Indus Valley Civilisation


The first and the best example of the Indus valley civilization was found at Harappa . So this civilization on the banks on River Indus is also known as Harappa culture.

Till the discovery of the Harappa civilization in 1922, Indian historians usually found it hard to prove that our civilization was at least as old as those of china, Egypt and Mesopotamia. They generally satiated the study of Indian history with the advent of the Aryans. The scholars were, therefore, naturally excited when the two officers of the Archaeological survey of India, Mr. R.D. Banerjee and Mr. Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni carried on excavations in the Laskana of the Sindh province and the Montgomery district of the Punjab. While Mr. R.D Banerjee dug out the pre-historians city of Mohen-jo-daro, in 1922 which in the local language meant the Mound of the dead, Mr. Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni had already discovered the rivers of Harappa in 1921. The leftovers of both the places indicated that they belonged to a similar civilization which flourished in the country about 5,000 years ago. As the sites of this civilization were located in the valley of the river Indus and its tributaries, so the historians called it the Indus valley civilization it was sir john Marshall, the director- general of the Archaeological survey of India who first called this civilization as the Indus valley civilization. It was also called the Harappan culture as the first site of this civilization was discovered at Harappa in 1921.


The Indus valley civilization was an ancient civilization that flourished in the Indus and Ghaggar Hakra river valleys but also northwestern India and parts of Afghanistan. Another name for this civilization is the Harappa civilization, after the first of its cities to be excavated, Harappa. Although the Indus valley civilization might have been known to the Sumerians as Meluhha, the modern would discovered it only in the 1920as a result of archaeological excavations.

The earliest traces of civilization in the Indian subcontinent are to be found in places along, or close, to the Indus River. Excavations first conducted in 1921-22, in the ancient cities of Harappa and Mohen-jo-daro, pointed to a highly complex civilization that first developed some 4,500-5000 years ago, and subsequent archaeological and historical research has now furnished us with a more detailed picture of the Indus valley civilization and its inhabitants. Though ate Indus valley script remains undeciphered down to the present day, the numerous seals discovered during the excavations, as well as statuary and pottery, not to mention the revues of Indus valley cities, have enabled scholars to construct a reasonably plausible account of the Indus valley civilization.


The rains of Harappa were firs described by Charles Masson in his Narrative of various journeys in Baluchistan , Afghanistan and Punjab , 1826-1838, but its significance was not realized until much later. Moreover, in 1875, brutish engineers unwittingly employed bricks from the Harappa rives in the construction of the last Indian railway line connecting Karachi and Lahore . More than Ralf a century later, in 1912, Harappa seals-with the then unknown symbols-were discovered by J. Fleet, prompting as excavation campaign under sir john Hubert Marshall in 1921/22, and resulting in the discovery of the lithest unknown civilization at Harappa by sir john Marshall, Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni and madho sarup vats, and at mohan-jo-daro by Rakhal Das Banerjee, T.J.H MacKay and Sir John Marshall. By 1931, much of Mohan –jo –daro had been excavated, but campaigns continued, such as that led by sir mar times wheeler .as director of the Archaeological survey of India in 1944, Among other archaeologists who worked on Indus valley civilization sites before the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 were Ahmad has an Dani, Brij Basi lal, Nani Gopal Mazundar, and sir Aural stein. The area of Indus valley civilization from this time includes those led by sir Mortimer wheelers in 1949, as archaeological adviser to the Government of Pakistan.


The mature phase of the Harappa civilization lasted from c.2600 BCE to 1990 BCE. With the inclusion of the predecessor and successor cultures – early Harappa and late Harappa, respectively – the entire Indus valley civilization may be taken to have lasted from the 33 rd century the 14 th centuries BC. It can be divided into following main periods :

(1) Early Harappan : The early Harappa Ravi phase, name after the nearby Ravi river, lasted from circa 3300 BCE until 2800 BCE. It is related to the Hahra Phase, identified in the Ghaggar-Hahra River Valley to the west, and predates the Kot Diji Phase (2800-2600 BCE, Harappan 2), named after a site in northern Sindh, Pakistan near Mohen-jo-daro. The earliest examples of the “ Indus script” date from around 3000 BCE.

