Between three and four thousand BC three great river valley civilizations with planned urban areas sprang up in three different parts of the world – Indus Valley, Sumeria and Nile valley in Egypt.
Recent archeological findings at Bhirrana near Delhi push back the origins of the Indus valley civilization to 7500 BC i.e. the oldest of the three. Even Mehrgarh dates to 7000 BC showing the extent of the early Indus valley civilization extended from Mehrgarh in the East to at least Bhirana in the west. Recent excavations in the gulf of Kambhat suggest that in the south the civilization extended up to the ocean coast. By 5500 BC all these sites had a fairly developed urban culture that predates Sumerian civilization by around two thousand years. Therefore it does seem that urban civilization marched from this direction first to Sumeria and later Egypt. This is especially evident because it is well known now that Sumerians were dark people of foreign origin with their own language distinct from the language of surrounding people.
It has also been established now with near certainty that ancient Sumerian belongs to the Austric group of languages of South Asia and that it is not a linguistic isolate. There is a separate post on that in this blog. Recent highly rigorous scientific DNA studies by Henryk W. Witas et al. support such a migration theory (http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0073682) from the Indian Sub-continent to ancient Mesopotamia.
The first known examples of writing may have been unearthed at an archaeological dig in Indus valley. Trident-shaped markings have been found on fragments of pottery dating back 5500 years. According to Dr Richard Meadow of Harvard University, the director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project, these primitive inscriptions found on pottery appear to pre-date all other known writing. Clay tablets containing primitive words were uncovered in southern Egypt at the tomb of a king named Scorpion. They were carbon-dated to 3300-3200 BC. This is about the same time to the primitive writing developed by the Sumerians of the Mesopotamian civilization around 3100 BC. “It’s a big question as to if we can call what we have found true writing,” he told BBC News Online, “but we have found symbols that have similarities to what became Indus script. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/334517.stm)
The summary as reported here is based on recent findings and there is a silence about some of the new findings amongst many historians because they upset long held and cherished views on the history of human civilization which in the past was based on presumptions in the absence of evidence.
Scholars differ in their opinion about the race of Indus people and more study is needed in this direction. The picture is complicated due to the presence of a racial mix that varied in time and space over the extent of the civilization. It appears that Indus Valley Civilization had been a combination of diverse racial elements. In fact this peaceful mixing of races is what may have spurred the inventions of early civilization. Certain anthropological investigations and examinations of human remains show that four racial types existed in this civilization namely Proto-Australiod, Mediterranean, Alpinoid and the Mongoloid. The racial diversity is the precise reason why scholars have not been able to arrive at a definite conclusion about the race of the Indus valley people. The Indus valley region was a fertile civilized land with moderate climate attractive for immigrants from all over the old world to come and settle in. Such immigration into the sub-continent has continued until recent times and the most recent language that has been brought into the sub-continent is English. In early days of low population density and large portions of the country yet to be discovered, immigrants would have been welcome. The Australoid type and Armenoid types appear to be prominent strains in early samples in a ratio exceeding four is to one as in early Sumeria. The earliest contribution to urban human civilization may well have been a contribution spurred by a racial mix of Armenian origin and Australoid races. In fact a racial mix is something that has been asserted to in ancient Sanskrit literature as well such as the Mahabharata and the Vedas, with some persons being described as black and others white. It is a racial mix that continues up to modern times in South Asia.
It is possible that just as in Sumeria the language gradually changed from Sumerian Austric to Semitic Akkadian, in the Indus valley it gradually changed from an ancient Austric language similar to archaic Tamil to Indo European languages, not because of any invasion as some early western scholars presumed but because of how the numbers fell. Absolutely no archeological evidence of any invasion has been discovered. Some of the early historians had assumed that the advanced Indus valley civilization disintegrated because of an invasion by barbarians from the North West and that was the reason that the region became less civilized and remained so for another thousand years. These early invasion theories have been ruled out as fanciful now although immigration in small batches appears to have been a continuous process in the region.
The disintegration of the civilization and the movement of its people towards the South, North and East appear to have been because of climatic changes and changes in the course of rivers that sustained the earlier urban civilization of Indus valley. Austric languages still continue in southern India and amongst tribal people of central India. An invasion assumption appears to be a part of western heritage, perhaps because of a history of colonization. Even in western science fiction, whenever visits of aliens is envisaged, it is often in the form of an invasion, a concept that is viewed as strange in the East since a friendly entry is by far the more civilized thing to do as compared to war.
Available evidence as of now in the year 2013 appears to suggest that ancient Indus Valley was the crucible in which people from far away places such as the Armenian Highlands, Catalhouyk, Jericho and other places came together with the local Australoid population as far back as 7500 BC – 3500BC to pool together their knowledge and develop the earliest innovations of human civilization such as metallurgy, textile clothing, agriculture, animal rearing, trading, irrigation, grain storage, writing, bricked buildings, planned urban areas and a structure for governance of large areas that included urban centers that were the hubs of trading, religion and governance along along with rural areas as hubs of agriculture; on the peaceful ( no evidence of armies, wars and weapons has been discovered in archeological findings) climatically moderate and fertile plains of Indus valley.
The abandonment of Indus valley cities by its people, subsequent to the drying up of the region, carried seeds of civilization to other more fertile parts of the sub-continent so that by the time of Buddha around a thousand years later, Eastern India with its centers at Benares and Patna became the most developed and learned part of the sub-continent. It was near Patna in Nalanda that the first International university came up spreading knowledge, wisdom and the compassion of Buddha throughout the civilized world of the time from the eastern extremities of the orient to ancient Greece. There is a separate article on Nalanda University in this blog.
This is presently speculation, and more scientific evidence is awaited, but the mythical Atlantis story of Plato may have been the ancient submerged coastal city known as Dwarka in ancient Sanskrit literature. It was surrounded on all sides by water and has been described in Sanskrit texts as the most advanced part of the civilization in this region just prior to its submergence. It is on the coastal portion of Indus civilization as shown on the map. It is coastal cities that often develop the most in many parts of the world because of their greater trade interactions by both land and far away sea ports. Detailed discussion of these topics is available in other posts of this blog as well as in: