Indus Valley Civilization: Where ruins speak history (3/3 Downfall of Civilization)

The history of Indus Valley Civilization speaks about their development, but few accounts cover the topic about its downfall. Prior to 1900 BC, the Indus Valley Civilization was at its peak. They had built structures that still stand today. The artifacts found at dig sites may speak about the rise of this civilization. But due to lack of evidences and inability to decipher the Indus Script, the researchers are only left with theories about the downfall of Indus people.

You may also read Indus Valley Civilisation: Where ruins speak history (Part 1/3: Tracing the Civilisation)

The Indus civilization had achieved the highest level of urban development, trade and was a perfect society.

At the time of Mature Harappan phase, the civilization had achieved the highest level of urban development, trade and was a perfect society. The primary occupation of these people was farming, and they used waterways for trading. Due to this, their lifestyle was highly dependent on river systems. The Ghaggar-Hakara system was fed by monsoons. The settlements of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro were dependent on River Ravi and River Indus. They had developed their structures in order to protect themselves from flooding and invasion. They also had granaries where they stored food for times of emergency. Even the design of city drainage avoid urban flooding. But these preparations weren’t enough to protect the people of Indus Valley.

A painting to depict Harappan Civilization

It is believed that the downfall of Indus Civilization happened during Late Harappan phase, after 1900 BC. From the artifacts and dig sites 5 statements about Late Harappan phase are accepted around the world. These are 1) decrease in trade, 2) Disappearance and abandonment of urban areas, 3) expansion of rural settlements 4) migration of people and 5) emergence of different culture. The artifacts found in the Mesopotamian areas only dates to mature harappan phase and early periods of late harappan phase. This shows that there was a decrease in trade between them during late Harappan phase.

A trend of people of Indus valley migration from urban to rural areas during late Harappan phase

The artifacts found in the rural settlements mostly belonged to late harappan. Similarly, the artifacts in the urban areas belonged to mature harappan phase. This shows a trend of people migration from urban to rural areas during late Harappan phase. The artifacts of late harappan phase showed an emergence of new culture. Few artifacts also showed that with time, the Indus Script had started to disappear.

Skeleton structures found at dig sites.

You may also like Indus Valley Civilization: Where ruins speak history (Part 2/3: Understanding the Civilization)

To support the reasoning about the disappearance of the Indus people, researchers have developed these statements. 1) Spread of disease that reduced the population, 2) interpersonal violence and poor maintenance of the urban areas may have led people to abandon these areas, 3) invasion of Aryans and 4) environmental situation.

The artifacts of late harappan phase showed an emergence of new culture.

In few places of Mohenjo Daro dig site, a set of number of skeletons had marking on them. To this Mortimer Wheeler suggested that there may have been a battle, but latter Kenneth Kennedy proved that these marks might have happened due to processes like erosion. There are evidences that show that there was a climate change happening for example the eastward movement of monsoon causing people to migrate. Researchers even suggest that there may have been a major flood and earthquake that caused people to abandon their cities.

The drying of sarwasti river and the end of Ghaggar-Hakara system was a result of climate change

In the end, 2 theories takes precedence over the other theories. Firstly, the Aryan invasion in the land of Indus valley. It is assumed that they may have brought new culture/ religion. Secondly, the climate change. This includes the eastward shift of monsoon, other calamities like drought, floods and earthquake. The drying of sarwasti river and the end of Ghaggar-Hakara system was a result of climate change. This resulted in the end of settlements in the major urban areas. Few accounts even show the migration of people north-eastwards such as few of their cultural remains found far off areas from the Indus Valley mixed with new and different culture. But then it was found that people of these lands such as Gujrat and Surashtra were already settled here before late Harappan phase and this contradicts the theory of Eastward movement.

Few structures found at archaeological sites.

The people of Indus Valley Civilization took their time to reach the peak of civilization, and it was with time that their civilization ended. It is safe to say the people who were living during the peak of civilization didn’t know that their culture will end one day and only their ruins will live to tell their stories. Who knows the horror they may had faced and no one knows where did they all go? Is it right to say that “Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos”?

Their culture will end one day and only their ruins will live to tell their stories.

The Indus people who once may have taken pride in their culture no longer live. Even their pride and their advance technology of their time couldn’t stop their demise. Isn’t it true that even today, few nations are above the other nations and their people take pride in being a part of that nation? What will happen after few centuries when something out of their control happens like climate change was for Indus people?

As human being, we may be divided into different nations, but we are all part of one civilization “human species”. And as one specie maybe it’s time for us to help our civilization by helping the nations that are struggling to survive before we all perish. 

9 thoughts on “Indus Valley Civilization: Where ruins speak history (3/3 Downfall of Civilization)

  • June 24, 2020 at 6:25 pm
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    Well done my friend! I admire ur work ❤

    Reply
    • June 24, 2020 at 6:47 pm
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      Thank You!!

      Reply
  • June 25, 2020 at 3:57 pm
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    Very informative and very well written.

    Reply
  • June 27, 2020 at 6:14 am
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    I like the way the author has concluded this topic in a very systematic and informative way. It is amazing how important understanding a whole civilization gives a small hint of the larger picture; that we need to still explore our earth. Outstanding.
    Kind Regards,
    Owais Siddiqui

    Reply
    • June 27, 2020 at 9:25 am
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      Thank you for compliment. 🙂

      Reply
    • June 27, 2020 at 9:26 am
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      Appreciate the compliment.

      Reply
  • June 27, 2020 at 3:53 pm
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    Very informative article

    Reply
    • June 27, 2020 at 4:05 pm
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      Appreciate the compliment!

      Reply

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