(2) Mature Harappan : By 2600 BCE, the early Harappan communities had been turned into large urban centers, such urban centers include Harappa and Mohen-jo-daro in Pakistan and Lothal in India . In total over 1,052 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region of the Ghaggar and Indus rivers and their tributaries.


The Indus valley civilization extended from Baluchistan to Gujarat, with an upward reach to Punjab from east of the river Jhelum to Rupar on the upper Sutlej. The Indus valley civilization encompassed most of Pakistan as well as the western states of India . An Indus valley site has been found on the Oxus river at Shoetughai in Afghanistan , in the Gomal river valley in the north-west Pakistan , at Munda on the Bear river real Jammu , India , and at Alangirpur on the Hindon River only 28 Km from Delhi . Indus valley sites have been found most often on rivers, but also on the ancient sea-coast, for example Balakot, and on islands, for example, Dholavir.

There is evidence of dry river beds overlapping with the Harra Channel in Pakistan and the seasonal Ghaggar River in India. Many Indus valley sites have been discovered along the Ghaggar-Hakra beds. Among them are: Rupar, Rakhigarhe, Sothi, Kolibangar and Ganwariwala.


Of the 250 sites of the Indus valley or Harappan civilization so far discovered, Mohen-jo-daro, and Harappa are considered to be the most important.

MOHEN-JO-DARO : In Sindhi language, It means the ‘mound of the dead' it was the chief city of the Indus valley civilization and probably the capital of the southern region. From the rives, the archaeologists have come to the conclusion that it was once a well planned city with straight, wide roads and a very highly developed system of drainage and sanitation.

HARAPPA : The rives of this city were discovered at a distance of 160 kilometers from Lahore on the Ravi river. It was probably the capital of another region it was also a well – planed city like mohen-jo-daro . It was bigger it area than mohen-jo-daro and was the first city of the Indus valley to be excavated in 1921.

Other important centers, beside mohen- jo- daro and Harappa , were Chanhee Daro in Sindh, lethal in Gujarat near Ahmadabad , kali Bangas in Nether Rajasthan, Alamgir near Haitinapur in Uttar Pradesh and mitahal in hisser district of Haryana.


A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture is evident in the Indus valley civilization. The quality of municipal town planning suggests knowledge of urban planning and efficient municipal governments which placed a high priority on hygiene. The streets of major cities such as mohen-jo-daro on Harappa were laid out in perfect grid patterns. The houses were protected from noise, odors, and thieves.

As seen in Harappa and mohen-jo-daro, this urban plan included the world's first urban sanitation systems. Wither the city, individual comes on groups of homes obtained water from wells. From a room that appeases to have been set aside for bathing, waste water was directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets. Houses opened only to inner courtyards and smaller lanes. The house – building in some villages in the region still resembles in some respects the house – building of the Harappa 's.


The people of the Indus civilization achieved great accuracy in measuring length, mass and time. They were among the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures. Their measurements were extremely precise. Their smallest division which is marked on an ivory scale found in Loral, was approximately 1.704mm. The smallest division engineers followed the decimal division of measurement for all practical purposes.

Harappa evolved new techniques in metallurgy and produced copper, bronze, lead and tin the engineering skill of the Harappans was remarkable, especially in building docks after a careful study of tides, waves and currents. The people of the Indus valley civilization, from the early Harappa periods, had knowledge of proto-dentistry.

A touchstone bearing gold streaks was found in Banawali, which was probably used for testing the purity of gold (such a technique is still used in some parts of India).


The Indus civilization's economy appears to have depended significantly on trade, which was facilitated by major advances in transport technology. These advances included bullock carts that are identical to those seen throughout south Asia today, as well as boats. Most of these boat were probably small flat bottomed craft, perhaps drives by sail, similes to those one can see on the Indus river today, however, these is secondly evidence of sea-going craft.

Judging from the disposal of Indus civilization artifacts, the trade networks, economically, integrated a huge area, including potions of Afghanistan , the coastal regions of Persia , northern and central India and Mesopotamia.


Indus civilization agriculture must have been highly, productive. It was capable of generating surpluses sufficient to support tens of thousands of urban residents who were not primarily engulfed in agriculture. It relied on the considerable technological achievements of the pre-Harappa culture, including the plough still, nary little is known about the farmers whop supported the cities of their agricultural methods. Some of then undoubtedly made use of the fertile alluvial soil left by rivers after the flood season, but this simple method of agriculture is not thought to be productive enough to support cities, these is no evidence of irrigation, but such evidence could have been obliterated by repeated, catastrophic floods.


