THE HARRAPAN CULTURE
Harrapa is one of the largest ancient cities that flourished from 2600 B.C. to 1900 B.C. belonging to a civilization that was at least twenty times the Egyptian civilization. It was located on the riverbanks of Indus on the North west of India and Pakistan extending nearly 400 acres in size. In fact, evidence of pottery shreds suggests that the Harrapan culture is even older than that of the Mesopotamian.
The discovery of a writing system that dates back to another 700 years since the Mesopotamian times makes Harrapan Culture one of the oldest ever known cultures. The exact date of these scriptures has remained obscure because the symbols could not be deciphered. Even the antique name of Harrapa is not known!
Harrapa was a planned city with geometric roads and as can be understood by the excavation of burnt bricks proving existence of a kiln which produced large amounts of bricks for constructing buildings like granaries and Great bath and Pillared halls. Wheels were used for transportation and pottery was common, elephant tusks were made into jewellery and most intricate artifacts of stone and terracotta.
Houses were well designed with toilets and bathing houses had public pools with elaborate plumbing arrangements. Strangely there was no temple or monuments that gave any clue of who was the ruler or king of this well developed city unlike the other contemporary civilizations like the Egyptian and Mesopotamian around the rest of the world.
It appears that trade and craftsmanship were flourishing and goods were sent from and to at least five other Indus cities like the Kalibangan, Mohenjo-Daro and Dholavira. The rivers Ravi and Indus were used for transport. Seals have been found which were probably used for trade and were made of stone, copper, silver, bone, terracotta, or ivory. These became the main source of information on the way of life of the people. Grand processions were also depicted on Harappan tablets. Animals like the Unicorn were also depicted perhaps indicating their religious significance.
Various metals alloys and precious and semiprecious stones were used for making crafts that were made out of stone, copper and bronze tools. They were the first ones to cultivate cotton and also produce wheat, barley and millet. Some of the famous terracotta figurines are that of a hump bull, men, sheep, dancing women, birds, dog and cattle. One remarkable feature was the lack of any kind of defence weapons or constructions leading to speculations that the end came from invaders.
Another speculation is that floods from the rivers on the banks of which the civilization had settled caused its destruction. One strange fact about ancient civilizations is that only the Indian and Chinese ones survived in some form to tell their tales. All other major early civilizations disappeared and the present cannot be connected to the past as it can be in the Harrapan Culture.
By the time scientific excavations began the land had already been disturbed greatly making it very difficult to reconstruct the past accurately.
If only the Indus script could be unlocked who knows what wonders would have come to light. Perhaps it is the mystery of this ancient civilization that makes it so interesting.