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Harappan Civilisation (Indus Valley; Harappa; Mohenjo Daro)



i have just watched a documentry on the indus people, an ancient civilisation, that had no monarchy, no leaders, no gods and no-one to look up to or worship. they had no evidence of temples/churches or palaces. but yet they were meant of had a good life and they all looked after it each other. the doc didnt say how they went about day to day life. i wonderd if anyone had an theories as to whether how they lived with no-one in charge/control etc. im under the impression the indus people are the only people of there kind, am i right?
I saw that programme on a previous showing. There's a limit to what archaeology can say about a society's organization. Perhaps they had elected kings, along the lines of the ancient Irish - a sort of a democratic monarchy.

There was another peaceful ancient society discovered somewhere in S.America - Chile? That was also on TV, and I think there was a thread here about it, but I can't remember enough detail to search for it!
I only saw the second half of this, and was going to start a thread as well. What I'd like to know also is why the civilization disappeared? Was it climate change? I got the impression that archeologists know very little about them.
If I could travel back in time anywhere, I think that's where I'd go.
Ha! I ain't so old and stupid as I look! Here's a link to the Lost City of Caral thread ("The Mother City").

Well done, Ryn, can I buy you a drink?
Thanks, don't mind if I do!
Good question beakboo, which raises one of my own. do they actually disappear or is it just a case, that over the years. things get forgotten, people move on and people die. and they just fade away, rather than all die or just move sticks, like some books like you to believe, i know the ancient peruvians have just faded away and there left with history they cant account for when they know most people in the particular area's are direct disendents of the people who built the temples and monoliths they just cant explain!
The reason why there seems to be a big mystery about these civilisations is because the basic research hasn't been done and/or written up. e.g. what people had for breakfast, places they dumped their rubbish, childrens toys, etc. People are too busy going 'ooh, aah' at the big monuments; the book market gets flooded with sensationalist books about 'big statues, buildings, etc'.

Archaeologists are not very good at analysing ancient religious thought. Objects which are unidentifiable are often labelled as being 'religious icons'.

To get a feel for this kind of subject I recommend Brian Fagan's 'From Black Land To Fifth Sun' where he talks about 'archaeology of the mind'.
Doesn't Hancock tie in the Indus Valley civilisation in with his current Deluge theory?

Niles "too tired for witty quotes" Calder
Niles Calder said:
Doesn't Hancock tie in the Indus Valley civilisation in with his current Deluge theory?

Niles "too tired for witty quotes" Calder

i havent had time to buy that book, i might have alook on amazon later for it!!

and to mana's point, the indus people were heavily researched and they were thought to be the first people, who made objects for pleasure ( he he he ) IE toys/games/puzzles. as for dumpind rubbish they had a unique river system. which cincisted of 1 big river being plit into 3, one would go to one side and be stored for drinking and cooking etc, one went into the main city for baths, and one went underground at high speed for them to dispose of rubbish, it also had other uses.

Archaeologists are not very good at analysing ancient religious thought

i get your point, but its easier said than done! if they were too stumble across, a huge temple like building in the middle of town, how do they know what it is?? by researching what went on there, and in a way analysing there thoughts by looking at what they did there. which a lot of it is based on intelligent guess work, by comparing evidence from other projects and looking for the most likely reasoning for that given situation. which can inturn lead to inaccurate "facts".
I agree its Very difficult to tell an ancient societies religious/Spiritual beliefs from Archaeological data alone. The indus Vally people had a script, which i beleive is so far undeciphered. there is evidence that they had a form of Pre-Vedic religion, Incorporating Bull Worship, which has been tentatively associated with a 'Proto-Shiva'

We would do well to remeber that until Very recently, the classic Maya were beleived to be ruled by a Peaceful, Benevolent Theocracy who Literally worshipped time, and had no warlike intention. that was until the Script was cracked, and the discovery of the Bonampak Murals, showing them to be ruled by a Bloodthirsty Warlike elite, in a similar manner to the Aztec.
UP village offers a fresh clue to solve a Harappan puzzle

Posted online: Friday, November 18, 2005 at 0219 hours IST

SINAULI, NOVEMBER 17: For thousands of years, the fields of Sinauli in western Uttar Pradesh hid their secret well. But now its past is out in the open. Beyond the village’s brick lanes and lounging buffaloes, a burial site of the Harappans dating back to about 2,600 BC has finally given up its dead.