Stone images, figurines and engravings on seals help us to know the religious ideas and beliefs of the Indus valley people. The discovery of many statues and figurines of the divine mother was very common. The head dress is like a far and she is weaning many movements. In one particular seal, she has been shown standing in the bifurcated branches of a papal tree and a worshipper is shown as bringing a goat in front of the deity, perhaps for offering as a sacrifice to the goddess.

Moreover, the discovery of so many smoke-stained finale figures has led the Historians to believe that possibly oil or incense was burnt before the female deity to get her blessings. The worship of the mother Goddess reveals that there people believed that female energy is the source of all creation. Among the male gods, Shiva was the most prominent. In one of the seals, this god is shown seated on a raised platform, cross-legged, in a yogic posture, with his sight fixed on the tip of the nose. He has three faces and the crown on the head is adorned by a trishul. He is surrounded by animals. This god is believed to be ‘Shiva Pasupath'. Shiva was also worshipped in the form of lirga and yoni. They worshipped demigods also. No temples have been discovered among the ruins of Indus valley. So, it is evident that they did not worship their gods in temples. They worshipped animals like bull, buffalo, tiger, rhinoceros, crocodile, snake etc.

It is difficult to say whether these animals were worshipped as deities or spirits of deities or vehicles of the gods and goddesses.

The also worshipped the papal tree. It was regarded as the abode of gods. Dove was considered a sacred bird. They were afraid of demons. So, they had faith in charms and amulets. Both cremations and burial of the dead bodies was prevalent. The graves contained household pottery, ornaments, mirrors etc. it same that they believed in life after death. Purification by bath was considered to be a religious duty.

We can conclude that modern Hinduism possesses many of there feature and owes a great deal to the religion of the Indus people. There is no doubt about it that there is an organic relationship between the ancient culture of the Indus Valley and the Hinduism of today.


The pre-historic remains discovered at Harappa and Mohen-jo-daro also throw a good deal of light on the social life of the Indus valley people.


It is not easy to say to which particular race these people belonged because very few skulls and bones have been discovered. The few skeletons which have been discovered, are in such a condition that it is difficult to solve this problem. Some scholars consider them as a branch of the Indo-Aryans, while others think that they were Dravidians. Of skeletons show four racial types, mainly of the Mediterranean type. This problem of race is really baffling and it is difficult to come to any definite conclusion. This problem can be solved only when their script is deciphered. But the small size of the windows and doors show that they were snout in stature.


Their food was very simple. They ate wheat, barley, rice, milk and milk-products. They liked fruits and vegetables. They also used fish, eggs and meat.


In the absence of actual specimens of clothing, it is difficult to describe the dress of the Indies valley people. Clay spindles and the dress of the statues and carvings on the seals throw some light on their dress. Clay spindles suggest that they knew how to weave cotton. The clothes were generally of cotton, though wood was also used. From the dress of the male figure on a statue, we came to the conclusion that men wore a ‘dhoti' and a ‘shawl' covering the left shoulders and passing behind the right shoulder. The female dress did not differ much from that of the male.


Both men and women were fond of weaving ornaments. Necklaces, fillets, finger-rings and armlets were used by both the sexes. Girdles, amulets, ear-rings, bangles and nose-stud were worn by women alone the ornaments were made of gold, silver, ivory, copped precious stones, shells, bones etc. they were of various shapes and designs and were exceedingly chiming and beautiful.


The Indus valley people were great loves of beauty. They were familiar with various styles of hair dressing. Men kept long hair, worsen in a lock, at the bock on collected as a bun (Joora) in the middle of the head. Men kept beards in different fashions. Women were also familiar with varies hair styles. They kept their hair in older and tight with the help of fillets and hair pins. Toilet jars, discovered at mohen-jo-daro show that young maidens tooth keen interest in beauty and toilet culture. They knew the use of mirrors, combs, face paint, lipsticks, collieries (surma) and perfumery.


