Across the earth, there have been several regions called “cultural hearths.” These are regions where an agriculturally-based economy was created.
Examples of the world’s cultural hearths are the Huang-Ho River in China, Mesopotamia (the area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers) in Iraq, The Aztecs in Mexico, and Ancient Egypt. Another of these cultural hearths emerged in South Asia, although it was unknown until the early part of the twentieth century that this civilization even existed.
As British engineers were overseeing the construction of a railroad through what is now the Indus Valley of Pakistan, railroad workers discovered bricks that were the remains of a large city. The age of these bricks proved to be much older than their original estimates. This city became known as Mohenjo Daro, and soon another city was found at Harappa. Because of this, this civilization became known as the Harappan Civilization. There are now many different names for it. It is also called the Indus Valley Civilization, because the settlements were clustered around the Indus River and its many tributaries.
One of the largest controversies among scholars on South Asia are the theories of the Aryan migration into the Indian subcontinent. Much of what is known about the Indus Valley Civilization comes from Sumerian stone tablets found in Mesopotamia, a civilization then in present-day Iraq. These tablets refer to a place called “Meluhha”, which is believed to be the Indus Valley. There was extensive trade between the Indus Valley Civilization and Mesopotamia. Many Indus Valley seals were found there.
Archaeologists still conduct excavations in many sites throughout Pakistan and India. Recent findings have revealed that the Indus Valley Civilization arose much earlier than previously thought, placing it within a similar time period with Ancient Egypt.
One of the big mysteries about the Indus Valley Civilization is their system of writing. Among the artifacts recovered in many of the excavations in both Pakistan and India are square-shaped objects made from a rock called steatite. These objects are called seals. Seals, along with marks on pottery are the most common places in which the Indus Valley writing is found. Scholars, however, have not been able to decipher this writing. Different scholars have their own theories about what specific symbols mean, what type of language it is, and where the language comes from.