Why Indus Valley Civilization Declined?

The Harappan Civilization or the Indus Valley Civilization was a fascinating urban civilization in the world that flourished in the vast plains created by the River Indus and its tributaries. The Harappan Civilization thrived between 2600 – 1900 BC in the region that is now in Pakistan and India. With a population of over five million, this civilization had a well-developed trade system, cities, sewerage system, metallurgy techniques with many other mathematical and scientific achievements.

But with time, there was shrinkage in the Harappan Civilization. For instance, Mohenjodaro, one of the major cities of this civilization, earlier flourished on about eighty-five hectares of land but later on got confined to just three hectares. Due to some reason, the population from the Harappa started moving to the nearby and outer cities and places like Punjab, Upper Doab, Haryana, etc. But what leads to the decline of the Harappan Civilization is still a mystery.

Proposed theories regarding the decline of the Harappan Civilization

The definite reason that led to the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization is not known, as no reliable resource of that period is available at present. Every conclusion regarding the decline is based upon speculations of historians. Though the reason for the decline is not known, through excavations it is clear that the fall of the Harappan Civilization occurred between 1800 BC to 1700 BC.

It is commonly believed that the Aryans were the next settlers. They were skilled fighters, so their attack might have led to the destruction of the Harappan Civilization. The epics of the Aryans mentioned about their victory over the great cities. The human remains found during the excavation of Indus valley point towards some violent cause of their death. Now many historians, who do not believe this theory, say that the Aryans might not be involved in any such attack.

Owing to this conflict, the theory of a huge climatic change or natural disaster gained credibility. It has been found out that around 2000 BC some major climatic changes started occurring in the Indus Valley. These changes had led to floods in the plains and cities. Historians have found evidence to prove this theory as well. Most of the cities in the Harappan Civilization have been found in a condition as if these had been first abandoned and then rebuilt.

Cities, for instance, were initially built with great care but the reconstruction of the same was done with broken bricks and no attention was paid to the proper sewage system during reconstruction. Proper sewage system was one of the major characteristics of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Then, there was a fall in the average rainfall in the cities leading to the formation of desert-like condition. This led to the decline in agriculture on which most of the trade was dependent. Owing to this, people of the Indus Valley started shifting to some other location leading to the decline in the entire civilization. As per some scholars, the reason for the decline is the change in the course of River Ghaggar-Harka that had led to an increase in the aridity of the place. Around 2000 BC, there was found an increase in arid conditions. The location where the Indus valley civilization once flourished is a desert today.

Many theories have been formulated and provided, but all the theories met with one or another form of criticism. Archeological evidence does prove that there was no sudden collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization but it declined over a period of time and got mingled with other civilizations of that period.

List of Archaeological Sites of Indus Valley Civilisation

Thinkers Opinion
Stuart, Piggott, and Gordon-Childe External aggression (Aryan invasion)
MR Sahni Inundation
KVR Kennedy Epidemic
Marshall and Raikes Tectonic disturbances
Aurel Strein and AN Ghosh Climate Change
Walter Fairservis Deforestation, scarcity of resources, ecological imbalances
Marshal, SR Rao, Maickey Flood
GF Hales The destruction due to change in the course of river Ghaggar.
Wheeler In his Ancient India mentioned that the climatic, economic and political civilisation and argued that the decline was actually due to large-scale destruction.
George Dales In his ‘The Mythical Massacre at Mohenjo-Daro’ refuted Wheeler’s Theory of Invasion, and argues that the skeletons found did not belong to the Harappan period and were burials of irreverent nature.

The decline of the civilisation was attested by the following major changes:

  1. The disappearance of seals, the script, distinctive beads and pottery.
  2. The shift from the standardized weight system to use of local weights.

  3. The decline and abandoned cities.

  4. The Aryan invasion was believed to be major reason for the decline of Harappan Civilisation.

The material culture transformed into a few Harappan sites so occupied after 1900 BC. Distinctive artifacts such as weights, seals, bead, etc. disappeared. House construction techniques deteriorated, large public structures were no longer produced.






