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(CIVILIZATION in the INDUS VALLEY – continued)

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CIVILIZATION in the INDUS VALLEY (2 of 3)

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Aryans Invade, Conquer and Make War in the Indus Valley

Around 1500 BCE, rainfall in the Indus Valley region increased again, making the Indus Plain better able to support life. It has been estimated by various scholars that between 1500 and 1200 an illiterate, pastoral people migrated from the northwest, perhaps across the steppe lands of what is now central Russia, through Afghanistan, through the Khyber Pass and onto the Indus Plain. These migrants were to be called Aryans and to be classified as Indo-Europeans, their speech related to modern European languages except Basque, Finnish and Hungarian.

With the Aryans, modern India was to be divided mainly between two language families, one Indo-European and the other Dravidian.

Settlement, Conquest and Autocracy

The Aryans had a horse culture, and no evidence exists of horses among the many representations of animals of the lost Harappan civilization. It is believed by some that like other pastoral people, the Aryans were warriors. They had two-wheeled chariots like the Hyksos that they packed away on carts pulled by oxen.

Indus Valley

The Indus River is surrounded by green. The Khyber Pass is at the top and left of center.

The Aryans were familiar with prowling and hunting with bow and arrow. They enjoyed chariot racing, gambling and fighting. Like other pastoral peoples, men dominated the women. Like the pastoral Hebrews each family was ruled by an authoritarian male. And each Aryan tribe was ruled by a king who felt obliged to consult with tribal councils.

Aryan tribes spread out across the Indus Valley region. They warred against local, non-Aryan people, and they settled in areas that provided them with pasture for their animals. They grouped in villages and built homes of bamboo or light wood – homes without statues or art. They began growing crops. Their environment supplied them with all they needed, but, responding to their traditions and perhaps impulses, tribes warred against each other – wars that might begin with the stealing of cattle. The word for obtaining cattle, gosati, became synonymous with making war. And their warring grew in scale, including a war between what was said to be ten kings.

Gradually, Aryan tribal kings were changing from tribal leaders to autocratic rulers. They had begun associating their power with the powers of their gods rather than the approval of their fellow tribesmen and had begun allying themselves with priests. And, as in West Asia, kings were acquiring divinity. By taxing their subjects, these kings could create an army that was theirs rather than an instrument of the tribe. These armies formed a horse-owning aristocracy and were sometimes led in combat by the king, who identified himself grandly as a warrior.

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