Harappan civilisation

Harappan civilisation

The advent of the Harappan Civilization, also known as the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), marks the beginning of Indian history.

Harappan civilisation


  • The advent of the Harappan Civilization, also known as the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), marks the beginning of Indian history.
  • It thrived around 2,500 BC in western South Asia, around modern Pakistan and Western India.
  • The Indus Valley was home to the largest of Egypt's, Mesopotamia's, India's, and China's ancient urban civilizations.
  • The Archaeological Department of India excavated the Indus valley in the 1920s, unearthing the ruins of two ancient towns, Mohenjodaro and Harappa.
  • In 1924, ASI Director-General John Marshall proclaimed the finding of a new civilization in the Indus Valley.

Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) phases include:

  • The three stages of IVC are as follows:
  • the Early Harappan Phase (3300–2600 BCE),
  • the Mature Harappan Phase, which lasted from 2600 to 1900 BCE, and
  • the Late Harappan Phase, which lasted from 1900 to 1300 BCE.
  • The Early Harappan Phase is associated with the Hakra Phase, which was discovered in the Ghaggar-Hakra River Valley.
  • The Indus script's earliest specimens date back to 3000 BC.
  • This period is distinguished by centralized power and an increasingly metropolitan quality of life.
  • Trade networks have been formed, and traces of agricultural production can also be found. Peas, sesame seeds, dates, cotton, and other crops were farmed during that time.
  • Kot Diji symbolizes the period preceding the Mature Harappan Phase.
  • The Indus Valley Civilization had reached a mature state by 2600 BC.
  • The early Harappan towns, such as Harappa and Mohenjodaro in Pakistan and Lothal in India, were growing into major urban centres.
  • The Indus River Valley Civilization's steady demise is said to have begun approximately 1800 BC, with most towns abandoned by 1700 BC.
  • However, several features of the Ancient Indus Valley Civilization may be seen in succeeding societies.
  • Archaeological evidence suggests that the Late Harappan civilization persisted until 1000-900 BC.

Structures and town planning:

  • The Harappan civilization was defined by its urban planning system.
  • Each city had its citadel or acropolis, which members of the governing elite may have held.
  • Each city has a lower town with brick buildings occupied by ordinary people beneath the castle.
  • The striking feature of the layout of dwellings in cities is that they adhered to the grid system.
  • Granaries were an essential element of Harappan towns.
  • The usage of burned bricks in Harappan towns is notable, as dried bricks were mainly employed in modern Egyptian constructions.
  • Mohenjodaro's drainage system was outstanding.
  • Every big or little residence in every city has its patio and bathroom.
  • Many residences in Kalibangan had wells.
  • The entire colony was fortified at places such as Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat), and portions within the town were also protected by walls.


  • The Harappan villages, generally on the river plains, produced enough food grains.
  • Wheat, barley, rai, peas, sesame, lentil, chickpea, and mustard were among the crops grown. Millets have also been discovered in Gujarat. In comparison, rice was used infrequently.
  • The Indus people were the first to cultivate cotton.
  • While grain findings suggest the existence of agriculture, reconstructing real agricultural activities is more challenging.
  • Representations on seals and terracotta art suggest that the bull was known, and archaeologists believe oxen were also used for ploughing.
  • Most Harappan sites are in semi-arid areas where irrigation was most likely necessary for cultivation.
  • Canal traces have been discovered in Afghanistan at the Harappan site of Shortughai but not in Punjab or Sindh.
  • Even though the Harappans practised agriculture, they raised animals on a massive scale.
  • A shallow level of Mohenjodaro and a dubious ceramic piece from Lothal provide evidence of the horse. In any event, the Harappan civilization was not centred on horses.


  • The presence of numerous seals, regular writing, and controlled weights and measures across a large region attests to the importance of commerce in the life of the Indus people.
  • The Harappans traded extensively in stone, metal, shells, and other materials.
  • Metal money was not utilized, and trade was conducted through the barter system.
  • They practised navigation along the Arabian Sea shore.
  • They had established a commercial colony in northern Afghanistan, which enabled commerce with Central Asia.
  • They also traded with people living around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
  • The Harappans engaged in long-distance trading in lapis lazuli, which may have contributed to the governing class's social standing.

Crafts :

  • The Harappans were well-versed in the production and use of bronze.
  • Copper was acquired from Rajasthan's Khetri copper mines, while tin was likely transported from Afghanistan.
  • Several artefacts have been discovered with textile imprints.
  • The massive brick construction suggests that brick-laying was a valuable skill. This also confirms the existence of a mason class.
  • The Harappans specialized in boat-building, bead-making, and seal-making. Terracotta production was also a significant skill.
  • Goldsmiths created jewellery out of silver, gold, and precious stones.
  • The potter's wheel was in full swing, and the Harappans created their distinctive pottery, which was glossy and gleaming.


  • Few written documents were unearthed in the Indus Valley, and academics have yet to understand the Indus script.
  • Consequently, determining the nature of the Indus Valley Civilization's state and institutions is challenging.
  • There have been no temples discovered at any of the Harappan sites. As a result, the prospect of priests dominating Harappa can be ruled out.
  • A merchant class possibly dominated Harappa.
  • Archaeological records only give immediate answers if we search for a centre of authority or images of persons in power.
  • According to some archaeologists, the Harappan culture had no rulers, and everyone had equal rank.
  • Some other theory contends that there was no single monarch but a multitude of rulers, one for each urban centre.


  • Several clay figures of women have been discovered at Harappa. In one miniature, a plant is represented developing from a woman's embryo.
  • As a result, the Harappans worshipped the earth as a fertility goddess like the Egyptians worshipped the Nile goddess Isis.
  • The masculine god is shown on a seal with three horned heads, seated in the stance of a yogi.
  • This god is surrounded by elephants, tigers, rhinoceroses, and buffalo beneath his throne. Two deer emerge at his feet. Pashupati Mahadeva is the name of the deity represented.
  • Numerous stone phallus and female sex organ symbols have been discovered.
  • The inhabitants of the Indus area highly revered trees and animals.
  • The most significant of them is the one-horned unicorn, which is related to the rhinoceros, and the humped bull is the second most important.
  • A significant number of amulets have also been discovered.

The Decline of Indus Valley Civilization:

  • The IVC died out circa 1800 BCE, although the causes for its death are still contested.
  • According to one version, the Indo-European tribe Aryans invaded and conquered the IVC.
  • Various parts of the IVC have been discovered in succeeding societies, indicating that civilization did not vanish suddenly owing to an invasion.
  • On the other hand, many academics feel that natural processes are to blame for the decrease in IVC.
  • Natural influences include geological and climatic issues.
  • The Indus Valley region is thought to have suffered multiple tectonic disturbances that resulted in earthquakes. This also caused rivers to alter their direction or dry up.
  • Changes in rainfall patterns might be another natural cause.
  • There might have also been severe changes in river channels, which could have caused flooding in food-producing areas.
  • The confluence of these natural processes resulted in the gradual but inevitable collapse of the IVC.

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