Indus Valley Civilization

Hi readers, today our time machine takes us 5000 years back, to the Bronze Age, that is, “The Indus Valley Civilization” (IVC). We may all called it as the successor of “PreHistoric India”, that we will revise at the end of Indus Valley Civilization.



As per carbon 14 dating, now we are at a phase between 2500 BC – 1700BC.

So, let’s start exploring IVC, also known as, Harappan Civilization. 🙂

Hey, but why this is called as Harappan Civilization? It’s because Harappa was the first site that was discovered, of this period.


  • Sir John Hubert Marshall discovered the civilization at Harappa in 1921. He was the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) from 1902 to 1928.
  • While, Daya Ram Sahni supervised the excavation of the Indus Valley site at Harappa in 1921-22. He was the protege of John Marshall. He was the first Indian to be appointed as the Director General of ASI in 1931-1935.


Before heading further, keep in mind today’s sites covered under IVC:

  • India Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra
  • PakistanSindh and Baluchistan


Now, we are going in the depth of the today’s topic. On the basis of development and decline, IVC was divided into four parts:

  • Pre HarrapanChange of nomadic culture and people as they started living settled life.
  • Early Harrapan – Creation of villages and initiation of cities.
  • Mature Harrapan – Peak time as most cities were developed in this phase.
  • Late Happrapan – Decline Phase


IVC – An Urban Civilization

IVC has striking features on the scientific lines and people had finest facilities. Take a look on its features:

  • Systematic town planningThe unique feature of this civilization was rectangular town planning. Roads cut each other at 90° like grid system. Lothal, which is presently located Gujarat had houses with doors on the main street.
  • Underground drainage systemEach house had horizontal and vertical drains. House drains extract themselves into the main drains which kept running under the main streets. The drains were covered by stone slabs.
  • Division of CityThe city was divided into two parts – the upper part, i.e. Fortified Citadel (for Administration & Religious purpose) and lower town (for a living). A Citadel was covered with boundary.
  • Use of burnt bricks in constructionMost of the houses were made of burnt bricks specially where contamination with water was possible. There were 3 types of bricks Decorated, Strong and of Low Quality.


4 Directions of IVC

Directions of IVC


Let’s take a peek look at important Indus Cities and their Findings

Indus Valley Civilization Mohenjodaro2 Indus Valley Civilization LothalIndus Valley Civilization Harappa Indus Valley Civilization Kalibanga  Indus Valley Civilization Dholavira Indus Valley Civilization Chanhudaro Indus Valley Civilization Sutkagandor Indus Valley Civilization Banawali

Readers, take into account that, Harappa, Mohenjodaro, Chanhudaro and Sutkagandor are presently located in Pakistan while Lothal, Kalibanga, Banawali and Dholavira are located in India.

  •   In the local language, Mohenjodaro, means “mound of the dead”.


Important seals of IVC Period

Many seals were discovered from IVC sites and most of them were manufactured with the use of steatite and some of them were made of copper, clay, ivory and terracotta. The size of the standard Harappan seal was 2*2 sq. inches. Every seal was engraved in a pictographic script.


Let’s take a look on important seals:


Pashupati Seal

  • Pashupati Mahadeva or Proto shiva sealThe picturization of seal represented lord of animals means Proto-Shiva in yogic posture and was surrounded by fouranimals – Rhino, Buffalo, Elephant and Tiger. Two deer appeared at his feet.


  • The Unicorn SealUnicorn, being a mythological animal, the seal demonstrates thUnicorn Sealat, in early phase of development, imaginative creations had delievered by people in the form of bird and animal motifs, that survived in later workmanship.


  • The Bull SealThe seal depicting humped bull or zebu bull symbolizes thepioneer of the herd, whose vigour ensures the protection and procreation of the species. The figure Bull Sealshows the artistic skill and a good knowledge of animal anatomy.



The above three seals were discovered from Mohenjo Daro, located in Sindh, Pakistan


Chief Occupations of IV People – Agriculture, Art & Craft and Trade

The Indus Valley people were great in art, agriculture and trade and commerce. On the premises of these three occupations, they had survived in prosperous economic conditions.

So, here is the run through of Agriculture, Art & Craft and Trade of IVC.



The heavy rain and fertile soil of IV region results in rich cultivation. That’s why, areas around Mohenjodaro are known as “Garden of Sindh”. Main crops produced by Indus people are:

  • Wheat, Barley, Dates, Mustard, Sesamum and Cotton. The traces of cultivation of rice are found only in Lothal & Rangpur (Gujarat).