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Mesopotamia: Cradle of Civilisation – Some History

Mesopotamia (from the Greek, meaning ‘between two rivers’) was an ancient region located in the eastern Mediterranean bounded in the northeast by the Zagros Mountains and in the southeast by the Arabian Plateau, corresponding to today’s Iraq, mostly, but also parts of modern-day Iran, Syria, and Turkey. The ‘two rivers’ of the name referred to the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers and the land was known as ‘Al-Jazirah’ (the island) by the Arabs referencing what Egyptologist J.H. Breasted would later call the Fertile Crescent, where Mesopotamian civilization began.

The Cradle of Civilization
Unlike the more unified civilizations of Egypt or Greece, Mesopotamia was a collection of varied cultures whose only real bonds were their script, their gods, and their attitude toward women. The social customs, laws, and even language of Akkad, for example, cannot be assumed to correspond to those of Babylon; it does seem, however, that the rights of women, the importance of literacy, and the pantheon of the gods were indeed shared throughout the region (though the gods had different names in various regions and periods). As a result of this, Mesopotamia should be more properly understood as a region that produced multiple empires and civilizations rather than any single civilization. Even so, Mesopotamia is known as the “cradle of civilization” primarily because of two developments that occurred there, in the region of Sumer, in the 4th Millenium BCE:

  •  Rise of the city as we recognize that entity today.
  •  Invention of writing
  •  The invention of the wheel is also credited to the Mesopotamians and, in 1922 CE
  • Domestication of animals, agriculture, common tools, sophisticated weaponry and warfare, the chariot, wine, beer, demarcation of time into hours, minutes, and seconds, religious rites, the sail (sailboats), and irrigation. Orientalist Samuel Noah Kramer, in fact, has listed 39 `firsts’ in human civilization that originated in Sumer.

Archaeological excavations starting in the 1840s CE have revealed human settlements dating to 10,000 BCE in Mesopotamia that indicate that the fertile conditions of the land between two rivers allowed an ancient hunter-gatherer people to settle in the land, domesticate animals, and turn their attention to agriculture. Trade soon followed, and with prosperity came urbanization and the birth of the city. It is generally thought that writing was invented due to trade, out of the necessity for long-distance communication, and for keeping more careful track of accounts.

The beginning of the world, they believed, was a victory by the gods over the forces of chaos but, even though the gods had won, this did not mean chaos could not come again. Through daily rituals, attention to the deities, proper funeral practices, and simple civic duty, the people of Mesopotamia felt they helped maintain balance in the world and kept the forces of chaos and destruction at bay. Along with expectations that one would honor one’s elders and treat people with respect, the citizens of the land were also to honor the gods through the jobs they performed every day.

A Helpful Video About Mesapotamia

 History of Mesopotamia
The history of the region and the development of the civilizations which flourished there is most easily understood by dividing it into periods:

Pre-Pottery Neolithic Age

Also known as The Stone Age (c. 10,000 BCE though evidence suggests human habitation much earlier). There is archaeological confirmation of crude settlements and early signs of warfare between tribes, most likely over fertile land for crops and fields for grazing livestock. Animal husbandry was increasingly practiced during this time with a shift from a hunter-gatherer culture to an agrarian one.

Pottery Neolithic Age (c. 7,000 BCE)

In this period there was widespread use of tools and clay pots and a specific culture begins to emerge in the Fertile Crescent. Scholar Stephen Bertman writes, “during this era, the only advanced technology was literally ‘cutting edge’” as stone tools and weapons became more sophisticated. Bertman further notes that “the Neolithic economy was primarily based on food production through farming and animal husbandry”  and was more settled, as opposed to the Stone Age in which communities were more mobile. Architectural advancements naturally followed in the wake of permanent settlements as did developments in the manufacture of ceramics and stone tools.

