Indus Valley Civilization

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  • The Indus Valley Civilization  forms a part of the protohistory of India.
  • It belongs to the Bronze Age.
  • Indus Valley Civilization is older than Chalcolithic civilizations.
  • In many ways it was far more developed than settlements in the Chalcolithic Age.

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Indus Valley Civilization sculpture
Indus Valley Sculpture

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Phases of the Indus Valley Civilization

  • The Harappan civilization can be classified in 3 phases
    • Pre-Harappan phase – 3200 to 2600
    • Mature Harappan phase – 2600 to 1900
    • Late Harappan or declining phase – 1900 to 1300 BC
  • Pre-Harappan civilization has been found at Mehrgarh, Pakistan.

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Area of the Indus Valley Civilization

  • 1,400 settlements of this civilization discovered so far.
  • Those are distributed over a very wide geographical area, almost
    • East to west – 1,600 km
    • North to south – 1,400 km
  • Harappan civilization extent starts from
    • West – Sutkagendor (Baluchistan)
    • East – Alamgirpur (Meerut, Uttar Pradesh)
    • North – Manda (Akhnoor, J&K)
    • South – Daimabad (Ahmadnagar, Maharashtra)
  • The total geographical stretch of Harappan civilization is about 1,250,000 sq. km
  • It was more than 20 times of the area of Egyptian and more than 12 times of the combined area of Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations.
  • Mostly, the Harappan settlements were located on river banks.
  • Only 40 settlements were located on the Indus and its tributaries.
  • 1,100 (80%) settlements were located on the vast plain between the Indus and the Ganga, comprising mainly the Saraswati river system (no more exist).

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harappan seals
Indus Valley Seals

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Indus Valley Sites – North to South

India
Pakistan
Afghanistan
J&K
  • Manda
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Punjab
  • Ropar
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Haryana
  • Balu
  • Banawali
  • Rakhigarhi
  • Farmana
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UP
  • Alamgirpur
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Rajasthan
  • Kalibangan
  • Baror
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Gujarat
  • Desalpur
  • Surkotada
  • Dholavira
  • Lothal
  • Rangpur
  • Malwan
  • Rojdi
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Maharashtra
  • Daimabad
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Punjab
  • Harappa
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Balochistan
  • Quetta
  • Dabar Kot
  • Judeir-jo-daro
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Sindh
  • Sukkur
  • Kot-Diji
  • Mohenjo-daro
  • Chanhudaro
  • Amri
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Balochistan
  • Suktagendor
Takhar
  • Shortugai
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Kandahar
  • Mundigak

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Indus Valley Civilization

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Indus Valley Sites in India

Kalibangan

  • Modern location – Hanumangarh, Rajasthan
  • River banks – Ghaggar-Hakra River
  • Discovered by Luigi Pio Tessitori
  • Known as 3rd capital of Indus Empire.
  • Major findings
    • World’s earliest ploughed field – wooden plough
    • Evidence of irrigation
    • Massive brick wall around both citadel and lower town
    • Decorative bricks used in flooring only at this city
    • Did not have a drainage system
    • Fire Altars
    • Bones of camel
    • Horse remains (IVC people didn’t use horses)
    • Copper ox
    • Shiva Lingam
    • Evidence of earthquake
    • Pre and mature Harappan civilization

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Lothal

  • Modern location – Ahmedabad District, Gujarat
  • River banks – Bhogava & Sabarmati river confluence
  • Discovered by S. R. Rao (ASI) in 1954.
  • Major findings
    • World’s earliest known dockyard and port
    • House had front entrance (exception)
    • The lower part of the city was walled
    • Earliest cultivation of rice – remains of rice husks
    • Evidence of double burial (male and female together)
    • Ivory weight balance & ivory scale
    • Seal from Mesopotamia found here
    • Terracotta model of ship has been found
    • Copper dog
    • Bead making factory

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Dholavira
Dholavira Excavation

Dholavira

  • Modern location – Kutch, Gujarat
  • Discovered by J. P. Joshi (ASI) in 1967-68
  • 5th largest site of Indus Valley Civilization and 2nd in India.
  • Dholavira located on the Tropic of Cancer
  • Major findings
    • Only site to be divided into 3 parts.
    • Water harnessing system
    • Giant water reservoir, Dams, Embankments
    • A stadium
    • Rock-cut architecture, use of rocks for constructions
    • Large-scale use of sandstone along with mud brick.
    • Large letters of the Harappan script (sign boards).
    • Shows all three phases of Harappan Culture.

