Archive for May, 2012

The Indus Civilization (2600-1900 BCE) is named after Indus, the river that had fascinated the Western World since the days of Alexander the Great. Legend has it that the great conqueror had looked for the famed Fountain of Youth in its waters. Indus has its source in Tibet and its delta in Sindh, Pakistan. In the early twentieth century Sven Hedin, the famous Swedish explorer had looked for its source. At the sight of the Lion River, as it is called in Tibet, he made a resolve. “Though it costs me my life I will find some day thy source over yonder in the forbidden land.” In 1907 he finally discovered that source in Kailash, the highest peak of a Mountain range in Tibet. Indus is held sacred even after the advent of Islam in the sub-continent and it continues to lure the West.

The civilization that emerged on its banks is the largest ancient civilization as it was spread over an area stretching from the foothills of Himalayas in the North to the Arabian Sea coast in the South and from the Pakistan Iranian borderlands in the West to Gujrat in India in the East.  So far about 1500 sites have been identified as the ancient Indus sites; Moen jo Daro, translated Mound of the Dead, being the largest.  Harappa, Kali Bangan, Rakhigarhi, Lothal, Dholavira are a few other larger sites.

Indus Civilization remains mysterious as the script and symbols, engraved on tiny steatite seals, discovered from its ruins are not yet deciphered.  The Civilization has also gone unrecorded in history.  Whereas its contemporaneous Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations are mentioned in Bible, Indus Civilization has no reference in the earliest Indian texts such as the Vedas and the Mahabharata.  It had lasted for seven centuries but it did not mature to a state organized empire and remained arrested in an urban phase.  Moen jo Daro, the most elaborate site, therefore lacks in palaces, temples and royal tombs it even lacks a cemetery!  At one point in time the city had an estimated population of 50,000.  Where did it disappear?

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