Where is the Indus Valley?
The Indus is the longest river in Pakistan. Pakistan is a country in Asia. Look for it on the map. Afghanistan is to the west, China to the north, and India to the east. The Indus River begins in the Himalaya Mountains, and flows nearly 3,000 kilometres to the Arabian Sea.
In the Sanskrit language of Ancient India, the Indus was called the Sindhu. Other rivers such as the Sarasvati join the Indus as it flows down to the sea. The Indus Valley civilisation is sometimes called the Sindhu-Sarasvati civilisation.
A valley is a physical feature. It's the land shaped by a river. A valley can be V-shaped or U-shaped. A river can also create a wide, flat 'flood plain'. The Indus Valley was shaped by the Indus River, and here people long ago built some of the first cities.
Why did people settle near rivers?
Stone Age people hunted animals and gathered wild plants to eat. Rivers were good places to look for food. The first farmers also liked to live near rivers. A river keeps the land green and fertile for growing crops. Farmers lived together in villages. Indus Valley cities like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro began as riverside farming villages about 5,000 years ago.
The Indus people needed river water to drink, wash and to irrigate their fields. They used water in religious ceremonies. They made boats to travel up and down the rivers. To the Indus people, their river was The King River.
Other ancient civilisations
The Indus civilisation began about 5,000 years ago. It was one of the first civilisations. The others were in Egypt, Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) and China. The Indus Valley civilisation was the biggest.
Our word civilisation comes from the Ancient Roman (Latin) word, civis. meaning 'city'. In a city, people felt safe from enemies. City people learned many new skills. They made clay pots, bricks and metal tools. Some could read and write. Some became traders, travelling to other cities.
The first city-civilisations grew powerful. Their kings lived in palaces. Rich people enjoyed gardens, games, music, dancing and feasts. But most people were poor. Some were slaves.
How big was the Indus civilisation?
The Indus Valley civilisation was bigger than modern Pakistan, and four times bigger than Britain! There were more than 1,400 towns and cities. The biggest cities were Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Each city had as many as 80,000 people.
There were lots of smaller cities, such as Lothal, Dholavira, Kalibangan and Banawali. These names of these cities were given in later times. We do not know what the Indus people themselves called their cities