Most people know a little about Ancient Egypt, but very few have any idea about the Indus or Harappan Civilisation, (2500-1900BC), which has an equal claim to fame. It consisted of at least 1,000 cities, including the largest and arguably the most advanced in the world, found in a 1.2 million-square kilometre area of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
A rare and exciting resource on this subject has now been created on the Internet. On the Harappa Web site primary teachers considering the topic for the first time will find introductory information and children can "take a walk" round Mohenjodaro, and find out about the discovery and excavation of the ancient cities.
Developed by US consultants Omar Khan and Jim McCall, the site is maintained in collaboration with leading experts on the Indus civilisation. These include the HARP team (PakistanAmerican Archaeological Research Project at Harappa) which has been carrying out a major re-excavation there.
Resourcing this subject, a key stage 2 history option on the list of "Non-European Civilisations" is possible, though daunting for teachers in comparison with others. Yet it is an exciting topic for children to investigate. There are lots of intriguing questions. Why, for example, did the civilisation collapse? And who could have ruled this vast trading system as there is no evidence of rulers with the status of a Pharaoh?
Children can learn about the process of archaeology and how new research throws light on existing knowledge and past interpretations. New and significant discoveries continue, and the site will be updated accordingly.
A resource section details current education publications for children and has a range of quality colour photographs not available in general books on ancient civilisations. It lists the few UK museums where Indus artefacts can be seen and Inset and activity sessions.
Harappa Web site:http:www.harappa.com Ilona Aronovsky is an author of Indus materials and contributed to the resource pages on this site.