Indus River Valley - 3500BC - 1500BC

Major Accomplishments: First civilization of the Indian sub-continent. 

Indus River Valley Video:

The Indus Valley India Overview 

 The Indus Valley civilization was started in 3300 BC. The Dravidians were native people that established the civilization. Present day Pakistan and Northwest India is where Indus Valley was once located. They had amazing accuracy in measuring distance, mass, and time. Indoor plumbing was first introduced by the Indus Valley civilization.


Indus Valley Origins

Indus Valley started by a nomadic tribe call the Dravidians. They crossed over the Himalayas and settled down near modern day Karachi. A very important part of the culture was cities. They were among the first civilizations to build large cities. Some of the first cities they built were Harappa and Mojen-Daro. They were the first people to use pottery. Pottery was a great item they used to trade with people; it helped them get rich. They also grew many crops that they traded, such as: wheat, barley, rice, ragi, jowar, and cotton. They raised lots of animals too like; cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats and chickens. Camels, elephants, horses, and donkeys were used as transportation.


Indus Plumbing

Indoor plumbing was first invented by the Indus Valley civilization. Baths were very common and used daily. The floors in their houses were made of bricks laid on their sides to make a water proof platform. The baths were also used for religious services and bathing rituals. Public baths were the most common. People would most commonly bathe standing up and pouring pitchers of water onto themselves, much like a shower. A small hole would be at the bottom so the water could pour out and into the streets. They would place a brick in front on the whole and it would make a bath in their home. Toilets could only be afforded by the wealthy. Poor people used urns or sump pots. The rich toilets were basically stacked bricks with a hole in the middle with a drain leading out. If the plumbing was on the second floor then terracotta pipes were used to bring the waste water down to the streets. Limestone was used to make sure there weren’t any leaks in any of the plumbing systems. Plumbing was used for comfort and to make life easier on people.


Indus System of Measurement

Measurement was a huge part of their achievements. They could very accurately measure weight, distance, and time. They were one of the first people to develop a system of measurement. Their measurements were so accurate that they even had one that was equal to 1.704 mm. A weight chart was created much similar to an once, the chart consisted of:  0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 units, each unit equaling about 28 grams. Since they were so good at measurements they were able to build great buildings, have straight streets, and line bricks up perfectly the same size and weight.


Indus Valley Civilizations

Indus River Valley Civilization 3500-1500 BCE

Two City States and many smaller villages



Both had

centrally planned cities

city walls

Public buildings


toilets, wells, drainage system

brick lined sewers in the streets



City states

Governed by Priest Kings

The Indus Valley script has never been translated

so we know very little about their lifestyle or belief system beyond what architecture tells us


Indus Valley Civilization Economy


cotton and food crops

Industry = textiles

Irrigation Canals

Craft workers made beautiful clay figurines

Made jewels from gold, silver and copper.



Polytheist nature gods; fertility goddess important

Priests/kings in villages had high importance

Some merchants but mostly farmers


Decline of the Indus Valley Civilizations

Repeated Floods caused the course of the Indus River to shift away from the cities

The Indus Valley script has never been translated so we know very little about their lifestyle

or belief system beyond what architecture tells us

New cultural group called Aryans migrate/invade and merge with the Indus Valley peoples


Chinese Geography is incredibly diverse.  The region we call China today is very different from the geography of early Chinese culture.  Early China was built along two rivers.  The Yangtze River in the south had a thriving culture that archeologists are only now beginning to learn about this culture in depth.  In the north, the Shang Dynasty formed along the Western bend of the Hwang He River near what would become the city of Chang'an or Xian'yang (called Xi'an in modern China).  The Western part of of China is dry, windy and desert-like in many areas. Here is a quick breakdown of the simple geographic differences between north and south China.

North China
Cold Winters
Soils are dry and permeable
Agriculture requires drought resistant crops like millet

South China
Warmer and wetter
Waterlogged fields
Agriculture thrives on rice