Harappan Civilization – Early (3500BC – 1900BC), Mature (1900BC-1400BC)

The IVC or Harappan civilization was the 1st urban civilization in South Asia.
Geographical extent:
North – Shortugai (Afghanistan)
West – Sutkagendor (Baluchistan)
East – Alamgirpur (UP)
South – Daimabad (MH)
Rakhigarhi in Haryana being the largest IVC site

Town Planning

Division of City1. Raise part (called citadel): considered of housing for rulers and important public buildings such as granaries, workshops. It is mostly situated in west of city. 2. Lower part (Eastern side of town): consisted of houses of common citizens1. It shows the presence of social hierarchy and some administrative authority. 2. The Public and Private sphere was separated as town was divided into two parts
StreetsIt followed a grid pattern (i.e. streets cut each other at right angles, thus dividing city into several rectangular blocks.It shows excellent knowledge of measurement and urban planning of Harappan people.
Drainage systemDrains connected all houses and were made up of mortar, lime and gypsum and covered with large brick slabs for easy cleaning.It shows Harappan people paid great attention to Health and Sanitation.
HousesThey were often of two or more stories, but no window faced the streets.Often the 2nd story was made on 1st when it had subsided. It shows Harappan inhabited the place for longer time
Building materialsStandardized burnt bricks – bricks of ratio 1:2:4 found in all the sites (no stone was used)It shows the presence of centralized weights and measurement systems.


Division in societyHarappan society was an urban society and comprised of at least three distinct social groups: Rulers, rich merchants and poor labourers who lived in lower part of cityIt shows the DOL and specialization in Harappan society. It also shows that Harappan had well organized administrative machinery.
ClothingHarappan people generally wore garments
of cotton and wool
It shows advancement in the weaving of cotton and
wool and diversification of choices.
1. The Harappan societies of Sindh and Punjab largely consumed wheat and barley while those of Rangpur and Surkotda consumed rice and milles. Fish and Molluscs eating was common.
2. Dairy production evidence has been found by recent molecular study at the Kotada Bhadli (Gujarat) – Harppan cattle called Zebu
The urban settlements near river valleys provided
fertile ground for a variety of crops to be grown.
Harappans were advanced in their agriculture
ReligionHarappan believed nature worship – gods in the form of trees such as Peepal and animals (bull). Idolatry was prevealent, they also worshipped Mother goddess, Pasupati yogi (lord of cattle) and Phalic symbolsHarappans were called secular society as no temple
(except for the great bath) or religion have been
found (unlike in other contemporary civilizations)
Script and Languages1. Harappan script is Pictographic and Logo syllabic (each symbol stood for a word)
2. Harappan writing was Boustrophedon (right to left and then left to right in alternate lines)
3. Script disappeared by 1700 BCE, showing the lack of percolation of the writings of IVC to other civilizations.
1. Recent theories have pointed out the similarity between ancient Tamil and Harappan scripts. But until the Harappan script is deciphered, the conclusion cannot be made.
2. The various evidence of common script points to great cultural integration during IVC.
BeliefsHarappans believed in evil forces and ghosts and used amulets as protection against them.This was true about most of the primitive society.
Dead bodies were placed in North – South direction (extended inhumation) and were accompanied by food, pottery, jewelry, etc. The graveyard was within settlement and had three types of burials.
>Complete burial
>Fraction burial (burial of bones after exposure of body to birds and beasts)
>Cremation following by burial of ashes
It shows their strong belief in life after death which
was similar to belief system of other contemporary
civilizations, however; items kept were not as
expensive as other civilizations.


Agricultural economyMain crops were Wheat, Barley, Rice (found in Lothal and Rangpur only), Dates Mustard, Cotton (1st in word)It shows advancement of Harappans in agriculture technology – used wooden ploughshare, well irrigation (Alladinho), Dams and irrigation canals (Dholavira)
Manufacturing1. Terracotta figurines: figurines of animals, humans (more female than
male figurines), Bangles, Seals
2. Art of Bead – making (Chanhudaro and Lothal), jewelery – gold and silver
>At Allahdino a lot of necklaces made of gold, silver and semi –
precious stones have been found
3. Harappans did not use Iron but used copper, bronze, silver and gold
>The number of pure copper artifacts was found in greater number than alloyed bronze
4. Harappans were first to use silver in world.
5. Shell – Nageshwar and Balakot
Lapis Lazuli – Shortugai
Carnelian – Lothal
Steatite – South Rajasthan
Copper – Rajasthan and Oman
1. A large number of terracotta articles show that
it was used by common people.
2. Harappans were good at metallurgy and
producing alloys.
3. There was specialization of tasks –
Goldsmiths, bronze – smiths, brick – makers.
4. More copper artifacts don’t mean
technological backwardness but it was their
cultural preference in all likelihood
PotteryUsed Red and Black pottery (Redware painted with black designs) and also
knew use of Potter’s wheel with ease
Shows expertise of Harappans in pottery making. Ex: Glazed potter (Harappa), incised
pottery, perforated pottery, etc.
TradeHarappans had trade with Mesopotamia, Central Asia, Persia, Afghanistan Makan (Oman) and Dilmun (Bahrain). Trade was through barter system. Export items: Teak (obtained from Gujarat), Amazonite (Hirapuri, GJ), Slate (Kangra), Lead (Kashmir and South India), Copper (from Baluchistan and RJ (Khetri mines))  Import items: Jade (Central Asia), Turquoise (from Khorasan), Lapis Lazuli, Gold, Silver, Tin (from Afghanistan)(Gold was also obtained from Iran and Kolar mines in Karnataka), Steatite (Iran)It shows the advanced trade relation of Harappan civilization with other parts of India as well as
also with other contemporary civilizations.
Harappan seal found at Susa, UR and Nippur (Mesopotamia), Failaka and
Bahrain (Persian Gulf)
 Mesopotamian three cylinder seals have been found in Mohenjo – Daro
Weights and Measures1. Weights followed a binary system – 1, 2, 8, 16, 32, to 64, 160, 320 and so on 2. Weights were made of chert, limestone and steatite and were generally cubical. The measure of length was based upon a foot of 37.6 cm and a cubit.The standardized and accuracy of weights and measures throughout IVC are remarkable
Seals1. Made up of steatite
2. Size – half an inch to 2.5 inch
3. Shape – generally square and
rectangular seals with carved animal and
inscription was used.
4. Humpless bull is the most used animal
in seals.
Harappan scales are greatest artistic creation and
were used to mark ownership of property and in

