Indus River Valley: One of the Four River Valley Civilizations The great fast-moving water from the world's highest mountain range, the Himalayas, carved out the Indus River system that was to carve to what is the first civilization in the Indian subcontinent. As the rapidly running mountain streams reached the plains of the Indus valley, they branched out into seven great rivers, of which five remain today. These rivers flow into each other midway down the valley to form the Indus River, which runs for hundreds of miles to the southwest and empties into the Arabian Sea. The streams that flow from high in the Himalayas are fed by monsoon rains. Rain clouds are carried from the seas surrounding the Indian subcontinent by monsoons across the lowlands to the mountains where they release their waters. These wet monsoons, which blow toward central Asia from the sea, are also a major source of water for the plains and valleys they cross before they reach the mountain barriers. The streams from the mountains also carry the superior amounts of rich soil to these plains, constantly enlarging them and giving them the potential for extensive farming and huge population centers. The Indus is only one of many river systems in the Indian subcontinent formed by melting snow and monsoon rains, but it was the first to nurture a civilization.
The lower Indus plains were a very different place in 3000 B.C. than they are today. Most of the region is now arid and empty, crisscrossed by dried-up riverbeds and virtually no sign of forests. In Harappan times, it was green and heavily forested. Large animals and pasturage for domesticated animals were plentiful. Long before the first settlements associated with the Harappan complex appeared, the plains were dotted with the settlements of farming and non-migration. By at least 3000 B.C., these pre-Harappan peoples cultivated wheat and barley, and had developed sophisticated agricultural implements and cropping techniques.
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