Indus Valley Civilization: Discovery, Ethnicity and Destruction of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa

Harappan and Mohenjo-daro civilizations were far more advanced than we thought. The people here belonged to different ethnic groups, but they all lived in harmony.

Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, two of the oldest civilizations in the Indian subcontinent, located in the Sindh province of Pakistan, were highly developed.

Indus Valley Civilization

The Mohenjo-daro and Harappan civilizations are the oldest civilizations ever discovered in India. It is not sure by whom the civilizations of the Indus Valley were founded; some say that the Indus Valley Civilization was founded by the Dravidians 3,500 years ago. The Vedic civilization was considered to be the oldest civilization in India in the past until the archaeological finds of Mohenjo-daro were discovered, but the discovery of Harappa-Mohenjo-daro disproves this notion. 

Major sites and extent of the Indus Valley Civilization | Image: Intelligence Agency
Major sites and extent of the Indus Valley Civilization | Image: Intelligence Agency

Mohenjo-daro

Mohenjo-daro is located in Larkana district in the Sindh province of Pakistan. Archaeological research on Mohenjo-daro proves that India is one of the oldest civilized countries in the world. Mohenjo-daro of the Indus Valley Civilization was contemporary with Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and Crete.

Archaeological site of Mohenjo-daro in modern-day Pakistan, one of the best-known cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. | Image: Andrzej Nowojewski/WorldHistory.org
Archaeological site of Mohenjo-daro in modern-day Pakistan, one of the best-known cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. | Image: Andrzej Nowojewski/WorldHistory.org

There are three spellings— ‘Mohenjo-daro’, ‘Mohenjodaro’, and ‘Mohenjo Daro’ that identify the same name and the place. Mohenjo-daro means the Mound of the Dead.

Although there are many different perspectives on Mohenjo-daro, everyone agrees, at least unequivocally, that the people of Mohenjo-daro did not simply live in groups; they had a beautiful, well-planned, and orderly city life. Despite the fact that Harappa was discovered long before Mohenjo-daro, the glory of Mohenjo-daro spread far and wide before Harappa.

The discovery of Mohenjo-daro

Mohenjo-daro was discovered in 1922 by Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay (aka R. D. Banerji). He was born in Kolkata and is a proud Bangali. R. D. Banerji was an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India. Large-scale excavations were carried out at the site of Mohenjo Daro under the direction of John Marshall, K. N. Dikshit, Ernest Mackay, and numerous other directors through the 1930s. Actually R. D. Banerji was inspired to know about the Indus civilization by studying Alexander Cunningham; Alexander Cunningham excavated Harappa for the first time and discovered so many archaeological materials.

Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay
Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay

R. D. Banerji decided to excavate the Buddhist stupa that dominated the site in 1922. He discovered the ruins of a Bronze Age city beneath it. Under the direction of John Marshall, Director General of the ASI, major excavations continued until 1931. This was followed by Mortimer Wheeler’s work in 1950 and George Dales’ work in 1964-1965. Large-scale investigations, however, did not resume until 1979, when Michael Jansen excavated and preserved a portion of the site. The main conclusion of the interwar excavations remains: Mohenjo-daro, along with the other major city of Harappa and a slew of other sites in Pakistan and northern India, represent an entire Early Bronze Age civilization comparable to that of modern Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Ethnic group of Mohenjo-daro

The people who lived in Mohenjo-daro did not belong to any particular race or ethnic group. The citizens of the Mohenjo-daro civilization were members of various ethnic groups, as evidenced by the many skeletal remains recovered from the site.

Skeletons recovered in the Mohenjo-daro area have been identified as belonging to a number of ethnic groups— Primitive Australian, Caucasian, Algae, Mediterranean, Mongolian, classified. Researchers are fairly certain that skeletons of Negrito humans have not been found there in Mohenjo-daro.

Religion of the people of the Mohenjo-daro

Researchers have not been able to uncover any specific information about the religion of people of the Mohenjo-daro civilization practiced or worshiped. This civilization is an archeological civilization due to which the number of written material is less. However, the inscriptions found by archaeologists are based on various animal symbols, so it is not possible to understand what is written on them. On the other hand, there is a dilemma as to whether these are any scripts at all. Images of various statues are also found here.

From these images, archaeologists speculate that the inhabitants of Mohenjo-daro worshiped a variety of idols. Many researchers believe that most of the inhabitants of Mohenjo-daro were ‘mother-worshipers’ because of the predominance of female idols. There is controversy here as well, since some of those female figures are found naked in the area of Mohenjo-daro. For this reason, many scholars say that no goddess can be shown naked. However, since some of the idols are naked, it is doubtful whether they are all the mother goddesses or ordinary female idols. These idols may not be related to religion but may be part of luxury.

Harappa

Harappa was as widespread in the Indus as the Mohenjo-daro civilization. The agrarian Harappan civilization developed even before Mohenjo-daro. The archaeological site Harappa is located in Punjab, Pakistan.

Archaeological Site of Harappa | Image: Muhammad Bin Naveed/Wikimedia
Archaeological Site of Harappa | Image: Muhammad Bin Naveed/Wikimedia

The site Harappa takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The core of the Harappan civilization extended over a large area, from Gujarat in the south, across Sindh and Rajasthan and extending into Punjab and Haryana. 

