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The Peaceful Indus People - varnamvarnam
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The Peaceful Indus People

In chapter 1 of the companion book of the PBS series The Story of India, which talked about bird songs and mantras, Michael Wood writes about Indus Valley. Excavations in the Indus Valley have, so far, not answered this question: how was the city administered? For 700 years, who managed trade or planned the cities? Who established the script, the standard weights and pottery.? We don’t know.

Besides these usual items, Wood brings up something which is rarely given prominence: Unlike Egypt or Mesopotamia, there is no evidence of war in the Indus.

But, the Indus cities had fortified walls. Archaeologists have found arrowheads, and spearheads, besides a small number of daggers and axes. Sir Mortimer Wheeler believed that the tools could have been used for hunting and not warfare. The walls, it is believed, were built to protect the city against flood or to impress. There is no evidence of swords or body armor or military equipment like swords or catapults. Even the Indus art does not depict warfare or killing. Probably the residents were concerned with defense and had no experience in warfare.

All this caused Mark Kenoyer to say it is possible that the Indus civilization, which evolved over a period of 4000 years from the local cultures of Mehrgarh, managed to resolve conflict without warfare. If so, this would be a unique example of living among the bronze age civilizations – an early example of ahimsa.

Why didn’t the Indus cities fight among themselves? One explanation is that they did a good job in the distribution of resources. The distribution was uneven, but most households had more than adequate supply of food hence mitigating the need to become a communist.

Still this claim of “peaceful” Indus is a bit over the top. Kenoyer himself is skeptic suggesting that battles could have been recorded on perishable material, like painted cloth or clay.

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