Artistic reconstruction of Indus Valley(Harappan Civilization) Diorama.
Image 1: Artistic reconstruction of Indus Valley(Harappan Civilization) Diorama. | Indian Science and Technology Heritage Gallery, National Science Centre - New Delhi 2014-05-06 0806. | Author - Biswarup Ganguly.

Harappan Civilization was one of the oldest civilizations of ancient India, also known as Indus Valley Civilization. It was the urban culture of the ancient Indian subcontinent along with Harappa and Mohenjodaro. The Harappan civilization stretched from the Montgomery District (the former Punjab province of British India) to modern-day northeast Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northwest India. Harappan cities have their urban planning, baked brick houses, detailed drainage systems, water supply systems, clusters of large non-residential buildings.

Harappan civilization people also used new techniques in Handicrafts, Karelian products, Seal carving, and metallurgy such as copper, bronze lead, and tin. Archaeological remains at various sites of the Indus Valley Civilization help us learn about the science and technological progress there. In this article we will learn more about, How was science and technology in the Harappan civilization? and how civilized and developed were those people in science and technology? and what are the inventions and discoveries by them?


Architecture, Town Planning and Civil Engineering of Harappan Civilization

The cities of the Harappan civilization were very well planned and beautifully constructed, with baked bricks used to construct houses and buildings in rows on both sides of the road. Some houses were also built in the streets. The houses built in cities used to be five feet in length and 97 feet in width. Their buildings also had two-roomed houses. Some houses had private bathrooms with pottery in the walls, which also provided water drainage. In some cases, there was a provision of a crib to sit in the toilet.

In the Indus Valley Civilization, the drainage system was in very systematic order, the drainage system was used for the best convenience in every household. The location of the water drainage from each house was made of bricks. Architecture of well-planned urban centers based on fixed-layout patterns with scientific roads; Drainage systems (with the use of corbelled technology), public structures (such as granaries and great baths), were far ahead of time and precursors to the modern concept of architecture and civil engineering. The Harappan civilization also built the world’s first tide port at the head of the Gulf of Cambay in Lothal, Gujarat, proving their high level of knowledge about the flow and flow of tides.

Transportation Technology of Harappan Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization was aided by major advances in transportation technology. These advances may include bullock carts that are similar to the boats seen everywhere in South Asia today. Most of these boats were probably small, flat-bottomed craft, probably powered by sails, which can be seen today on the Indus River; However, there are secondary evidences of seagoing craft. Archaeologists have discovered a huge, dry canal as a docking facility in the coastal city of Lothal in western India (Gujarat state). An extensive canal network, which was also used for irrigation.

Irrigation System of Harappan Civilization

Research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science confirms that the Indus people were the first to use complex multi-cropping strategies in both seasons, growing foods during the summer such as rice, millet, and beans etc. and in winter wheat, barley, and pulses, which required separate sorting management. Researchers also found evidence for a completely different domination process of rice in ancient South Asia, around the wild species Origa Niva. This led to the local development of a mixture of “Wetland” and “Dryland” agriculture in the local Oryza sativa Indica rice agriculture.

Although the cities were situated on the banks of the river, they had a new irrigation system which brought them size and prosperity. Irrigation systems included artificial reservoirs (such as Girnar) and early canal systems.

knowledge of Metallurgy

The people of the Indus Valley civilization were technically very developed and had a good knowledge of metallurgy, they also used standardized burnt bricks, precision weights, and cotton. Many subdivisions also had a standardized system of weights and measurements with calibration. According to the evidence found in the excavations, they used gold, silver, copper, lapis lazuli, turquoise, amethyst, alabaster, jade etc.

The people of Harappa developed some new techniques in metallurgy and also produced copper, bronze, lead, and tin. A stone touching gold streaks was found at Banawali, which may have been used to test the purity of gold, a technique still used in parts of India today.

Advertisement, continue reading

Weight, Measurement, and Mathematics

The people of the Indus civilization had achieved great accuracy in measuring length, mass, and time. They were among the first to develop a system of equal weights and measures. A comparison of the available items indicates large-scale variation in the Indus regions. Their smallest division, marked on an ivory scale found in Lothal, Gujarat, was about 1.704 mm, the smallest partition recorded on the Bronze Age scale. Harappan engineers followed the decimal division of measurements for all practical purposes, including the measurement of mass by their hexahedron weights.

They also had a weighing stone (Batkhara) to weigh, in a ratio of 5: 2: 1 with 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 units, and smaller items were weighed in the same proportion with 0.871 units, each unit weighing 28 grams, roughly the same as the English Imperial Ounce or Greek Unia. However, like other cultures, the actual weights were not uniform throughout the region. The weights and measurements used later in Kautilya’s astrology (4th century BCE) are similar to those used in Lothal.

The Harappans were very modern in mathematics, the numerical system they developed included most numbers for mathematical numbers such as addition and multiplication, and symbols of many innovations. The Harappan numerical system is a decimal and additive multiplier in use. There are also numeric symbols for 4 to 100, 1000, and their derivatives. Numerical systems that were first used by the Harappans were later found in other ancient civilizations as well.

Medical Science

Harappans were familiar with medical science and used various herbs and medicines to treat diseases. The people of the Indus Valley Civilization practiced trephination which is a kind of medical intervention, in which a hole is made in the skull to treat skull and brain disorders. Evidence of traction has also been found at Lothal, Kalibangan, and Burjholm, but not at Harappa or most other sites.

According to a report published in the Journal Nature, drilling into teeth in a living person is the oldest evidence in human history, was found in Mehrgarh around 7000 BC. This tooth drilling incorporates tooth-related disorders with practice operated by skilled bead artisans. This is a great example of proto-dentistry.

