National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version - 482

sec tion

2

2.1 Early

H i s to ry

m y N G c o n n e c t . c o m For an online
civilization map

Civilizations

Main Idea South Asia's ancient civilizations
developed around the region's river systems.

The physical geography of a place often
influences its history. Good farmland and
the geographic isolation (separation) of
South Asia made the Indus and Ganges
river valleys cultural hearths , or centers
of civilization from which ideas spread.
Mountains and oceans provided natural
boundaries that limited invasions. Fertile
soil along the rivers provided arable
farmland. Two major civilizations that
thrived here were the Harappans and
the Aryans.

Harappan Civilization
The first urban civilization in South
Asia was the Harappan (huh RA puhn)
civilization. It developed along the Indus
River in what is now Pakistan. The land
was fertile and good for farming. As a
result, people formed farming villages that
grew into cities. The two greatest cities of
this civilization were Mohenjo-Daro and
Harappa. These cities were well planned
and laid out in a grid pattern of straight
streets. The cities also had brick houses,
indoor plumbing, and a sewer system.
These cities provide early examples of
organized city planning that helped to
support cultural growth.

Maps and
Maps and Graphs
Graphs

The Harappan people developed
advanced technologies and a system of
measurement using weights and bricks
that were a standard size. Among the
ruins of these cities, archeologists have
found stone seals with images of animals
and script. Based on this evidence,
scholars believe the Harappans may have
developed a system of writing, but the
scripts have not yet been translated.
After a period of prosperity, the
Harappan civilization started to decline
between 2000 and 1700 B.c. Historians
believe some possible causes include the
change of the Indus River's course, floods,
earthquakes, and invaders.

Aryan Migration
Many historians believe a group of
nomadic herders called the Aryans (AIR
ee uhnz) migrated from central Asia into
the Indus Valley around 2000 B.c. From
there, they moved into northern India, and
eventually migrated further south. Their
language, Sanskrit, became the basis of
many modern languages in South Asia.
The Aryans recorded religious teachings
in Sanskrit in sacred texts called the
Vedas. The early religion of the Aryans
established the beginnings of Hinduism,
the major religion of India today.

2600-2500 b.c.
Emergence of the Harappan,
or Indus Valley, civilization

3000

b.c.

25 0 0

b.c.

2500 b.c. A sculpture
fragment of a priest-king
from the site of Mohenjo-Daro

482 CHAPTER 17

2000-1700 b.c.
Decline of the
Harappan civilization

20 0 0

b.c.

2000 b.c.
Beginning of Aryan
migration into the
Indus Valley


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National Geographic World Cultures and Geography, Student Version

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