Harappan Civilization

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Pedro Jardim et al.:

"From ancient Mesopotamia to the British Empire, the urge for a state of warfare and defining power through coercion has been the dominant driving force in nearly every civilization.

A glaring exception seems to be the Harappan civilization, which for more than 2,000 years showed impressive complexity for a bronze age society and that, at its height, included more than five million people in what is now Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.

As Andrew Robinson writes in The Indus: Lost Civilizations, the Harappans left us perplexing signs. For example, in their main cities we find no clear signs of defensive or offensive armor, fortification or weapons — besides small objects such as knives, spears and arrow destined for hunting animals. Nor is there evidence of the domestication of the horse, which later became common in the region for use in raiding parties. In nearly a century of excavations, archaeologists have uncovered just one depiction of humans fighting, and it is a partly mythical scene showing a female deity.

Neil MacGregor, former director of the British Museum, states: “What’s left of these great Indus cities gives us no indication of a society engaged with, or threatened by, war.” The Indus people, he argues, offer a novel model of an urban civilisation, without celebration of violence or extreme concentration of individual power.

The Harappan civilization showed the vastness and organization of a complex society — their sewage system was centuries ahead of their time — but they showed no signs of conspicuous royal palaces and grand temples, no monumental depictions of kings and other rulers. They had social hierarchy, but showed significant wealth distribution: there was little difference between the size and position of the homes of rich and poor people, no signs of differing diets in the bones of buried skeletons, and no evidence of slavery.

Some deem the complete absence of war and conflict to be not credible. “There has never been a society without conflicts of greater or lesser scale,” says Richard Meadow at Harvard University’s Peabody Museum. He argues that knives, spears and the like could have been used on humans as well as animals, and points out that the ancient Maya were once thought to be exceptionally peace-loving — until their hieroglyphs were deciphered, revealing stories of exceptionally bloody battles, human sacrifice and torture. But evidence points to a very different story when it comes to the Harappan. Even the Maya had fortifications around some of their cities and widespread depictions of warrior kings, therefore Meadow’s views are currently in the minority and the Harappan may very well be the greatest peaceful, long lasting civilization known." (https://b.coliga.co/be-more-human-fear-165100a10fd9#.v2dqush0n)