Harappan Culture (Indus Valley Civilization)
Written by Aminur Rashid   
Friday, 14 March 2008

The Harappan culture (IVC)

(2500BC-1750 BC)

                                                The area formed a triangle




 Suktogenedder                                        Alamgirpur
 (Makarana coast)

Important sites:



-   Left bank of river ravi

-         Montgomeri distt of  Pb

-         Hariyupiya (of Rig Veda)

-         Granaries (2 rows of six granaries)

-         Brick platform(for thrashing grains wheat and barley)

-         Measuring stick of bronze

-         South of  citadel(R-cemetery)

-         Toy bullock cart of bronze

-         1921 by D R Sahani 

-         Vanity case has been found



-         Bank of indus( right bank)

-         Great bath ( corbelled   drawn )

-         Floor was  waterproof

-         Granary(inside citadel)

-         Assembly hall

-         Bronze dancing girl(proto Australoid)

-         Male statue (made of steatite-Mongolian,represent priest (beard + moustache))

-         1922 by R D Banerjee

-         seal of pashupati

-         a piece of woven cloth



-         Ganganagar

-         River ghaggar

-         Here lower town was fortified

-         A ploughed filed with furrows

-         Fire altar(also at Lothal)



-         Artificial Dockyard

-         Bhogava river

-         Ahmedabad

-         R S  Rao

-         AT the head of gulf of Cambay

-         The similarity b/w chunhudaro & Lothal- Bead makers


-         Baluchistan

-         Fort of stone

-         Pot containing human ashes

-         Axes of Cu , bangles  of clay,bird whistle

-         Bones of horse


-         Clay model of plough shade

-         Haryana. Founded by  J.P. Joshi and R.S. Bist. 



-         Bead makers shop was unearthed


                                                     MAJOR CHARECTERSTICS


Mature phase:



   A) Town Planning:

-         houses followed the grid system

-         at Lothal  no citadel has been found

-         the first street(main street) in mohenjodaro ran North to South

-         towns were planned in chess board system


    B) Technology:

-         Bronze, stone (masonry), Goldsmiths (gold, silver, precious stone, steatite, electrum i.e. au-ag mix)

-         Seal making (of steatite) à rectangular or square

·        Pashupati seal (3 horned heads surrounded by elephant,tiger,rhinos & has a buffalo below his thrpwn.2 deers at his feet)

·        Pictures of zebu(humped bull),unciorn,tiger,elephant,rhinos,goat

-         weaving (1st  to use cotton,Greeks called it sindon)

-         pottery (Black in Red Ware)

-         Teracota(animals :used as toys or objects of worship

 C) Script:

-         Pictographic

-         Heirographic

-         Bonstrophedos

  D) Trade:      

-         land as well as marine

-         carried all exchanges through barter


·        precious stone

·        Lapis lazuli  à Badakshan in NE,afganishtan+jaipur

·        Tin à   Afganishtan +hazaribagh

·        Cu à khetri mines

·        Jade à tibet (central asia)

·        Au  à iran,afganishtan,mysore

·        Ag(silver) à iran,afganishtan,armenia

·        Turqoise à khorasan

·        Steatite à tape yaya (iran)

E) Agriculture:

-         wheat, barley(2 quality à good quality from banawali), mustard, sesamum, rai, peas, fruits

-         used sickle of stone àfor harveting

-         lothal and rangpur used rice

F) Weight And measures

-         binary syst for lower denominations

-         decimal system (multiple of 16 ) for higher denominations

-         measurement of length was by a scale of foot( of abt 13.0 – 13.2” or 37.6 cm) & cubit of (20.3 to 20.8 “ or 51.8 to 53.6 cm)

-         shapes of weigths (cubical ) made of steatite and lime stone

G) Religion

-         human worship:

a)      male deity

b)      mother goddess ( a plant is shown growing out of the embryo of woman: for fertility)

-         phallus worship

-         trees( pipal,neem)

-         animals
 a) one horned unicorn

 b) Humped bull

 c) methological animals/composite animals

-         Amulets ( showed they believe black magic)

-         Fire altars

-         Did not believe in life after death

-         Burial practices(body was placed in N S Direction)
a) fractional
b) complete
c) Double burial from Lothal
        widely Practiced: cremation
       coffin burial




    DECLINE: disappearance of its characteristic features



-         barbaric invasion/Aryans :R cemetery by wheeler also
hariyupiya of Rig Veda

-         floods & earthquake( supported by 7 layers of siltation at mohenjodaro)

-         shifting of indus(by Lambrick)

-         aridity in Ghaggar( by agrawal and sood)

-         Ecological imbalances( by fairserius)


                        POST URBAN PHASE

-          rangpr and rajda

-          swat valley ( manda in J & K northmost outpst of late haraapa culture)

-          cemetery H in Harappa

-          Sites of gujrat( lothal,rangpur,surkotada,prabas patan(somnath)

-          Sites of Pbà bara,bargan,hulas

-          Raj àahur(udaipur)


Political System of IVC – theocracy

Sites invented after independence

-          Rungpur (kathiyarwar), amre-(sind)


Facts about IVC:

·        horse evident from surkotada & Rana gundai (  ??  Lothal???)

·        Umma à  west asian site associated with discovery of bale of    cloth evidently as export from harappa

·        Mohenjodaro has skull having injury mark

·        Rice was discovered from lothal and kalibangan

·        Rana gundai à Black on red pottery

·        Nine strata of building Mohenjodaro

·                                                      granery(north)


                                         citadel (west)        


·         Architecture was utilitarian

·         Lothal survived very long




More Study Material


-    The Indus valley civilization or Harappan culture is older but far more developed than the chalcolithic culture.
-    The other contemporary civilization in the world were:
    The areas around the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea, the H Naug Ho valley in China, the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the Nile Valley in Egypt.

