Irrigation of the Indus Valley in India led to the development of the urban settlements of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro about 2600 B.C. Since the 1990s historians have debated whether or not these cities were in fact the first urban centers in India. Modern scientific techniques such as satellite photography and carbon dating are proving the civilizations of India were older than initially thought.

Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro

Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa indicated the first moves of the Indus Valley civilization from an agricultural lifestyle to an urban life around 2600 B.C. These settlements are noted for brick-built and multistory buildings and roadside drainage systems. Mohenjo-Daro was the primary city of this ancient Indian civilization, but settlements also existed around Mumbai and Delhi and into Iran and the Himalayan mountains. Archaeologists were puzzled about inscriptions from the Indus Valley but computational analysis of 1,500 unique inscriptions on fragments of tablets, pottery and seals seems to confirm common grammatical constructions similar to many spoken languages and the civilization was as sophisticated as other contemporary societies.

Origins and Ending of the Indus Valley Civilization

The discovery of the ancient Indus Valley city of Mehrgarh, dating back to around 6500 B.C. indicates the civilization was much older than historians believed and links to Vedic civilizations also lead to confusion about just how old the Rig Vedic civilization could be. The Vedic civilization was understood to be younger than the Indus Valley civilization but recent findings seem to suggest otherwise. Investigating the ancient civilizations of India has become an exciting project for many historians.The primary reason for the ending of the Indus Valley Civilization was population migration because of drought and the depletion of the Saraswati River and not invasions from Vedic tribes, as previously supposed. Depleted monsoon rainfalls resulted in lack of water for Harappan agriculture and collapse of the cities, their urban lifestyle was supported by bumper crop production.

Life in the Indus Valley Civilization

Scientists estimate the Indus Valley civilization may have comprised 10 percent of world population at its peak. Archaeology since the 1920s has confirmed numerous internal trade routes and sea links to Mesopotamia existed as well as specific architecture, sophisticated sanitation techniques and a variety of arts and crafts.

Historical Significance of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa

Although the historic significance of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa as the primary city settlements in India may now be in doubt, they were definitely examples of modern urbanization and sophisticated planning and building techniques. The cities were laid out to a sophisticated north-south axis, with building entrances facing towards the east. The Indus Valley Civilization was influenced by the Vedic Civilization, which is believed to date back before 3000 B.C. and possibly prior to 6000 B.C.