A skeleton lies in one of the trenches, the copper bangles on its hands intact though twisted with time. A few tiny beads are scattered around. Another was probably not fortunate enough to be buried whole, its bones lie in a heap. The Archaeological Survey of India’s excavations in Sinauli in Bagpat district, over 80 km from Delhi, have found 18 such skeletons. All of them have seven terracota vases and bowls buried near their heads. ‘‘One of the graves also had a dog’s head. Perhaps it was a favourite pet and was buried along with the dead person,’’ says superitendent archaeologist at the ASI, Dharam Vir Sharma. The beginning of this historical discovery, like always, was accidental. A farmer decided to level his wayward field. The labourers from the village found some pots while digging and took them home. That could have been the end of the story but for a villager with a keen interest in history.

Twenty-eight year Tahir Hussain, the only graduate among his seven siblings, runs an agriculture implements shop in Barhot—the tehsil under which Sinauli falls. But his heart has always been in history, especially in the pyramids of Egypt. ‘‘Whenever I am in Delhi I make it a point to visit the National Museum,’’ says Tahir. So when he saw some of these pots in his relatives house in Sinauli last year, he was sure of their worth. ‘‘I thought the best way was to tell the local press,’’ says Tahir. The article was published and officials at the ASI read it. They recovered the pots from reluctant villagers and on August 17, 2005, the ASI began its excavations. Digging up the past is a delicate business. About twenty people work at the site, scrapping the mud of with a needle like instrument, lest anything be damaged. At any time there are at least two guards at the site.

The ancient ghosts have caused much excitment among historians. ‘‘It is the first Harappan burial site to be found in Uttar Pradesh,’’ says Sharma. Previously Harappan cemetries have been unearthed at Kalibanga and Lothal. Says Upinder Singh, reader in the department of history at St Stephen’s College, Delhi: ‘‘This is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much new evidence coming in that archaeologists may have to re-think on many counts.’’

The burial ground could shed new light on the funeral practices of the Harappans. ‘‘It could also point to a larger habitation. Also the pots found here are all unpainted. These should be co-related to the pots found in other burial sites. That exercise is yet to be done,’’ says Singh.

At Sinauli, the skeletons lie with their arms crossed and feet close to each other, head facing north-west. The burial site has many layers. ‘‘In archaelogical terms it means it was in constant use,’’ says Sharma. Evidences of the Harappan civilisation have earlier been found in UP in Saharanpur and Alamgirpur but Sinauli’s haul is much richer.

Sinauli has also marked another first. Says Sharma: ‘‘There is a copper hoard culture that is presumed to be late Harappan or said to follow it. But no one is sure of its authorship. Now two antenna swords belonging to this culture have been found next to a corpse. This could mean that the copper hoard was a contemporary or belonged to the mature Harappan period. An ancient riddle will be solved and historical chronology will change.’’

‘‘What is also interesting is that the soil found here shows that this site was on the banks of the Yamuna. The river now flows 8 km away,’’ says Sharma. It will take a while to tie up all these threads blown astray by time. At present, a team from Kolkata’s Anthropological Survey of India is conducting DNA and other tests on the ancient bodies.

The excavations, says Sharma, will go on for another year. After the burial ground, the team aims to move towards the habitation. ‘‘This is a big burial ground so there could be a buried town around too.’’
Harappan Civilization ca. 3000-1500 BC
One of the most fascinating yet mysterious cultures of the ancient world is the Harappan civilization. This culture existed along the Indus River in present day Pakistan. It was named after the city of Harappa which it was centered around. Harappa and the city of Mohenjo-Daro were the greatest achievements of the Indus valley civilization. These cities are well known for their impressive, organized and regular layout. Over one hundred other towns and villages also existed in this region. The Harappan people were literate and used the Dravidian language. Only part of this language has been deciphered today, leaving numerous questions about this civilization unanswered.

