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Indus Valley Civilization


  • The oldest name- Indus civilization.
  • The most accepted period -: 2500 BC-1750 BC (by carbon-14 dating).
  • John Marshall was the first scholar to use the term ‘Indus Civilization’.
  • The Indus Civilization belongs to the Proto-Historic period (Chalcoilthic age/Bronze age).
  • Important innovations of this civilization include standardized weights and measures, seal carving, and metallurgy with copper, bronze, lead, and tin.
  • Little is understood about the Indus script, and as a result, little is known about the Indus River Valley Civilization’s institutions and systems of governance.
  • The civilization likely ended due to climate change and migration.
  • The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China.

The Extent of Indus Civilization

  • This was the earliest civilization that flourished in India on the banks of the river Indus, from frontiers extending Manda on the Chenab near Jammu in the north to Daimabad, on the Godavari in Ahmednagar in the south, embracing 200 sites in the kutch-saurashtra region of Gujarat out of more than 1000 and above site all over.
  • The northern-most sites of Indus Civilization are: Ropar (Punjab), Manda (Jammu-Kashmir).
  • The Southernmost Site of Indus Civilization are: Bhagatrav (Gujarat), Daimabad (Maharashtra).
  • The Eastern most site of Indus Civilization are: Alamgirpur (Uttar Pradesh).
  • The Western most site of Indus Civilization: Sutkagendor (Makran Coast- Pakistan Iran Border).

Phases of Indus Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization is often separated into three phases.

Important Sites of Indus Valley Civilization

More than 800 sites related to Harappan civilization have been discovered. Some important ones are -:

Important Sites of Indus Valley Civilization

SiteRiverState/ProvinceCountryExcavators  Important Findings
HarappaRaviPunjabPakistanDaya Ram Sahini(1921)Madho swaroop vatsa(1926)Wheeler(1946)Sandstone statues of Human anatomy Granaries Bullock carts  
Mohenjo-Daro (Mound of Dead)IndusSindhPakistanR.D Banerjee (1922)Mackay(1927)Wheeler (1930).Great bath Granary Bronze dancing girl Seal of Pasupathi Mahadeva Steatite statue of beard man A piece of woven cotton  
SutkagendorDast riverSindhBalochistanStein(1929)  A trade point between Harappa and Babylon  
ChanhudaroIndusSindhPakistanN.G Majumdar (1931).Bead makers shop Footprint of a dog chasing a cat  
KalibanganGhaggarRajasthanIndiaAmalanand Ghosh(1951)B.V.Lal (1961)B.K.Thapar(1961)Fire altar Camel bones Wooden plough  
LothalBhogavaGujaratIndiaS.R.Rao(1954)First manmade port Dockyard Rice husk Fire altars Chess playing  
BanawaliGhaggar  Haryana  India  R.S.Bist(1973)  Beads Barley Evidence of both pre-Harappan and Harappan culture    
  Dholavira  Luni  Gujarat  India  J.P.Joshi(1967-68)  Water harnessing system Water reservoir  

Features of Indus Valley Civilization

1) Town Planning

  • Town planning is the unique feature of Indus valley civilization. Their town planning proves that they lived a highly civilized and developed life.
  • The town Planning of Indus Valley Civilization was great and it had very well planned streets and roads were intersecting each other at 90 degree angle. The city was divided into a number of rectangular or square blocks.
  • Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro each had its own citadel or acropolis, which was possibly occupied by members of the ruling class.
  • Below the citadel in each city lay a lower town containing brick houses, which were inhabited by the common people.
  • The remarkable thing about the arrangement of the houses in the cities is that they followed the grid system.
  •  The great Bath was the most important public place of Mohenjo-Daro. It may have been used for ritual bathing. The dimension of the Great Bath was 11.88 m (length) x 7.01 m (breadth) x 2.43 m (depth).
  • Almost all the cities had a good drainage system. Every house had their own courtyard and bathrooms. In Kalibangan most houses had wells. The waters from the houses were flown to the big drains of the city. 

2) Agriculture

  • The Harappan villages, mostly situated near the flood plains, produced sufficient food grains.
  • Harappan grew wheat, barley, pulses, peas, rice, sesame, linseed, and mustard. They also developed some new tools known as plough and was used to dig earth for planting the seeds and turning the soil. A method of irrigation was used due to less rainfall.
  • The Harappan reared cattle sheep, goat, and buffalo. Water and pastures were present around many sites. People collected fruits, fish and hunted wild animals.

3) Art and Craft

  • The Harappan Culture belong to Bronze age i.e. , The people used many tools and implements of stone ,but they were well-acquainted with the manufacture and use of bronze.
  • Harappan objects were made of stone, Shell, and metal. Copper and bronze were used to make tools, weapons, ornaments, and vessels. 
  • They made pots with beautiful black designs. Bricks were so well made that they had seemed to have lasted for thousands of years and were laid in an interlocking pattern which made the walls strong.

4) Trade and Commerce

  • Inter regional trade was carried on with Rajathan, Maharashtra, Saurashtra, South India, Parts of Western Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • Foreign Trade was conducted mainly with Mesopotamia (Modern Iraq) and Bahrain. The trade was carried on by land as well as sea.
  • The Harappan carried on considerable trade in stone, metal, shell, etc.
  • Metal money was not used and trade was carried by barter system.
  • The Harappan carried on long distance trade in lapis lazuli; which may have contributed to the social prestige of the ruling class.

5) Religion

  • In Harappanumerous terracotta figurines of womenhave been found. In one figurine aplant is shown growing out of the embryo of a woman.
  • Themale deity is represented on a seal with three horned heads,represented in thesitting posture of a yogi.
  • Numerous symbols of the phallus and female sex organs made of stone have been found.
  • The people of the Indus region also worshipped trees and Animals.
  • The most important of them is the one horned unicorn which may be identified with the rhinoceros and the next important was the humped bull.

6) Burial Practices

  • Three forms of Burial are found at Mohenjo-Daro , and that are:

-Complete Burial

-Fractional Burial

-Post Cremation Burials 

  • The general practice was extended inhumation-The body lying on its back with the head generally to the north.

Decline of Indus Valley Civilization

  • The IVC declined around 1800 BCE but the actual reasons behind its demise are still debated.
  • One theory claims that Indo-European tribe i.e. Aryans invaded and conquered the IVC.

-In later cultures various elements of the IVC are found which suggest that civilization did not disappear suddenly due to an invasion.

  • Many scholars believe natural factors are behind the decline of the IVC.

-The natural factors could be geological and climatic.

-It is believed that the Indus Valley region experienced several tectonic disturbances which caused earthquakes and changed courses of rivers or dried them up.

-Another natural reason might be changes in patterns of rainfall

  • There could be also dramatic shifts in the river courses, which might have brought floods to the food producing areas.