THE DARK SUBCONTINENT OF INDIA
When the great continent of Pangea began to break apart 250 million years ago, one of its pieces floated northward. This wandering subcontinent, India, finally collided with the continental mass of Asia. As India ploughed into Asia, the greatest mountain range in the world was thrown up, the mighty Himalayas.
The Indian subcontinent is surrounded by ocean to the south-east and south-west, to the north by the Himalayas, and to the east by the jungles of Assam and Burma. But, unlike the Middle Kingdom, it is not completely cut off. Entrance can be made from the north-west, across 'the land of the five rivers', the Punjab.
Just as in Egypt, Mesopotamia and China, a settled mode of life first arose in India in the valleys of a great river and its tributaries. We know that by 2500 BC great cities existed at Mahenjo-daro on the Indus, and at Harrapa on the Sutlaj, in present-day Pakistan (Fig. 17.1). Both cities are built in blocks 200 × 400 yards (180 × 360 metres) in extent around a central citadel of mud brick rising 50 feet (15 metres) high. The blocks are separated by roads 30 feet (9 metes) wide and each house has its own drainage system. The inhabitants of the Indus valley knew the working of copper and bronze, and cultivated cereals for themselves and their herds. They had evolved a means of writing, which we still can't read. This seems to have too many signs to be an alphabet. Perhaps each sign represented a sound, as in Sequoia's Cherokee syllabary. We know that the Indus civilization was trading with Mesopotamia at the time of Sargon (c. 2350 BC). Like the Sumerians, the Indus people worshipped the elements, and like the Cretans they had a fertility goddess and her consort, a male god. They probably also worshipped various god images in the form of animals, such as the bull. What happened to the Indus civilization? At the highest (most recent) levels of excavation, are found human skeletons in contorted poses and ground turned red by fire. The Indus culture was destroyed, violently, by external invaders.