Saturday 1 November 2014

A Journey Past Forward

"A highly sophisticated and advanced urban culture, the quality of planning and construction suggest efficient municipal governments which placed a high priority on hygiene.
A centralized granary, much akin to the concept of modern day State Banks is also evident. The entire urban plan included world's first sanitation system. The engineers were highly advanced, and that shows in the construction of the houses, the warehouses, granaries, and walls"

Any guesses which city, exactly are we talking about? No, its not present day New Delhi, though the current governance definitely pulls it back to the age which we are talking about. 
We are not even talking about a century old New York or Boston, and not even a decade old London, the description as such, though, would perfectly map to that of the cities.
The city, or rather setup I am talking about belongs to an era even 3400 years prior to the rule of Ashoka. It would sound nothing short of a miracle, even mysticism, to even believe such a civilization existed around 3600 BCE. Yes, we are talking about the Indus Valley civilization, in particular.
Time to move past forward and refresh the memories of your first ever history books!! I know it was boring, but lets try to make it interesting.

The architecture: Perhaps the most astonishing feature of the Indus Valley civilization, it is hard to believe that cities used to have a proper drainage system in those times, much akin to those even in use today. The walls were made of bricks, and houses were even multistory! Home to the first ever sanitation system in the entire world, separate dedicated rooms were set aside for bathing and toilets, which were connected to covered drains on major roads. Think of it, that we are not talking of our present day drainage system, but a system more than 5000 years ago.

Wide streets and easy access to all the routes was provided. The roads intersected each other at right angles, the houses were built on sides, taking care that the roads are never encroached. Buildings on corners of the streets suggest hotels or common dining places used for drinking and regular business activities. Pubs and restaurants, anyone?

The houses were built from east to west or north to south on a road, such that winds blowing in one direction would flow across all the houses in a row, ventilating them all across.  

Town Planning: Another one of the most astonishing attributes of Indus Valley Civilization was the concept of Granaries.
As a structure, the Granaries were quite interesting in their conceptualization and usage. The granaries ran 150 feet in length, 75 feet in width and 15 feet in height, and was divided into 27 distinct compartments in 3 rows. The granaries were very well ventilated, thus prohibiting decay of food items, and grains could be filled in, from outside. 
A remarkable feature of the civilization was the presence of a prominent current of egalitarianism in the society. The houses, though differed in sizes, probably based on the financial conditions of the inhabitants, each one of them had an individual well, and bathrooms were provided along with proper ventilation. 

Economy: Indus and Saraswati being the most remarkable out of the rivers, Ravi and Sutlej being the other two, the people used the presence of the three rivers much to their benefit. The rivers not only kept the land fertile and water handy for irrigation, they provided excellent medium for transportation and trade as well.

The concept of Granaries again comes into play here, as it was one of the primitive versions of modern day State Banks. Farmers were expected to pay a huge sum of their crops in the granaries in the form of taxes.
In the absence of any concrete evidence related to the medium of trade, barter system could be a distinct possibility.
Excavations have revealed possibility of a weight system with objects being discovered which could have been used for weighing. In all probability, they followed the sixteen system for weighing(16, 64, 160, 320).

Religion: An important aspect, considering they laid the very foundations of what was to be followed centuries later, there is an evident usage of Swastika. But, considering that it was a symbol more of rational implications then, than religious, seals with inscription of Pashupathi and Shiva-Linga have been discovered. A mother Goddess, primarily Earth, was worshipped, farming being there prime source of livelihood.
A few certain structures have been identified as temples, most of the deity figures, though unidentified till now, show them sitting in a Yoga posture, a highly corroborative evidence of Yoga being practised d
uring those times.

The Firsts: While it has already been mentioned that Indus people were the first to have a proper sanitation system and measurement system, they also scored in having the first ever dentists. Excavations have produced driller molar set of teeth along the site. They also were the first to use buttons as a means of ornament as well as fastening the clothes. They also built up world's first dockyard at Lothal where they had shops to trade with neighbouring lands.

The Mystery: The biggest mystery surrounding the Indus valley Civilization, is the sudden collapse of the entire existence of around 1000 years. They disappeared out of nowhere without leaving much behind.
Lately, the mysteries have been uncovered, and the disappearance has been attributed to drying up of Saraswati as the primary occupation then, was farming. There was a major reduction in monsoon over the area and Sutlej changed its course, resulting in drying of Saraswati. The theory, however itself is ambiguous as they could have easily moved over to certain other areas and survived.
The cult and the ideology of Indus people is highly unknown. Were they violent, or were they highly religious, one can not be much sure of. They certainly were democratic to a point as no statue or seal depicting a King or a head has been found.
They were certainly rich, and loved sanitation, cleanliness and bathing. They have often depicted battles between beasts and humans and Gods in their arts.

And to think of it, the planning and architecture they applied could put India's metros to shame. The population has increased heavily since then, one could argue, but so has technology. They were heavily dependent on a few rivers, so they vanished. The egalitarianism they enjoyed during those times is certainly a lesson for all the societies of the world to follow.
I chose to write about the Indus Valley Civilization, just to prove how modern and conceptualized the land was even 5600 years ago. Indians are lucky to be able to boast of one of the earliest and advanced societies of all times.

Ending the article on an interesting note, during the Middle Bronze ages(3600BCE-1200BCE), the people of Sumer are known to have had trading relations with a prominent center called Meluha. Probably, Meluha is the none other than the Indus Valley civilization. Though, there are no substantial proofs to validate this theory.

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Namaste for Now!

1 comment:

  1. A youtube video says that there were large amounts of radio active material found in the debris on the city, esp skeletons. Even the skeletons had such positions that meant they died all of a sudden.

    Statues of Garuda was available in those regions and further reading says that whenever Garuda flies through the skies, there is massive force generated and it could destroy some regions that is equivalent to that of Nuclear explosion.

    The Radio active explosion wiping out the entire civilization could not be ruled out. Many researches ascertain the same.