Copper Age (5,900 – 3,200 BCE)

Also known as The Chalcolithic Period owing to the transition from stone tools and weapons to ones made of copper. This era includes the so-called Ubaid Period (c. 5900-4300 BCE, named for Tell al-`Ubaid, the location in Iraq where the greatest number of artifacts were found) during which the first temples in Mesopotamia were built and unwalled villages developed from sporadic settlements of single dwellings.  These villages then gave rise to the urbanization process and cities began to appear in this period, most notably in the region of Sumer in which thrived the cities of Eridu, Uruk, Ur, Kish, Nuzi, Lagash, Nippur, and Ngirsu, and in Elam with its city of Susa.

This period saw the invention of the wheel (c. 3500 BCE) and writing (c. 3000 BCE), both by the Sumerians, the establishment of kingships to replace priestly rule, and the first war in the world recorded between the kingdoms of Sumer and Elam (3200 BCE) with Sumer as the victor.

During this period, bronze supplanted copper as the material from which tools and weapons were made. The rise of the city-state laid the foundation for economic and political stability which would eventually lead to the rise of the Akkadian Empire (2350 BCE) and the rapid growth of the cities of Akkad and Mari, two of the most prosperous urban centers of the time. The cultural stability necessary for the creation of art in the region resulted in more intricate designs in architecture and sculpture, as well as the following inventions or improvements.

Middle Bronze Age (2119-1700 BCE)

The expansion of the Assyrian Kingdoms (Assur, Nimrud, Sharrukin, Dur, and Nineveh) and the rise of the Babylonian Dynasty (centered in Babylon and Chaldea) created an atmosphere conducive to trade and, with it, increased warfare. The Guti Tribe, fierce nomads who succeeded in toppling the Akkadian Empire, dominated the politics of Mesopotamia until they were defeated by the allied forces of the kings of Sumer.

Late Bronze Age (1700-1100 BCE)

The rise of the Kassite Dynasty (a tribe who came from the Zagros Mountains in the north and are thought to have originated in modern-day Iran) leads to a shift in power and an expansion of culture and learning after the Kassites conquered Babylon. The collapse of the Bronze Age followed the discovery of how to mine ore and make use of iron, a technology which the Kassites and, earlier, the Hittites made singular use of in warfare.

Iron Age (1000 – 500 BCE)

This age saw the rise and expansion of the Neo-Assyrian Empire under Tiglath-Pileser III (r. 745-727 BCE) and that Empire’s meteoric rise to power and conquest under the rule of great Assyrian kings such as Sargon II (722-705 BCE), Sennacherib (705-681 BCE), Esarhaddon (681-669 BCE) and Ashurbanipal (c. 668-627 BCE, who conquered Babylonia, Syria, Israel, and Egypt). The Empire suffered a decline as rapid as its rise due to repeated attacks on central cities by Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians.

Classical Antiquity (500 BCE – 7th century CE)

After Cyrus II (d. 530 BCE) took Babylon, the bulk of Mesopotamia became part of the Achaemenid Persian Empire, and this period saw a rapid cultural decline in the region, most notably in the loss of the knowledge of cuneiform script. The conquest of the Persians by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE brought Hellenization of the culture and religion but, even though Alexander tried to again make Babylon a city of consequence, its days of glory were now in the past.

Link(s) and Source(s):

Ancient History Encyclopedia

Archaeological Discoveries from Nile Valley

Archaeological Discoveries of Indus Valley

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Compasses to point true north for first time in 360 years

At some point over the next two weeks, compasses at Greenwich will point true north for the first time in about 360 years.

And for some parts of the UK, this may not happen for another 20 years. Either way, it is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

The angle a compass needle makes between true north and magnetic north is called declination. As the magnetic field changes all the time, so does declination at any given location.

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Semitic: Languages of Oldest People

The Semitic languages, previously also named Syro-Arabian languages, are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East that are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of Western Asia, Levant Region,North Africa and the Horn of Africa, as well as in often large immigrant and expatriate communities in North America, Europe and Australia. The terminology was first used in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, who derived the name from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah in the Book of Genesis.

 They are believed to have evolved from a hypothetical common ancestor called *Proto-Semitic whose place of origin is still disputed: Africa, Arabian Peninsula, and Mesopotamia are the most probable locations. The Semitic branch can be divided into East, West (or Central), and South (or Ethiopic) Semitic. The term “Semitic” is thought to have come from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah (Gen. x:21-30), regarded in biblical literature as the ancestor of the Semites.