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Rangpur

  • Modern location – Saurashtra, Gujarat
  • River banks – Madar River
  • Discovered by ASI in 1931
  • Major findings
    • Evidence of Rice
    • Remains of pre-Harappan and Mature Harappan culture
    • Yellow and grey color pots of pre-Harappan people
    • Flakes

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Surkotada

  • Modern location – Kutch, Gujarat
  • Discovered by J. P. Joshi (ASI) in 1964
  • Major findings
    • Bones of a horse
    • Stone covered grave

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Boat with Direction Finding Birds
Boat with Direction Finding Birds

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Ropar

  • Modern location – Rupnagar, Punjab
  • River banks – Sutlej river
  • Major findings
    • Dog buried with humans.
    • Buildings made of stone and soil

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Banawali

  • Modern location – Fatehabad, Haryana
  • River banks – Sarasvati river
  • Discovered by R.S. Bisht (ASI)
  • Major findings
    • Barley Cultivation.
    • Oval shaped settlement.
    • Only city with radial streets.
    • Toy terracotta models of plough.
    • Centre of pre, Mature and Late Harappan civilization.

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Rakhigarhi

  • Modern location – Hisar, Haryana
  • River banks – Sarasvati & Ghaggar river
  • Discovered by ASI in 1963
  • The largest Indus Valley Civilization site, almost 350 hectares
  • Major findings
    • Shows all three phases of Harappan Culture
    • Female figure similar to the Mohenjodaro ‘dancing girl’.

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Balu

  • Modern location – Kaithal, Haryana
  • Major findings
    • Earliest evidence of garlic
    • Remains of rice

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Daimabad

  • Modern location – Ahmadnagar, Maharashtra
  • River banks – Pravara River
  • Discovered by B. P. Bopardikar in 1958
  • Southernmost site of Indus Valley Civilization
  • Major findings
    • Sculpture of bronze buffalo
    • Sculpture of a bronze chariot
    • Sculptures contain arsenical alloying
    • Late-Harappan culture

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Manda

  • Modern location – Jammu, J&K
  • River banks – Chenab River
  • Situated in the foothills of Pir Panjal range
  • Northernmost site of Indus Valley Civilization
  • Major findings
    • This site was established to procure wood

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Alamgirpur

  • Modern location – Meerut, UP
  • River banks – Yamuna River
  • Discovered by Punjab University in 1974.
  • Easternmost site of Indus Valley Civilization
  • Major findings
    • Impression of cloth on a trough
    • Late-Harappan culture

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Indus Valley Civilization Mohenjo daro excavation
Mohenjodaro Excavation

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Indus Valley Sites in Pakistan

Harappa

  • Modern location – Montgomori, Punjab
  • River banks – Ravi river
  • Discovered by – Dayaram Sahni in 1921
  • Charles Mason first noticed the ruins of Harappa in 1862.
  • Major findings
    • Seals made out of stones
    • Two rows of six granaries outside the fort
    • Coffin burial & Graveyard
    • Single room barracks
    • Two red stone idols of dancing girl
    • Naked bust of male, female genitalia
    • Evidence of direct trade with Mesopotamia

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Mohenjodaro

  • Modern location – Larkana, Sindh
  • River banks – Indus river
  • Discovered by – R. D. Banerji (ASI) in 1922
  • Mohenjodaro means ”Mound of the dead Men”.
  • 2nd largest site of Indus Valley Civilization, almost 300 hectares
  • Major findings
    • Suddenly destructed by flood or invasion – discovery of human skeletons together
    • Great Bath and Great Granary
    • Multi-pillared assembly Hall
    • College of Priests
    • Man with Beard / Priest king statue
    • Bronze dancing girl
    • Pashupati seal
    • Ivory weight balance
    • Shell scale
    • Piece of woven cotton cloth
    • Bangles of clay
    • Superficial evidence of Horse
    • Evidence of ship/big boat
    • Domestication of chickens
    • Cylinder seals of the Mesopotamia