-    It was not until 1920 were preliminary trial diggings at Harappa by Dayaram Sahni and in 1922 at Mohanjodaro by R.D. Banerjee had yield identical finding, including the exotic seals. The potential of the sites were realized and the elements of a buried civilization were identified.

-    After the partition of India, all the well known Harappan sites, Mohanjodaro, Harappa, Chanhundaro, and Jhukar went to Pakistan.



On the River   

Discovered by




Dayaram Sahni




R.D. Banerjee




M.G. Majumdar








A. Ghosh




Y.D. Sharma




S.R. Rao



Run of Kutch   

Jagapati Joshi




R.S. Bist

   Names: The 'Indus Civilization' or 'The Harappa civilization:
-    There are two names that have been applied to ancient India's first phase of urbanizations. Harappan civilization or Indus civilization.

-    Since the mounds adjacent to the modern village of Harappa were the first locality where the remains at this civilization were first identified, then name 'Harappa' fits such a system perfectly.

-    The second name 'Indus civilization' is used interchangeably, because it refers precisely to the same culture, chronological and geographical unity.

-    While both these terms can be justified in some ways, neither of them is without shortcomings. For example, the very nation of the 'Indus civilization' in Gujarat is out at place in view of the fact that it is reasonably beyond the geographical bounds of Indus Valley as are Haryana, Indian Punjab and Western Uttar Pradesh where the Indus remains were found. The term 'Harappan Civilization' conjures forth a nation that the civilization began at a site which best represents the ancient urban system.

-    Indus civilization belongs to the Bronze Age. It is older but surprisingly more developed than the chacolithic cultures in the sub-continent.

-    The largest cultural zone of the period, the area covered by it (about 1.3 million sq. km) being much greater than that of either Mesopotamian civilization or Egyptian civilization.

-    Over 250 sites discovered so far about 1000 according to the latest estimate.

-    Extends from Ropar (Punjab) in the north to Bhagatrav (Gujarat) in the South (1100 KM) and from Sutkagendor (Pakistan-Iran Border) in the West to Alamgirpur (U.P) in the east (1600 Km).

-    According to the latest excavations the Northern most site is Manda (Jammu and Kashmir) and Southern most diamabad (Maharastra).
Total Area : 1,299,600 Sq. K.Ms.

-    The dating of the Harappan culture is based upon some Harappan objects found in West Asian Archaeological Contexts and Mesopotamian Artifacts in the Harappan sites. Still, the archeologists differ on this question.

a)    For, Wheeler, the time-bracket is 2500-1500 BC
b)    for Fairservis, It is  2000 to 1500 BC
c)    For Allchina, It is  2150 to 1750 BC.
d)    For Agrawal, It is  2200 to 1900 BC.
e)    For R.S. Sharma, Harappan Culture existed between  2500 and 1800 BC but the mature phase between  2200-2000 BC.

Generally acceptable time scale:
1)    Neolithic  500 BC to 3500 BC Mehrgarh and others.
2)    Early Harappan  3550 to 2600 BC
3)    Mature Harappan  2600 BC to 1800 BC Emergence of cities
4)    Late Harappan  1800 BC onwards
    Re-emergence at villages.

-    It is very difficult to explain the origin of Harapan culture several pre-Harappan settlements have been found in Baluchistan, Amni, Kalibagan, Mahonjodaro, Harappa and other places, but the connection between them is not very clear.

    However it cannot be denied that Harappan culture may have evolved out of these Indigenous settlement). The Logic behind such an assumption is obvious.

a)    There is a marked evolutionary development within these pre-Harappan settlements.
b)    We have increasing evidence of interaction between various pre-Harappan Settlements.
c)    And we cannot deny the existence of many Harappan traits in this pre-Harappan Phase.
d)    Again, there is some evidence both at Mohanjodaro and Harappa of a general cultural evolution.

    M. Wheeler and A. Gosh have tried to see the origin of Indus Civilization in this west Asian civilization.



Amriculture: Amri, situated at south of Mahanjodaro.
Main features:
-    Knowledge of metal working
-    use of wheeled pottery with animal figures painted on it.
-    Construction of rectangular houses, etc.

Kot-Dijaan Culture: Kot-Diji, situated in Sind.
Main Features:
-    Wheel made painted pottery
-    traces of a defensive wall and
-    well-aligned streets-knowledge of metallurgy
-    artistic toys, etc.

Solhi Culture Kalibangan: On the river af Ghagger
-    first excavated by Dr. A. Ghosh who termed it as both cultures.
Main Features: Wheel made painted pottery,
-    metal working particularly copper
-    Mud brick houses
-    Wall-aligned lanes

Baluchi Culture in Baluchistan:
-    Four separate cultures are identified with their places, viz. Zhob, Quetta, Mal and Kulli.
-    Are these have some common features:
-    painted pottery, terracotta, figurines use of copper, mud-brick houses, use of semi precious stones, etc
-    Out of all of them are rural in nature.

    The first three cultures, Amri, Kat-Dijian and Solhi cultures, could be considered as proto-Harappan cultures. But the fourth Baluchi cultures was undoubtedly pre-Harappan and also have some minor common features with the Indus civilization. Cannot be considered as full-fledged proto-Harappan culture. It is both proto and pre-Harrapan culture.

    The cultures which preceded Harappan culture are pre-Harappan cultures, while proto-Harappan cultures are those pre-Harappan cultures which have some close similarities with Harappan culture. In short, all proto-Harappan cultures are necessarily pre-Harappan cultures, but all pre-Harappan cultures are not necessarily proto-Harappan cultures.




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Last Updated ( Thursday, 30 April 2015 )