There are also some Harappan sites that have been found outside the core area of the civilization, including some as far east as Uttar Pradesh and as far west as Sutkagen-dor on the Makran coast of Balochistan, not far from Iran.

The Harappa is the first discovery of the Indus civilization of the Indian subcontinent.

Discovery of the Harappan civilization

Harappa was discovered in 1826 and was first excavated by Sir Alexander Cunningham in 1872-1873. Later, large-scale excavations were carried out in 1920 under the leadership of Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni. After the independence of Pakistan in 1947, Mohammed Rafique Mughal started excavations again.

As it is mentioned, the Harappa site was first discovered in 1826 and first excavated by Alexander Cunningham, but it is not sure by whom Harappa was discovered first.

The agrarian Harappa also carries the luster of the metal

Spread over a vast area, the Harappan civilization was similar to that of Mohenjo-daro. This civilization developed around agriculture as there was a lot of rainfall on this land. Harappa was agricultural because of the humid climate of the area of the western india. Although the Harappan civilization was established by focusing on agricultural work, large buildings and stone and metal ruins were also found in the area. Huge buildings and metal sculptures carry Harappan brilliance.

Ethnic group of Harappan civilization

Like Mohenjo-daro, the ethnic controversy is one of the most controversial issues since the discovery of Harappa. The Harappan people are also classified as Caucasian, Algae, Mediterranean, Mongolian.

Were Harappa and Mohenjo-daro members of the Vedic civilization?

Many researchers, and archaeologists believe that the Harappan and Mohenjo-daro civilizations were created by the Vedas. Those who believe that Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were established by the Vedas argue that the Vedic civilization and the Mohenjo-daro civilization are in close proximity and both are located in the same region and area of the Indian subcontinent. But the Indian subcontinent is such a region where one can have similarities and differences with one another; various features and diversities are noticeable. 

Therefore, no matter how much scholars and researchers try to say that Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were created by the Vedas, it will never become a common belief.

However, it is safe to say that the Harappan and Mohenjo-daro civilizations were established or created by the Indians.

How advanced were Harappa and Mohenjo-daro?

We believe the Harappan and Mohenjo-daro civilizations, two of the oldest civilizations in the Indian subcontinent, located in the Sindh province of Pakistan, were highly developed. Although we believe both of the two were highly developed, it has not been possible to get a very good idea of ​​how advanced these two civilizations were.

However, from all the archaeological finds that have been found, this civilizations were far more advanced than we thought. The people here belonged to different ethnic groups, but they all lived in harmony.

Harappa Ruins, Punjab, Pakistan, part of the Indus Valley Civilization, 2600-1300 BCE. | Image: Hassan Nasir/WorldHistory.org
Harappa Ruins, Punjab, Pakistan, part of the Indus Valley Civilization, 2600-1300 BCE. | Image: Hassan Nasir/WorldHistory.org

The Harappan and Mohenjo-daro civilizations depended on agriculture. Researchers have found wheat, barley, mung bean, lentils, mustard, cotton, sesame, buckwheat, paddy, etc. in the area of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Large stocks have been found for storing grain. Besides, special arrangements for drainage of large drains and water have also been found here.

Excavation of the city revealed very tall wells (left), which it seems were continually built up as flooding and rebuilding raised the elevation of street-level | Image: Usman.pg/Wikimedia
Excavation of the city revealed very tall wells (left), which it seems were continually built up as flooding and rebuilding raised the elevation of street-level | Image: Usman.pg/Wikimedia

In Harappa and Mohenjo-daro there were large buildings, Classified baths etc. Finding a wide road there. Just like the big buildings, the small houses are also found in this oldest civilization of India.

How was the destruction of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro civilization?

Not only Harappa or Mohenjo-daro, there were many civilizations in the world that were very advanced but for various reasons, they have been destroyed over time. Among the reasons why many advanced civilizations of the world have been destroyed or lost were the attacks of external enemies and natural causes. Now, the biggest question is why Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were destroyed.

War or natural disaster? What made Harappa and Mohenjo-daro destroyed?

Just as some people think that the Vedas created the Harappan civilization and the Mohenjo-daro civilization, so a group of people think that the Harappa-Mohenjo-daro was destroyed by the Vedas. It is not impossible for a city or civilization like Mohenjo-daro to be destroyed by war or national animosity. But researchers do not think that this destruction was done by the Aryans. Archaeological finds at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro suggest that war or bloodshed was the cause of the end of these two advanced civilizations; Most researchers agree with it.

Archaeologists believe that Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were destroyed by natural disasters.

According to a study conducted at Sarovar in Rajasthan, the climate in western India was humid between 5100 BC and 2230 BC and at that time rainfall was high in western India so Mohenjo-daro’s largest urban type was destroyed several times. Excavations to find out the details of this destroyed civilization have also revealed a type of mud which proves the severity of the floods. From this, the researchers unequivocally agree that Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were destroyed by the floods.

Sources

  • World Archaeology— https://www.world-archaeology.com/great-discoveries/mohenjo-daro/
  • Harappa— www.harappa.com
  • Britannica— https://www.britannica.com/place/Mohenjo-daro
  • Wikipedia— https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indus_Valley_Civilisation
  • Wikipedia— https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohenjo-daro
  • Wikipedia—
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harappa

What I have written here about Harappa and Mohenjo-daro only meets the initial interest of the readers. If you want to know the details, you must take the help of various books and research papers.

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