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Chanhudaro

  • Modern location – Sindh
  • River banks – Sarasvati River
  • This site is near to Mohenjodaro
  • Discovered by Gopal Majumdar in 1930
  • Major findings
    • Pre-Harappan and Post-Harappan culture – Jhangar Culture & Jhukar Culture.
    • Only city without citadel / No fortified structure
    • Bead and bangle factory
    • Ink pot
    • Evidence of Human sacrifice
    • Clay model of four wheeler
    • Use of lipstick

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Koti-Diji

  • Modern location –  Khairpur, Sindh
  • River banks – Zhob River
  • Discovered in 1955
  • Major findings
    • Pre-Harappan site
    • Houses of mud bricks on stone foundations
    • City destroyed by force

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indus valley pottery
Pottery

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Amri

  • Modern location – Dadu District, Sindh
  • River banks – Indus River
  • Major findings
    • Remains of Rhinoceros
    • Pre-Harappan settlement
    • Transitional culture between pre and post-Harappan culture
    • Trace of Jhangar culture in Late Harappan
    • Fire altars

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Suktagendor

  • Modern location – Gwadar, Baluchistan
  • River banks – Dasht River
  • Discovered by Edward Mockler in 1875
  • Westernmost site of Indus Valley Civilization
  • Major findings
    • Ash filled pot
    • Copper axe, flint blades without cores
    • Originally a port but later cut off from sea due to coastal uplift
    • Had trade links with Babylon

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Balakot

  • Modern location – Lasbela, Balochistan
  • River banks –
  • Discovered by
  • Major findings
    • Earliest evidence of furnace
    • Seaport

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Indus Valley Sites in Afghanistan

Shortugai

  • Modern location – Takhar, Afghanistan
  • River banks – Amu Darya river
  • Major findings
    • Indus Valley Civilization trading colony
    • Established around 2000 BC
    • Lapis lazuli mines
    • Camel trade
    • Ploughed field & flax seeds – Dry land farming
    • Canal irrigation system

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indus valley burnt brick
Burnt Brick

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Town Planning

  • Harappan civilization is known for its urban outlook and sophisticated sense of city planning.
  • In most of the Harappan city was divided into two parts
    • Citadel / Raised Part
      • This part occupied a smaller area.
      • Frequently situated to the west of the city.
      • Rulers of the city lived here.
      • It contained public buildings, granaries, and important workshops.
    • Lower Part
      • The common citizens lived and carried on their professional lives here.
  • City planning roughly followed a grid pattern.
  • Streets ran from north and cut at right angles.
  • The streets were wide, the main street being 10 meters wide.
  • Streets dividing the town into rectangular and square blocks.
  • There were lamp-posts at intervals.
  • Bricks were burnt and identical ratio of 1:2:4 in terms of thickness : width : length.
  • Uniformity in the average size of bricks
    • 7 × 14 × 28 cm for houses
    • 10 × 20 × 40 cm for city walls
  • Drains were made of mortar, lime and gypsum.
  • Drains were covered with large brick slabs for easy cleaning.
  • Houses were often of two or more storeys, though varied in size but quite monotonous.
  • No window faced the streets.
  • Houses had tiled bathrooms.
  • Some houses had their own wells.

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drainage system in lothal
Drainage System in Lothal

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Society

  • The Indus Valley society was an urban society.
  • Most of the people were middle classes.
  • According to excavation we can divide three social groups
    • Ruler class
    • Rich merchants
    • Labour class, lived in the lower part of the city
  • The Harappa civilization people were experts in the use of the potter’s wheel.
  • They were poor in artistic works of stone.
  • Red ware pottery painted with black designs was popular.
  • Pots were used for storing grain, water or used for brewing fermented alcoholic beverages.
  • A lot of terracotta has been found at many sites.
  • More female figurines have been uncovered then male figurines.
  • The Harappan people refined the art of bead-making, and jewellery of gold and silver.
  • At Allahdino a lot of necklaces made of gold, silver and stones have been found.

