Indus River Valley Part 1

Welcome to EdYouToo The Indus River Valley is located in modern
India and Pakistan. It was settled by nomads, or people that traveled
together not living in one place for very long. When the Harappans came upon the Indus River,
they noticed it was very good for farming and so they were the first to create cities
there. Today, we may think of cities as just a lot
of people living in one place. But inventing this idea is a lot more complicated
than that, and so creating a city is a very big deal. Imagine you’re going on a camping trip. Before you leave, you need to plan it, otherwise
things could go very badly for you. Since you’re not camping alone, you’ll have
help planning the trip, so you’ll remember to bring what you need. You’ll need to bring food, drinking water,
someplace to sleep, protection from animals and… a way to deal with bathroom breaks. You can bring what you’ll need, it’s probably
heavy, but it’s just for a few days. Now imagine you decide to stay camping out
forever, and you’ve got about 40,000 people with you. You’re going to need a new plan. This new city is going to need systems to
keep people alive and happy there. Getting fresh water, growing and storing food
and good homes for shelter are going to be important. There’s also other problems people create
that will need to be solved and your nose would let you know that pretty quickly. Creating systems that get rid of waste and
allow people to bathe aren’t just for the sake of smell, they’re very important for
the health of everyone living in a city. Diseases spread quickly when people live close
together. Around 3300 BCE, Harappan villages gathered
around what would become the cites, the planned cities of Harappa, Lothal, Mehrgarh and Mohenjo-Daro
were built around 2600 BCE. Let’s have a look at Mohenjo-daro, one of
the most famous cities in the Indus River valley, because its structures were very well-preserved. Mohenjo-daro and other cities had hundreds
of wells throughout the city to provide clean water to its people. Homes were built from clay bricks hardened
by fire and were located in the lower city, arranged in a grid pattern, a system of organizing
buildings into “blocks” still used today. In the lower city was also a granary, a large
building used to store grains they farmed that could feed people year-round. Public buildings that were used to govern
and used everyone in the city were located in the citadel, and included a great bath
that may have even been heated. One of the most important innovations that
allowed the city to grow was a sewage system, which is necessary for city homes to have
bathrooms. Homes had a bathroom, a room dedicated for
bathing and… other things bathrooms are used for. People would use a bucket to wash things away
(since there was no water running into the homes) these bathrooms had a slanted floor
that would bring all waste to a hole in the wall that would go into the sewers that were
underneath the streets. A sewage system needs to go to every home,
takes away waste from toilets, bathing and any water that leaves city homes, and it must
prevent waste from polluting water used for drinking and bathing. Without a sewage system, illnesses from one
home would easily infect other homes, often making almost an entire city sick. You may be wondering, if cities need this
much planning and have all these problems that need to be solved, why build them? What were the advantages? Great coffee shops, restaurants, music, museums
and arguing with other cities about who has the best pizza? Well, people outside of cities often spent
a lot of time on chores necessary for survival. Getting water alone would often occupy many
hours in a day. When people shared wells and lived near each
other, trading for necessities and luxury items also became easier as more people were
closer, so exchanging goods, services and ideas was more accessible and faster. Spending less time on survival and more time
with each other also allowed people to have more leisure time. Evidence of toys, games, arts and hobbies
have all been found in Harappan cities. While noisy neighbors and traffic aren’t anyones
idea of fun, we have ancient cities like the Harappans created to thank for making life
more culturally enriching and fun. The Indus River valley’s cities were very
peaceful. They had city walls, but those walls wouldn’t
have been helpful against attacks by other armies, they appear to have been to protect
the city from wild animals. There are few weapons that have been found
in the artifacts of the cities. Lasting peace is uncommon for civilizations
of this time and it’s not entirely clear why it was this way. There was writing in the Indus River Valley
which could tell us more about their society, but, it is still unable to be deciphered,
or understood today. What we know about the Indus Valley is from
relics and cities archaeologists have found in the region. What we do know is that the Harappans traded
with other groups. A standard system of weights and measures,
the first, was invented in the Indus River Valley and was important for trade as well
as construction and crafts. Having a standard system helped people to
share information on how to make and build things. Understanding and agreeing on units of measurement
is necessary for trade knowing how much of something you’re getting is important when
trying to buy or trade something, or else things can go very wrong. The Harappans produced food; cotton and textiles;
metal, mineral, gold and gem jewelry; and pottery and carpentry crafts, all items that
other groups wanted for trade. Trade with Mesopotamia and others to the west
helped the Harappans gain more materials for building, spread their influence and also
may have encouraged peace because different groups trading each others’ resources, goods
and skills creates interdependence between cultures. The city of Lothal to the south was a port
city, its location and technology connected the Indus River and its cites to the Indian
Ocean to transport goods for trade. Lothal had giant buildings to store and move
goods for trade, and the city was built in its location because they were able to build
passages that allowed large ships in and out of the ocean year-round even when tides and
weather effected the river’s depth and flow. Artifacts from the Harappans have been found
as far as Mesopotamia and Egypt, including uniform seals with the Harappan script and
art to identify the craftspeople that made goods. Around 1900 BCE, around a thousand years after
the Harappan cities were built, they mysteriously disappeared. It is a mystery since historians don’t really
know and don’t agree on the causes of these cities becoming empty, and since the writings
of the Harappans hasn’t been deciphered, only the remains of the city can give us clues. We do know that during this time, in Mesopotamia
the Akkadian empire was falling and it was a very unstable period, so trade to that region
would have stopped. Since the Harappans were very involved with
trade, this caused a great deal of economic disruption. Those with jobs dependent on trade: craftspeople,
dock workers, sailors, lots of people would have had difficulty supporting themselves. As these cities disappeared, the Indo-Aryans
were migrating into the Indus River Valley. The Indo-Aryans were great warriors with weapons
technology more advanced than the Harappans. A few historians believed that the Indo-Aryans
went to war with the Harappans, explaining their abandoned cites, but there isn’t evidence
in the city sites to suggest that, very few weapons or violent injuries have been found. This began the Vedic period in the Indus River
Valley. The Vedic period is also when Hinduism and
Buddhism began, and their system of writing was Vedic Sanskrit, a language that is understood
today. Since there is a lot to say about this period,
we are going to split this video into two parts. So, urban planning, early city sanitation
systems, a standardized system of weights and measures and bathrooms are all innovations
we can thank the Harappans for. There’s a lot that is still left to be discovered
about this period because we haven’t been able to read what they wrote yet. Someday, there may be more clues about why
these great cities emptied. Maybe the future historian or archaeologist
is sitting in your classroom right now? We hope you enjoyed this video, see you in
Part Two! Bye for now, thanks for joining us.

Joseph Wolf


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