Like all civilized people, the Indus valley people found time for enjoyment. They had great interest in indoor amusements and they did not like outdoor games much, dancing and singing were their popular amusements. A Lange number of dice of various kinds have been discovered, it shows that they were very fond of playing dice, hunting, fishing, bull-fighting and cock-fighting were some other means of amusement for men. Children amused themselves with various kinds of toys, such as whistles, rattles, toy-cants, water-jugs etc. the girls played with doles. Thus, we can say that the social life of the Indus valley people was very lively.


Agriculture and domestication of animals were the two main occupations of the Indus valley people. They cultivated wheat, barely, rice and cotton in large, quantities. They domesticated animals like the bull, the buffalo, the cow, the dog, the sheep, the goat, the camel etc. wild animals like the tiger, the bear, the rhinoceros, the hare, the monkey etc. were also known to them. The discovery of a large number of spindles shows that the Indus valley people knew the art of weaving and the textile industry was an important industry of those people. Spinning and weaving were done in every family. And they kept a large number of people busy, the craft of pottery attained a high degree of excellence. The pots were made on the wheel. The Indus valley potter was a skilled craftsman and produced pair, clowned and glazed pottery. The gazed pottery was decorated with designs and pictures. It is believed that the glazed Indus pottery is the earliest example of its kind in the ancient would. The jewelers produced wonderful jewelry for the use of the people, the metal workers made various kinds of tolls, implements and utensils from copper and bronze, such as spears, knives arrowheads, axes fish- hoots and razors. Iron was not known to them. The making of beads and amulets were also popular. They were made of clay, stone, paste, shell and ivory. The Indus valley craftsman made excellent articles of shell and toys for the children. The rectangular seals reveal the artistic skill of the Indus valley craftsmen. They were perhaps used by trades to stamp their goods. Both inland and flowing trade was carried on by the Indus valley trades. They red trade relations with foreign countries like Samaria, Babylonian, Egypt etc. trade was carried on both by land and sea routes, weights and measures played an impotent part in the merchant's life and these have been found in various shaper and accurately graded. Small weights were cubical in shape while heavy ones very conical.


The Indus valley people were good artists and possessed artistic shill of high order. They made great progress in the field of art and architecture.


The Indus valley people constricted various types of buildings. Their buildings were plain and solid and were far away from artificial decoration , beauty and artistic excellence. Much attention was paid to utility and solidity. They constructed three types of buildings-dwelling louses, public heals and public baths. Firstly, there were the dwellings houses in order to meet the darer of floods, the houses were built on storey. The houses varied in size. The smallest one had one room while the bigger ones looked like palaces. The houses were built of brick, line and gypsum. Stone was not used in building houses. They had thick and strong walls which were plastered and colored. Their roofs were flat. They had kachacha floors, they had fewer windows. The doors were of different sizes and they opened in the streets. Almost every house had wells, driers, bathrooms, kitchens and courtyards. It is difficult to teal the exact nature and purpose of these buildings. They might have been used for different public purposes. A high-pillared hall,24.5 meters square, has been discovered at mohen-jo-daro. Perhaps it was an assembly hall which was to carry on the business of the state. Another huge discovered at Harappa . It is 61.5 meters long and 15.5 meters wide. It was used for storing Arians. The most important building is perhaps the great bath, Unearthed at mohen-jo-daro. It resembles a large summing pool. This building is 55metres long and 35metres wide. There is a swimming pool in centre, 12metres long, 7metres wide and 3.5metres deep. There are galleries and rooms all-round the summing pool. It was used on religious festivals. It has a flight of steps at either end. It was fed by a well nearby. Arrangements had drain. This pool is very strong and watertight. Near the south-west corner of the great bath was the ‘human', i.e., the hot air bath. The solidity of the buildings is clearly borne out by the fact that it has fully withstood the ravages of 5,000 years. These public structures clearly show the skill of the engineers and architect of the Indus valley. We must conclude that the art of building had reached a high degree of perfection.


Many statues and figurines of men and animals have been discovered at various places in the Indus valley. They show a high degree of development in the art of sculpture. The bronze figure of a dancing girl, with her land on her on her hip, is a masterpiece of the Indus art of sculpture. This piece of art in metal shows that sculpture her reached a high standard in the Indus valley civilization. The stone figure of a shawl-clad yogi is also a fine example of their art, the status of a young bull, a strong watch-dog, and a dancer standing on her right leg white raising her lift leg in front, are really praiseworthy. All these statues look quit life-like and speak highly of the artistic skill of the Indus sculpture.


