Indus Valley Civilization Important Points
Posted on : 24-09-2018 Posted by : Admin

  • It is given the name Harappan civilization because Harappa was the first site discovered here.
  • It is also called as Indus civilization. Induc valley is the largest concentration of settlement found along the Indus river valley.
  • The most accepted period of existence of Indus valley civilization is from 2500 BC to 1750 BC.This period is according to Carbon-14 dating technique.
  • John Marshall was the first person who used the term 'Indus civilization'.
  • The Indus civilization belongs to proto-historic period which is also known as chalcolithic age/Bronze Age.
  • Indus civilization was primarily urban kind of civilizaton.
  • Mohenjodaro is the largest site of Indus Civilization. 

  • Dholavira is the  largest site of Indus Civilization located in Indian territory.

  • Surkotada (Kutchh district, Gujrat) is the only Indus site where the remains of a horse have been found.

  • Iron was NOT known to the people of Indus valley.
  • NO temples have been found at any Harappan sites.
  • The origin of the 'Swastika' symbol can be traced to the Indus Civilization.

Port cities: Lothal, Sutkagendor, Allahadino, Balakot, Kuntasi. Among these Lothal was the oldest port of this civilization.

Capital cities: Harappa and Mohenjadaro

Animals and stock breeding

  • Sheep, goat, Humped and Humpless Bull, Buffalo, Boar, Dog, cat, pig, fowl, deer, tortoise, elephant, camel, rhinoceros, tiger etc. 
  • Cow, Horse and Lion were not Known to Indus people.
  • An instance of the Indian rhinoceros has been reported from Amri region.
  • Several varieties of deer were used as game by Harappans.


  • Wheat and Barley are the main crops of this civilization. 
  • Evidences of Rice cultivation are found only at Lothal and Rangpur (Gujarat). 
  • Peas, Dates, mustard, sesamum, cotton etc were few other crops grown at this civilzation.
  • People in Lothal cultivated rice as early as 1800 BC.
  • The irrigation depended on the irregular flooding of the rivers of punjab and Sind.
  • Canal irrigation was NOT practiced in this civilization
  • Indus people were  the first to produce cotton in the world. As cotton was produced from the Sindh region, it was called as Sindon by the Greeks.

Polity and political organization

  • There is no clarity on the political organization of the Harappans.
  • Because of the sheer range and volume of the products we can say that a central authority existed. This central authority was from the merchant class.

Religion and beliefs

  • Clay figurines of mother godess were worshipped as the symbol of fertility.
  • A seated figure of male god carved on a small stone seal is also found. This seal represents the traditional image of Pasupati mahadeva.
  • Numerous symbols of phallus and female sex organs made of stone have been the objects of worship.
  • Trees were treated as sacred. FOr example Pipal tree.
  • They revered bulls as sacred
  • Some people buried dead bodies in large cemetery and some people practiced urn burial.
  • Harappans believed that there is life after death and so their graves often contained household pottery, ornaments and mirrors belonging to dead person. 
  • The head of the dead bodies was generally pointed towards the north.

Indus script

  • Harappan script has not been deciphered yet. But overlap of letters on some of the potsheds from Kalibangan show that the writing was boystrophedon (from right to left) and from left to right in alternate lines. This style of writing has been refered to as Proto-Dravidian
  • Harappan inscriptions are shot.
  • The longest inscripton contained about 26 signs
  • Total number of signs in the harappan script are around 375 to 400.

Science and technology

  • Harappans knew mining, Metal work and the art of constructing well-planned buildings.
  • Some the buildings built by Harappan are higher than two stories
  • They also manufactured gypsum cement for joining stones and even metals
  • They knew how to make long lasting paints and dyes.
  • The public bath at Mohenjo Daro worked on ingenious hydraulic system

The Four corners of Harappa civilization

This civilization is found to spread over Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Western U.P and Northern Maharashtra regions. Harappa-Ghaggar-Mohenjodaro axis represents the heartland of the Indus civilization. The following are the four ends of Harappan civilization.

  • The Northern-most site Ropar (Sutlej)/Punjab (Earlier), Manda (Chenab)/Jammu-Kashmir (currently).
  • The southern-most site of Indus civilization-Bhagatrav (Kim)/Gujarat (Earlier), Daimabad (Pravara)/Maharashtra (currently)
  • The Eastern-most site of Indus civilization - Alamgirpur (Hindon)/Uttar pradesh.
  • The western-most site of Indus civilization -Sutkagendor (Dashk)/Makran coast, Pakistan-Iran Border.

Site Rivers Districts State Country Excavation
Harappa Ravi Montgomery Punjab Pakistan

Daya Ram sahni (1921),

Mandho swaroop vasta (1926),

Wheeler (1946)


Indus  Larkana Sindh Pakistan

Rakhal Das Bannerji (1922),

Mackay (1927),

Wheeler (1930)

Chanhudaro Indus  Nawabshah Sindh Pakistan

Maackey (1925),

N.G. Mazumdar (1931)

Lothal Bhogava Kathiyawar Gujarat India S.R.Rao (1954)
Kalibanga Ghaggar Hanumangarh Rajasthan India

Amalanand Ghosh (1951),

B.B Lal and B.K Thapar (1961)

Banawali Ghaggar Hissar Haryana India R.S Bist (1973)
Dholavira Luni Kutchh Gujarat India J.P. Joshi (1967-68)

 Common features of the major Cities of Indus valley civilization

  • Systematic town planning based on 'grid system'.
  • Use of burnt bricks in constuctions to give strength to the buildings.
  • Underground drainage system. The best example are the giant water reservoirs of Dholavira
  • Citadels are fortified with huge walls. The exception is Chanhudaro. This site has citadel with no fortification.

