Indus Valley the First Civilization?

Temple Dancer from Mohenjo Daro, in what is now Pakistan

The Indus River Valley Civilization, c. 4500–2,500 BCE, had cities with large populations, extensive trade networks with the Dilmun trade empire, extensive relations with Sumner and the Akkadians via overland routes (over the Zagros massif) and by sea, with outposts as far up the Tigris Euphrates river network as Mari. They cultivated wheat, barley, lentils, peas, linseed, mustard, millet, sesame, and possibly rice. They were probably the first farmers to take water from underground wells, and used river water to irrigate their fields. Evidence of the first printed cotton fabrics have been found, with the cotton possibly domestic or imported from the Hindu Kush. Indus people kept cattle, pigs, sheep and goats for food, and possibly donkeys and camels. The city of Lothal was designed to centre around its large protected human-built harbour, with docks, warehouses and administrative offices. The city is envisioned in an artist’s reconstruction below:

Their goods have been found all around the ancient world, as far as Phoenecia. They had a standardized system of weights and measures that was used all across the Dilmun trade network, which was extensive and encompassed most of the ancient world. Their cities featured two and three storey homes. They typically had plumbing, bath rooms, and covered sewage from every house.

Public baths, like the “Great bath” at Mohenjo Daro shown above, industrial workshops (fabrics dying, ceramics, metalwork, glass making, bead-making, jewelry, beads and precious stones for royal and sacred regalia that were traded all over the ancient world, etc.) were typical in Harappan cities. Their art shows a sophisticated cosmology with a clear sense of the connectedness of the universe, with the Goddess in (or as) the Tree of Life, star deities, male deities and/or shamans shown meditating in what is called by archeologist, anthropologists, and art historians, the “yoga pose,” sacred animals, priests, priestesses and temple dancers. The “Yogi (or Yogini) in Samadhi” seal shown below was found in an Early Indus Valley Civilization archaeological site. It shows the three faced seated figure, seeing into the past, present and future simultaneously in trance, wearing temple regalia of arm bangles above and below the elbow, and an elaborate horned headdress with the Pipal Tree of Life/Tree of Heaven stellar motif,

They had written language of hieroglyphs, from which Sanskrit was probably developed.

Their seals bear runic type symbols, or hieroglyphs, not yet deciphered, which resemble the symbolic language in use across Northwestern Europe much later, as late as Early Christian times, with inscriptions on Early Medieval artifacts, caskets, Celtic crosses and stele. Below: Detail of the Frank’s Casket, a carved ivory box from the Anglo-Saxon period. The carving shows a man speaking a half man half beast and a group of three women, possibly the fates (Norns).

Beads and Jewelry from Lothal were discovered in the Tomb of Puabi, a High Priestess and Royal woman in Ur, and other royal priestess tombs in Erech and Mari have also yielded Priestess-Queen regalia from Lothal, where precious stones from the area of what is now Afghanistan have been shipped to Lothal or other Harappan cities, processed into gems by Harappan lapidary, set in silver or gold, then shipped to Ur.

[Regalia of the Sumerian Priestess Queen, Puabi]

[Artist’s reconstruction of the royal priestess, Puabi of Ur, preparing for ceremony, c. 2,500 C.E.]

These objects show the same designs and arrangements of stars and other celestial cosmological symbols on headdresses or seal insignia as does statuary, small votive figurines meant to be used in prayers or charms, and seals from Mohenjo Daro and Harappa, from contemporaneous and earlier millennia, shown below:

The images above show small, household Harappan votive objects, showing goddess figures with regalia, stellar florettes on headdresses, beaded collars of precious metals and gems, and ceremonial beaded capes, similar to Puabi’s in the city of Ur from a later period. From this, it is possible to theorize that the philosophy, cosmology, religious beliefs and cultural matrix of Babylonia was directly influenced by, and possibly derivative of, the cultural transmissions of Indus River Valley civilization through their cultural, diplomatic and trade networks.

Thousands of small votive figurines were made for temple and domestic altars, some of which bear a striking resemblance to the Hebrew Asherah (Tree of Life Goddess) figures which came much later, excavated in their thousands in Israel and the Levant, for use in ancient Jewish temples, shrines and domestic altars.

[Above: Harappan votive figurines c. 4,500–2,500 BCE; Below: “Asherah Pole” type votive figurines from Judea, c. 1,500–50 BCE]

By around 2,000 BCE, the Harappan civilization had collapsed. This collapse was probably because of the same drought that caused the end of the Old Kingdom in Egypt and the Akkadian Empire in West Asia, and also started off the Indo-European/Indo-Iranian migrations. This warming trend continued until there wasn’t enough water in the Indus river valley to support the Harappan cities and the farmers who fed them. Some people probably starved to death, while others moved up into the hills, where it was cooler and some rain fell. By 1,500 BCE, the Indus river valley saw an invasion of Indo-Europeans, like similar invasions in Iran, West Asia, Greece and the Italic Peninsula had slightly earlier.

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