Important – Cotton was first produced by the Indus people at Mehrgarh, Balochistan. Greeks named it as “Sindon”.

 Art & Craft

As IVC was the phase of the Bronze age, therefore bronze was the prominent metal in making of tools. It was made by mixing tin and copper. Main goods prepared by artisans are:

  • Dresses of cotton and wool, ornaments (gold, silver, ivory, copper and bronze), bead making, pottery, seal graving of animals, cattle toys for children, weapons and utensils.

Important – Iron was not known to the Indus people.



The Indus Valley Civilization was a phase of Barter system. There were no signs of metallic money. The unit of measurement was 16 i.e. 16, 64,160, 320. Weights were generally cubical and spherical in shape and were made of chert, jasper and agate.  The smaller weights followed the binary system while larger weights followed decimal system. The smallest weight was 0.856 grams and the most common weight is approximately 13.7 grams.

The trade of IVC was extended from internal India to Mesopotamia and Persia. Main import-export was:

Indus Valley Civilization Import export of IVC

As per Mesopotamian literature, Indus region is mentioned as “Meluha” which refers to India. The name was given due to the prominent trading.


Other Important Facts of Indus Valley Civilization

Indus Valley Civilization Untitledtable


Decline of IVC

Climate change was considered as the main reason behind the decline of IVC resulting in drought and flood. Apart from this, there are many theories given by different archaeologists for the cause of its decline., some of which are as follows:

  • Aryan Invasion by Mortimer Wheeler
  • Natural Disaster by George F. Dales
  • Climate Change by Gurdip Singh
  • Decline in Trade by Shereen Ratnagar


IVC – The successor of Pre-Historic India

Readers, now we had revised Indus Valley Civilization, but keep in mind that this phase was the successor of Pre-Historic India. Let’s also take a route to pre-historic India, which was divided into 4 parts:


Paleolithic age  (Old stone age) – Before 10000 BC

  • Important SitesShivalik Hills (North India), Adamgarh hills (Narmada Valley)

         From Bhimbetka (Madhya Pradesh), 500 cave paintings were discovered.

  • LifestylePaleolithic people were hunters and gatherers, they lived in caves and rock shelters, some evidences of leaf hut were also found.
  • OthersNo knowledge of fire, No pottery and No use of metals, only stone tools used which were made of Quartzite (solid stone) that’s why they are called as Quartzite men.


Mesolithic age  (Middle stone age) – 10000 BC – 6000 BC

  • Important SitesLanghanj (Gujarat), Bagor (Bhilawara, Rajasthan), Chhota Nagpur (Jharkhand), Tinnevalley (Madras) and Daimabad (Hoshangabad)
  • LifestyleHunting and Gathering, Bow and Arrow, Fishing, Domestication of animals, horticulture and primitive cultivation was also initiated. This age was also called as Microlithic (micro means “small”& lithic means “stone”) age   because they used small stone tools, which were usually about 7-8 cm.
  • OthersAt the time of burial of humans, their domestic dogs were also buried with them. This practice was prevalent in Burzahom (Kashmir). Fire was first used by Mesolithic people.


Neolithic age (New Stone age) – 4000 BC – 2000 BC

  • Important SitesMehrgarh (Baluchistan) – First site in South Asia, showed earliest evidence of agriculture, Koldihwa (Allahabad) – Site where rice was first produced and Chopani Mando (UP) – First site of pottery formation in the world.
  • LifestyleInitiation of agriculture (wheat, barley, dates, jujubes), domestication of animals, tools of copper ore, polished stone tools, initiation of pottery formation, mud brick houses, villages and community.


Metal age – After 2000 BC

It was divided into 2 parts – Chalcolithic age (Chalco means “copper”) and Iron age.

  • Important Sites of Chalcolithic ageJorve, Malwa, IVC, Ahar
  • Lifestyle of Chalcolithic ageInitiation of Seasonal crops (Rabi and Kharif), Copper and bronze were used, Religious belief developed, fortified settlements, i.e. formations for the security of houses like boundaries, use of Painted pottery.

Iron age belongs from Vedic civilization, which we will discuss in Vedic Civilization.



Hope you have learned today.


Click for the Quiz –Indus Valley Civilisation Quiz


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