Indus Valley Civilization: Harappa Civilization – Social, Religious, Economic, and Political History and Main Features of Indus Valley Civilization

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The Harappan Civilization, also known as the Indus Valley Civilization, occupies an important place in human history. Its name is derived from the discovery of the first remains of the civilization in 1921 at Harappa, located in the Shahiwal district of present-day Pakistan, which encapsulates its essence.

However, a broader perspective reveals that the name “Indus Valley Civilization” fails to fully capture the geographic extent of this remarkable ancient society. Therefore, the name “Harappan Civilization” is more appropriate, as it is customary to name an extinct civilization after the place where its remains were first discovered.

Indus Valley Civilization: Harappa Civilization - Social, Religious, Economic, and Political History and Main Features of Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley Civilization

Spread over a vast area of about 1,299,600 square miles, the Harappan civilization extended from the Makran Coast of Sutkagendor in the west to Alamgirpur (Meerut in Uttar Pradesh) in the east, from Jammu in the north to the Narmada River in the south. Its boundaries included Gumla in the northernmost region and Halwana in the Surat district, which represented the southernmost point of its influence.

Indus Civilization’s important sites and their geographical location


Baluchistan region

Sutkegendor: This important site was discovered by George Dales in 1927 and excavated in 1962, Sutkegendor is situated on the banks of the Dashk River. The remains of a port, fort, and lower city were found here, underlining its possible role in trade between the Indus civilization, Persia, and Babylon.

Sotkakoh: Located at the mouth of the Shadi Kaur River, Sotkakoh (literally “burnt hill”) was discovered in 1962 by Dales. The site consists of two mounds, the Upper and the Lower, and served as a trading center between the coastal regions and the inland regions.

Dabarkot: Located at the mouth of the Winder River.

Indus River region

Mohenjodaro:  Mohenjodaro, located on the eastern bank of the Indus River, is considered an important center of the Indus Civilization. The site was discovered in 1922 by Rakhaldas Banerjee while he was excavating a Buddhist stupa there. Under the leadership of Marshall, from 1922 to 1923, excavations were done here again. Remains of the stages of city construction have been found here. In 1950 Sir Mortimer Wheeler excavated here again, and in 1964 and 1966 the American archaeologist Dales also excavated here.

Kotdiji: In 1935, Dhurye obtained some utensils, etc. from this site. Fazal Ahmed excavated here in 1955-57. Here the remains of a different culture were found below the Indus civilization, which was called the Kotdiji culture. Remains of Baanagni related to the Indus civilization were found here. The houses here are made of mud bricks, but stone has been used in the foundations.

Chanhudado: The place Chanhudado is situated at a distance of about 128.75 kilometers in the southeast direction from Mohenjodaro. Only one fort is found here. Nani Gopal Majumdar discovered this place in 1931. Then Mackay excavated here in 1935. In Chanhuddo, remains of pre-Indus civilization cultures, Jukar and Jhangar cultures have been found.

Punjab

Ropar: Ropar is situated in the foothills of the Shivalik Hills in Punjab. The excavation of this place was directed by Yajnadatta Sharma from 1955 to 1956. Apart from the Indus civilization, remains of 5 other Indus-North cultures have been found in Ropar. Textiles and tools such as earthenware and other jewelry, copper axe, chart plate, and copper axe, have been recovered from here. A cemetery has also been found here.

Bada: Located near Ropar.

Sanghol: Sanghol place is located in the Ludhiana district of Punjab province, where S.S. Talwar and Ravindra Singh Bisht. Two copper chisels, earthenware bangles, earrings, and beads have been found in this place. Some circular pits have been found here, which are used as a fireplace.

Haryana:

Rakhi Garhi – Rakhi Garhi located in the Jind district of Haryana state was discovered by Surajbhan and Acharya Bhagwan Dev. Remnants of the pre-Indus civilization have also been found here, while copper tools and a miniature currency with Indus script have also been found.

Banawali – It is located in the Hisar district and is situated in the valley of the Saraswati River, which is now dry. In 1973-74, Ravindra Singh Bisht did the excavation work here. The archaeological material found here includes copper arrowheads, razors, beads, animal and human figurines, weights, clay tablets, coins with inscriptions in the Indus script, etc.

