HISTORY ANCIENT & MEDIEVEL - 10
From Sutkagendor in Southern Baluchistan to Alamgirpur in the Meerut district of Uttar Pradesh, the known western and eastern limits of the Indus Civilization, it is a distance of over 1,550 km. From north to south, it extends ofver 1,100 km. between Rupar in Punjab and Bhagatrav in the Kim esturary in Gujarat.
Whether it is Harappa or Mohenjo-daro, Kali Banga or Lothal, the most striking character is systematic town-planning; the streets oriented north-south and east-west, produced a grid-pattern. Flanking the streets and similarly oriented lanes and by-lanes were well-planned houses, which in the case of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were almost invariably made of kiln-burnt bricks. Else where in the contemporary world, mud-bricks and wattle-and-daub were the usual building materials, and burnt-bricks were altogether unknown.
A house comprised a central courtyard, three to four living rooms, a bath and a kitchen, while the more elaborate ones contained even up to thirty rooms and were often two-storeyed. Many of the houses were provided with a well, and there was an excellent underground drainage system.
TOWN-PLANNING went further. At Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and Kali Banga, there are two blocks of mounds-the large one on the east and a smaller one on the west. While the large block was the ‘lower’ city with its houses and streets laid out in the manner described above, the other seems to have been a citadel enclosed by a thick (13 meters at Harappa) mud-brick wall, externally revetted with burnt bricks, corner towers, and occasional bastions built along the length.
No separate fortified mound has been found at Lothal, the conception of an acropolis seems to have existed, as may be inferred from the presence of a huge platform over which are situated the more important and large structures.
At Mohenjo-daro, there lay in the citadel a ‘college’ a multi-pillared “Assembly Hall” a public bath (the Great Bath) and a large granary consisting of a podium of square blocks of burnt-bricks with a wooden superstructure.
Such blocks in mud-brick have also been found on the citadel-mound at Kali Banga and on the acropolis at Lothal. At Harappa, the interior of the citadel has not been adequately excavated. But in the shadow of the citadel has been found a granary consisting of twelve oblong blocks in an ara of over 800 Sq. m., as at Mohenjo-daro. At Harappa, between the granary and the citadel, have also been found a series of circular platforms, probably for the pounding of grain, and two rows of workmen’s quarters.
The commodious house, knit into a system of rigid town-planning, the public buildings, large granaries and the citadel, all combine to present the picture of a prosperous people, controlled by a firm yet beneficent authority.
The extensive use of burnt-bricks, for the firing of which plenty of wood was needed, and the frequent depiction of jungle fauna like the tiger, rhinoceros and bison on the Indus seals suggest that in those days there was perhaps more rainfall in the area than today. Today at Mahenjodaro even 10 cm. of rainfall a year is rare besides, the rivers, which have shifted their courses slightly away, seem to have skirted the towns : the Indus, Ravi, Ghaggar, Sutlej and Bhogavar (Limrikobhogawo) skirted Mohenjo-daro, Harappa, Kali Banga, Rupar and Lothal respectively. Adequate water supply and rich alluvial soil favored agriculture.
There were bumper crops of wheat and barley, besides peas, melons and bananas. There was cultivation of cotton for textiles – a crop unknown in those times even in Egypt.
To the dietary were added fish, fowl, mutton, beef and pork. Besides the cattle, both humped and humpless, cats, dogs and probably elephants were domesticated. The evidence regarding horse and camel is inconclusive.
On a potsherd from Harappa is found a person wearing a dhoti, shawl as an upper garment is suggested by the wellknown steatite statuette from Mohenjo-daro, supposed to be of a priest. The occurrence of needles and buttons proves that at least some items of dress might, have been stitched.
Life seems to have been gay and happy as shown by the various ways in which the womenfolk dressed their hair and bedecked themselves with necklaces, bracelets, finger-rings, ear-rings, girdles, and anklets. There were diversions, such as dice or hunting wild animals. The young played With Marbles, Rattles And Toys. The bull with a mobile head, and the monkey going up and down a string, show ingenuity.
The terracotta figurines, animal as well as human, and the black-on-red pottery rich with designs, show that even the common man had a taste for the beautiful though his buildings seems to have been drab. The progress which the Indus people had made in the plastic arts is borne out by the two sandstone statuettes from Harappa in which human anatomy is depicted. These figures could well have been the envy of the Greeks, renowned for their sculptural art, two thousand years later. Metal sculpture too was far advanced as shown by the pose and facial expression of the bronze statuette from Mohenjo-daro. The seal-cutter’s art seems to have reached its zenith. The Brahmani bull, with its swinging dewlap, pronounced hump and muscular body, bears a standing testimony to the skill of the Indus craftsman.