While it is hard to set a concrete time when actual Ayurvedic practices came about, by the time of the Indus Valley Civilization (whose earliest antecedents at Mehrgar trace back to about 7,000 BCE), Ayurveda was well developed and the attitude of people towards health practices was advanced. The ancient cities of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were intricately planned to include drainage systems, public wells and waste removal structures indicating their appreciation of proper sanitation. Excavations of these cities found stag-horn and cuttlefish bone suggesting that vegetables, animals and minerals were used as sources for drugs (stag horn and cuttlefish bone are known to be useful in treating cardiac pain and respiratory disorders and, interestingly, among many of these ancient remedies are still used in Ayurveda today).
In addition to the use of certain drugs, Indus peoples placed great emphasis on personal hygiene and fitness, and with their efficient techniques, sound thinking about health matters and insightful knowledge into therapeutics, the Indus Valley Civilization played a vital role in the early development of Ayurveda. In addition to its great age, dating Ayurveda is made all the more difficult by the fact that its canon was reduced to writing very late in its development, having existed solely in oral form for countless centuries.
- Dr William Courson