The End of the Indus

Like most ancient civilizations, we are not sure why the Indus Valley cities eventually ended.  There are several clues as to what may have happened.  These clues lead to different conclusions.  We will look at some of these clues and conclusions now.

What happened to the Indus Valley cities?

From 1900 BC to 1700 BC, trade with Mesopotamia ended.  Many things happened in the city to show that that things were deteriorating.  For example, the Great Bath at Mohenjo-Daro was covered and built over. The city mounds became overcrowded. Drains blocked up. People stopped repairing broken down homes and buildings.

Was There a War?

Hindu poems talk about invaders from the north conquering the Indus Valley cities. In the 1940s, an archaeologist discovered 39 human skeletons at Mohenjo-Daro. He believed that they were people killed by these invaders.

Archaeologists now think this is not true. There is no evidence of war or mass killings. Everything indicates that the Indus Valley people were peaceful. If they had an army, we have not seen any signs of weapons or battles.

More than likely, the cities fell apart after natural disasters. Enemies might have moved in afterwards.

Floods, Famine, and Disease

If these cities faltered because of natural disasters, there are several different options.  There may have been flooding from the rivers, or possibly a drought from a lack of rain.  Either floods or drought would have ruined crops, causing a famine.  This could also cause disease to spread.  There is evidence from some of the skeletons that many people died from malaria.  Another natural disaster could be an earthquake.

Another situation is that the rulers may have lost control of their cities. We know that trade had stopped and and that drains, streets and houses crumbled.  This could be from a lack of rule and control.

What Was Left?

By 1500 BC the Indus Valley civilization had ended. Farming villages continued to exist, but cities were ruined.  Looters took away many bricks, so only the city-mounds and a few piles of old bricks were left. That's what was found in the 1800s.

Did parts of Indus Valley culture survive?

There are some things that still remain from the Indus Valley.  The Hindu religion is similar to the ancient Indus religion, like the gods, the belief that water was holy, and the sacred cow and bull. Farmers still  build terraces into the sides of the hills to grow crops, like the Indus Valley farmers did. Many people in India and Pakistan wear jewelry like that made in Indus Valley cities.

Studying the Indus Valley

Archaeologists are still studying and learning more about life there. They use radiocarbon tests and other dating methods to see how old the artifacts are. They take photos of sites. They examine the soil and plant life.  They continue to learn more and more every day!

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