Scientists have determined that the emerging new understanding of the Indus Civilization suggests that it might have been a powerhouse of commerce and technology in the 3rd millennium B.C.E.

According to a recent report in the journal Science, though there is much written about the Indus Civilization, this report is different because it highlights how our scientific - in this case archaeological - knowledge on the subject is not only expanding, but changing.

Striking new evidence from a host of excavations on both sides of the tense border that separates India and Pakistan has now definitively overturned the second-class status given to the Indus Civilization.

No longer is the Indus the plain cousin of Egypt and Mesopotamia during the 3rd millennium B.C.E.

Archaeologists now realize that the Indus dwarfed its grand neighbors in land area and population, surpassed them in many areas of engineering and technology, and was an aggressive player during humanitys first flirtation with globalization 5000 years ago.

The old notion that the Indus people were an insular, homogeneous, and egalitarian bunch is being replaced by a view of a diverse and dynamic society that stretched from the Arabian Sea to the foothills of the Himalaya and was eager to do business with peoples from Afghanistan to Iraq.

The Indus people worried enough about the privileges of their elite to build thick walls to protect them.

This idea that the Indus was dull and monolithicthats all nonsense, said Louis Flam, an archaeologist at the City University of New York who has worked in Pakistan. There was a tremendous amount of variety, he added.

Even well-combed sites have revealed some surprises:

While the city of Harappa may be 1000 years older and Mohenjo Daro far larger than once thought, the dramatic Buddhist stupa adorning Mohenjo Daros high mound may in fact date back to the Indus heyday around 2000 B.C.E.

For the first half-century after its discovery, the Indus was virtually synonymous with Mohenjo Daro and Harappa. No other major cities were known.

But along with 1000 smaller sites, archaeologists now count at least five major urban areas and a handful of others of substantial size. These sites reveal new facets of Indus life, including signs of hierarchy and regional differences that suggest a society that was anything but dull and regimented.

Also, one of the most fascinating aspect of the Indus Civilization is about international trade.

While evidence accumulates from Indus cities, other insights are coming from beyond the region, as artifacts from Central Asia, Iraq, and Afghanistan show the long arm of Indus trade networks.