Artifacts and clues discovered at Mohenjo-Daro have allowed archaeologists to reconstruct this civilization. The similarities in plan and construction between Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa indicate that they were part of a unified government with extreme organization. Both cities were constructed of the same type and shape of bricks. The two cities may have existed simultaneously and their sizes suggest that they served as capitals of their provinces. In contrast to other civilizations, burials found from these cities are not magnificent; they are more simplistic and contain few material goods. This evidence suggests that this civilization did not have social classes. Remains of palaces or temples in the cities have not been found. No hard evidence exists indicating military activity; it is likely that the Harappans were a peaceful civilization. The cities did contain fortifications and the people used copper and bronze knives, spears, and arrowheads.

The Harappan civilization was mainly urban and mercantile. Inhabitants of the Indus valley traded with Mesopotamia, southern India, Afghanistan, and Persia for gold, silver, copper, and turquoise. The Mesopotamian model of irrigated agriculture was used to take advantage of the fertile grounds along the Indus River. Earthlinks were built to control the river's annual flooding. Crops grown included wheat, barley, peas, melons, and sesame. This civilization was the first to cultivate cotton for the production of cloth. Several animals were domesticated including the elephant which was used for its ivory.

Most of the artwork from this civilization was small and used as personal possessions. The first objects unearthed from Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were small stone seals. These seals were inscribed with elegant portrayals of real and imagined animals and were marked with the Indus script writing. The seals suggest a symbolic or religious intent. Stone sculptures carved in steatite, limestone, or alabaster depict a male figure who may have represented a god. Pottery figures were shaped into humans and animals. Very few bronze figures have been recovered.

The Harappan civilization experienced its height around 2500 BC and began to decline about 2000 BC. The causes of its downfall are not certain. One theory suggests that the Aryan people migrated into this area. Aryan religious texts and human remains in Mohenjo-Daro suggest that the Aryans may have violently entered the area, killing its inhabitants and burning the cities.

However, another theory supported by more recent evidence suggests that this civilization may have begun to decline before the Aryans arrived. The inhabitants of the Indus valley dispersed before the Aryans slowly entered the area as a nomadic people. The Aryans were then able to take over this area since most of the inhabitants had previously left. One cause of the dispersal of the Harappans could have been a result of agricultural problems. Topsoil erosion, depletion of nutrients from the soil, or a change in the course of the Indus River may have forced these people to leave their towns and move northeastward in search of more fertile land.

harrapan civiliztion dissapeared because of aliens?

well the thing is you know how like the harrapan civiliztion you know the people who built the cities mohenjo daro and harrapa you know and their civilization just dissapeared without a trace you know.im starting to wonder if the aryans didnt do it than could it aliens maybe reptilians just came and kidnapped everyone and took them to their planet to serve as slaves.and that might explain the radiation
:shock: more
Computers Unlock More Secrets Of The Mysterious Indus Valley Script
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 185836.htm

Researchers have used computers to extract patterns in ancient Indus symbols. (Credit: J. M. Kenoyer / harappa.com)

ScienceDaily (Aug. 4, 2009) — Four-thousand years ago, an urban civilization lived and traded on what is now the border between Pakistan and India. During the past century, thousands of artifacts bearing hieroglyphics left by this prehistoric people have been discovered. Today, a team of Indian and American researchers are using mathematics and computer science to try to piece together information about the still-unknown script.

The team led by a University of Washington researcher has used computers to extract patterns in ancient Indus symbols. The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows distinct patterns in the symbols' placement in sequences and creates a statistical model for the unknown language.

"The statistical model provides insights into the underlying grammatical structure of the Indus script," said lead author Rajesh Rao, a UW associate professor of computer science. "Such a model can be valuable for decipherment, because any meaning ascribed to a symbol must make sense in the context of other symbols that precede or follow it."

Co-authors are Nisha Yadav and Mayank Vahia of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences in Mumbai; Hrishikesh Joglekar of Mumbai; R. Adhikari of the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai; and Iravatham Mahadevan of the Indus Research Centre in Chennai.