Today, the Semitic branch includes 77 languages that are spoken by more than 500 million people across the Middle East, and North and East Africa. The most widely spoken Semitic language today is Arabic, followed by Amharic, Tigrinya, and Hebrew.

The most widely spoken Semitic languages today are (numbers given are for native speakers only) Arabic (300 million),Amharic (22 million),Tigrinya (7 million), Hebrew (~5 million native/L1 speakers),[10] Tigre (~1.05 million), Aramaic (575,000 to 1 million largely Assyrian fluent speakers) and Maltese (483,000 speakers).

Semitic languages occur in written form from a very early historical date, with East Semitic Akkadian and Eblaite texts (written in a script adapted from Sumerian cuneiform) appearing from the 30th century BCE and the 25th century BCE in Mesopotamia and the northern Levant respectively. The only earlier attested languages are Sumerian, Elamite (2800 BCE to 550 BCE) (both language isolates), Egyptian and unclassified Lullubi from the 30th century BCE.

Although they are no longer regularly spoken, several Semitic languages retain great significance because of the roles that they play in the expression of religious culture—Biblical Hebrew in Judaism, Geʿez in Ethiopian Christianity, and Syriac in Chaldean and Nestorian Christianity. In addition to the important position that it occupies in Arabic-speaking societies, literary Arabic exerts a major influence throughout the world as the medium of Islamic religion and civilization.

Languages Of The Past
Written records documenting languages belonging to the Semitic family reach back to the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE. Evidence of Old Akkadian is found in the Sumerian literary tradition. By the early 2nd millennium BCE, Akkadian dialects in Babylonia and Assyria had acquired the cuneiform writing system used by the Sumerians, causing Akkadian to become the chief language of Mesopotamia. The discovery of the ancient city of Ebla (modern Tall Mardīkh, Syria) led to the unearthing of archives written in Eblaite that date from the middle of the 3rd millennium BCE.

Personal names from this early period, preserved in cuneiform records, provide an indirect picture of the western Semitic language Amorite. Although the Proto-Byblian and Proto-Sinaitic inscriptions still await a satisfactory decipherment, they too suggest the presence of Semitic languages in early 2nd-millennium Syro-Palestine. During its heyday from the 15th through the 13th century BCE, the important coastal city of Ugarit (modern Raʾs Shamra, Syria) left numerous records in Ugaritic. The Egyptian diplomatic archives found at Tell el-Amarnahave also proved to be an important source of information on the linguistic development of the area in the late 2nd millennium BCE. Though written in Akkadian, those tablets contain aberrant forms that reflect the languages native to the areas in which they were composed.


Enter Kūfic script, leaf from a Qurʾān, 8th–9th century CE; in the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.Courtesy of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.a caption


Important extinct Semitic languages
In addition to the 77 living Semitic languages, there are some important extinct tongues, some of which are listed below:

Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in Mesopotamia from the 3rd to the 1st millennium BC. Last written records of Akkadian date to 1st century AD. Akkadian was forgotten but rediscovered in the 19th century and its cuneiform script was deciphered.
Canaanite languages that include Hebrew, Phoenician, and Punic, were spoken in Palestine, Syria, and in scattered communities around the Mediterranean. All these languages are extinct, except Hebrew, which was revived as a spoken language only in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Phoenician is an ancient Semitic language that was originally spoken in today’s Lebanon. It is attested through inscriptions from the 12th century BC to the 2nd century AD. Phoenician traders established settlements all over the Mediterranean. The Phoenician consonantal script, written from right to left and consisting of 22 letters, is almost identical with the Old Hebrew script. It is the ancestor of the Greek and Latin alphabets.
Punic, a later stage of Phoenician, was the language of Carthage and the Carthaginian empire. It was influenced by the surrounding Berber languages. Punic became extinct by the 6th century AD.
Syriac was a Christian literary and liturgical language from the 3rd through the 7th century AD. It was based on an East Aramaic dialect. Today, it is still used as a liturgical language by Iraqi Christians.





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