The Indus Valley Civilization was arguably the most advanced ancient civilization that we know of. However, the sudden end or destruction or abandonment of the Indus Valley Civilization and Mohenjo-daro is a mystery. Built around 2500 BCE, Mohenjo-daro was one of the biggest urban settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization. Deserted in around 1900 BCE, the city was not rediscovered till 1922 AD. However, it is a world heritage site now in the current Sindh district of Pakistan.
More than 4500 years from now, they had far more planned cities than we have now. Prevalent technologies included flush toilets, paved roads, covered sewers, a well-established metric system, assembly line, water heaters, wheeled transport, extensive canal networks, irrigation technologies and universal access to water. They also had developed proper science of metallurgy as well as proto-dentistry among many others. Having achieved great accuracy in measuring time, mass & length, their understanding of the Universe was unparalleled as well.
We do not know what exactly led this civilization to come to halt but what we know is that some extremely precious knowledge & information that we had gathered as a civilization was totally lost. Writing as a technology was invented during this time & the people from Indus Valley Civilization used as many as 600 symbols as inscriptions & signboards. Very little remains of everything that was then and we can just speculate what was what.
A lot of speculations have been made about the sudden end of the civilization. Some say the city of Mohenjo-daro was destroyed by severe floods 7 times over and that’s how it eventually ended. Some say the invasion of Indo-European Aryans brought the Indus Civilization to end. Some attribute the end to climate changes, tectonic shifts & planned migration. However, there is yet another interesting theory of it all being ended by an atomic bomb.
From the remains found of Mohenjo-daro 1922 onwards, we have found 37 skeletons which are allegedly radioactive. There were some skeletons that were still holding hands & they seemed to have not gotten enough time to react to the impending catastrophe. The city also supposedly has a 150 feet wide epicenter of the alleged atomic blast inside of which everything was crystallized, fused or melted. There were black lumps of glass found all across the city indicating tremendous amount of heat.
What’s more? To support this claim of atomic bomb, there is a proper narration in the ancient Indian text of the Mahabharata which attributes the end to a nuclear explosion. The verse goes like:
“White hot smoke that was a thousand times brighter than the Sun rose in infinite brilliance & reduced the city to ashes. Water boiled, horses and war chariots were burned by the thousands. The corpses of the fallen were mutilated by the terrible heat so that they no longer looked like human beings. It was a terrible sight to see, never before have we seen such a ghastly weapon.”
And there are traces everywhere in the ancient Indian manuscripts of technologies far more superior than what Science has achieved even till today. The advent of Science has anyway been very recent in the past 2-3 centuries itself.
We know it for a fact that precious information related to aeronautics, medicine, economics, etc. existed during the time of Mohenjo-daro which was all but lost in a tragic incident and took some 4000 years to resurface.
Including the nuclear blast theory, these are all just speculations of what could have happened. We will probably never know it for sure. But this serves as a very good example of how technology could be used for self-destruction in such a way that it would take us some millennia to revive the knowledge that already existed.
We as an intelligent species are not progressing if we are still just busy harnessing our technology for weapons of mass destruction.
In the next part, we will visit another ancient world, this time in Egypt, and understand how Hypatia – a beautiful & scholarly woman, was murdered & the great library of Alexandria was burned in the name of religion!