Mittathal – Mittathal located in the Bhiwani district of Haryana state was excavated in 1968 by Suraj Bhan.

Rajasthan:

Kalibanga – Kalibanga is an important archaeological site situated on the banks of the Ghaggar River (ancient Saraswati) in the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. In addition to the Indus civilization, traces of pre-Indus civilization have also been discovered here. The site was excavated in 1961 under the guidance of Brajwasi Lal and Balkrishna Thapar. Excavations have revealed the presence of two mounds, both surrounded by protective walls.

Uttar Pradesh:

Alamgirpur – Alamgirpur is a major archaeological site situated on the banks of the Hindon River.

Gujarat:

Rangpur – Rangpur, situated on the banks of the Madar River, has been the site of archaeological excavations. Excavations were carried out by Madhoswaroop Vatsa in 1931–34 and Ranganatha Rao in 1953–54.

Lothal, located in Lothal-Kathiawad, is known for its important dockyard which played an important role in maritime traffic and trade. Archaeological excavations have unearthed a bead factory at the site, as well as ivory, finds.

Surkotada-Surkotada located in Kutch was first discovered by Mr. Gajpat Joshi in 1964 AD. In addition to pottery belonging to the Indus Civilization, redware of a different type has been unearthed at the site. The practices of cremation are mainly represented by the ossuary found here, and a grave covered with a large rock has also been uncovered. In addition, horse bones have been found at Surkotada.

the major sites of the Indus Civilization, along with the year of discovery, excavator, riverbed, and their current status:

Site Year Excavator Riverbed Position
Harappa 1921 Dayaram Sahni Ravi Montgomery District (Pakistan)
Mohenjodaro 1922 Rakhal Das Banerjee Indus Larkana district (Sindh, Pakistan)
Sutkagendor 1927 Aurel Stein, George Dales Makran Coast Balochistan (Pakistan)
Chanhudaro 1931 M J Majumdar Indus Sindh Province (Pakistan)
Kalibanga 1953 B B Lal, B K Thapar Ghaggar (Saraswati) Rajasthan
Kotdiji 1953 Fazal Ahmad Sindhu Indus Sindh Province (Pakistan)
Rangpur 1953-54 Ranganath Rao Mother Gujarat
Ropar 1953-56 Yagya Dutt Sharma Sutlej Punjab
Lothal 1955 Ranganath Rao Bhogava Gujarat
Alamgirpur 1958 Yajnadatta Sharma Hindon Uttar Pradesh
Banawali 1974 Ravindra Singh Bisht Rangoi Haryana
Dholavira 1990 Ravindra Singh Bisht Luni Gujarat Kutch District
Surkotada 1972 Jagpati Joshi Run of Kutch Gujarat
Rakhigarhi 1963 Prof. Surajbhan Haryana
Balakot 1963-76 G F Dales Windar Pakistan

The origin of the Indus Civilization has been a subject of various opinions and theories among scholars. Here are some perspectives:

Wheeler suggests that the people of Mesopotamia played a significant role in the development of the Indus civilization, considering them as the ancestors of this civilization.

Garden proposes that the people of Mesopotamia arrived in the Indus region through sea routes and adapted to the new environment, resulting in the emergence of a distinct culture shaped by the challenges they encountered.

Fair Service emphasizes that the origin and expansion of the Indus civilization can be attributed to the mutual influence of Balochi cultures and the indigenous hunting-based agricultural cultures of the Indus region.

Amlanand Ghosh highlights the importance of the “Sothi” culture in the development of the Harappan culture, specifically referring to the cultural contributions from the Bikaner and Ganganagar regions in Rajasthan. Jagapati Joshi also supports this viewpoint.

Scholars like Dharampal Aggarwal, Bridget Allchin, Raymond Allchin, and others believe that the Sothi culture in Rajasthan was not a precursor to the Indus Civilization but rather an early form of it.

It’s important to note that these perspectives represent different interpretations and theories, and the exact origin of the Indus Civilization continues to be a subject of research and discussion among experts in the field.

