Indus Valley Civilization Notes

Indus Valley Civilization Notes

The Indus valley civilization evolved over a period of 1000 Years into a prosperous urban civilization. the Indus valley civilization is among the four great carbon civilizations of the world, All of which were located in broad river valleys. in chronological order, they are Mesopotamian Civilizations along the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. Egyptian civilization along the rivers Nile, Indus Valley Civilization along the river Indus in the Chinese civilization along the river Hwang Ho. Check out History of India notes in detail. 

The name India derives its origin from the river Indus. the Aryans called the Indus Sindhu but the Persians under Darius I Who occupied northwestern India called it Hindu because of the difficulty they faced in pronouncing the term. the greeks identified in the with Hindu The Arabs Name the country as Hindustan when they came to India. Thus the people who inhabited The land were called Hindus and their religion Hinduism.  

The Indus valley civilization is also called Harappan civilization because Harappa was the first site to be discovered in 1921 when Sir John Marshall was the head of of Archaeological Survey of India. since then as many as thousand sides have been excavated and the most recent site excavated in 1994 is at Balathal near Udaipur which reveals a four thousand-year-old settlement.

 Chronology of Indus civilization:

The general agreement with regard to chronology after using the latest Masca calibration in radiocarbon method of dating is around the period of 2500 BC-1500 BC


The area covered by the civilization is around 1.3 million km2 which is much larger than  Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. it extends from Manda near Jammu in the north to Bhagatrav  in Gujarat in the south and from Suktagendor in Baluchistan on the Pakistan Iranian border in the west to Alamgirpur (Meerut district, UP) in the east.

Common characteristic features of Indus cities:

  • All the cities have the grid system off town planning with the streets and lanes cutting one another at right angles,  dividing the city into several rectangular blocks.
  •  the cities have two distinct parts: a Citadel, which is a mound built On a high podium of mud bri,ck and the lower town is the main residential area. all the important buildings were located in the Citadel area.
  •  standardized burnt bricks were used for construction. there were bricks of various shapes to suit the construction, like wedge shaped bricks and sawn bricks
  •  there was an excellent underground drainage system connecting all houses into covered Street drains equipped with manholes.

 Main Cities in Indus Valley:

 Mohenjo Daro:

 it is located in the Larkana district of Sind (now in Punjab) . it was excavated by S D Banerjee and is the largest of all Indus cities.  the site is famous for the great bath ritual bathing site and a multi pillared assembly hall probably used for administrative purposes. a fragment of woven cloth is discovered here, indicating textile activity in the City.


Located in the Montgomery district of Punjab, it is the earliest site excavated by Dayaram Sahni in 1921. the city was a large trading Centre, as seen by the six huge granaries discovered here. some small one-room houses probably housing labourers were also discovered. A cemetery has also been discovered which indicates an armed invasion into the city.


Located in Sindh Pakistan, it does not have a Citadel. A beed and shell makers Colony  has been excavated here, indicating that the city was an important manufacturing centre.


Located in the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, it is the only site where the Citadel and the lower town are both fortified. the evidence of ploughed fields comes from this site. two platforms with fire altars have been discovered, suggesting the practice of sacrifices.


Located 70 KM north of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, it is the only site with an artificial brick  dockyard and probably was the main seaport for the Indus people. evidence of the earliest cultivation of rice was discovered here, and fire altars like those discovered at Kalibangan have also been found here.


Located in the Kutch area of Gujarat, it is famous because the earliest remains of a horse were discovered here.

 Economy of Indus Valley:

Indus Valley Civilization Agriculture:

Two varieties of wheat-club wheat and the Indian dwarf wheat what are the most popular crops. rice and wheat were grown in the sites of Lothal and rangpur, and the other crops grown in include  barley, sesamum, cotton, and various leguminous plants. humpless bull, Indian boar , elephant, and camel were domesticated, and these animals, along with dear and sambhar, were also killed for meat. 

Indus Valley Civilization Crafts production and Technology:

Various crafts like metal making, brick making, stone cutting, weaving, etc., Were known to the Indus people. bronze was the most common metal, while gold silver, Tin and copper were also used. iron was particularly absent. Panning or washing of gold dust was the principal means employed to obtain gold. pottery was made by wheel and baked in kilns. the majority of the pottery is plain, but a substantial part is also painted and decorated with natural motifs. few instances of ivory carving were also discovered.

