There was direct trade between Mesopotamia and India from the 3rd millennium BCE, and indirect trade as far back as the 9th millennium BCE.

I'm wondering what effect the Bronze Age collapse (c. 1200 BCE) had on this trade, and on India in general. The article I linked to says trade with the Indus River valley was disrupted around 1900 BCE, but I find it hard to believe that all ME-Indian trade stopped. Surely, indirect trade routes survived, and maybe direct trade with nearer regions such as Persia continued as well.

I don't know enough about Vedic India to say how much it traded with Mesopotamia, or if it was harmed by the Bronze Age collapse. It seems like this was a time of slow state-building in the north, and continued prehistory in the south.

4 Answers 4


The Indus Valley civilization started declining around 1700 BCE. The Bronze Age transitioned into the Iron age also referred to as PGW(Painted Greyware)-Iron age, somewhere around 1000-1100 BCE (Iron was discovered in burial sites near Gandhara). There was no abrupt collapse of the bronze age. . The conventional viewpoint is that at this stage that mixing with incoming populations from central asia became more pronounced which led to the decline coupled with the Indus doab undergoing climatic changes. The population at the time became more distributed and scattered along the Gangetic doab which was more than a couple of thousand kilometers away from the Indus Valley.

However, studies have been published regarding the genetic linkage between the south Indian (Asian) and the Mesopotamian populations. If genetic studies show any sign of linkage then it does indicate some cultural/trade relation still existed. The extent of prehistory in south India has also been redefined in view of the ongoing excavations in the state of Tamil Nadu which have pushed back the urbanization date by more than a few centuries.

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    relation is due to the paleolithic austroloid migrations around the Southern edge of Asia.
    – John Dee
    Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 13:03
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    @JohnDee The paleolithic australoid migrations preceded these ages by a significant period of time is it not? The paleolithic australoid migrations were before tenth millennium BC if I am not wrong. Commented Oct 20, 2019 at 13:35

This is probably not a very good answer, although perhaps it provides some context.

There is evidence that the Indus valley people migrated towards Sumer, and conducted trade with Oman and the present day orient, by boat, from 3000BCE until later civilizations used the same trade route in 350BCE.

The details of Indus valley chronology and trade are enigmatic. Adding to Babylonian trade, there were vast tribal lands throughout coastal India/Asia where boat trade would also have been possible. The brief wiki entry on the Late Indus period coincides with the bronze-iron age transition and demonstrates that little has been dug up/deciphered in present day Pakistan and West India from 1200BCE.

The bronze age collapse was centered about 2000-4000 kilometres away from the indus valley, in fact, Egypt to the Indus valley is 5000 kilometres. As we travel Eastwards towards the Indus, the Historical knowledge becomes a great collection of undeciphered clay tablets and abandoned cities with little known history.

At around that time, Iceland's most dangerous supervolcano Hekla had exploded causing a decade of northern hemispheric cooling, perhaps associated with the Egyptian droughts, although there isn't a known climactic reason for bronze age collapse. enter image description here

The Greeks were fighting various wars like the fantasized Trojan war which is associated with celestial forces, historically suggested to be around 1280/1250BCE, at the time where Ramses ii was also fighting fierce invasions.

The civilization of Crete ended mysteriously, a bit later, around 1100BCE. They had struggled since the Minoan eruption of ~1600BCE.

Ramses II and III had fierce wars with maritime invaders who destroyed most coastal Egyptian cities from 1280 until 1200 BCE. The invaders were perhaps from the North-East Mediterranean.

The Babylonians of modern day Iraq, Tigris and Euphrates had a fairly regular sequence of rulers and frequent wars with the Assyrians who controlled the west of the Tigris and Euphrates. Their script and history is well known.

To the east of Babylon was the mysterious Elam empire, nearer to India. They spoke an undeciphered language perhaps related to Harappan language which is also undeciphered. Elam used Akkadian script whereas the Harappans used their local script. Indus Harrapan trade-stamps have been found in Babylon and present day Iran/Elam.

To unravel the loose ends would be to figure out the Harrapan script: This researcher discusses the challenge of decoding the texts.

  • According to wp, Elamite is reasonably well-understood: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elamite_language
    – Jan
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 1:26
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    Of course, Alexandria didn't exist at the time of the Bronze Age Collapse, so it's probably a bad example to use as a location.
    – Spencer
    Commented Dec 30, 2021 at 0:36
  • Oh yes, thanks, I changed that to Egypt. Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 17:52

If the new information is correct, the great megadrought which seems to have caused the disruption in the eastern mediterranean could have also messed up the weather systems in India as well, which would have forced the migration to the Gangetic plain, which seems to be supported by DNA evidence. This is not an academic paper, therefore I know I have not done any citations, however the info is right out there on the net and easy to access. Trade would definitely been disrupted and that could have had repercussions beyond India and Mesopotamia. Did the IVC export tin?

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    Directing people to look things up on the net isn't really of much value as a supposedly authoritative answer.
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Dec 28, 2021 at 22:51
  • Could you revise to provide the citations and to make it more responsive to the question.
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 4, 2022 at 21:22

Collapse of bronze age marked the downfall of a highly developed urban civilization.Its trade and commerce which helped it to expose this civilization to the civilization flourished in various parts of the world, started to decline which ultimately isolates the civilization which helped the Aryans to slowly but steadily replace it with a less developed rural civilization. Evidence of it can be reached in later (declining) phase of Indus valley civilization. People of bronze age used science in their life that was unequal to other parts of the erstwhile civilizations. For instance- they used grid pattern to design their city. They used granaries to store grains from being destroyed. Their metallurgy skills were without equals. Their waste management system was far superior to what we see even today in many parts of this world. They were well versed in ship building and maritime technologies, which unfortunately forgotten by successive civilizations. In terms of religion they seem of one view. Evidences show that women were highly reputed in Indus valley civilization which sadly deteriorated in Vedic times. Also their trade routes were forgotten which later attributed to Alexander for their discovery. By land and by sea they flourished their trade with middle-east Asia and Middle Asia. Seals of Bronze age India were also found in different parts of the world which clearly signifies the development of trade and commerce. Their culture and customs can still be seen practiced in many places in Indian Subcontinent.

Unfortunately, around 1500 B.C. it all started to decline and all the growth and developments were kept aside until its excavation in 1921. We became isolated, trades were cut-off, and such a glorious civilization was forgotten for thousands of years. Had it not happened, India would have seen uncountable centuries of prosperity.

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    This would be improved with some links/references to your source(s).
    – Steve Bird
    Commented Sep 30, 2019 at 14:27

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