The Indus Civilization, known for its remarkable features and architectural plan, demonstrates its unique city planning. Here is a comprehensive overview:

City Planning:

  • The cities of the Indus Civilization are the world’s oldest well-planned urban settlements.
  • Houses within these cities were constructed in a compact manner, resembling a trap-like structure.
  • Roads intersected at right angles, dividing the cities into rectangular sections.
  • The widest road in Mohenjodaro measured slightly over 10 meters in width.
  • Forts were built in many cities, likely serving as residences for the ruling class.
  • Beyond the forts, there were lower-level town areas with brick houses where ordinary people lived.
  • Roads in the Indus Civilization were not paved with bricks or similar materials.

Drainage and Water Systems:

  • Each building in the Indus Civilization had a well-planned drainage system to manage wastewater from bathrooms and houses.
  • Many houses were equipped with wells for water supply.
  • Street widths ranged from 1 meter to 2.2 meters.
    Building construction involved the use of both baked (pucca) and raw bricks.
  • The citizens of the Indus culture did not emphasize decoration or external ostentation in their buildings, resulting in minimal ornamentation on bricks.
  • An exception is the decorated brick flooring found in Kalibanga.

Temple Architecture and Bricks:

No examples of temple architecture have been discovered in the remains of the Indus Civilization.
The drainage system in Harappa was distinctive, suggesting a high level of importance placed on health and cleanliness.

  • Various types of bricks were utilized in the Indus Civilization.
  • The largest brick found in Mohenjodaro measured approximately 51.43 cm X 26.27 cm.
  • Smaller bricks measuring 35.83 cm X 18.41 cm X 26.27 cm have also been found, while the smallest bricks measure 24.13 cm X 11.05 cm X 5.08 cm.
  • The commonly used brick dimensions were around 27.94 cm X 13.97 cm X 6.35 cm.
  • The Indus people primarily employed mud mortar for joining bricks, with minimal use of a gypsum mixture.
  • Giripushpak, a gypsum and lime mixture, was utilized solely in the construction of the enormous bathhouse in Mohenjodaro.
  • The doors in buildings were positioned on one edge of the walls, but no remains are available due to their wooden composition.
  • Windows was not a typical feature in Indus Civilization buildings.
  • The roofs of buildings were flat, and only a few pillars were used. Remains of square and quadrangular pillars have been discovered, while circular pillars were not employed.

Wells:

Wells in the Indus Civilization were typically circular or elliptical in shape.

Most wells had a diameter of 0.91 meters, but smaller wells measuring 0.61 meters and larger wells with a diameter of 2.13 meters have also been found.

These features and architectural aspects provide valuable insights into the urban planning and construction practices of the Indus Civilization.

Wells: Lothal Gujrat

Construction Plans of Special Sites:

Harappa:

  • Harappa consists of two sections: the eastern mound (lower town) and the western mound, known as Gadi.
  • The western mound is built on an artificial platform and contains fortifications.
  • The main entrance to the fortification is located in the north.
  • Excavations have revealed a “grain store,“labor housing,” and a cemetery south of the general housing area, between the northern entrance and the banks of the Ravi River.
  • Harappa has 12 granaries arranged in two rows of six each, with each granary block measuring approximately 15.24 x 6.10 meters.
  • The total area occupied by the 12 granary buildings is approximately 2745 square meters.
  • South of the granaries, there is an open floor with circular brick platforms, possibly used for threshing crops.
  • A cemetery has been discovered south of the general’s residence.

Mohenjodaro:

  • Mohenjodaro is divided into two parts: eastern and western, with the western part being smaller but at a higher elevation.
  • The western part is surrounded by a fortification wall made of raw bricks, featuring towers and bastions.
  • The western section, known as the Western Garhi, houses significant public structures such as “Anna Bhandar,” “Purohitwas,” Mahavidyalaya Bhavan, and a large bathhouse.
  • The notable public place in Mohenjodaro is the huge bath located within the fort (western section), measuring 11.88 meters in length, 7.01 meters in width, and 2.43 meters in depth.
  • The bathhouse has stairs at its north and south ends and a floor made of burnt bricks, primarily used for ritualistic bathing.
  • The largest building in Mohenjodaro is the granary, measuring 45.71 meters in length and 15.23 meters in width.
  • Most houses in Mohenjodaro are constructed using burnt bricks.

