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  • THE INDUS or the Harappan culture is older than the chalcolithic cultures which have been treated earlier, but it is far more developed than these cultures.
  • It arose in the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent. It is called Harappan because this civilization was discovered first in 1921 at the modern site of Harappa situated in the province of West Punjab in Pakistan.
  • It extended from Jammu in the north to the Naramada estuary in the south, and from the Makran coast of Balcuchistan in the west to Meerut in the north-east. The area formed a triangle and accounted for about 1,299,600 square kilometers.                                    HARAPPAN CULTURE
  • Nearly 1500 Harappan sites are known so far in the subcontinent. Of these, the two most important cities were Harappa in Punjab and Mohenjo-daro (literally the mound of the dead) in Sindh, both forming parts of Pakistan. Situated at a distance of 483 kilometers they were linked together by the Indus.
  • A third city lay at Chandu daro about 130 km south of Mohenjo-daro in Sindh, and a fourth at Lothal in Gujarat at the head of the Gulf of Cambay.
  • A fifth city lay at Kalibangan, which means black bangles, in northern Rajasthan. A sixth called Banawali is situated in Hissar district in Haryana. It saw two cultural phases, pre- Harappan and Harappan, similar to that of Kalibangan.
  • The Harappan culture mature phase are found in the coastal cities of Sutkagendor and Surkotada, each one of which is marked by a citadel.
  • The later Harappan phase is found in Rangpur and Rojdi in the Kathiawar peninsula in Gujarat.
  • In addition to these, Dholavira lying in the Kucch area of Gujarat shows Harappan fortification and all the three phases of the Harappan culture. These phases also appear in Rakhigarhi which is situated on the Ghaggar in Haryana and is much bigger than Dholavira.

Characteristics Of  Indus Valley Civilization

  • 2700- BC.1900 ie for 800 years.
  • On the valleys of river Indus.
  • Also known as Harappan Civilization.
  • Beginning of city life.
  • Harappan Sites discovered by – Dayaram Sahni (1921) – Montgomery district, Punjab, Pakistan.
  • Mohanjodaro discovered by – R. D. Banerji – Larkana district, Sind, Pakistan.
  • The city was divided into Citadel(west) and Lower Town(east).
  • Red pottery painted with designs in black.
  • Stone weights, seals, special beads, copper tools, long stone blades etc.
  • Copper, bronze, silver, gold present.
  • Artificially produced – Faience.
  • Specialists for handicrafts.
  • Import of raw materials.
  • Plough was used.
  • Bodies were buried in wooden coffins, but during the later stages ‘H symmetry culture’ evolved where bodies were buried in painted burial urns.
  • Sugar cane not cultivated, horse, iron not used.


  • Origin lies in various indigenous Pre-Harappan cultures. Indus Civilisation was culmination of a long series of cultural evolution.
  • Emerged out of the farming communities of Sind and Baluchistan, Haryana Oujarat and Rajasthan.
  • Continuous cultural evolution from 6000 BC onwards in North West India which finally culminated in the rise of Indus Civilisation.

Phases Of Development

  • Began in Baluchistan & Sind are then extended into the plains.
  • Archaeological excavation & research have revealed phases of cultural development bursting up in the emergence of a full-fledged civilization at Kalibangan, Banavali and Rakhigarhi.
  • These phases are Pre-Harappan, Early Harappan, Mature Harappan and Late Harappan
  • Extent of Harrappa:- From in North Manda (J & K) to 1600 k.m Daimabad (Maharastra.) in East Alamgirpur (U.P.) to 1100 K.m Sutkangedor (Bluchistan). Total Area was 12,99,600 Sq. k.m.
  • These phases of cultural evolution are represented by Mehargarh, Amri, Kalibangan and Lothal respectively.

Town Planning And Structures

  • Uniformity in strutures: A great uniformity in town planning, the fundamental lay-out of prominent urban settlements exhibits apparent similarities.
  • Based on ‘Grid Pattern’: streets and lanes cutting across one another at right angles dividing the city into a number of rectangular blocks. Main streets ran from north to south and were as wide as 30 feet.Streets and lanses were not paved.
  • Entire City Complex Was Bifurcated Into Two Distinct Parts: the ‘CITADEL’ a fortified area which housed important civic and religious public buildings including granaries and residences of the ruling class and the ‘LOWER TOWN’, somewhat bigger in area and invariably located east to the former, meant. for commoners. Evidence of fortification of the lower towns as well from a few urban centres like Surkotada and Kalibangan and evidence of division of the city into three parts instead of two from Dhaulvira.
  • Use Of Burnt Bricks: Use of standardized burnt bricks on massive scale in almost all types of constructions (an extraordinary feature of the contemporary civilizations), circular stones were used at Dholavira.
  • Planned Drainage System: Elaborate and planned underground drainage system. Houses were connected to the main drain equipped with manholes. Mostly made up of bricks with mud mortar. Use of gypsum and lime to make it watertight. Cesspits were there inside the houses to deposit solid waste. Bricks culverts meant for carrying rain and storm water have also been found. Bricks were made in ratio of I 2 4. Size of Bricks – 7 C.m in Thick,
    • 14 C.m Width
    • 28 C.m Long.


