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Ancient Civilisations – 6b The Indus Valley

When and where was the Indus Valley Civilisation?

The Indus Valley was home to one of the world’s first large civilisations. It began nearly 5,000 years ago in an area of modern-day Pakistan and Northern India.  There were more than 1,400 towns and cities in the Indus Valley. The biggest were Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Around 80,000 people lived in these cities.

​​​​​​​The Indus people lived on the banks of the Indus river, the longest river in Pakistan.    The Indus river begins high up in the Himalayan mountains (the tallest mountain range in the world), and flows nearly 3,000 kilometres to the Arabian Sea. As the river moves downstream it carves out a valley. This is where the Indus people settled.

The first farmers liked living near the river because it kept the land green and fertile for growing crops. These farmers lived together in villages which grew over time into large ancient cities, like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

The Indus people needed river water to drink, wash and to irrigate their fields. They may also have used water in religious ceremonies. To the Indus people, their river was  ‘The King River’.

What was life like in Indus Valley?

It was very hot in the Indus Valley so people spent a lot of time outside. Most people had small homes which were also used as workshops. There was not much space to relax. Richer families had courtyards. These were nice open spaces. Children could play there with toys or with pets, such as monkeys and birds. People who did not have a courtyard would still have a flat roof. These roofs were strong enough to walk on. Families used them as an extra room. It was a cool place to sleep on a hot night and somewhere you could sit with friends.

Indus Valley traders did not use money, so they probably exchanged goods. They might swap two sacks of wheat for one basket of minerals. Archaeologists discovered flat pieces of stone with writing carved into them. At first they were confused, but then they realised these stones were seals. Over 3,500 have now been found. If you pressed the seal into soft clay, it left a copy of itself on the clay. When the clay dried hard, it could be used as a tag, which could then be tied to a pot or basket.Lots of seals have pictures of animals on them, including elephants, rhinoceros, tigers and fish-eating crocodiles.

Follow these hyperlinks to learn more:-

  1. BBC Bitesize
  2. BBC Primary History
  3. The School Run

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