Here is another one. The little stars *** are to show my comments on it along the way.
The Vedas, the oldest texts of south Asia, dating from some 3,500 years ago, made no mention of it, nor did the Bible. No pyramids or burial mounds marked the area as the site of an ancient power. Yet, 4,600 years ago, at the same time as the early civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, great cities arose along the flood plains of he ancient Indus and Saraswati rivers in what is now Pakistan and northwest India. The people of the Indus Valley didn't build towering monuments, bury their riches along with their dead, or fight legendary and bloody battles. They didn't have a mighty army or a divine emperor. Yet they were a highly organized and stupendously successful civilization. They built some of the world's first planned cities, created one of the world's first written languages, and thrived in an area twice the size of Egypt and Mesopotamia for 700 years.
Kenoyer has been excavating at Harappa for the past 12 years. His work, and that of his colleagues, is changing the image of Harappa from a stark, state-run city into a vibrant, diverse metropolis, teeming with artisans and well-traveled merchants.
"What we're finding at Harappa, for the first time," says Kenoyer, "is how the first cities started." Mesopotamian texts suggest that cities sprang up around deities and their temples, and once archeologists found these temples, they didn't look much further. "People assumed this is how cities evolved, but we don't know that for a fact," says Kenoyer. At Harappa, a temple of the glitzy Mesopotamian variety has yet to be found. Kenoyer's archeological evidence suggests that the city got its start as a farming village around 3300 B.C. Situated near the Ravi River, one of several tributaries of the ancient Indus River system of Pakistan and northwestern India, Harappa lay on a fertile flood plain. Good land and a reliable food supply allowed the village to thrive, but the key to urbanization was its location at the crossroads of several major trading routes.
By 2200 B.C., Harappa covered about 370 acres and may have held 80,000 people, making it roughly as populous as the ancient city of Ur in Mesopotamia. And it soon had plenty of neighbors. Over the course of 700 years, some 1,500 Indus Valley settlements were scattered over 280,000 square miles of the northwestern subcontinent.
Unlike the haphazard arrangement of Mesopotamian cities, Indus Valley settlements all followed the same basic plan. Streets and houses were laid out on a north-south, east-west grid, and houses and walls were built of standard-size bricks. Even early agricultural settlements were constructed on a grid. "People had a ritual conception of the universe, of universal order," says Kenoyer. "The Indus cities and earlier villages reflect that." This organization, he believes, could have helped the growing city avoid conflicts, giving newcomers their own space rather than leaving them to elbow their way into established territories.
Part of that ritual conception included a devotion to sanitation. Nearly every Harappan home had a bathing platform and a latrine, says Kenoyer, and some Indus Valley cities reached heights of 40 feet in part because of concern about hygiene. Cities often grow upon their foundations over time, but in the Indus Valley, homes were also periodically elevated to avoid the risk of runoff from a neighbor’s sewage. "It’s keeping up with the Joneses’ bathroom," he quips, "that made these cities rise so high so quickly." Each neighborhood had its own well, and elaborate covered drainage systems carried dirty water outside the city. By contrast, city dwellers in Mesopotamian cities tended to draw water from the river or irrigation canals and they had no drains.
At Harappa, standardized cubical stone weights have been found at the gates, and Kenoyer suggests they were used to levy taxes on trade goods coming into the city.
Unlike the rulers of Mesopotamia and Egypt, Indus Valley rulers did not immortalize themselves with mummies or monuments. They did, however, leave behind elaborately carved stone seals, used to impress tokens or clay tabs on goods bound for market. The seals bore images of animals, like the humped bull, the elephant, the rhinoceros, and the crocodile, which were probably emblems of powerful clans. The most common image is the unicorn, a symbol that originated in the Indus Valley.
(By the way, peeps, the Unicorn is one of the icons for the Royal House of Stewart which is supposed to be the continuation of the lineage of David which has been "hidden" due to the fact that civilizations began to elect their officials from the common man when monarchies went out of existence.)********
Frustratingly, though, those seals carry inscriptions that no one has been able to decipher. Not only are the inscriptions short, but they don’t resemble any known language. From analyzing overlapping strokes, it is clear that the script reads right to left. It is also clear that the script is a mix of phonetic symbols and pictographs. Early Mesopotamian cuneiform, which used only pictographs, was thought to be the world’s first written language, says Kenoyer, but the Indus Valley script emerged independently around the same time --- at least by around 3300 B.C.
As long as the language remains a mystery, so too will the identities of the Indus Valley elites. Kenoyer thinks each of the large cities may have functioned as an independent city-state, controlled by a small group of merchants, landowners, and religious leaders. **** (seems to be the same way the world is controlled today...politics, religion, and commerce.) ****"They controlled taxation, access to the city, and communication with the gods," he says. While the balance of power may have shifted between these groups, they seem to have ruled without a standing army. Sculptures, paintings, and texts from Egypt and Mesopotamia clearly illustrate battles between cities and pharaonic wars of conquest. But in the Indus Valley, not a single depiction of a military act, of taking prisoners, of a human killing another human has been found. It’s possible these acts were illustrated on cloth or paper or some other perishable and simply did not survive. Yet none of the cities show signs of battle damage to buildings or city walls, and very few weapons have been recovered.
Human remains show no signs of violence either. Only a few cemeteries have been found, suggesting that burial of the dead may have been limited to high ranking individuals (others may have been disposed of through cremation or river burials). The bones from excavated burials show few signs of disease or malnourishment. Preliminary genetic studies from a cemetery in Harappa have suggested that women were buried near their mothers and grandmothers. Men do not seem to be related to those near them, so they were probably buries with their wives’ families. There is evidence that people believed in afterlife: personal items like amulets and simple pottery have been recovered from a few burials. But true to their practical, businesslike nature, the Harappans didn’t bury their dead with riches. Unlike the elites of the Near East, Harappans kept their valuable items in circulation, trading for new, often extraordinary ornaments for themselves and their descendents.
Eventually, between 1900 and 1700 B.C., the extensive trading networks and productive farms supporting this cultural integration collapsed, says Kenoyer, and distinct local cultures emerged. "They stopped writing," he says. "They stopped using the weight system for taxation. And the unicorn motif disappeared." Speculation as to the reasons for the disintegration has ranged from warfare to weather. Early archeologists believed that Indo-Aryan invaders from the north swept through and conquered the peaceful Harappans, but that theory has since been disputed. Most of the major cities dont show evidence of warfare, though some smaller settlements appear to have been abandoned.
(You can read more about it here. http://www.geocities.com/pak_history/Harappan.html and also herehttp://www.thenagain.info/webchron/india/Harappa.html)
Have any of you ever contemplated how many civilizations "just go missing" without an explanation? Archeological digs for this one only started 12 years ago.