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The Indus civilization an ancient civilization in South Asia existed from about 2700 to 1750 BC It is sometimes referred to as the Harappan civilization named for the site of Harappa one of its major centers Geographically one of the most extensive early civilizations of the Old World it stretched from north of the Hindu Kush down the entire length of the Indus and beyond into peninsular India in the west outposts that extended almost to the present-day Iranian-Pakistani border have been found along the inhospitable Makran coast Unlike the ancient Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations which were largely restricted to river valleys and their alluvial plains remains of the Indus civilization have been found in diverse environmental settings Its settlements were however remarkably similar in layout and material culture Origins Because its script remains undeciphered the Indus civilization is known only from archaeological evidence Its origins traditionally were viewed as the result of the diffusion of farming and technology from more advanced cultures in Mesopotamia and on the Iranian plateau to Baluchistan and ultimately to the Indus Valley Today this theory is seen as largely incorrect Knowledge about early plant and animal domestication in lands east of the Iranian plateau is still obscure but the results of excavations at the important site of Mehrgarh at the foot of the Bolan Pass indicate that large settlements may have existed as early as the 7th millennium BC Two thousand or more years later sites in eastern Baluchistan and the Indus Valley were larger and more numerous at some like Kot Diji on the east bank of the Indus archaeologists have found various distinctive ceramic objects such as terra-cotta toy carts From this evidence archaeologists speculate that there took place an early or pre-Harappan spread of culture from the Punjab south to the Arabian Sea Scholars differ as to whether or not these early settlements evolved directly into the urban communities of the mature Indus civilization
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