AP Indus River Valley

There isn’t a lot that historians can conclude about the ancient Indus river valley civilizations, but there is a lot we can infer from analyzing the evidence that was left behind. The ancient people of the Indus river valley had great agricultural success due to seasonal monsoon winds creating two crop cycles, which inspired the belief of benevolent gods, a loose government, and likely a peaceful society because resources were abundant. The ancient people learned to manipulate the land, resources, and their time to advance their culture and create methods of urban planning, Indus-glyphs, and conveniences like indoor plumbing.

These factors are likely what made the civilizations within the Indus river valley so prosperous. There are many explanations for why the people of the Indus river valley were so agriculturally successful, but they all lead back to the fact that they had two crop cycles. Most other ancient river valleys depended on a single crop cycle, which doesn’t provide a civilization with the variety or plentiful supply that the people of the Indus river valley enjoyed. The reason why the Indus river valley had two crop cycles rather than one is due to the winter monsoon and the spring snowmelt.

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Commonly mistaken for rain storms, monsoons are seasonal winds caused by pressure gradients between the land and water due to the land and the ocean changing temperature. Every winter, the hot air rises off of the surface of the land, and cool, moist air off the ocean rushes in to fill the gap, creating wind. Usually when the cold front smashes into the Himalayan Mountains, a cloud forms and drenches the mountains in rain; however, this can also bring drought.

The rain water streams down into a delta formation at the foot of the mountain, flooding the rivers and bringing rich silt to the land for stupendous farming. The second crop cycle is caused by the spring snowmelt. In the event that the winter monsoon brings rain, the mountains are left with a clean covering of snow and ice. When spring rolls around and the snow and ice begin to melt and stream down the mountains into the Indus (and possibly the Saraswati) river and flood the alluvial plain.

The winter monsoon wind, the spring snowmelt, and the Landscape (Himalayan Mountains) combined allow for the rivers to flood twice a year in the ancient Indus river valley and bring rich silt to the floodplains. We can infer that the people of the ancient Indus river valley had some sort of religious beliefs, which most likely involved benevolent gods because the environment provided them with a stable food and water supply. It is likely that the ancient people practiced animism (The animation of objects into god[s]) because the environment directly impacted religion.

Many historians believed that the modern religion of Hinduism was derived from the people of the Indus river valley, but there are many flaws with this theory. The sustaining environment also impacted the government (or lack of government) within the Indus civilization. Any sort of governance was most-likely loose, because there was no need to regulate distribution of surpluses, and there was no need to organize attacks or war (or so they thought) because they had all of the resources and technology they needed and more within their own civilization.

We can assume this made the Indus river valley a very peaceful place to live inside the civilization, until of course word of the plentiful resources diffused through the fulgurent civilizations outside of the river valley. A group called the Aryans migrated to the Indus river valley “coincidentally” around the same time as the decline of the civilization. Although historians have no definite answers as to what may have caused the decline of the civilizations within the Indus river valley, it is possible that the Aryans attacked the Harrappans who would have been completely unprepared for battle.

Many historians have explored the idea that the decline may have been a result of the drying of the mythical Saraswati (the Lost river), a river described in religious texts but nowhere to be found. It is said that this river once brought rich silt to the land and provided for the ancient Indus people, but the land where the Saraswati once flowed is now part of the Indian desert region. It is possible that a winter monsoon brought drought one year and devastated the civilizations, forcing them to either move or die, and leaving hardly any trace of life on the Saraswati. History Around The World) The culture of the ancient people of the Indus river valley shaped the environment through technological advancements within the civilization. The ancient people even practiced methods of advanced urban planning. In cities like Harappa, cities were divided into areas called citadels, where civic, residential, and religious life took place. Each citadel had a granary (store-house), a furnace (where metal objects are manufactured), and a Great Bath which may have served as a religious body of water, or simply for hygiene.

Cities were set up like grids, making a clear path for the invention of indoor plumbing. Although they used a much simpler version of plumbing, it shows historians the extent of planning and intellect that was put into the civilization. The ancient people of the Indus river valley had also developed a form of written language; however, it is not able to be translated. This is very limiting to the inferences we can make about their culture, but many historians believe that the Indus-glyphs depicting animals and tools like wheels with spokes were mainly used for trading purposes.

Maybe the “glyphs” depict religious ideas, pictures of cows or other animals could be shown as sacrifices or animals of praise. Since they didn’t have to stress and spend lots of time looking for and rationing resources, they were able to make cultural advancements. In conclusion, the Indus river valley was a civilization whose culture depended on the stability of their environment, while the culture shaped the environment to fit their advanced lifestyle.

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