Despite dozens of attempts, nobody has yet deciphered the Indus script. The symbols are found on tiny seals, tablets and amulets, left by people inhabiting the Indus Valley from about 2600 to 1900 B.C. Each artifact is inscribed with a sequence that is typically five to six symbols long.

Some people have questioned whether the symbols represent a language at all, or are merely pictograms of political or religious icons.

The new study looks for mathematical patterns in the sequence of symbols. Calculations show that the order of symbols is meaningful; taking one symbol from a sequence found on an artifact and changing its position produces a new sequence that has a much lower probability of belonging to the hypothetical language. The authors said the presence of such distinct rules for sequencing symbols provides further support for the group's previous findings, reported earlier this year in the journal Science, that the unknown script might represent a language.

"These results give us confidence that there is a clear underlying logic in Indus writing," Vahia said.

Seals with sequences of Indus symbols have been found as far away as West Asia, in the region historically known as Mesopotamia and site of modern-day Iraq. The statistical results showed that the West-Asian sequences are ordered differently from sequences on artifacts found in the Indus valley. This supports earlier theories that the script may have been used by Indus traders in West Asia to represent different information compared to the Indus region.

"The finding that the Indus script may have been versatile enough to represent different subject matter in West Asia is provocative. This finding is hard to reconcile with the claim that the script merely represents religious or political symbols," Rao said.

The researchers used a Markov model, a statistical method that estimates the likelihood of a future event (such as inscribing a particular symbol) based on patterns seen in the past. The method was first developed by Russian mathematician Andrey Markov a century ago and is increasingly used in economics, genetics, speech-recognition and other fields.

"One of the main purposes of our paper is to introduce Markov models, and statistical models in general, as computational tools for investigating ancient scripts," Adhikari said.

One application described in the paper uses the statistical model to fill in missing symbols on damaged archaeological artifacts. Such filled-in texts can increase the pool of data available for deciphering the writings of ancient civilizations, Rao said.

The research was funded by the Packard Foundation, the Sir Jamsetji Tata Trust, the University of Washington and the Indus Research Centre.


Adapted from materials provided by University of Washington.
Computers unlock the secrets of the Indus Valley Script

:p That's pretty cool. I guess they have to look for common reoccuring symbols. I think they could be letters and then words.The symbols have a meaning, why else would they put them on these seals,etc.They have to be saying something.

Another language they have problems with is I think Linear B. It's a script
from Crete and the Minoans, but so far hasn't been decified.
Re: Computers unlock the secrets of the Indus Valley Script

HollyDolly1 said:
Another language they have problems with is I think Linear B. It's a script
from Crete and the Minoans, but so far hasn't been decified.

Linear A is the one that's still undeciphered, IIRC. Linear B was an enigma, until Michael Ventris cracked it. And he wasn't a professional linguist or archaeologist (IIRC he was an architect by profession) - but, although an 'amateur' he refused to believe it was undecipherable, and perservered - top man, gives us all hope! 8) :D
Indus Valley's Bronze Age civilisation 'had first sophisticated financial exchange system'
The Indus Valley's Bronze Age civilisation may have developed the world's first sophisticated system of wage labour, financial exchange and measurement, a Canadian mathematician has discovered.
By Dean Nelson in New Delhi
Published: 6:00AM GMT 17 Nov 2009

According to a new study of clay pots and ceramic tablets discovered almost 70 years ago in Harappa, now in Pakistan, the people of the Indus Valley had a detailed system of commodity value, weights and measures.

Dr Bryan Wells, a researcher based at India's Institute of Mathematical Sciences, told The Daily Telegraph he had begun work on his thesis ten years ago when he first saw photographs of the clay pots with markings which appeared to be in proportion to their relative size.

But he was not able to test his thesis until he visited New Delhi earlier this month where the original pots are stored in one of the city's Mughal era forts. The three pots each had different markings, the smallest with a 'V' to indicate 'measure' and three long strokes. The medium vessel had six strokes and the largest had seven.

When he measured them he found they were in proportionate capacity: 3:6:7.

The inscriptions on the pots matched those on bas relief ceramic tablets which he believes are tokens of exchange for fixed measures of grain or other commodities.

