THE PEOPLE OF THE INDUS VALLEY
Many years ago, some men were digging at a place near the Indus River in Sindh, which is now in Pakistan. To their surprise they found the ruins of a whole city buried underground. They got very excited but dug very carefully so that nothing might get broken. Slowly the buried city was uncovered. The villagers who lived roundabout had for years called this place Mohenjo Daro, the mound of the dead.
If you look at this city now, you may ask: what is so wonderful about a lot of broken walls? But when you are told that the walls are 6,000 years old, surely you will get more interested in them and wonder who built this city. Although nobody alive can have possibly met the builders of Mohenjo Daro, we know quite a lot about them. If you see small footprints on the sand, you can guess at once that a child must have gone that way. We know most of our early histories in the same way by guessing what happened from the things people have left behind.
From the city of Mohenjo Daro we know that the people who lived here knew how to make bricks. With those bricks, they made nice houses for themselves. They could plan cities, and keep them clean by laying drain-pipes to take away the dirty water. They built huge public baths for people to wash in, and broad streets for chariots and bullock carts. They must have been clever craftsmen, because fine pots of clay and weapons made of copper and bronze have been found in the city. They drew figures of animals and gods on pottery and on seals. From these we can guess what animals they knew, what gods they worshipped and what sort of writing they used. Their necklaces of beads, and ornaments of gold and ivory, tell us that they loved beautiful things and could make them. They used cotton for making cloth. They prayed to a Divine Mother and to a god who was very much like Shiva. They knew how to write although we do not yet know how to read what they wrote.
Sindh is now mostly a dry and barren land but it was not always so. Thousands of years ago it was a green and fertile place. You must wonder how we know this. Well, the drawings on the Mohenjo Daro seals show animals like the lion, the tiger, the rhinoceros and the elephant. Now, such animals can live only in big forests. And there can be no thick forests without heavy rain.
Other cities like Mohenjo Daro have been discovered. Harappa in West Punjab is one such city. Many of the cities that belong to this time were built along the river Indus. That is why the people who lived in them are called the people of the Indus Valley. But in the cities of the Indus Valley people stretched much farther than Sindh and the Punjab. Some of these people carried on trade with distant lands.
You may not think much of the clay pottery, or the pots of copper found in these cities. These are ordinary things for you today. But do you realize what a great thing it was 6,000 years ago to know how to get metal out of ore, and to beat it into any shape you wanted? Or to spin fine cotton yarn and produce cloth? You will realize this when you know that 6,000 years ago, people in many other countries of the world were still wild men. They had no houses and slept in caves. They had no clothes, and wore the skins of animals. They went hunting with clubs made of sharp stones fixed to wooden handles, as they did not know how to use metal. They ate raw meat and wild berries and wandered about in the forests. And of course they could not read and write at all.
It was at this time that the Indus Valley people lived, made houses and tilled the land and reared sheep and oxen. For more than a thousand years they lived in peace. And then a new race of people called the Aryans started coming to India in large numbers.