  • The Indus people produced wheat, barley, rice, peas, etc.
  • They produced two types of wheat and barley.
  • A good quantity of barley has been discovered at Banawali.
  • In addition to this they produced sesame and mustard.
  • As 1800 B.C., the people of Lothal used rice whose remains have been found.
  • Food grains were stored in huge granaries in both Mohenjo-daro and Harappa and possibly in Kalibangan.
  • Probably, cereals were received as taxes from peasants and stored in granaries for the payment of wages as well as for use during emergencies. This can be said on the analogy of Mesopotamian cities where wages were paid in barley.
  • The Indus people were the earliest people to produce cotton. Because cotton was first produced in this are the Greeks called it sindon, which is derived from Sindh.

Art And Crafts


  • No of seals discovered is approx. 2000
  • Seals are the greatest artistic creation of the Harappan people — cutting &polishing craftmanship is excellent.
  • Composition- Made of steatite (Soft stone), Sometimes of Copper, Shell, Agate, Ivory, Faience, Terracotta.
  • Size— 4 inch to 2Y2 inch.
  • Colour — White appearance. Famous colour of seal was green.
  • Purpose: Marked ownership of property. Used in applying to bales of merchandise. (Discovery of such seals beside the dockyard of Lothal).
  • Shape — Square, Rectangular, Button, Cubical, Cylinder, Round
  • Two main types:-
    Square — carved animal & inscription, small boss at the back.
    Rectangular— inscription only, hold on the back to take a cord.
  • Most frequently depicted animal – Unicorn
  • Displays symbols – Circles, Crosses, Dots, Swastiks, Leaves of the Pipal tree.
  • No bird were depicted on Harappan seal.                          HARAPPAN CULTURE
  • Other animals : Elephant, Tiger, Rhino, Antelope, Crocodile.
  • ‘Persian Gulf Seals’ have been discovered from Lothal.
  • Pashupati Seal has been found from Mohanjodaro. It depicts Siva seated on a stool flanked by an elephant, a tiger, a. rhinocerous, a buffalo and two antelopes / goats. Marshall identified it with Proto — Siva.


  • Mainly two types Plain pottery and Red and Black Pottery with decoration, the majority being the former.
  • Widespread use of potter’s wheel made up of wood, use of firing technique, use of kiln.
  • Variety of Pleasing Design — Horizontal strips, Check, Chess-Board Pattern, Interesecting Circles (Pattern exclusively found), Leaves & Petals, Natural Motif — Birds, Fish, Animals, Plants, Human Figure — Rare (A Man & A Child found from Harappa), Triangles.
  • Pottery had plain bases. Few ring bases have been found.
  • Mainly famous colour of pot was pink. General design was on the red base horizontally black line on pots.

Technical Achievements

  • Water Harvesting System—Dholaveera
  • English Bond method-Bonding system for bricks.
  • Lost-Wax technique, used for making bronze images.
  • Kiln Bricks — Evidence of Kiln has been  found at Rakhigarhi
  • Flemish Bond method-used for making staircases.
  • For small measurement binary system and for big measurement decimal system were used in Harappa.


  • Trade was important in the life of the Indus people. The Harappans carried on considerable trade in stone, metal, shell, etc, within the Indus culture zone. However, their cities did not possess the necessary raw material for the commodities they produced.                              HARAPPAN CULTURE
  • They did not use metal money. Most probably the carried on all exchanges through barter. In return for finished goods and possibly food grains, they procured metals from the neighboring area by boats and bullock-carts.
  • They practiced navigation of the coast of the Arabian Sea. They knew the use of wheel, and carts with solid wheels were in use in Harappa. The Harrap had commercial links with one area of Rajasthan, and also with Afghanistan and Iran.
  • They had set up a trading colony in northern Afghanistan which evidently facilitated trade with Central Asia. Their cities also carried commerce with those in the land of the Tigris and the Euphrates.
  • Many Harappan seals have been discovered in Mesopotamia, and it seems that the Harappans imitated some cosmetics used by the urban people of Mesopotamia The Mesopotamia records from about 2350 B.C. onwards refer to trade relations with Meluha, which was the ancient name given to the Indus region.
  • The Mesopotamian texts speaks of two intermediate trading stations called Dilmun and Makan, which lay between Mesopotamia and Meluha. Dilmun can probably be identified with Bahrain on the Persian Gulf..