The size of the pots – the largest is 2.7 metres in circumference, and contains 65 litres – indicates an organised system of exchange for large scale transactions, he said.

The bas-relief tablets are "definitely some kind of exchange token. These pots are more than one metre wide. You're not going to be carrying them around. The chits or tablets have representative value and they are being used in an economic context," he said.

In his paper Indus Weights and Measures, to be published in the archeological journal Antiquity next year, Dr Wells suggests the tablets may be the equivalent of 'wage slips' or credits for work representing fixed volumes of food.

"It is possible that wages were paid with grains dispersed from a centralised storage facility or in the case of incised tablets material for construction projects and other short-term projects," he wrote.

Although older coins and ingots have been discovered from the Mesopotamia, but Dr Wells' findings amount to a more detailed decoding of an ancient value system.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... ystem.html

I wonder if they ever had a credit crunch...? ;)
Time to reanimate this 2002 thread.

Researchers conclude that climate change led to collapse of ancient Indus civilization
http://phys.org/news/2012-05-climate-co ... ation.html
May 28th, 2012 in Space & Earth / Earth Sciences

A new study combining the latest archaeological evidence with state-of-the-art geoscience technologies provides evidence that climate change was a key ingredient in the collapse of the great Indus or Harappan Civilization almost 4000 years ago. The study also resolves a long-standing debate over the source and fate of the Sarasvati, the sacred river of Hindu mythology.

Once extending more than 1 million square kilometers across the plains of the Indus River from the Arabian Sea to the Ganges, over what is now Pakistan, northwest India and eastern Afghanistan, the Indus civilization was the largest—but least known—of the first great urban cultures that also included Egypt and Mesopotamia. Like their contemporaries, the Harappans, named for one of their largest cities, lived next to rivers owing their livelihoods to the fertility of annually watered lands.

"We reconstructed the dynamic landscape of the plain where the Indus civilization developed 5200 years ago, built its cities, and slowly disintegrated between 3900 and 3000 years ago," said Liviu Giosan, a geologist with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and lead author of the study published the week of May 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Until now, speculations abounded about the links between this mysterious ancient culture and its life-giving mighty rivers."

Today, numerous remains of the Harappan settlements are located in a vast desert region far from any flowing river. In contrast to Egypt and Mesopotamia, which have long been part of the Western classical canon, this amazingly complex culture in South Asia with a population that at its peak may have reached 10 percent of the world's inhabitants, was completely forgotten until 1920's. Since then, a flurry of archaeological research in Pakistan and India has uncovered a sophisticated urban culture with myriad internal trade routes and well-established sea links with Mesopotamia, standards for building construction, sanitation systems, arts and crafts, and a yet-to-be deciphered writing system.

"We considered that it is high time for a team of interdisciplinary scientists to contribute to the debate about the enigmatic fate of these people," added Giosan.

The research was conducted between 2003 and 2008 in Pakistan, from the coast of the Arabian Sea into the fertile irrigated valleys of Punjab and the northern Thar Desert. The international team included scientists from the U.S., U.K., Pakistan, India, and Romania with specialties in geology, geomorphology, archaeology, and mathematics. By combining satellite photos and topographic data collected by the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), the researchers prepared and analyzed digital maps of landforms constructed by the Indus and neighboring rivers, which were then probed in the field by drilling, coring, and even manually-dug trenches. Collected samples were used to determine the sediments' origins, whether brought in and shaped by rivers or wind, and their age, in order to develop a chronology of landscape changes.

"Once we had this new information on the geological history, we could re-examine what we know about settlements, what crops people were planting and when, and how both agriculture and settlement patterns changed," said co-author Dorian Fuller, an archaeologist with University College London. "This brought new insights into the process of eastward population shift, the change towards many more small farming communities, and the decline of cities during late Harappan times."

The new study suggests that the decline in monsoon rains led to weakened river dynamics, and played a critical role both in the development and the collapse of the Harappan culture, which relied on river floods to fuel their agricultural surpluses.

From the new research, a compelling picture of 10,000 years of changing landscapes emerges. Before the plain was massively settled, the wild and forceful Indus and its tributaries flowing from the Himalaya cut valleys into their own deposits and left high "interfluvial" stretches of land between them. In the east, reliable monsoon rains sustained perennial rivers that crisscrossed the desert leaving behind their sedimentary deposits across a broad region.