The Indus valley people were well versed in the art of carving. More than 2,000 seals have been discovered from the various sites in the Indus valley. The engravings of the various animals on the seals like those of the humped bull, the buffalo, the bison, the deer, the tiger, the rhinoceros, the elephant, etc. reveal the artistic ability and technical skill of the engraver of the Indus valley. The figures on lather, metal, wood, ivory and soapstone are also vary remarkable and realistic.


The art of pottery had reached its high water-mart. Pottery was made on the wheel and was, therefore, regular in shape. The Indus potter was a skilled craftsman and produced plain, coloured and glazed pottery. It is generally believed that the glazed Indus pottery would. The Indus pottery was famous for its colures, shape rich design and perfect finish.


The Indus valley people were very found of painting and had made much progress in the art of painting. They were quit skillful in drawing the figures of men, animals and objects of nature on either wares, or utensils. A painted pot from sitting on the branch of a tree, holding a fish in its mouth, while a fox-like animal is sitting under the tree raising its mouth upward in expectation of grabbing the falling fish yet in another pottery fragment is desisted the figure of a fisherman carrying two nears on his shoulders. These and such other paintings show that the Indus valley painter was a superb artist


The Indus people had developed the art of writing and even developed script. This script has not been deciphered as yet and is a mystery for the scholars. But some say that it is pictographic where each letter stands for some object idea or sound. They have discovered about 250 to 400 pictographic. For instance, Ram Sharan Sharma says, “the Harappan script is not alphabetical but mainly like Dr. A.D Pusalkar remarks. “The script being alphabetic, it was mainly phonetic, most of signs standing for open or close syllables and the remainder functioning as determinates or ideograms.” Dr. S.R. Rao supports the second view and says that the Indus people used the phonetic script in the beginning which slowly and slowly in the late hardpan period assumed the alphabetic pattern. Under such circumstances noting can be said definitely.

There are also controversies as regards the direction-right to left or left to right –of the script sir john Marshall is of the view that the Indus script was read from lift to right. Dr. Prem Nath, however, believes that the Indus script can be read from right to lift.

As for as the language of the script is concerned, some scholars take it to be Sanskrit while other as Dravidian, but nothing final can be said until this script is read. In other to decipher this script some writers try to show the resemblance of the Indus script with other scripts in the ancient civilizations, especially with the Sumerian script.


The discovery of a large number of seals occupies a special importance of its own in the Indus valley civilization. More than 2,000 of such seals have been found at various sites of the Indus valley civilization. They are made of various materials such as pottery, steatite, faience, ivory etc. much of the information regarding the Indus valley people has been knowledge about the physical features of men, women, animals and birds of those days. They reveal the artistic skill of the artists and craftsmen of the Indus valley. An idea of the dress, ornaments, hair style, etc. of the Indus valley people can be dividing from the figures engraved of these seals. These seals also throw a good deal of light on the religious faiths and commercial activities of the Indus valley people. These seals have some inscriptions engraved on them.

Of all the 2,000 old seals, the most important is that of Shiva Pashupati which has been found art mohen-jo-daro. An interesting seal from Harappa is that of a needs female figure turned upside down, with outspread legs and a plant issuing form the belly. The reverse side has a man with a sickle- shaped knife in hand and a woman seated on the ground with hands raised in supplication.


The Indus valley civilization lasted about a thousand years. It disappeared by about 2,000 B.C when the Aryans beggar to arrive in India . Scholars have been destroyed by regular floods. An epidemic or some terrible disease might have killed the people. The climate also beggar to charge and the region become more and drier like a desert. Perhaps the Aryans attacked their withies and destroyed them. It is also possible for the earthquakes might have been responsible for the destruction of the Indus valley civilization.


The Indus valley people were peace-loving people who enjoyed various and comforts of life. Some of their achievements are really. Remarkable and they have left a heritage of which we are really very proud. About the contribution of the Indus people, Dr. R.K. Mukherjee says, “The Indus valley people gave to the world its earliest planning, its first architecture in stone and its fine example of sanitary, engineering and drainage works. To them also belongs the credit for producing some of the earliest specimens of pottery kames the labour force of animal for man's utility.

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