Chanhudaro:

Chanhudaro features a factory for making beads.

Lothal:

  • Lothal’s city construction plan and equipment have led to its comparison with Small Harappa or Small Mohenjodaro.
  • The entire settlement is enclosed by a single wall.
  • The city consists of two parts: the citadel and the lower city.
  • The most significant monument in Lothal is the dock.
  • Evidence of fire worship has been found, including circular or quadrangular fireplaces in many houses, containing ashes and possibly used for rituals like Yagya.
  • A mud house yielded pottery with 600 semi-formed beads of precious stones, suggesting the presence of a bead-making factory.
  • A small device, possibly used as a compass, has also been discovered in Lothal.

Kalibanga:

  • Kalibanga was constructed as a citadel and a lower city, divided by a wall.
  • Numerous high platforms show evidence of Havan Kunds, identified as Yagya fire altars.

Artistic Activities: Stone and Metal Sculptures

  • The Indus Civilization showcases a limited number of stone sculptures in its archaeological remains. These sculptures are crafted from various materials such as alabaster, limestone, sandstone, and gray stone.
  • The stone idols discovered are mostly fragmented, with no complete statues found with both the head and torso intact. Notable stone sculptures from Mohenjodaro include:
  • Selkhadi Idol: This idol features long eyes, open lips, and a thick forehead with a small slope. The curled mustache adorns the lips. The figure wears a shawl that covers the left shoulder, while the right-hand remains open. Elaborate, long hair is tied with a ribbon on the forehead.

Artistic Activities: Stone and Metal Sculptures

Limestone Head: A limestone head measuring around 14 cm in height has been discovered. Another long head, approximately 17.8 cm tall, displays wavy hair tied with lace. Additionally, an incomplete limestone statue measuring 14.6 cm in height has been found.

Seated Man Statue: Mohenjodaro has yielded a 29.5 cm tall alabaster statue of a seated man. The figure wears a transparent cloth around the abdomen and a thin, transparent shawl that covers the left arm and passes under the right arm. The man’s left knee is raised, with the left arm resting on it.

Furthermore, an alabaster statue, made from lime water containing sulfate, has also been discovered.

Stone Sculptures from Harappa:

In Harappa, various stone sculptures have been uncovered, showcasing the artistic endeavors of the civilization. These sculptures include:

Red Sandstone Torso: A red sandstone torso of a young male has been discovered in Harappa. This statue depicts a completely nude figure.

Gray Limestone Dance Pose Torso: Another sculpture made of gray limestone portrays the torso of a figure in a dance pose. The figure is standing on the right leg, with the left leg slightly raised towards the front.

Animal Sculptures:

Among the stone animal sculptures found in Harappa, a notable discovery is a 25.4 cm high stone statue depicting a combination of a ram-like body with horns and an elephant-like trunk. Additionally, a dog sculpture made of Selkhadi stone has also been unearthed in Mohenjodaro.

Bronze Statues:

Mohenjodaro has yielded a 14 cm high bronze statue of a dancing nude figure. The left arm of the statue, adorned with bangles from shoulder to wrist, holds a vessel. This bronze idol was crafted using the liquid-wax method. Other bronze animal figures, such as buffalo, ram (or goat), birds, bulls, rabbits, and dogs, have been discovered in Mohenjodaro and Lothal.

Clay Figurines:

Clay figurines form a significant portion of the artistic crafts in the Harappan culture. These figurines depict both humans and animals, with a higher number of female terracotta figurines found in Mohenjodaro and Harappa.

Most of the terracotta figurines feature a fan-shaped headdress and are adorned with necklaces. Male terracotta figures are generally naked, with a few exceptions. Some notable clay figurines include statues of children walking on their knees discovered in Mohenjodaro.

Animal Figurines:

Animal figurines outnumber human figurines in the archaeological remains of the Indus Civilization. Clay is the predominant material used for creating these animal sculptures.

Mohenjodaro has yielded a significant number of small saung and humpless bull figurines, followed by humped bull figurines. Ram figures and rhinoceros sculptures are also prominent. In Harappa, the highest number of bull figurines with humps has been found, followed by those without humps.