Among the most striking features the researchers identified is a mounded plain, 10 to 20 meters high, over 100 kilometers wide, and running almost 1000 kilometers along the Indus, they call the "Indus mega-ridge," built by the river as it purged itself of sediment along its lower course.

"At this scale, nothing similar has ever been described in the geomorphological literature," said Giosan. "The mega-ridge is a surprising indicator of the stability of Indus plain landscape over the last four millennia. Remains of Harappan settlements still lie at the surface of the ridge, rather than being buried underground."

Mapped on top of the vast Indo-Gangetic Plain, the archaeological and geological data shows instead that settlements bloomed along the Indus from the coast to the hills fronting the Himalayas, as weakened monsoons and reduced run-off from the mountains tamed the wild Indus and its Himalayan tributaries enough to enable agriculture along their banks.

"The Harappans were an enterprising people taking advantage of a window of opportunity – a kind of "Goldilocks civilization," said Giosan. "As monsoon drying subdued devastating floods, the land nearby the rivers - still fed with water and rich silt - was just right for agriculture. This lasted for almost 2,000 years, but continued aridification closed this favorable window in the end."

In another major finding, the researchers believe they have settled a long controversy about the fate of a mythical river, the Sarasvati. The Vedas, ancient Indian scriptures composed in Sanskrit over 3000 years ago, describe the region west of the Ganges as "the land of seven rivers." Easily recognizable are the Indus and its current tributaries, but the Sarasvati, portrayed as "surpassing in majesty and might all other waters" and "pure in her course from mountains to the ocean," was lost. Based on scriptural descriptions, it was believed that the Sarasvati was fed by perennial glaciers in the Himalayas. Today, the Ghaggar, an intermittent river that flows only during strong monsoons and dissipates into the desert along the dried course of Hakra valley, is thought to best approximate the location of the mythic Sarasvati, but its Himalayan origin and whether it was active during Vedic times remain controversial.

Archaeological evidence supports the Ghaggar-Hakra as the location of intensive settlement during Harappan times. The geological evidence—sediments, topography— shows that rivers were indeed sizable and highly active in this region, but most likely due to strong monsoons. There is no evidence of wide incised valleys like along the Indus and its tributaries and there is no cut-through, incised connections to either of the two nearby Himalayan-fed rivers of Sutlej and Yamuna. The new research argues that these crucial differences prove that the Sarasvati (Ghaggar-Hakra) was not Himalayan-fed, but a perennial monsoon-supported watercourse, and that aridification reduced it to short seasonal flows.

By 3900 years ago, their rivers drying, the Harappans had an escape route to the east toward the Ganges basin, where monsoon rains remained reliable.
"We can envision that this eastern shift involved a change to more localized forms of economy: smaller communities supported by local rain-fed farming and dwindling streams," said Fuller. "This may have produced smaller surpluses, and would not have supported large cities, but would have been reliable."

Such a system was not favorable for the Indus civilization, which had been built on bumper crop surpluses along the Indus and the Ghaggar-Hakra rivers in the earlier wetter era. This dispersal of population meant that there was no longer a concentration of workforce to support urbanism. "Thus cities collapsed, but smaller agricultural communities were sustainable and flourished. Many of the urban arts, such as writing, faded away, but agriculture continued and actually diversified," said Fuller.

"An amazing amount of archaeological work has been accumulating over the last decades, but it's never been linked properly to the evolution of the fluvial landscape. We now see landscape dynamics as the crucial link between climate change and people," said Giosan. "Today the Indus system feeds the largest irrigation scheme in the world, immobilizing the river in channels and behind dams. If the monsoon were to increase in a warming world, as some predict, catastrophic floods such as the humanitarian disaster of 2010, would turn the current irrigation system, designed for a tamer river, obsolete."

More information: “Fluvial landscapes of the Harappan civilization,” by Liviu Giosan et al. PNAS, 2012.

