ancient times.

All archaeologists agree that indeed the people of Indus Valley were very organized, sophisticated, and bright and engaged themselves in activities that would have built an emperor that would have lasted forever. Unfortunately they didn’t live forever in to generations. It is believed that they were unable to survive an attack that wiped the whole city. Some people supposedly say the people of Indus valley were attached by a nuclear bomb that burned everything down.

This is so because in the excavations ash was found in the debris and ruins of the houses. This is a theory that needs cleaning and more evidence to be true. The language of the people of the valley cannot be told because the records indicate that the writings on the stone tablets cannot be read hence it is difficult to know which language the people were using. However, the fact that they practiced trade with the people of Mesopotamia there must have been a way of communication.

Economical Strengths of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa Cities

One thing for sure comes out clearly from the history of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro that they had trade links between themselves and the people of Mesopotamia. What they were exchanging and the method of exchange is what can be learnt about. However, “on the other hand, nickel is sometimes present in the copper used at Mohenjoro and Harappa, rising to 9.38 per cent.

In one object and to 3.34 in another, and its presence is attested in the ores of Rajput Ana and Afghanistan. There is, therefore, in the present state of our knowledge an unfortunately wide field” (Piggott 90). This indicates that there was widespread use of copper perhaps as the currency and means of exchange in the trade.

It is recorded that the people of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro practiced both crop and anima farming. Some of the crops grown were wheat, barley, melons, peas, and dates. Cotton was also grown, from which cloth was made.Domesticated animals included cattle, buffalo, donkeys, cats, pigs, goats, and sheep.

Chickens were first raised for food in the Indus Valley. This together with the use of cotton would have been good items of trade to other parts of the continent. They were also good in art and architecture which would have been a human resource for other cities of the time.

There are no records so far that may indicate slave trade in the valley. The Harappa civilization is mainly said to be more of urbanism than agriculture based but the surrounding civilization may have been a source of what they needed for survival. Therefore in one way or another they must have had something to exchange with so as to buy what they wanted. It is recorded that they moved from the barren Himalaya slopes which therefore indicates that they had strong interests in Agriculture.

It is also indicated that once it rained from the mountainsthe drains came with fertile soils which were used to plant crops like cotton which was spanned and used to make clothes. These clothes would have been sold to other civilizations hence making it the major activity in the trade.

The two cities look like they had a strong economy by this can be put to doubt because of a number of issues. One, if the economy was that strong why did the two cities just disappear? And in the event of an attach after wiping out the Harappians why didn’t the attackers take the land if it was rich in minerals and other economic activities like being at a strategic point? This can be debated as well.

However, since the excavations did not suggest a well-organized system of governance then this could have been a weak administration that would have not defended its people. This would explain why they were wiped out easily. The valley at the least provided them with a livelihood because the land was not as barren as to that from where they came.

The fact that the archaeologists did not suggest a system of government does not really explain why there was no administration. In the case of being wiped out easily would have been issues to do with preparedness. It also indicates that for example the Indus Valley people had not received any aggression from anybody hence it was caught unprepared. Despite all this it was a remarkable civilization of the time.

Cultural Interaction across Afro-Eurasia

The Indus valley is a remarkable civilization for the Asian continent with links of up to date. “World history has been enriched by the Indus peoples,who participated in what has come to be called the 3rdMillennium Middle Asian Interaction Sphere,which linked peoples from the Indus to the Mediterraneanand from Central Asia to the Arabian Gulf in animportant trading network” (Possehl 1196).

It was a great interaction of the time mainly encouraged by trade to the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. It is recorded that the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro traded various commodities to the Mesopotamia people. The range of products was: carnelian, lapis lazuli,pearls, various exotic woods, fresh dates, copper, andgold.

However it is not very clear what the Indus valley people were being traded with but through intuition once can suppose that they were receiving oil, perishables and cloth because that is what they were not selling. This indicates that they were selling and buying from the communities around the Asian continent. Since it took quite some time before excavations were done it is important to note that some information may have not been explained.

It is also indicated that they believed in a male deity usually depicted by use of a male bull or even a male buffalo. Then the people are represented by female images. There was worship of the fire at the later Vadic Indus but this cannot substantiate the worship of fire in the Indus valley. However the Hindu religion is somehow associated with the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro cities and their form of worship. The fact that the cow was sacred as well as the buffalo is a clear indication of the transfer of related forms of worship.

Demise of the Indus Valley

This is indeed was a powerful civilization however without serious military encounter. May be by that time military was not a way of solving disputes or perhaps there were minimum external aggressions. Then why was the Harappa and Mohenjo Daro attached and wiped out? Well this question can only be argued from the archeological findings and the explanations given by the archaeologists. There was evidence of violence especially from the Aryan Empire.

“This evidence of violence and of rapidly-changing populations can mean only that the RG IV and RG V phases represent a time of troubles, of insecurity and raiding, arson and pillaging in North Baluchistan” (Piggott 214). The Aryan people lived in different tribes and these tribes were always at war with one another. This kind of aggression is the one believed to be extended to the people surrounding them. The extortion of taxes from the people led to the establishment of the empire which then came to rule the land.

The death of Harappan urbanism may as well been associated with other theories. McIntosh indicates that a shift in the way of cultivation from the outer regions disrupted craft production, civic food defense, building and drain maintenance, and other publicly organized works on which the running of the cities depended.

Recent Developments

Although there is an ‘equifinality’ of possibilities, recent research has focused on the role of climatic changes which may have precipitated abandonment of settlements due to the rise or fall of rivers (Possehl 1002). Other things that are current about the Indus Valley are about its preservation as a cultural site.

The province of Sindh abounds with its rich cultural heritage, historical and archaeological sites and traditional crafts, said Chief Minister Qaim Ali while asserting that his government would ensure protection and preservation of the Indus Valley civilization (The Nation, 2012).

Works Cited

Cotterell, Arthur. A Dictionary of World Mythology. Oxford:Oxford University Press, 1986.

British Museum, 2012. . Web.

Evans, Judith. .”Collaborative learning, 2007. Web.

Jansen, Michael. “Mohenjo-Daro, city of the Indus Valley,” Endeavour, New Series, Volume 9, No. 4, New Yolk: Pergamon Press, 1985. Print.

Javonillo, Charise Jo. .” ESSAI: Vol. 8, Article 21. Web.

Karlovsky, Lamberg C. C. & Sabloff, Jeremy A.The Rise and Fall of Civilizations: Modern Archaeological Approaches to Ancient Cultures. Menlo Park, CA: Cummings Publishing, 1974. Print.

Kenoyer, Jonathan M. Mohenjo-Daro, 2009. Web.

Marsh, George P. Man and Nature: Or, Physical Geography As Modified by Human Action. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 1965. Print.

Piggott, Stuart. Prehistoric India to 1000 B.C. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1950. Print.

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