Climate change can bring an end to civilizations, as well as triggering their birth. The most spectacular example of this is found in the Indus Valley, in Pakistan. From about 2500 b.c.e. until about 1700 b.c.e. a civilization flourished there. People grew wheat, barley, peas, sesame, dates, melons, and possibly cotton. Traces of cotton that were found there by archaeologists are the earliest known from anywhere in the world. There were elephants, rhinoceroses, cattle, and water buffalo. The elephant probably was domesticated and its ivory was used. People had dogs and cats, perhaps as house pets, and they may have had pigs, camels, horses, and asses.
The Indus Valley civilization was centered on two cities, Mohenjo-daro in the south and Harappa in the north, together with more than 100 towns and villages. Mohenjo-daro and Harappa were large cities, each covering an area of approximately one square mile (2.59 km2) and about three miles (4.8 km) in circumference. The map shows their approximate locations. At its peak the Indus Valley, or Harappan, civilization covered an area greater than Mesopotamia and the Nile valley combined. Its influence extended from close to Delhi almost to the Arabian Sea 300 miles (480 km) west of Karachi and to Ludhiana in the northeast. Trade was extensive. Gold, silver, copper, lapis lazuli, and turquoise were imported.
After about 1900 b.c.e., however, urban life began to break down, gradually at first but rapidly from around 1700 b.c.e. The climate was becoming drier, but with occasional monsoon downpours that flooded Mohenjo-daro several times. Around 1500 b.c.e. Mohenjo-daro was destroyed by invading Aryan people. They settled in the Indus Valley but remained close to the rivers. Eventually they also left. There was still some water there as late as 330-323 b.c.e., when Alexander the Great crossed the region, but the lands that once raised sufficient crops to feed that vast civilization are today part of the arid, inhospitable Thar Desert.
Out of the steppes of Central Asia
Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, cradles of the Indus Valley civilization
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