Provided by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
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As others have said, its rather difficult for archaeologists to interpret many things about a society, including religion. For cultures that lack writing, or whose writing has not yet been deciphered (as is the case with the Indus script), we don't have any documents to work with. Even with a historically recent society such as the Inka and Aztecs, who were still there when the Spanish conquistadors arrived, we still have many unsolved mysteries. The Quechua language is still widely spoken in Peru today, yet we don't know how to decode the quipu or how the Inka managed to wedge together massive blocks of stone so tightly that you cannot even fit a sheet of paper between them.

An equally interesting case comes from the Khmer Empire in Cambodia. The Khmer religion was a mixture of divine kingship, Hinduism (especially Saivism, often with the king identified as Shiva), and Buddhism. Hinduism and Buddhism were both imported religions from India, bringing with them Sanskrit literature, Indian culture and sometimes even Brahmins or monks. The two religions competed and mixed, even as they maintained separate identities, so you'll sometimes see the term Hindu-Buddhist used to describe Khmer and other SE Asian civilizations. The thing is, we know MUCH more about Khmer religion and cosmology because the Khmer built their religious structures out of stone. Think of Angkor Wat for example. Everything else rotted back into the jungle (which serves as an abject lesson in impermanence imho). And about the tribes in the highlands we know even less.

I think its pretty obvious that the Indus Valley Civilization did have well developed religion, and was influential in the rich intellectual tradition which would later arise in South Asia, giving rise to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. While the role of Arya in the development of classical Hindu thought tends to be emphasized, its long been accepted that they absorbed some of the indigenous ideas as well. Indeed, much of the philosophical base of Hinduism may very well come from Indus Valley culture. If we look at their iconography we can see very strong imagery indicating reverence for bulls and snakes, what resemble yogic postures, and even a figure which may have been an early Shiva-Pashupati. The Great Goddess in her many iterations (Kali, Durga, etc) is likely from the Indus people as well.
The ancient city that's crumbling away

The ancient city of Mohenjo Daro was one of the world's earliest major urban settlements - but as Razia Iqbal found on a recent visit to Pakistan, its remains are in danger of crumbling away.
As a lover of language, I am convinced that certain combinations of letters have in them some innate magic - like Kubla Khan, or Xanadu, or Nineveh. So allow the words Mohenjo Daro to roll slowly off your tongue. And let me tell you about this ancient city, rediscovered nearly 100 years ago, but which had its heyday 4,000 years ago.
It lies on the banks of the River Indus in the province of Sind, in Pakistan. Along with another historical site, Harappa, it represents the very earliest civilisation in the region, rivalling those in Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Mohenjo Daro was a city which had been effectively planned and boasted exceptional amenities. Its houses were furnished with brick-built bathrooms, many had lavatories. Waste water from these led into well-constructed sewers that ran along the centre of the streets, covered with bricks.

Among the many artefacts unearthed here, and one which stays in my mind, is a tiny, 10cm-high, bronze statuette. She's known as the dancing girl - a poised figure, with hand on hip, and face thrusting forward. She tells us not just about the Indus people's skills in metallurgy but also about their art, society and women as well.

Given Mohenjo Daro's archaeological importance - it is a Unesco World Heritage Site - I was saddened to find it in some disarray.
Tourism and heritage aren't high on the government's agenda here. The authorities are far more preoccupied with security and terrorism.
It was not what I would call a busy tourist destination, few Pakistanis visit and we were among just 20 or 30 people there. We walked around the small museum which, though full of interesting exhibits, was badly lit and poorly arranged. Outside the dancing girl is displayed. But it's not the original. That's now in Delhi.


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Time for another resurrection of this thread. New Scientist recently did a special on the supposed utopia of the Indus Valley.
If their script has not been deciphered, then how do we know what a 'utopia' it was? The Mohenjo Daro civilization was not known to the west until, if memory serves, the early-to-mid 1800's, when it was discovered.

