Early Neolithic villages had fairly large populations, long-distance trade and
may have begun to store of surplus foods
Period 1 (6500-5500 BC) mud-brick
storage compartments at Mehrgarh
(Baluchistan; western Pakistan)
Early Harappan, or
Era of Regionalization
(3200-2600 BC)
Mature Harappan, or
Era of Integration
(2600-1900 BC)
Eclipse of Indus, or
Era of Localization
(1900-1200 BC)
Origins of Indus Civilization
• Diffusion from Mesopotamia, as urban
settlements seemed to appear suddenly without
clear local antecedents
• Local Development: since 1970s definition of
proto-urban phase (Kot Diji phase) suggests that
planned cities of mature Indus phase not
suddenly imposed but developed out of earlier
settlements, such as Kot Diji and Rehman Dheri
in Indus Valley
Kot Diji
• Proto-urban towns,
formative stage of
Indus Civilization
• Rehman Dheri, with
grid city plan ca.
3300-3200 BC
Early Harappa (Kot Diji phase),
“Era of Regionalization”
• densely packed villages and towns, all with extensive irrigation
• subsistence, like earlier Neolithic, including a variety of
domesticated animals (notably cattle) and crops, including barley,
and wheat
• Indus civilization emphasized floodplain agriculture, which lead to
sophisticated irrigation systems
• Settlements along the river susceptible to periods of violent flooding
and stone walls were erected as flood barriers, which became the
city walls of some settlements.
• The Hydraulic hypothesis (Wittfogel)
• Rapid increase in size between 3200-2600 BC, ultimately giving rise
to the cities of the “mature Harappan period” from c. 2600-1900 BC
Harappa – Mohenjo-Daro
• Two settlements that define apogee of
Indus urbanism in mature Harappan
period, c. 2600-1900 BC
• Similar urban plans, including planned
neighborhoods in a grid pattern, indoor
bathrooms connected to sewer system,
bathhouses and communal storage
facilities, citadels, palaces, temples, etc.
• Population >35,000, with 100s of smaller
farming villages tied to large cities
• Significant trading centers, showing
evidence of large-scale exchange with
Mesopotamia and ancient India
Typical Harappan cities and towns are fortified,
oriented along the cardinal directions, and evidence
for specialized craft manufacturing
Components of Mature Harappan
• An acropolis (citadel) on high platform, which may
have had administrative function, surrounded by
workshops, markets, and living quarters in a lower
• Extensive public sewer and drainage systems
• Craft specialization; complex engineering and
maintenance; increase in social stratification and
diversity of material culture, including the use of
luxury goods
• Appearance of a system of writing, uniform system
of weights and measures, and common systems of
urban planning and artifact types
• About 4000 examples of Harappan writing, primarily found on
stone stamp seals, amulets, or fragments of pottery
• Some symbols represent syllables (170-220 simple signs)
and others, entire words (170-200 composite signs), often
include single standing animal
At the peak of
Indus civilization,
settlement hierarchy
had five major
urban centers
Dholavira had several large reservoirs and
an elaborate system of drains to collect water
from the city walls and house tops to fill these water tanks.
32 secondary settlements,
which show similar plans to
(5) major urban centers, but
significantly smaller (<20 ha)
Lothal, eastern
Outpost of Indus
Lower town
The Post-Urban Phase and the
Harappan Eclipse, c. 1900 BC
Changes include loss of planned urban forms and
monumental public buildings and abandonment of larger
cities (like Harappa and Ganwerilwala), disappearance of
much material culture (script, standardized measures) and
reduced craft specialization, and long-distance trade
The uniformity of the Indus material culture was replaced by
a cultural mosaic and regional differences in settlement
and subsistence develop throughout the post-urban Indus
What happened to Indus?
• Invasion of Indo-Europeans (Aryans) with Hindu religion
• Natural disasters, flooding of cities, changes in river
courses, drying up of rivers, deforestation and
• Today, most believe that collapse was multi-causal, but
notably included destabilization of networks of trade and
redistribution critical to integration across the Indus and
a resulting loss of authority by elites
What language did they
Two major families:
But, highly diverse:
in India today: 14 official
& 1652 native
Gandharan grave culture, 1700-1600 BC, emerged a couple
centuries after Indus urban collapse, and was one of a variety of
distinctive cultures during the “localization era”
c. 518, Indus Valley
Conquered by Persian
Siddhartha, 563-483
800-1000 years after
Indus cities, major
urban civilization emerged
in the Indian subcontinent,
related to the rise of
Hindu religion
Khajurahao, Hindu temple
Megalithic tomb at
Early Iron Age
Megalithic tombs
(green line),
1000-300 BC
Early Historic Empires,
500 BC-AD 320
(Integration Era)
Bhir Mound, Taxila (425 BC – AD 50)
Mauryan dynasty (325-185 BC); historical period begins with
third emperor, Asoka (reigned 272-235 BC); testimony of his rule in the form of
edicts displayed on stone pillars and slabs, which are used to infer the extent of
the Mauryan empire
Mauryan empire stone pillar
Greek kingdoms in Bactria,
2nd to 1st century BC
Kushans and Satavahanas were
two large empires of early 1st
millennium AD that re-unified
large parts of South Asia
Kushans, or Yuezhi, were a
nomadic central Asian tribe that
established a small kingdom in
Bactria in 2nd century BC, which
by 2nd century AD had developed
into massive empire
Gupta empire, established
by Chandragupta I
(reigned AD 320-335)
represented end of the
Early Historic Period

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