Other animals depicted in terracotta sculptures include buffalo, elephant, tiger, goat, dog, rabbit, pig, squirrel, snake, alligator, tortoise, and fish. The terracotta figurines of cows are not common, although two cow terracotta figurines have been mentioned by renowned archaeologist Rao.

Various bird species such as pigeons, ducks, peacocks, chickens, eagles, pigeons, sparrows, parrots, and owls have also been identified in the excavations of the Indus Civilization. An ornate elephant toy has been discovered in Chanhudaro, and clay plow toys have been found in Banwali.

Seals:

The Indus Civilization has yielded approximately 2000 seals from various sites, representing some of the finest artifacts of this ancient culture. These seals predominantly feature hieroglyphic writings or animal figures.

The dimensions of most seals range from 1.77 to 0.91 cm in length, 1.52 to 0.51 cm in width, and 1.27 cm in thickness. The majority of these seals are crafted from sandstone, although copper seals have been discovered in Lothal and Desalpur.

A wide variety of seal types has been unearthed, including cylindrical, square, quadrangular, button-like, cuboidal, and round seals. Mohenjodaro has yielded cylindrical seals adorned with depictions of humans, one-horned bulls, humped bulls, wild buffalo, tigers, elephants, rhinos, deer, archers, trees, plants, deities, animals, and the numeral seven.

Female figures are also present in some Mohenjodaro seals. Additionally, a seal from Chanhudaro portrays two naked women, each holding a flag.

Earthenware:

The utensils of the Indus Civilization were primarily wheel-made and fired in kilns. While most pottery lacks pictorial representation, some vessels display a yellow, red, or pink coating. Depictions of vegetation such as peepal, palm, neem, banana, and millet have been identified on the pottery.

Furthermore, animal illustrations including fish, goats, deer, and roosters are also present on these utensils.

War Equipment:

Copper and bronze spearheads, knives, spearheads, and axes have been discovered at various Indus Civilization sites. Spearheads have been found in Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Excavations led by Mackay in Mohenjodaro have uncovered two saws—one made of copper and another of bronze.

Numerous chisels have also been found. A needle with a hole at the tip has been discovered in Lothal, where grooved vermis is also found. Furthermore, a copper sickle has been unearthed in Mohenjodaro.

Religious Beliefs and Rituals:

The Indus civilization did not have any universally identified temple structures.

Mother Goddess:

The inhabitants of the Indus civilization practiced the worship of the Mother Goddess. A terracotta figurine discovered in Harappa depicts a Peepal plant emerging from the womb of the goddess, indicating the reverence for the earth as the deity of fertility.

A seal from Mohenjodaro portrays a man and a woman. The man holds a sickle, while the disheveled-haired woman is seated, possibly depicting a sacrificial ritual.

Deities of the Indus Valley:

A seal found in Mohenjodaro features a male figure with three faces and horns, assumed to be a representation of the deity known as ‘Shiva’ or ‘Pashupati.’ This seated yogi has one foot placed on the other, accompanied by an elephant and tiger on the right side and a rhinoceros and buffalo on the left. Two deer are depicted below the seat, and the surrounding animals gaze in all four directions.

Sir John Marshall considers this depiction to be ‘Shiva in the form of Pashupati’ or the idol of ‘Yogeshwar.’ Another seal from Mohenjodaro presents a tri-faced figure sitting in a yoga posture with a peepal branch as a headdress.

A statue from Mohenjodaro displays a twig-like headdress. Additionally, there is a seal from Mohenjodaro featuring a deity-like figure that is half-human and half-tiger. A clay seal from Mohenjodaro depicts men standing with folded hands on either side of a yogi, with snake hoods illustrated behind them. Another seal from Harappa showcases a deity-like figure with a headdress resembling three feathers.

Tree Worship:

During the Indus civilization era, tree worship was a common practice among the people.

Animal Worship:

The worship of animals was also prevalent in the Indus civilization, with the humped bull being highly revered.

Phallic Worship:

The presence of numerous Lingas suggests that phallic worship was prominent in the Indus civilization. It is believed that the people of this civilization also held beliefs in spirits, as evidenced by the discovery of amulets among the remains.