Indus Valley Civilization Trade and Commerce:

 both interregional and foreign trade were present in the Indus age. The main imports of the Indus people were gold from Afghanistan and from South India, copper from Rajasthan, lapis lazuli from Badakhshan, Jade from Central Asia, Turquoise from Persia, besides many others.  the main exports of Indus Valley were Agricultural Products like wheat, barley and oilseeds besides Handicrafts like Textiles, pottery, Terracotta etc. Harappans were the first to discover cotton and trade in it. several Mesopotamian seals  have been found in Indus cities, and Indus valley seals were found in the ancient ports of Mesopotamia,  who probably referred to the Indus Valley region as Meluha. a seal with the ship on it was discovered at Lothal indicating the use of maritime transport  through  road transport was also in Vogue. since there is no evidence of currency trade was probably through the barter system.

Indus Valley Civilization Polity:

There is no clear cut evidence about the nature of polity. Since there was a uniformity in all the sites discovered, there seems to have been a centralised government. but whatever political organisation they had, there was a very efficient and well organised administration, As seen by the sites excavated.

Indus Valley Civilization Religion:

Seals are the main source of the religion of the Harappan; with the existence of many figures on sales we can say that the Harappan religion was polytheistic. the Terracotta figurine of a radiating nude lady was found, and she is supposed to have been what the historians have called the mother goddess. another seal contains a man seated in a yogic posture, and he is surrounded by animals like deer, rhino, tiger, and humped BullWith 3 faces and a Trident. he has been described as Pashupati. Phallic worship was also present, which meant the worship of the symbols of progeny like Linga and Yoni. Animal worship was also present, as seen by the cells containing  humped Bulls, unicorns, and snakes. trees, especially people and names were venerated. there is also evidence of Indus Valley people wearing amulets indicating their fear of evil, evidence of fire worship comes from the presence of fire altars at Surkotda, Kalibangan, and Lothal. Burial customs show that harappans practiced cremation and fractional burial . they also placed several articles in the burial pit. this shows their Belief in what is known as the other world.

Indus Valley Civilization Script and language:

Indus Valley script is pictographic in nature. the number of science is known to be between 400 to 600. The script was written from right to left and left to right in alternate lines. this style is called boustrophedon. The language of the harappans is still unknown but it seems to have belonged to the Dravidian family because a dialect called brahui spoken in Balochistan is close to the Tamil language.

Indus Valley Civilization Weights and measures:

The harappans had a scientific decimal system of weights and measures in the series of 1,2, 4,8 going up to 168. The research was done by an eminent archaeologist A S Hemmy.

Indus Valley Civilization Harappan art:

The discovery of many stone and metal sculptures and various remains of pottery along with more than 500 seals shows that the harappans had a high degree of artistic capability. the best stone sculptures which were discovered were the images of a bearded man wearing an ornamented Robe a nude male torso made of red sandstone and the small nude Dancing figure made by a grey stone. majority of these cultures are made of soft stone like steatite,  limestone or alabaster.

Among the various bronze sculptures discovered the best is that of a nude dancing girl with her right hand on her hip Among many others  found at Harappa chanhudaro and daimabad.

The Harappan pottery is bright red or black in colour and is well baked. The various articles were made by wheel though several other devices were employed. Circles, squares and triangles were the geometrical patterns and figures of animals, birds, Snakes and fish also occur on pottery. The remaining bases were mainly utilitarian in character.

The seals found in the Harappan sites are both artistic and serve as sources of information as well. they were made of steatite,  and Terracotta and contain various animal and plant figurines besides the important religious figures of mother goddess and Pashupati.

The decline of Indus Valley Civilization:

One view is that the Indus valley civilization was destroyed by the Aryan invasion. The presence of a cemetery at Harappa and the occurrence of the event of destruction of Hariyupia (identified with Harappa) by Indra which is mentioned in the taittiriya Brahmna of rig veda have been pointed as evidences to support the view.

Another  view Is that there was a tectonic upliftment of the region which destroyed the cities and flooded the low lying areas.

The third view Is that the frequent flooding of Indus river seems to have destroyed cities like Mohenjo Daro.

The fourth view is that environmental causes like the growing pressure of  population, decline in fertility of soil, erosion of landscape and the expansion of the Thar Desert were responsible for the decline of many sites especially in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

But the real truth is that different sites seems to have declined due to different causes during different periods. some of the harappans were either assimilated into the Aryan culture are migrated to the southern parts of India thereby ensuring continuity in many aspects of the Indus valley civilization till today. the worship of the mother goddess has been compared to our worship of Goddess Durga and the worship of Pashupati To the worship of Lord Shiva.

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