For Kids: Ancient India Daily Life, Indus
In the ancient Indus Valley civilizations, archaeologists have found ruins that show the houses were very similar. Some had two or three rooms that might serve as bedrooms, but the houses were remarkable alike in size and design. What archaeologists have not found is a palace-size residence in any Indus Valley city. That is very unusual for an ancient civilization. It would appear that if a city had a king or a leader that this leader lived like everyone else.
The ancient Indus Valley houses were made of baked brick and were one or two floor high. They had a flat roof which probably acted as a third floor for dining and storage. Each house was built around an open courtyard with the window openings looking out onto the courtyard. Each house had running water with a fountain for drinking and bathing and a bathroom with pipes running to a sewer under the street. The running water from the fountain ran off under the bathroom carrying off waste. This was an extremely novel idea for an ancient civilization.
Like the houses, each town was remarkable similar. At first, archaeologists thought there were only a few towns. But the Indus River has moved over time. Once archaeologists gained permission to explore along the old riverbed, they found the ruins of many hundreds of towns, all very similar in construction. This was a very large civilization.
In many of these ancient cities in the Indus Valley, archeologists have found the remains of a large pool in the center of the city, with steps at each end. We don't know the purpose of the pool. Was it for bathing? Religious ceremonies? Or just swimming around in? Clustered around the large pool are small rooms whose purpose is unknown.
From what we can tell from scraps of paintings, both men and women wore robes in various colors. Women wore earrings and necklaces, and it appears that they even used lipstick.
We don't know much about what they did for entertainment. One small figure has been found that looks like a dancer. Whether they danced for enjoyment, or just to honor their gods we do not know. Small figures of animals have also been found. Were these statues to honor the gods or just kids toys? We don't know the answer to that yet. Archeologists have found things that appear to be toys such as whistles shaped like birds, and toy monkeys which could slide down a string!
The people of the Indus Valley grew a variety of crops, some of which were barley, peas, wheat, dates, and melons. They also grew cotton and raised sheep, pigs, and cattle. Each town had its own central storage building for holding grain.
Archeologists are still not able to decipher the pictographs that they used in place of writing. Yet similar pictographs are found in many of the towns, so archeologists believe that these people all had a common language. Seals, with this pictographic script on it, have also been found in archeological sites in Mesopotamia. It seems very likely that these two civilization areas knew each other.
The Indus Valley people created high quality pottery of graceful designs. They also made very small statues of clay, bronze and silver. In addition archeologists have found bowls made of brass and silver and many glass beads. Since silver and brass is not found in the Indus Valley, they had to bring it in from somewhere else.
Archeologists believe that the people of the Indus Valley used camels and elephants to get around, and had wheeled carts pulled by oxen for transporting goods. They also believe that these people had sailboats, which used a single mast and sail. For a long time, archaeologists believed that the ancient Sumer civilization of ancient Mesopotamia invented the sailboat and the wheel. But it is possible that these and other inventions credited to the ancient Mesopotamians were actually invented by the ancient people who lived in the Indus Valley.
There are many questions concerning this civilization. How did they manage to build cities with straight streets and a sewer and water system? These towns and cities appeared as if out of no where, which suggests that these people moved to the Indus Valley from somewhere else, where they had already invented many things and perfected many skills. Another strange thing is that when these ancient people tore down a city and rebuilt, the rebuilt city was not built as well as the one before it. Did they lose their building and design skills, or did they just not care as much? Then there is their disappearance. Around 1500 BCE, the Indus Valley civilization simply went away. Where did they go? What happened to them? Archaeologists are working hard to find the answers to these and other questions about this fascinating ancient civilization.