Important sites and the artefacts found there


Following are the artefacts found at this site:

  • 6 granaries in a row
  • Working floors and workmen quarters
  • Seal of virgin-goddess
  • Cemetery
  • Stone symbols of lingam (male sex organ) and yoni (Female sex organ)
  • Painted pottery
  • Clay figures of mother goddess
  • Wheat and barley in wooden mortar
  • Copper scale
  • Crucible for bronze
  • Ccopper-made mirror
  • Vanity box
  • Dice


It is also called as mound of dead men. Thi site is recognised as the UNESCO WOrld Heritage SIte in 1980. This iste is currently threatened by erosion and improper restoration. Following are the artefacts found at this site:

  • Great bath
  • Great granary (the largest building of civilization)
  • Assembly hall, shell strips
  • Dancing doll bronze statuette
  • Pashupati Mahadeva /Proto- Shiva (Seal)
  • Bronze image of a nude woman dancer
  • Steatite image of bearded man depicting a priest king
  • Human skeletons huddled together
  • Painted seal (Demi-god)
  • Clay figures of mother goddess
  • A fragment of woven cotton
  • Seven stranded necklace
  • Brick kilns
  • 2 Mesopotamian seals
  • 1398 seals (57% of total seals of civilization)
  • Dice


Following are the artefacts found at this site:

  • City without a citadel
  • Inkpot was found
  • Lipstick was found
  • Metal-workers shell-ornament makers
  • Bead makers shops
  • Imprint of dog’s paw on a brick
  • Terracotta model of bullock cart
  • Bronze toy cart


Following are the artefacts found at this site:

  • Dockyard
  • Rice husk
  • Metal- workers
  • Shell-ornament makers and bead –maker shops
  • Fire altars
  • Terra cotta figurine of a horse,
  • Double burial (burying a male and female in a single grave)
  • Terracotta model of a ship,
  • Dying vat
  • Persian/Iranian seal
  • Baharainean seal
  • Jar painted with bird and fox


Following are the artefacts found at this site:

  • Ploughed field surface (Pre-Harappan)
  • 7 fire altars
  • Decorated bricks
  • Wheels of a toy cart
  • Mesopotamian cylindrical seal


Following are the artefacts found at this site:

  • Lack of grid system town planning
  • Lack of systematic drainage system
  • Toy plough, clay figures of mother Goddess were found here


Following are the artefacts found at this site:

  • A unique water harnessing system and storm water drainage system
  • A large well and bath (giant water reservoirs)
  • It is the only site  to be divided into 3 parts
  • Largest Harappan inscription used for civic purposes
  • A stadium is also found at this site


Following are the artefacts found at this site:

  • Bones of Horse
  • Oval grave
  • Pot burials


The artefacts found at this site include Bronze images (Charioteer with Chariot, Ox, Elephant and Rhinoceros)

Trade and its network

Trade was an important part of this civilization. Extensive inland and foreign trade has been reported during this civilization.  Trade would have been both on mainland and maritime. This can be proved as small teracotta boats have been discovered. Also brick built dockyard has been found at Lothal. There is no evidence of occurence of coins. So Barter system might have been the normal method of exchange of goods. A vergy good and established method of weights and measures was followed. Perfectly made cubes of agate were employed for weighing. Weights followed binary system in lower denominations. FOr measuring the length strips of shells which are unshrinkable in heat and cold were used. Measurement oflength was based on unit of foot. 

Harappans procured all the things which were not available locally. Refer the below given table,

Imports  From location
Gold Kolar (karnataka), Afghanistan, Persia (Iran)
Silver Afghanistan, Persia (Iran)
Copper Khetri (Rajasthan), Baluchistan, Oman
Tin Afghanisthan and Iran
Lapis Lazuli and Sapphire Shortugai, Badak-Shan (Afghanistan)
Jade Central Asia
Steatite Kirthar Hills, South Rajasthan, North Gujarat
Amethyst Maharasthrta
Shell Nageshwar, Balakot
Carnelian Lothal, Bharuch (Gujarat)


  • Agricultural products
  • Cotton goods
  • Terracotta figurines
  • Pottery
  • Certain kinds of beads (from Chanhudaro)
  • Bonch-shell (from Lothal)
  • Ivory products
  • Copper etc.


  • Harappan eals and the objects used by the merchants for stamping the goods have been found at Mesopotamia.
  • Mesapotamian literature refers to UR as carrying on trade with far of foreign countries.
  • Seals representing marks of authority of traders were found in large number.


  • Spinning and weaving of cotton, wool, pottery making, bead making and seal making were some of the crafts.
  • Beads were made up of gold, silver, copper, faience, steatite, semi-precious stones, shells and ivory
  • Crafts were beautifully glazed and carved with motifs of animals, birds, men and women
  • Large number of teracotta figurines were also made by Harappans.
  • For pottery chiefly red clay was turned into fast lathe, glazed and ornamented with black bands with figurines of birds, animals and geometric designs.

Decline of Indus valley civilization

  • The decline of this civilization has been attributed to climate change, deforestation, excessive floods, Shifting or drying up of rivers, overuse of landscape etc...
  • Some of these may be the possible causes of the decline of the civilization
  • 'Indra is accused of causing the decline of Indus Civilisation'--- M.Wheeler.
  • The Rigveda speaks of a battle at a place named as 'Hariyumpia' which has been identified with Harappa.
  • None of these reasons explain why all the cities of the civilization ended at once.
  • Contemporary civilizations of Indus civilization are Mesopotamia civilization , Egyptian civilization  and Chinese civilization.

For more detailed articles on Indus valley civilization click below...

Indus Civilization: Historical aspect of physical features of India
Indus Civilization: Origin, Evolution and geographic spread
Indus Civilization: Important centers

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