Cremation:

According to scholar Marshall, there were three main methods of disposing of the dead in the Indus civilization:

  • Complete burial of the deceased on the earth.
  • Partial consumption of the remains by animals and birds.
  • Burning the dead body and burying the ashes.
  • Examples of these practices include the discovery of a tomb in Harappa where a dead body was buried in a wooden coffin, as well as the remains of paired mausoleums in Lothal and a tomb in Kalibanga.

Items imported from different places in the Indus Civilization:

Item Imported From
Gold Afghanistan, Persia, India (Karnataka)
Silver Iran, Afghanistan, Mesopotamia
Copper Khetri (Rajasthan), Balochistan
Tin Iran (Central Asia), Afghanistan
Indigo Dye Balochistan, Rajasthan, Gujarat
Green Gem South India
Conch Shells Saurashtra (Gujarat), South India
Shells Saurashtra (Gujarat), South India
Lapis Lazuli Badakhshan (Afghanistan)
Lead Iran, Rajasthan, Afghanistan, South India
Shilajit Himalayan Region
Turquoise Iran (Khorasan)
Lapis Lazuli Badakhshan (Afghanistan), Mesopotamia
Hessonite Saurashtra, Gujarat
Agate Iran
Rhinestone Deccan Plateau, Orissa, Bihar
Slate Kangra

 

Economic Life of the Indus Civilization

Agriculture

  • While no spades or plows have been discovered in the ancient artifacts of the Indus civilization, evidence of pre-Harappan furrows in Kalibanga suggests that plows were used in the fields of Rajasthan during the Harappan period.
  • It is likely that there was no extensive irrigation system in the Indus civilization, possibly because the villages in the Harappan culture were often situated near floodplains.
  • The people of the Indus civilization cultivated a variety of crops, including wheat, barley, mustard, peas, sesame, gram, cotton, dates, and watermelon.
  • Surplus grains were produced by the Indus civilization, which was beneficial for the inhabitants of the cities. It is probable that grains were collected from farmers as taxes and distributed among the granaries as wages.
  • The Indus people were pioneers in cotton cultivation, and the region’s cotton cultivation led the Greeks to name it Sindona (Sindon), derived from Sindh.
  • Archaeological findings from Mohenjodaro include remnants of woven cotton cloth, along with cotton cloth wrapped in silver and copper utensils.
  • Watermelon seeds have been discovered in Harappa, and information about rice cultivation has been obtained from Lothal and Rangpur.
  • Large granaries were constructed in Harappa, Mohenjodaro, and Lothal to store grains at the state level.
  • Near the granaries in Harappa, evidence of threshing platforms and laborers’ residences has been found, and in Lothal, two parts of a circular mill with two holes for pouring grains were discovered.

Animal Husbandry

  • The Indus civilization engaged in animal husbandry, raising animals such as bulls, sheep, goats, buffaloes, pigs, elephants, dogs, and donkeys.
  • Depictions of camels, rhinoceroses, fish, and turtles have been found on Indus Valley coins.
  • The humped bull held special significance to the people of the Indus civilization.
  • Cat footprints have also been discovered.
  • Scholars have debated the existence of horses in the Indus civilization. Some believe that horse bones found above Mohenjodaro belong to the Indus period, while others argue they belong to a later period.
  • Clay figurines resembling horses have been unearthed in Mohenjodaro, and three terracotta toys identified as horses were found in Lothal.
  • Horse bones have been found in the final phase of the Indus civilization at Surkotada.
  • Elephants were domesticated in the Gujarat region and are depicted on numerous coins.
  • Although camels are not depicted in any currency, their bones have been discovered.

Industry and Technology

The Harappan culture was a Bronze Age civilization that had skilled metallurgists who worked with copper. They used tin to create bronze alloys. Copper was sourced from the Khetri mines in Rajasthan.

Spinning and weaving were major occupations in the Indus Civilization.

Archaeological findings from Mohenjodaro include remnants of cloth found in a silver vessel, as well as cotton cloth and thread wrapped around copper tools.

A pottery shard discovered in Kalibanga had traces of cotton cloth on it, and a cotton cloth wrapped around a razor was also found in Kalibanga.