Political Organization

  • We have no clear idea about the political organization of the Harappans. But if we take into account the cultural homogeneity of the Indus civilization it can be said that this cultural homogeneity would not have been possible to achieve without a central authority.
  • If the Harappan cultural zone is considered identical with the political zone, the subcontinent did not witness such a large political unit until the rise of the Maurya empire; the remarkable stability of this unit is demonstrated by its continuity for nearly 600 years.


  • Pashupathi Mahadev (Proto Siva)
  • Mother goddess
  • Nature/ Animal worship
  • Unicorn, Dove, Peepal Tree, Fire
  • Amulets
  • Idol worship was practised ( not a feature of Aryans)
  • Did not construct temples.
  • The similarity to Hindu religious practises. (Hinduism in its present form originated later)
  • No Caste system.

Harrapan Script

  • The Harappan invented the art of writing like the people of ancient Mesopotamia. Although the earliest specimen of Harappan script was noticed in 1853 and the complete script discovered by 1923, it has not been deciphered so far.                                              HARAPPAN CULTURE
  • There are nearly 4,000 specimens of Harappan writing on stone seals and other objects. Unlike the Egyptians and Mesopotamians, the Harappans did not write long inscriptions.
  • Most inscriptions were recorded on seals, and contain only a few words.
  • Altogether we have about 250 to 400 pictographs, and in the form of a picture each letter stands for some sound, idea or object. The Harappan script is not alphabetical but mainly pictographic.

Indus Valley Sites And Specialties

    • Seals out of stones
    • Citadel outside on banks of river Ravi                                    HARAPPAN CULTURE
    • Great Bath, Great Granary, Dancing Girl, Man with Beard, Cotton, Assembly hall
    • The term means ” Mount of the dead”
    • On the bank of river Indus
    • Believed to have been destructed by flood or invasion(Destruction was not gradual).
    • Bank of Indus river. – discovered by Gopal Majumdar and Mackey (1931)
    • Pre-Harappan culture – Jhangar Culture and Jhukar Culture
    • Only cite without citadel.
    • At Rajasthan on the banks of river Ghaggar, discovered by A.Ghosh (1953)
    • Fire Altars
    • Bones of camel
    • Evidence of furrows
    • Horse remains ( even though Indus valley people didn’t use horses).
    • Known as third capital of the Indus Empire.
    • At Gujarat near Bhogava river, discovered by S.R. Rao (1957)
    • Fire Altars
    • Beside the tributary of Sabarmati
    • Storehouse
    • Dockyard and earliest port
    • double burial
    • Rice husk
    • House had front entrance (exception).                        HARAPPAN CULTURE
    • Punjab, on the banks of river Sutlej. Discovered by Y.D Sharma (1955)
    • Dog buried with humans.
    • Haryana
    • On banks of lost river Saraswathi
    • Barley Cultivation.
    • Biggest site in India, until the discovery of Rakhigarhi.
    • Located in Khadir Beyt, Rann of Kutch, Gujarat. Discovered by J.P Joshi/Rabindra Singh (1990)
    • 3 parts + large open area for ceremonies
    • Large letters of the Harappan script (signboards).

Reasons For Decline Of Indus Valley Civilization (Theories Of Decline)

  • Though there are various theories, the exact reason is still unknown. As per a recent study by IIT Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India, a weaker monsoon might have been the cause of the decline of Indus Valley Civilization.
  • Environmental changes, coupled with a loss of power of rulers (central administration) of Indus valley to sustain the city life might be the cause (Fariservis Theory).
  • There might be a resource shortage to sustain the population, and then people moved towards south India.
  • Another theory by Dr Gwen Robbins Schug states that inter-personal violence, infectious diseases and climate change had played a major role in the demise of the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • Other theories:
    • Aryan Invasion: Motimer Wheeler
    • Tectonic Movements/ Flood – Robert Raikes
    • Change of course of river Indus – Lambrick.                              HARAPPAN CULTURE



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