How could an advanced, thriving civilization the size of Norway just disappear?

The Indus Valley Civilization, India’s oldest known people group, once occupied the Indus Valley that stretches from western India to Afghanistan. Their abrupt collapse in 1500 BC is baffling—the scale rivaling that of the great Mayan decline.

In 1922, archeologists started uncovering remnants of this people’s fascinating cities, lost for 4,000 years. By 1998, 1400 town sites were discovered, some occupied by 50,000 residents!

Adding even more mystery, the towns were laid out in perfect grids by experienced, organized engineers and workers. Each brick home had its own bathroom, connected by clay pipes that ran underground and dumped waste outside the city. Each had running water and windows that opened onto a central courtyard.

Residents were skilled in metallurgy, jewelry-making, and even dentistry. They developed their own precise measuring system and their hard, uniform bricks still survive. In the fertile valley, they grew a surplus of food and each town had a large central storage building for grain.

So what happened? Wouldn't you know if your great-grandfather lived in 50,000-person city? How could this information vanish from the records and memories? With no known natural disaster and no evidence of a military defeat, scientists continue to search for more clues.

Here’s my question: If massive, complex cultures can exist for 2000 years, then virtually vanish off the face of the earth, with no one knowing what happened, what makes us think it couldn’t happen to us?

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Created by Phred St Laurent May 27, 2010 at 11:35pm. Last updated by Phred St Laurent May 31, 2010.

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