Weavers in the Indus Civilization produced cotton and woolen cloth using spindles for spinning.
The presence of large brick buildings suggests that masonry was an important skill.

Pottery makers used wheels to create utensils, which were made smooth and shiny.

The production of stone, metal, and clay idols was also an important industry.

Ironworking was not known to the people at that time. Bead-making factories existed in Lothal and Chanhudaro, and ivory was also used.

The people of the Harappan culture possessed knowledge of boat-making.

Goldsmiths crafted ornaments using silver, gold, and precious stones. A pue-shaped copper ingot imported from the Persian Gulf was found in Lothal.

Trade and Commerce

The people of the Harappan civilization did not use metal currencies, indicating that trade was conducted through barter. Boats were used for trade.

Bullock carts with solid wheels were employed, and vehicles similar to modern-day aces were also used.
Trade in the Indus civilization occurred both internally and externally.

In terms of foreign trade, tin was imported from Afghanistan or Iran, lead from Iran, Afghanistan, and Rajasthan, gold from South India, silver mainly from Iran and Afghanistan, lapis lazuli from Badan, and alabaster from Baluchistan.

Copper was primarily obtained from the Khetri mines in Rajasthan, Selkhadi from Baluchistan and Rajasthan, slate stone from Rajasthan, and marble and bloodstone from Rajasthan as well. Cedar and shilajit were sourced from the Himalayan region.

Evidence of external trade in the Indus civilization includes seals, various types of beads, and other miscellaneous items, which have been found in varying quantities from the Persian Gulf, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, and Soviet southern Turkmenia.

Notable foreign objects found in India include a Persian seal from Lothal and a cylindrical seal from Kalibanga, both originating from Mesopotamia.
Mesopotamian inscriptions dating back to around 2350 BC mention trade relations with Meluha, which might have been the ancient name for the Indus region.

Measurement

A measuring scale made of oyster shells has been discovered in Mohenjodaro. It is 16.55 cm long, 1.55 cm wide, and 0.675 cm thick. Nine marks have been made at equal distances on one side, with each mark spaced 0.66 cm apart.

An ivory scale has been found in Lothal.

Brown chert stone weights were the most commonly found. Other materials such as limestone, sandstone, slate stone, and chalcedony were also used to make weights.

Various types of weights were used, including cubic weights, circular weights, flat cylindrical weights, conical weights, and drum-shaped weights. Cubic weights have been found in the highest numbers, followed by the other types.

The Indus script:

The Indus script consists of approximately 400 symbols. The writing direction is usually left to right. However, deciphering the script has been unsuccessful so far.

Extensive written records have not been discovered from the Indus civilization. Each symbol in the script represents a sound, object, or idea. The script is not purely artistic but has a pictorial quality.
Dating:

The dating of the Harappan civilization is currently based on radiocarbon dates obtained from various sites.

According to this method, the period of the Indus Civilization is generally accepted as 2800/2900-2000 BC.

Various scholars have proposed different dating ranges: Marshall suggested 3250-2750 BC, Anast Mackay proposed 2800-2500 BC, Wheeler considered 2500-1500 BC, and Fair Service assumed 2000-1500 BC.

Scholarly opinions:

  • R. S. Sharma suggests a date range of 2500-1800 BC.
  • Fair Service proposes a date range of 2000-1500 BC.
  • John Marshall suggests a date range of 3250-2750 BC.
  • Madho Swaroop Vatsa proposes a date range of 3500-2700 BC.
  • Mortimer Wheeler suggests a date range of 2500-1500 BC.
  • Ernest Mackay suggests a date range of 2800-2500 BC.

Caste determination:

Anthropological studies based on the skeletal remains from Mohenjodaro classified the skeletons into four groups representing different castes: Proto-Australoid, Mediterranean, Mongolian, and Alpine.