Important Sites:

Harappa (on Ravi river)
Discovered Daya Ram
Sahni – 1921
1. 1st Indus site to be discovered
2. 2 rows of 6 granaries
3. largest number of wheat grains
4. red sandstone torso of nude male
5. evidence of coffin burial
6. two types of burial practice – R37 type and cemetery H type
Mohenjo – Daro
(Mounds of Dead)
(on Indus river)
Discovered (R.B.Banerji
– 1922)
1. 2nd Indus site to be discovered
2. Great granary (largest building)
3. Pasupati seal
4. Bronze dancing girl
5. Steatite image of bearded man said to be priest
6. 3 cylindrical seals of Mesopotamia
7. Great Bath
8. hordes of skeletons found on stairs (indicating warfare)
9. multi – pillar assembly halls
10. Has no cemeteries
11. Bronze mirror, needle, saw and Bronze statue of bull
Lothal (Bhogava
river)(also means
mounds of dead)
(discovered by S R Rao –
1. Artificial dockyard (world’s 1st tidal port)
2. evidence of double burial (male and female)
3.Cultivation of rice (at Lothal and Rangpur)
4. Beadmaker’s shop (also exported)
5. terracotta model of boats
6. Ivory scale
7. Known for cotton trade (Manchester of IVC)
8. Circular button seal (Persian Gulf seal)
9. Two terracotta models of Egyptian Mummies (shows trade relation with Nile
valley civilization)
10. Painted story on Earthen jar resembling story of cunning fox in Panchtantra
11. Sacrificial Altar (at Lothal and Kalibangan) – Shows medical and surgical
Dholavira (khadir bet
island in Kutch Desert
Discovered by J P jhoshi
– 1967 – 68
1. Inscription of 10 alphabet signboard
2. Megalith burial
3. Warehousing settlement
4. Gold rings (also at Mandi and Daimabad)
5. Shows all three phases of Harappan culture
6. located on tropic of cancer
7. use of sandstone and bricks
8. evidence of dams, irrigation, water reservoir, water harvesting system and
9. Town is divided into 3 parts (upper, middle and lower). Walled city with heavy
10. important center of maritime trade (declined with decline of Mesopotamian
civilization, showing integration of trade economy)
11. Dholavira – UNESCO world heritage site (India’s 40th)
Rakhigarhi (on Ghaggar
– Hakra river, Haryana
Discovered by
Amarendra Nath – 1997
1. Largest IVC site in India (also claimed to be largest IVC site)
2. evidence of domestication of dog
3. manufacturing center of terracotta (idly shaped)
4. painted potteries in large numbers
5. DNA findings of skeletal remains of woman
6. sudden demise can be explained by drying up of Saraswati in 2000 BC.
Chanhudaro (Indus
1. Known for cotton textile (Lancashire of IVC)
2. No citadel (only IVC city)
3. largest number of copper tools found
Kalibangan (Ghaggar
river)(means Black
1. Wells found in every home
2. Evidence of mixed cropping
3. Earliest ploughed field in India
4. Fire altars (shows cult of sacrifice)
Bhirrana (Haryana)Now considered to be oldest discovered IVC dating back to 7500 BCE
(earlier Mehrgarh (Pak) was cnosdered to be oldest
Ropar (Sutlej river) –evidence of dog burial with human
Banwali (Ghaggar river)evidence of largest barley grain, radial street, clay model of plough
Kot Diji (Indus) –Pre – Harappan site, largest stone tools
(Hindon river) –
late Harappan culture
Surkotada –evidence of Pot burial
Amri (Indus river) –Pre – Harappan site
Rangpur (Madar river) –yellow and grey colour pot of pre – Harappan people found
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