Pottery and jewel making

The people of the Indus Valley were familiar with the use of wheel-drawn potters. Paintings and glazing of potters were also known. He also knew using lime as a plaster. He used pyro-technology to heat lime. The people of the Indus Valley also manufactured ‘fans’ by heating silica up to 1200C.

He had a good knowledge of furnaces (for construction potters, bricks) and was an expert in making bead. In fact, they knew the art of bead cutting, drilling, polishing. Also, Mehrgarh shows evidence of local copper ore, containers made of bitumen, plants, and animals dominated, and equipment with tanning.

Major inventions and discoveries of the Indus Valley

The inventions and discoveries of the Indus Valley Civilization refer to the technological and civilizational achievements of the Indus Valley Civilization. Which are as follows –

Ruler

The oldest preserved measuring rod is a copper-alloy strip found by  German Assyriologist Eckhard Unger while excavating at Nippur. And Unger claimed that it was used as a measurement standard. Rulers made from Ivory were in use by the Indus Valley Civilization in what today is Pakistan and some parts of Western India before 1500 BCE. Diggings at Lothal (2400 BCE) have yielded one such ruler calibrated to about 1/16 of an inch—less than 2 millimeters. Ian Whitelaw (2007) holds that ‘The Mohenjo-Daro ruler is divided into units corresponding to 1.32 inches (33.5 mm) and these are marked out in decimal subdivisions with amazing accuracy—to within 0.005 of an inch. Ancient bricks found throughout the region have dimensions that correspond to these units.’

Advertisement, continue reading

Buttons, decorative

In 2000 BCE, in the Indus Valley Civilization, buttons made of Sagar ka kauri or CP were used for decorative purposes. Some buttons were engraved in geometric shapes and pierced so that they could be attached to clothing using a thread. Ian McNeill (1990) observes that: “Buttons, in fact, were originally used more as an ornament as a fastening, the earliest being found in Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus Valley. It Made of a curved shell and is about 5000 years old.”

The Well

The earliest clear evidence of the origin of the well is found in the Mohenjo-Daro and Dholavira in ancient India (now Pakistan), the archaeological site of the Indus Valley Civilization. The three features of step-wells in the subcontinent are evident from a particular site left by 2500 BCE, which combines a bathing pool, underwater steps, and figures of some religious significance into one structure. It is believed that other places in India adapted wells into their architecture in the early centuries just before the Common Era. The form of both wells and ritual bathing reached Buddhism with other parts of the world. Rock-cut step wells in the subcontinent from 200–400 common ages. Subsequently, wells were constructed in ponds of Paddy (550–625 CE) and Bhinmal (850–950 CE).

Conclusion

The Harappan Civilization also known as Indus Valley Civilization, was named after the Indus River System which is called “Sindhu Ghati Sabhyata” in Hindi. Archaeological remains at various sites of the Indus Valley Civilization help us to know about the science and technological progress there, from which we come to know that they were indeed very modern in science and technology.


Sources

  • Sergent, Bernard (1997). Genèse de l’Inde (in French). Paris: Payot. p. 113. ISBN 978-2-228-89116-5.
  • McIntosh, J. (2008). The ancient Indus Valley: new perspectives. Abc-Clio.
  • AGRAWAL, D. (2000). Contributions of Science to Archaeology. Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute60, 311-327.
  • Kenoyer, J. M. (1997). Trade and technology of the Indus Valley: new insights from Harappa, Pakistan. World Archaeology29(2), 262-280.
  • J. Mark Kenoyer, U. of Wisconsin, Madison. “Scientific and Technological Contributions of the Indus valley civilization”. (PDF)
  • Bisht, R.S. (1982). “Excavations at Banawali: 1974–77”. In Possehl Gregory L. (ed.). Harappan Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. pp. 113–124.
  • Singh, Upinder (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India. p. 157. ISBN 978-81-317-1120-0.
  • Hasenpflug, Rainer, The Inscriptions of the Indus civilization Norderstedt, Germany, 2006.
  • Gangal refers to Jarrige (2008), “Mehrgarh Neolithic”. Pragdhara 18: 136–154; and to Costantini (2008), “The first farmers in Western Pakistan: the evidence of the Neolithic agropastoral settlement of Mehrgarh”. Pragdhara 18: 167–178
  • Jarrige, Jean-Francois (18–20 January 2006). Mehrgarh Neolithic (PDF). International Seminar on the First Farmers in Global Perspective. Lucknow, India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016.
  • Bates, J. (1986). “Approaching rice domestication in South Asia: New evidence from Indus settlements in northern India”Journal of Archaeological Science78 (22): 193–201. DOI:10.1016/j.jas.2016.04.018
  • Bates, Jennifer (21 November 2016). “Rice farming in India much older than thought, used as ‘summer crop’ by Indus civilization. Research. Retrieved 21 November 2016.
  • Scandinavian Archaeometry Center (1993). Archaeology and natural science, p. 118. P. Åströms. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  • Hesse, Rayner W. & Hesse (Jr.), Rayner W. (2007). Jewelry making Through History: An Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. 35. ISBN 0-313-33507-9.
  • McNeil, Ian (1990). An encyclopedia of the history of technology. Taylor & Francis. 852. ISBN 0-415-01306-2.
  • Rhind, Jennifer Peace; Pirie, David (2012). Essential Oils: A Handbook for Aromatherapy Practice. Singing Dragon. p. 14. ISBN 9781848190894.

This Article was Published On: 3 February, 2019 And Last Modified On: 24 October, 2020

Aarti Sarkar
Author: Aarti Sarkar

Aarti Sarkar writes about history and politics. She's best known for writing history and finance articles.

Leave a Comment