The Decline of the Indus Civilization:

  • The exact reason for the decline of the Indus civilization is still unknown. Several theories have been proposed:
  • Some scholars suggest that climate change, including a decrease in rainfall in the Sindh region due to changing monsoon winds, played a role in the decline.
  • According to H. T. Lambrick and others, changes in river courses could have led to the destruction of settlements. The Ravi River, which used to flow close to Harappa, is now about 6 miles away.
  • The flooding of rivers was a recurring problem for the people of the Harappan culture. Excavations at Mohenjodaro by Marshall revealed seven levels indicating multiple instances of flooding.
  • Geologist M.R. Sahni believed that large-scale inundation was the main reason for the end of the Indus Civilization.
  • Some modern opinions, supported by scholars like Fair Service, suggest that the civilization depleted its resources excessively, leading to its downfall.
  • Scholars like Martin Wheeler propose that the invasion of Aryans was responsible for the end of the Indus civilization. This view is based on the discovery of a large number of skeletons on the upper surface of Mohenjodaro, indicating possible massacres, as well as references in the Rigveda mentioning Indra as the destroyer of forts.

Indus Valley Civilization: A Quick Review

  • The Indus Valley Civilization existed from about 3300 BCE to 1700 BCE and was one of the ancient river valley civilizations.
  • Evidence of this civilization has been found in the excavations of Harappa and Mohenjodaro. The name “Indus Valley Civilization” was given because these sites are located in the area of the Indus River and its tributaries. However, the remains of this civilization have also been found in Ropar, Lothal, Kalibanga, Vanamali, Rangapur, etc. areas spread beyond the Indus River region.
  • The civilization flourished along the banks of the Indus and Ghaggar/Hakra (ancient Saraswati) rivers. The major centers of this civilization were Mohenjodaro, Kalibanga, Lothal, Dholavira, Rakhigarhi, and Harappa.
  • The oldest city discovered so far, Bhirdana was recognized as part of the Indus Valley Civilization in December 2014. The civilization was highly developed, with cities being inhabited and destroyed several times.
  • This civilization is also called the Indus Valley Civilization because of its geographical expansion in the Indus River Valley. It is considered the first urbanized civilization and because of the early use of bronze, it is also called Bronze Civilization.
  • Of the 1400 sites discovered by the Indus Valley Civilization, 924 are located in India. About 80 percent of the sites are near the Saraswati River and its tributaries, which shows their importance.
  • Only about 3 percent of the total sites discovered so far have been excavated.

Explorations and Notable Discoveries:

  • In 1921, under the direction of John Marshall, head of the Archaeological Survey of India, the Harappan site was identified.
  • Harappa was discovered by Dayaram Sahni in 1921.
  • The entire area of the Indus Valley Civilization forms a triangular region covering an area of 1,299,600 square kilometers.
  • From Harappa Cemetery R-37, bronze objects, serpent motifs, and inscriptions were found.
  • At Mohenjodaro, meaning “mound of the dead”, bronze statues of a nude dancer and a bearded monk were unearthed.
  • Kalibanga, meaning “black bangles,” provided the earliest evidence of earthquakes, camel bones, and evidence of surgery.
  • Various sites yielded evidence of bead making, depictions of a dog chasing a cat, and cosmetics containing lipstick.
  • Chanhudaro is the only site where curved bricks have been found.
  • Lothal provided Godivada, male and female tombs, good quality barley, plow-shaped copper ingots, and evidence of rice cultivation.
  • Horse bones and a distinctive type of grave were found at Sukotada.
  • There was a pile of paddy husk in Rangpur.
  • The fort of Sutkagendor was built on a natural site.
  • The Kalibanga seal is unique in featuring a tiger, which is not found in seals from other regions.
  • The largest number of seals have been obtained from Mohenjodaro, which are mostly square. Lothal is called the “City of the Dead”.
  • The Great Bath is an important public space at Mohenjodaro, and the granary is the largest building of the Indus Civilization.
  • The people of the Indus civilization used both cotton and woolen clothes.
  • Evidence of the cultivation of paddy and millet has been found in Lothal.
  • The credit for first producing cotton goes to the Indus civilization.
  • Signs of the existence of horses have been found in various places.
  • The humped bull was a revered animal in the Indus Valley Civilization
  • Social, Economic, and Religious Life of Indus Valley Civilization
  • Indus Civilization: Urban Planning and Local Government System of Indus Civilization
  • Harappan Civilization: Objective Quiz-2022 -Ancient History
  • Mystery of Indus Valley Civilization: These questions remain unresolved even after a hundred years

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