The Ancient World and Us
Each ancient civilisation left a legacy to future generations. People pass on knowledge, and retell old stories. They copy and improve technology. Sometimes they imitate ancient art or architecture or clothing.
The Indus Valley people did not leave great structures, like the Pyramids of Egypt or the Great Wall of China. Their cities have almost vanished. Today, visitors see ruins dug into by archaeologists.
Yet long after the Indus civilisation, skills such as trading, farming and brick-making were passed on. Indus people helped shape the later cultures of India and Pakistan.
Indus and Hindus
The religion of Hinduism probably has its roots in the Indus Valley civilisation. For example, Hindus worship a 'mother goddess' (her names include Parvati and Sakti), and the Indus religion had its own 'mother goddess'.
The Indus people thought the cow a special animal, the giver of life (meat and milk). Today, Hindus regard the cow as sacred.
Hindus bathe in the River Ganges, which for them is a holy river. Indus people too probably bathed as part of their religion, to clean the 'inner being' as well as the body.
The Indus people's gift to the world was showing how to live in peace in cities. Their way of life was based on trade, without money. With few if any enemies, they did not need large armies. Not everyone was rich, but even the poor probably got enough to eat.
In their clean, well-run cities the Indus people enjoyed beautiful as well as useful things. Life was not all work. They made toys and jewellery, as well as drains.
City life requires law and order. The Indus system of city government worked well for at least 500 years.
The Indus and the swastika
The swastika is a cross with its arms bent at right angles to either the right or left. In the 20th century, a black swastika became the hated symbol of the Nazis in Germany. But the swastika is in fact an ancient symbol of goodness, and appears on seals found in the Indus Valley cities.
The name 'swastika' comes from an ancient language called Sanskrit, and means 'good to be'. It was a 'good luck' sign for Hindus, and to Buddhists it meant 'rebirth'. Ancient swastikas have been found on Hindu architecture, on coins from Mesopotamia, in the ruins of the city of Troy (Turkey), and in other Asian, European and Native American cultures.
Dice and chess
The Indus people may have been the first people to have used dice. Cube dice with six sides and spots have been found by archaeologists.
The dice found in the Indus Valley are very similar to the ones we use today. They have spots (nowadays called pips) on each side numbering from 1 to six.
Dice have also been found in south-eastern Iran, from a place known as the Burnt City. The dice from this archaeological site date back to 5,000 years ago. Dice may have come from Iran to the Indus Valley, or from the Indus Valley to Iran.
An early form of chess may have been played by the Indus people. Objects with grids on them and playing pieces have been found at sites in the Indus Valley. Could these have been early chess boards and pieces? Did the modern game of chess originate from these objects?