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History Notes on ” The Harappan Civilization / Indus Valley Civilization “

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Harappan Civilisation is also known as Indus Valley Civilisation. It is the oldest Civilisation of India. There is no consensus about the chronology of the Harappan Civilisation. Various scholars have given different dates about this period.

According to Sir John Marshall, “this civilisation ourished between 3250 and 2750 BCE”. It was Daya Ram Sahni, who first discovered the sites of Harappan in 1921. The main centres of this civilisation are in Pakistan. The same famous sites of this civilisation (now in Pakistan) are Mohenjodaro and Chanhudaro.

The main centre where this Civilisation ourished in India are Kalibangan, Sangol, Pengplor, Lothal, Dholavira and Banawali.

The urban planning of this civilisation was very magnicent. The houses were built in a systematic manner. Roads were wide and cut each other at right angle. The people of Indus Valley Civilisation had also made best planning for the drainage of rainwater and dirty water. The caste system was not present in the society. All the people lived together with mutual love and understanding.% The women held a high position or rank in the society. They were fond of fashion. The economic life the people was very prosperous. The main occupations of the people were the agriculture and domestication of animals. Trade was well developed. Both maternal and external trade was carried out.

The people worshipped many gods and goddesses. They worshipped mother goddesses, Lord Shiva, animal, birds, trees and the Sun. They knew arts and crafts. They knew the art of making beautiful sculptures, toys, pottery, ornaments, etc. They were skilled in the production of seals.

The languages used by them on the seals is still to be deciphered. If one is able to decipher their script inscribed on the seals, it will throw a ood of the light on the various aspects of the Harappan Civilisation.

The main sources of our information of Harappan Civilisation is archaeological materials. The excavation carried out at Indus sites tries to reconstruct the history of this civilisation. During the excavation of Indus sites, many tools, pottery, seals, household objects, etc. have excavated.

All these excavated materials are deeply examined by the archaeologists. Many historians like Cunningham, R.E.M. Wheeler, John Marshall and G.F. Dates have played a valuable role in reconstructing the history of the ancient past including the Indus Valley Civilisation sites.



The ruins of Harrappa were first described in 1842 by Charles Masson in his Narrative of Various Journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan, and the Punjab. No archaeological interest would attach to this for nearly a century.

In 1856, British engineers John and William Brunton laid the East Indian Railway Company line connecting the cities of Karachi and Lahore

In 1872–75 Alexander Cunningham published the first Harappan seal. It was half a century later, in 1912, that more Harappan seals were discovered by J. Fleet prompting an excavation campaign under Fleet, prompting an excavation campaign under Sir John Hubert Marshall in 1921–22 and resulting in the discovery of the civilization at Harappa.



♦ The Early Harappan Ravi Phase, named after the nearby Ravi River, lasted from circa 3300 BCE until 2800 lasted from circa 3300 BCE until 2800 BCE. The earliest examples of the Indus script date from around 3000 BCE.

♦The mature phase of earlier village culturess is represented by Rhehman Dheri and Amri in Pakistan. KotDiji
(Harappan 2)  re presents the phase leading up to Mature Harappan.



By 2800 BCE, the Early Harappan communities had been turned into large urban centres. Such urban centres include Harappa, Ganeriwala, Mohenjo-Daro in Pakistan, and Dholavira, Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi, Rupar, and Lothal in India.


Seals, Script, Weights of Harappan Civilisation

Seals and sealings were used to facilitate long distance communication. If the bag of goods reached with its sealing intact, it meant that it had not been tampered with. Seals also conveyed the identity of the sender. The Harappan script remains undeciphered to date. The script was not alphabetical and had many signs between 375 and 400. Exchange were regulated by a precise system of weights, usually made of a stone called chert with no marking. The lower denominations of weights were binary and the higher denominations followed the decimal system.




Harappa is the first discovered site of this civilization excavated in 1921 by a team led by Daya Ram Sahni. It was a major urban centre during its mature phase surrounded by extensive walls.

It is located in Punjab Province, Pakistan, on an old bank / bed of the River Ravi.


Mohenjo-Daro (mound of dead) was excavated by a team led by R.D. Banerjee in 1922. It is located in the Larkana District of Sindh Pakistan on bank of Indus River.

The major findings in Mohen-jo Daro include a college,a multi-pillared assembly hall, the Great bath (the most important public place of the city),a large granary (the largest building of Mohenjo-Daro),a piece of woven cotton along with spindle whorls and needles, a pot-stone fragment of Mesopotamian origin, evidence of direct trade contact with Mesopotamia, a bronze dancing girl, discovery of human skeletons put together, a seal representing Mother Goddess with a plant growing from her womb, a bearded man; and a seal with a picture suggesting
Pashupati Mahadev



Kot Diji was a Pre-Harappan site and located on the left bank of River Sindh. This city was destructed by force or some fire. A tar is the major object found here.

Statues of bull and mother goddess are other things found in Kot diji.



Kalibangan is in Hanumangarh district of Rajasthan. It was located on the banks of now dried up Sarwaswati River,kalibangan literally means ‘black bangles.

The major findings of the site include, the oldest ploughed field, fire-Altars, charging bull, tiled floor, two kinds of burials (circular and rectangular graves), bones of camels etc.



Lothal is located in Ahmadabad, Gujarat. It was a coastal town and had different type of town planning. The city was divided into six sections and each section was built on a wide platform of unripe bricks. Entry to the houses were on Main Streetwhile other sites of IVC have lateral entry.

Important Findings of Lothal an artificial dockyard {which makes it an important sea link}, rice husk {rice husk has been found only at Lothal and Rangpur}, bead making factory etc.



The most interesting part of the discovery relates to the seals-more than 2000 in number, made of soapstone, terracotta and copper. The seals give us useful information about the civilization of Indus valley. Some seals have human or animal figures on them. But the cow was not represented on the seals and terracotta art of the Harappan culture. Most of the seals have the figures of real animals while a few bear the figure of mythical animals. The seals are rectangular, circular or even cylindrical in shape. The seals even have an inscription of a sort of pictorial writing. Most of the seals have a knob at the back through which runs a hole. It is said that these seals were used by different
associations or merchants for stamping purposes. They were also worn round the neck or the arm. The seals show the culture and civilization of the Indus Valley people.



THE PASHUPATI SEAL: This seal depicts a yogi, probably Lord Shiva. A pair of horns crown his head. He is surrounded by a rhino, a buffalo, an elephant and a tiger. Under his throne are two deer. This seal shows that Shiva was worshipped and he was considered as the Lord of animals (Pashupati).

THE UNICORN SEAL: The unicorn is a mythological animal. This seal shows that at a very early stage of civilization, humans had produced many creations of imagination in the shape of bird and animal motifs that survived in later art.

THE BULL SEAL: This seal depicts a humped bull of great vigour. The figure shows the artistic skill and a good knowledge of animal anatomy.



The chief female deity was Mother Goddess. In one terracotta figurine found at Harappa, a plant is shown growing out of the embryo of a woman. Probably the image represents the goddess of earth. The Harappans, therefore, looked upon the earth as a fertility goddess and worshipped her.



The knowledge of script must have helped the recording of private property and accounts-keeping. Numerous articles used for weights have been found. They show that in weighting mostly 16 or its multiples were used; for instance, 16, 64, 160, 320 and 640.

The Harappans also knew the art of measurement. The measures of length were based upon a foot of 13.2 inches and a cubit of 20.6 inches. Several sticks inscribed with measure marks, one of these made of bronze have been



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