harappan civilization


Indus civilization, also called Indus valley civilization or Harappan civilization, the earliest known urban culture of the Indian subcontinent.

Indus civilization, also called Indus valley civilization or Harappan civilization, the earliest known urban culture of the Indian subcontinent. The nuclear dates of the civilization appear to be about 2500–1700 bce, though the southern sites may have lasted later into the 2nd millennium BCE.

harappan civilization

Important points to be remembered about Harappan Civilization

  • Dayaram Sahni in 1921 excavated the first site.
  • The earliest excavation in Indus Valley were done at Harappa in West Punjab and Mohenjodaro in Sindh.
  • The civilization existed between 2500-1500 B.C.
  • Mohenjodaro is the largest of all the Indus cities.
  • Important sites include:

Origin and Evolution of Harappan Civilization

There are four important stages of evolution:

The Pre-Harappan

  • Located in Eastern Baluchistan.
  • Excavations at Mehargarh, 150km northwest of Mohenjodaro.
  • Nomadic people started to live a settled agricultural life.

The Early-Harappan

  • People lived in large villages in the plains.
  • Gradual growth of towns in the Indus Valley.
  • Transition from Rural to Urban took place.
  • Amri and Kot Diji are sites of this period.

The Mature-Harappan

  • Great cities emerged during this period.
  • This phase of evolution was proved by the excavations at Kalibangan with its elaborate town planning and urban features.

The Late-Harappan

  • Decline of the Indus Culture started.
  • Excavation at Lothal belong to this period.
  • Lothal remained a hub of trade between the Harappan Civilization and the remainder of India as well as Mesopotamia.



  • Grid System: streets and lanes cutting across one another almost at right angle.Harappan, Mohenjodaro and Kalibangan each has its own citadel built on a high podium.
  • Large scale use of burnt bricks and absence of stone buildings.
  • Underground drainage system connecting all houses to the streets drains covered by stone slabs/bricks.
  • Largest building in Mohenjodaro was THE GRANERY (150*50 feet2)
  • Most important feature: The GREAT BATH.
  • Floors were made up of burnt bricks.
  • Water was drawn from a large well in an adjacent room and an outlet from one corner of the Bath led to drain.
  • The place must had served as a ritual bathing site.


  • Progress in all sphere such as agriculture, industry and crafts and trade.
  • Wheat and Barley were the main crops.
  • Other crops include sesame, mustard and cotton.
  • Animals: Sheep, Goat and Buffalo were domesticated.
  • A number of other livestock, including deer, were hunted for meat.
  • Specialized group of artisans:
    1. Goldsmiths
    2. Brick makers
    3. Stone Cutters
    4. Weavers
    5. Boat-builders
    6. Terracotta manufacturers
    7. Bronze and copper vessels were outstanding example of Harappan metal crafts.
    8. Gold and Silver ornaments were found.
  • Pottery stays simple and red and black painted pottery can be found in some locations.
  • Beads were manufactured from semi-precious stones.
  • Foreign trade was mainly from Mesopotamia, Afghanistan and Iran.
  • Major imports include gold, copper, tin and several semi-precious stones.
  • Major exports include Agricultural products such as wheat, barley, peas, oil seeds, etc. and variety of finished goods such as cotton goods, pottery, beads, terracotta figures and ivory products.
  • Trade was mainly of Barter Type.
  • Indus Valley seals and terracotta designs reveal the use of bullock carts and oxen for land transport and boats and ships for river and sea transport.


  • Dresses of both man and woman consisted of two pieces of clothes: one upper garment and one lower garment.
  • Beads were worn by men and women both.
  • Jewelries such as bangles, bracelets, fillets, girdles, anklets, ear-rings and finger-rings are worn by women.
  • Various household articles made of Pottery, Stone, Shells, Ivory and metals.
  • Marbles, balls and dice were used for games.
  • Fishing was a regular occupation while hunting and bull-fighting were other sports for recreation.


  • Figures of men and women, animals and birds made of terracotta and the carving on the seals.
  • Figure of dancing girl from Mohenjodaro made of bronze is remarkable for its workmanship. Its right hand rest on hip, while left arm covered with bangles, hang loosely in relaxed position.
Dancing-girl; Harappan Civilization
  • Two statures from Harappa, one representing the back view of a man and other of a dancer.
  • Pottery from Harappa is specimen of fine arts.
  • Pictorial motifs consisted of intricate patterns such as Horizontal line, circles, leaves, plants and trees.
  • On some potteries, figures of fish or peacock.
  • Script:
    • It is still to be fully deciphered.
    • No. of signs- 400-600.
    • Out of these 40-60 signs are basic, rest are variant.
    • Written from right to left.
    • Boustrophedon Method ( writing in the reverse direction in alternate lines) used in some long seals.


  • Chief deity was Pasupati (proto-shiva) sitting in a yogic posture with 3 faces and 2 horns.
  • He is surrounded by 4 animals (Elephant, Tiger, Rhino and Buffalo) each facing a different direction.
  • 2 deers appears on his feet.
  • Chief female deity was Mother Goddess represented in terracotta figurines.
  • Later, Linga worship was prevalent.
  • Trees and animals were also worshiped.
  • They believe in ghost and evil forces and use amulets as protection.
  • Burial Methods :
    • Complete burial and post-cremation burial were popular at Mohenjodaro.
    • At Lothal, burial pits was lined with burnt bricks indicating the use of coffins. Practice of pot burials was found there.
    • Wooden coffins were found at Harappa.
    • No clear evidence of practice of Sati.
    • At Lothal, Kalibangan and Harappa : Evidence of fire worship by discovery of fire altars.
  • Important Pre-Historic findings can be listed as below:
    • Nevasa: Evidence of Cotton
    • Atranjikheda: Textile Painting
    • Hastinapur: Wild Sugarcane
    • Inamgaon: Statue of Mother Goddess (Maharashtra)
    • Mehargarh: Earliest evidence of agriculture, settled life (Baluchistan)
    • Koldihva: Earliest evidence of rice.

Decline of Harappan Civilization

  • Natural calamities like recurring floods, drying up of rivers, decreasing soil fertility due to excessive exploitation and frequent earthquakes.
  • Invasion of Aryans.
  • The destruction of Forts is mentioned in Rig Veda.


The origin of Vedas

The Pre-Historic Era 

Jainism and Buddhism

The Age of 16 Mahajanpadas

The Mauryan Empire

Post-Mauryan empire

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