Indian Vally Civilization- IVC
A cardinal feature of IVC is that it represents a transition between a period marked by individuality around 4000 B.C. and that of a period marked by homogenous culture around 3000B.C and beyond .Justify (12 Marks)
- Brief introduction of IVC
- Body: how it brought about the transition between the period of individuality and homogenous culture
- The history of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), also known as Harappan Civilization.
- It flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia, in contemporary Pakistan and Western India.
- The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China.
- In 1920s, the Archaeological Department of India carried out excavations in the Indus valley wherein the ruins of the two old cities, viz. Mohenjodaro and Harappa were unearthed.
- In 1924, John Marshall, Director-General of the ASI, announced the discovery of a new civilisation in the Indus valley to the world.
- The Indus Tradition begins around 10,000 BCE during the interface of the Foraging Era with the transition to domestication of plants and animals, but it is important to understand that the roots of this tradition may extend back even further into the early Palaeolithic period, more than 2 million years ago.
- The Foraging Era of the Indus Tradition represents the beginning of subsistence strategies that eventually led to the domestication of plants and animals and other technological patterns that can be linked to later Indus cultural developments. The general date of 10,000 BCE corresponds to a period at the end of the Pleistocene when this type of transition is known to have been occurring in a broad region stretching from northern Egypt and the Fertile Crescent area of West Asia, to Afghanistan and the Indus Valley.
- Sites that represent these transitional communities are defined by the presence of microlithic tools and other evidence of human occupation, such as accumulations of marine shell, grinding stones and stone alignments.
- The subsequent Early Food Producing Era is represented primarily at the site of Mehrgarh (7000 - 5500 BCE) where there is conclusive evidence for the use of domestic wheat and barley and domestic cattle, sheep and goats
- At Mehrgarh, small rectangular mud-brick houses were subdivided into rooms and cubicles that could have been used for storage of grain and other necessities. Baskets coated with bitumen have been discovered in the houses and graves. No elaborate ceramic technology had been developed at this time, but the first basket impressed, low-fired ceramics begin to appear at the very end of this phase. Numerous ornaments made from marine shells and exotic colored stones were buried with the dead along with polished stone axes and chert blades. Additional sites that may belong to this Era have been discovered along the edges of the Indus valley, but have not yet been excavated.
- The domestic animals and plants first used at Mehrgarh, especially humped cattle (Bos indicus), wheat and barley became the foundation for the subsistence economy of the later Indus cities. The roots of major technological traditions, such as shell working, stone bead making, chipped and ground stone and even mud brick architecture can be traced to this era.
- From 5500 to 2600 BCE numerous regional cultures emerged throughout the greater Indus region and represent the Regionalization Era (Kenoyer 1998). This relatively long time period has been subdivided into many distinct Phases on the basis of distinctive pottery, artifacts and chronological occurrence. Most sites reveal the presence of more than one phase. Specialized crafts including ceramics, metallurgy, lapidary arts, glazed faience and fired steatite were developed in each major region. Many crafts using organic materials such as textiles, basketry and woodworking have also been documented. Distinct artifact and ornament styles represented by beads, bangles and decorated figurines evolved in specific regions. Geometric seals were made from terracotta, bone and ivory.
- The use of pre-firing potter’s marks and post-firing graffiti on pottery set the foundations for the later emergence of writing. Extensive trade networks were established along the major river routes and across mountain passes to connect settlements to each other and facilitate the movement of goods and raw materials. Trade networks were maintained by emerging elites as well as by mobile traders. Communities specialized in pastoralism, fishing, foraging and hunting continued to exist alongside the more settled agricultural societies.
- The later part of the Regionalization Era, often referred to as the Early Harappan Period, represents a phase of formative urbanism. The building of walled settlements, the use of specific types of painted pottery and ornaments, the appearance of seals and rudimentary writing and the expanded trade networks represent the emergence of complex chiefdoms and incipient urbanism.
- The Integration Era (commonly referred to as the Indus Civilization) has only one phase (Harappa Phase) that dates from approximately 2600 to 1900 B.C. (Kenoyer 1998). During the Harappa Phase, there is a synthesis of major regional polities into a larger integrated economic, political and ideological system. A relatively uniform range of pottery styles and other types of material culture including ritual symbols has been found at more than 2600 sites spread throughout the greater Indus valley
- Indus urbanism is defined on the basis of large central cities, which may have held between 40,000 to 80,000 people, surrounded by an irregular network of smaller towns, villages, hamlets and temporary camps of pastoral communities. Most cities, such as Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa were built with fired brick, while Dholavira was constructed extensively with shaped stone combined with mud brick. Smaller satellite settlements were generally built with mud brick. Most Indus settlements had north-south and east-west oriented streets with brick lined drains for disposal of wastewater. A formalized writing system, the Indus Script, was inscribed on pottery, seals and a wide range of other types of objects
- Although the script is not yet deciphered the context of its use indicates that it is connected to the establishment of powerful communities who dominated Indus society. The use of standardized weights and measures indicates the presence of taxation and regulations of trade. Hierarchical social order and stratified society is reflected in architecture and settlement patterns, as well as artifact styles and the organization of technological production.
- The Harappa Phase represents the first state-level political organization, but no single settlement dominated the region and there is no indication for the emergence of hereditary monarchies or highly centralized territorial states (Kenoyer 1998). There is a conspicuous absence of central temples, palaces and elaborate elite burials that are characteristic of other early urban societies in Mesopotamia, Egypt and China. Although massive mud brick walls surrounded most large settlements, there is no evidence for burning or destruction of the cities as was the case during major conflict or warfare in other early civilizations. This does not mean that the peoples of the Indus cities were a “peaceful” society, but that conflict may have taken place on a relatively small scale and not in the major cities or towns
- Sanskrit speaking communities with the mute archaeological remains of the Indus. Furthermore, the types of artifacts and the nature of the settlements does not correlate to what is described in the Åg Veda or other later Vedic texts.
- The Localization Era is a period of cultural transformation connected with changes in local environments, socio-political organization, changing population distributions and settlement patterns (Kenoyer 1998; Kenoyer 2005; Possehl 1997). Some urban centers decrease in size and other regions showing increasing numbers of smaller settlements. The Harappa Phase economic and political structures and associated artifacts such as inscribed seals and weights disappear. Beginning around 1900 BCE, this transformation continues until around 1300 BCE and overlaps with the Regionalization Era of the larger IndoGangetic Tradition. The major Phases identified for this Era represent the emergence and consolidation of localized states or chiefdoms with smaller scale social and political interaction. As the cultural regions became disconnected, the unifying styles of artifacts of the earlier Indus cities disappeared. There is no evidence for warfare or the physical destruction of the Indus cities or even smaller villages during this period.
- Major changes occurred in burial practices, painted pottery styles and ritual objects (Kenoyer 2005). During this time period, literary sources indicate that IndoAryan languages and Vedic ideology and culture were spreading throughout the northern subcontinent. Vedic religious traditions set the foundation for later Brahmanical Hinduism. The roots of other religious traditions, such as Jainism and Buddhism, were also beginning to form at this time. In contrast to these changes, earlier Indus techniques of farming and herding continued to be used along with many of the technologies, such as ceramics, bead making, shell working and metallurgy. New technologies that emerge at this time include higher temperature kilns and glass bead making.