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Economy of Indus Valley Civilization

  • Indus valley people had a good trade relations with Mesopotamian and Persian civilizations.
  • The Mesopotamians called the Indus Region ‘Meluhha’.
  • The Mesopotamian texts speak of three intermediate trading stations called
    • Dilmun – Bahrain on Persian Gulf
    • Makan – Makran coast, Oman
    • Meluhha
  • Every merchant probably had a seal bearing an emblem with brief description on one side.
  • Standard Harappan seal was a square / oblong plaque made of steatite stone.
  • Purpose of the seal was to mark the ownership of property.
  • Key aspects of trade and economy are as follows:
    • They carried out internal and external trade.
    • There was barter trade, no metallic money was in circulation.
    • Inland transport used bullock carts.
  • There were bead-making factories at Chanhudaro and Lothal.
  • There was a dockyard in Lothal and sea ports at Rangpur, Somnath and Balakot.
  • Weights and measures of Indus valley civilization was standardized and accurate.
  • Weights followed a binary and decimal system.
  • Chert, limestone, and steatite were used to make weights.
  • Weights were cubical in shape.
  • Measures of length were based on the foot and the cubit.

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Agriculture

  • 1st evidence of cotton in the world is found in Mehrgarh.
  • It was known as ‘Sindon’ by the Greeks as from Sindh.
  • People sowed seeds in the flood plains in November, and reaped their harvests of wheat and barley in April, before the advent of the next flood.
  • They ploughed fields with the help of wooden ploughs.
  • They produced sufficient food grains to feed themselves and the surplus was stored in granaries.
  • The Harappan people grew wheat, barley, horse gram, peas, melon, watermelon, sesame, dates, millets, grapes, henna, garlic, mustard, rice.
  • Double cropping was started by Harappan people.
    • Wheat and barley – winter crops.
    • Rice, millets, and sorghum – summer crops.
  • They also exploited riverine and marine resources wherever possible.
  • They domesticated cattle, goats, humped bulls, sheep, pigs, asses, camels, cats and dogs.
  • Horse wasn’t in use.
  • Indus valley people were well acquainted with the elephant and the rhinoceros.
  • Tigers were often represented in figurines but leopards were rare.

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Mining

  • Copper – Khetri, Baluchistan
  • Lapis lazuli – Shortugai
  • Turquoise – Khorasan
  • Bitumin – Baluchistan

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Imports & Exports

  • Imports
    • Gold – Afghanistan, Iran, Kolar.
    • Tin – Afghanistan, Iran.
    • Jade – Pamir
    • Steatite – Tapi Chahya (Iran)
    • Bitumin – Mesopotamia.
    • Lead – South India.
  • Exports
    • Agricultural products
    • Cotton goods
    • Terracotta figurines, pottery
    • Beads, conch- shell, ivory products
    • Copper

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Indus Valley Seals
Indus Valley Seals

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Religion of Indus Valley Civilization

  • Indus valley civilization is considered as a secular society.
  • No structure of temple has been found.
  • People generally worshipped:
    • Mother goddess
    • Pashupati Mahadeva or proto-Shiva
    • Lingam (phallus) and yoni worship (cult of fertility)
    • Pipal tree
    • Humped Bull
    • Birds (dove and pigeon)
    • One-horned unicorn (may in fact be the rhinoceros)
  • Dead bodies were placed in a north-south direction.
  • They generally accompanied food, pottery, ornaments, and tools with dead bodies.

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Causes of the Decline

  • Archaeologists now believe that the civilization did not come to an abrupt end but gradually declined.
  • People moved eastwards and cities were abandoned.
  • Different theories given by archaeologists
    • Aryan Invasion – Mortimer Wheeler, Gordon
    • Ecological disturbance – Fairchild
    • Change in River course – Lambrick, Dales
    • Low Rainfall – Stein
    • Flood – Macay, S.R. Rao
    • Drying of Ghaghar and Increasing Aridity – D.P. Aggarwal, Sood
    • Earthquake – Raikes and Dales
    • Natural Calamities – K.A.R. Kennedy
  • Other causes cited include deforestation and climate change.
  • Aryan invasion theory has now been debunked.
  • It is possible that some cities were destroyed by floods but not all.
  • New cities emerged only about 1400 years later.
  • The Indus Valley people continued to evolve even in the face of declining monsoon.
  • People shifted their crop patterns from large-grained cereals to drought-resistant species.
  • Organised large storage system of the mature Harappan period collapsed for lower yield.
  • More individual household-based crop processing and storage systems evolved.
  • This was a main reason for the deurbanisation of the civilization.

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