Lesson 1 Early Civilizations
Understanding Human–Environment Interaction: Ancient India
Much of the advanced Harappan civilization came about
through human interaction with their geographic environment.
Not only did the Indus River provide water for crops, but it also
produced mud for making bricks. Mud bricks enabled people to
make stronger buildings. This skill developed because the
environment by the river made mud bricks possible.
Over hundreds of years, the people’s relationship with the
river grew. They learned how to use the water to wash away
waste and to build boats for water transportation and trade.
Gradually, they got better at using the environment for human
The Harappan civilization was affected by its geography in
other ways. The Himalaya sit on an unstable geographical
break between Asia and India, where earthquakes are
common. There is evidence that somewhere close to the end
of the Harappan civilization, the Indus River changed its
course. Severe flooding followed. It is possible that an
earthquake caused this change in the river and many Indus
Valley cities were destroyed.
There also may have been changes in the pattern of the
monsoons. These changes may have caused a drought that
lasted hundreds of years. Between these two events—flooding
and drought—little would be left of this early culture.
India’s three most important major rivers are the Ganges, the Indus and the Brahmaputra.
The large cities of the Indus Valley civilization featured homes made mostly of brick.
Earthquakes and floods are the natural disasters that most possibly caused the people of the Indus Valley to begin to abandon their cities and villages.
The Aryans were a nomadic people that entered the Indus River valley around 1500 B.C.
In India’s caste system, the Kshatriyas class contained the warriors and rulers.
A caste- a social group that one is born into and cannot change
Raja-. the prince or leader of an Aryan tribe
Himalaya-mountain range blocking Indian subcontinent from Asia
Sanskrit-the written language developed in Aryan village
Monsoons- strong seasonal winds that have a large influence on India’s climate
Subcontinent- A large landmass that is smaller than a continent
Vaisyas-common people or middle class
Deccan Plateau-A dry highland between the mountains in central India