We know a bit more about this civilization than we did, but there is still much that we don't know.
I think it is due to the lack of weapons, armour and fortifications. Though for example the vikings tended to use axes as weapons, unless you know that you might just have seen them as tools.
I think it is due to the lack of weapons, armour and fortifications. Though for example the vikings tended to use axes as weapons, unless you know that you might just have seen them as tools.
Very good. It is inferred by a lack of weapons, but not proven. Fair statement?
A newly published and quite extensive study indicates archaeologists have been looking at the Harappan / Indus civilization's history all wrong. It has long been assumed these early urban centers were built alongside Himalayan-fed rivers, and the overall civilization collapsed in response to river changes. This new study reasonably demonstrates the civilization arose and flourished once the main river through their territory changed course - i.e., they flourished once the big river went away.

Mystery Solved: How the Ancient Indus Civilization Survived Without Rivers
Almost 5,000 years ago, a civilization developed in what is today northwest India and Pakistan, rivaling Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt in scope. The people of the Indus civilization farmed everything from cotton to dates, and eventually established at least five major cities with basic indoor plumbing and public sewage systems.

A few of these cities, including the famed sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, sit along major glacier-fed rivers. But the bulk of the Bronze Age Indus villages that have been found so far sit far from flowing water, north of the Thar Desert and between the Ganges-Yamuna and the Indus river systems. As early as the late 1800s, archaeologists and geologists noted a dry paleochannel, like an old riverbed, which ran through many of these settlements. The assumption was that the settlements first grew alongside the river, and then dried up when the river did.

Now, new research reveals that this old story is entirely wrong. In fact, the river that once filled the dry channel dried up more than 3,000 years before the heyday of the Indus civilization. Instead, the ancient people who populated those villages may have relied on seasonal monsoon flooding and the rich, water-trapping clays of the old river valley for a flourishing system of agriculture. ...

FULL STORY: https://www.livescience.com/61039-ancient-indus-civilization-survived-without-rivers.html
More grist to the mill, the BJP are unhappy with this new evidence so they just dismiss it.

New research using ancient DNA is rewriting prehistory in India - and shows that its civilisation is the result of multiple ancient migrations, writes Tony Joseph.

Who are the Indians? And where did they come from? In the last few years, the debate over these questions has become more and more heated. Hindu right-wingers believe the source of Indian civilisation are people who called themselves Aryans - a nomadic tribe of horse-riding, cattle-rearing warriors and herders who composed Hinduism's oldest religious texts, the Vedas. The Aryans, they argue, originated from India and then spread across large parts of Asia and Europe, helping set up the family of Indo-European languages that Europeans and Indians still speak today.

As it happens, many 19th Century European ethnographers and, of course, most famously, Adolf Hitler, also considered Aryans the master race who had conquered Europe, although the German leader considered them to be of Nordic lineage. ...

Studies using ancient DNA have been rewriting prehistory all over the world in the last few years and in India, there has been one fascinating discovery after another. The most recent study on this subject, led by geneticist David Reich of Harvard University, was published in March 2018 and co-authored by 92 scholars from all over the world - many of them leading names in disciplines as diverse as genetics, history, archaeology and anthropology.

Underneath its staid title - The Genomic Formation of South and Central Asia - lay some volcanic arguments. ...

This is a good article Ramon, and I'm glad you posted it. Clearly the Aryans are nothing to do with the Scandinavians, and unsurprisingly, Nazi racial theory was a load of bunkum that came more from penny dreadful novels than science. It is very much like how Gaelic people call themselves Celtic, when in fact they are of Cimbri heritage and have no Celtic DNA to speak of.

Yeah, if the Aryans were ever really a thing, they were a nomadic steppe people originally. The Achaemenid dynasty used to maintain the title "King of the Aryans", and we know that the Persians and Medes were originally steppe dwellers. On the other hand, when they went north to reconquer the steppes, they found the Scythians more than a match for them.
I'll sacrifice you to The Morrigan for that!

It still won't change the fact that Celts are a steppe tribe and entirely continental. The Cimbri are entirely from the British Isles, having been there since the tsunami that destroyed Doggerland and cut the British isles off from the mainland. They are a discrete culture of greater antiquity, also known as the Beaker people, who may well have had a major influence on Celtic culture rather than the other way around. The only Irish people who had Celtic blood were descendants of the Gallogaichs, who were basically Norse mercenaries. The Iberian Celts are a different matter.