How Was the Indus Valley Discovered?

A British traveler named Charles Masson unwittingly stumbled upon what would lead to uncovering the Indus Valley when he encountered several mounds of bricks in India in the 1820s. Three decades later, engineers building a railroad through the same area found more of these bricks, which eventually prompted archaeologists to investigate. The bricks, it turned out, were part of the Indus Valley civilization.

The Indus Valley spans modern Pakistan and India. The people who lived there thrived 4,600 years ago in a nation that rivaled anything found in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia in terms of technology. Unlike their ancient counterparts, the Indus Valley residents were not a warring people. They did not bury their dead with opulent gifts as the Egyptians did, nor did they appoint emperors. They did, however, leave behind elaborate architecture and evidence of clean, highly organized cities.

Later excavations uncovered evidence of urban planning and sewer and drainage systems in the Indus Valley. Other discoveries included warehouses, granaries and dockyards. Archaeological evidence suggests that most Indus Valley city residents were artisans or traders. Neighborhoods appeared to have been delineated according to the professions of those who lived in them. For the most part, dwellings appeared to be roughly the same size, indicating a general social equality.