When the great cities of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa were discovered in the 1920s the history of the Indian subcontinent attained a new dimension. After ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, this Indus civilization emerged as the third major early civilization of mankind. The discovery of these cities was a great achievement of archeology. Archeologists considered Indo-Aryans as the creators of the first early culture of the civilization. But with this discovery archeologists changed their mind. The Indo Aryans had come down to Indian plains in second millennium BC. But Mohenjo Daro and Harappa proved to be much older, reaching back in to the third and fourth millennia.
Mohenjo Daro and Harappa were separated by about 350 mile .But they show a surprising similarity. In each city I it was found that there was an acropolis and a lower city, each fortified separately. The acropolis, situated to the west of each city and raised on an artificial mound made of bricks, contained large assembly halls and edifices which were obviously constructed for religious cults.in Mohenjo-Daro there was a ‘Great Bath’ at the center of the acropolis which may have been used for ritual purposes. This ‘Great Bath’ was 39 feet long, 23 feet wide and 8 feet deep. This bath was connected to an elaborate water supply system and sewers. To the east of this bath there was a big building which is thought to have been a palace for a king or a high priest.
A special feature of each of these cities were large platforms which have been interpreted by the excavators as the foundations of granaries. In Mohenjo-Daro it was situated in the acropolis; in Harappa it was immediately adjacent to it. In Mohenjo-Daro this architectural complex, constructed next to the Great Bath, is still particularly impressive. Its foundation, running east to west, was 150 feet long and 75 feet wide. On this foundation were 27 compartments in three rows. The 15-foot walls of these are still extant. These compartments were very well ventilated and, in case they were used as granaries, they could have been filled from outside the acropolis. At Harappa there were some small houses, assumed to be those of workers or slaves.
The big lower cities were divided into rectangular areas. In Mohenjo Daro there were nine such areas, each about 1,200 by 800 feet. Broad main streets, about 30 feet wide, separated these parts of the city from each other. All the houses were connected directly to the excellent sewage system which ran through all the numerous small alleys. Many houses had a spacious interior courtyard and private wells. All houses were built with standardized bricks. The width of each brick was twice as much as its height and its length twice as large as its width.
Not only the excellent city planning but Mohenjo –Daro and Harappa had a well-developed and organized economy, art and religious life. Archeologists found thousands of well carved seals made of steatite. They assume that these seals have been used in trading and official activities. These seals show many figures and symbols of the religious life of people of this early culture. There are tree deities among them and there is the famous so-called ‘Proto-Shiva’ who is seated in the typical pose of a meditating man. He has three heads, an erect phallus, and is surrounded by animals which were also worshipped by the Hindus of a later age. Archeologists found a sculpture that is assumed to be a statue of the high priest or the king.
Both cities had a uniform system of weights and measures based on binary numbers and the decimal number system. Articles made of copper and ornaments with precious stones show that there was a flourishing international trade. More evidence for this international trade was found when seals of the Indus culture were found in Mesopotamia and other seals which could be traced to Mesopotamia were discovered in the cities on the Indus.
Archeologists never found an exact reason for the decline of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa Civilization cities. But according to evidence found they made some assumptions. One assumption is that some cruel invaders conquered the cities. A large pit of scattered skeletons which showed a violent death were found in the upper most strata of Mohejo Daro. It appeared that men, women and children had been exterminated by conquerors in a ‘last massacre’. The conquerors were assumed to be the Aryans who invaded India around the middle of the second millennium BC.
By the latest excavations it was found that in some areas of Mohendo Daro and Harappa there is a high nuclear radiation and it is bigger than the nuclear radiation in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Archeologists now assume that a nuclear leak or a nuclear blast could be the reason for the decline of the great Indus civilizations.