Indus valley Civilisation

Indus valley Civilisation

Indus Valley Civilisation, also named as the Harappan Civilisation, due to ‘Harappa’ being the first site to have been discovered, stands as one of the earliest civilisations of the world, apart from those of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and China’s Shang civilisation.

Indus valley Civilisation

Indus Valley Civilisation was discovered by Archaeologically in 1920-1921. Harappa and Mohenjodaro were its two urban centres. These excavations were carried out by the then Director-General of Archaeological Survey of India Sir John Marshall and his colleague R.D Banerjee.

Harappa is discovered by Dayaram Sahani in 1921-1922 in Montgomery district of Punjab(now in Pakistan) on the bank of the river Ravi.

Mohenjodaro is discovered by R.D. Banerjee in 1922 in Larkana district in Sindh ( now in Pakistan) on the bank of Indus river.

Many others cities too came to be dug out gradually by other excavators namely- Ropar (Chandigarh), Lothal (Gujrat), Kalibangan( Rajasthan), Kot Diji and Chunhidaro ( Sindh), Dholavira( Kutch-Gujrat), Banawali (Haryana).

The Indus Valley civilisation was one of the four earliest civilisations of the world, along with the civilisations of Mesopotamia (River Tigris), Egyptian( River Nile), Shang ( River Hwang Ho). The Harappan civilisation was a bronze age civilisation.

The discovery of two mounds at the Harappan site of Rakhigarhi in Hisar district has led to archaeological establishing it as the biggest Harappan civilisation site. The total area of the Rakhigarhi site will be 350 hectares.

Features of Indus Valley civilisation:-

  • Charles Masson was the first archaeologist who visits Harappan site in 1826.
  • in 1912, J Fleet discovered the Harappa seals, giving a push to the excavations there under sir John Marshall.
  • Barracks of rows of single-roomed quarters are situated just below the walls of the citadel found at Harappa.
  • Harappan’s civilisation also connected with its ability to procure luxurious items of use from the distant lands. Each city was surrounded by massive walls. The walls were built to control trade and also to stop the city from being flooded.

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Important harappan sites:-

Chanhudaro ( sindh):- It is known as the Lancashire of India and is the only Indus city without Citadel.

kalibangan ( Rajasthan):- The meaning of Kalibangan is ‘Black Bangle’. Many houses had there owned wells. Three different layers those of Indus, Jhukar and Jhangar can be seen here.

Ropar ( Punjab):- This is the first site to be excavated after independence. The building was made of stone and soil.

Lothal ( Gujrat):- The most unique features of Lothal was it dockyard, the worlds’ first tidal port which served as a main seaport for the Indus people. Backed bricks and lime plaster were used in the dockyards of lethal. Lothal is also known as Manchester of Harappan civilisation for its cotton trade.

Rakhigarhi ( Haryana):- It is situated in the Hisar district of Haryana. Two distinct cultures, i.e Early Harappan and Mature Harappan can be seen here.

Surkotada (Gujrat):-It provides he actual remains of Horse Bones.

Banawali ( Haryana):- It is the only city with Oval shaped settlements, radial streets and lack of systematic drainage system.

Dholavira (Gujrat):- The most unique feature of this site is its division into three sections. Two of these parts were protected by strong rectangular fortifications. It is the warehouse settlement of Harappan civilisation. Dholavira has also witnessed a large open area in the settlement where public inscription could be held.

Suktagen-Dor ( Afghanistan) :- The town had a citadel surrounding by a stone wall built for defence. This site is made for a sea-port for trading purpose.

Town Planning

  • The towns were divided into two parts. The upper parts of the Citadel and the Lower part.
  • Harrapa and Mohenjodaro both had their own citadel.
  • The houses in the cities followed the Grid – system.
  • The rectangular town planning was the unique feature in which road cut across one another almost at right angles.
  • The use of burnt bricks in the Harappan cities is remarkable and shows that brick making might have been a large scale industry.
  • Every big or small house had its own courtyard, well and bathroom.
  • Water flowed from the house to the streets which had drained. sometimes these drains were covered with bricks or with stone slabs.
  • The First street of Mohenjodaro was 10.5 metres wide and capable of accommodating seven lanes of wheeled traffic.
  • The size of bricks used were 7*14*28 i.e in the ratio 1:2:4.
  • Houses had an entrance from street-side with due consideration to privacy. The courtyard was paved with bricks and surrounded by chambers.

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Social Life

  • Based upon the mounds, it can be assumed that there did exist classes based on the occupation of the people like peasants, herdsmen, artisan, merchants etc.
  • The rich and middle-class people lived in the two-storeyed building, while the poor working class in mud-brick quarters.
  • The dominance of mother Goddess suggests that family was matriarchal.
  • From the discovery of the Cemetry R-37, containing at least 67 graves at Harappa, it appears that burial was the usual rite.
  • Three forms of burial have been found in Mohenjodaro i.e Complete burials, Fractional burials and Post- burials.

Economical Life

  • Agriculture was the backbone of the Harappan civilisation and was mainly dependent on irrigation.
  • The other grains apart from wheat and Barley found at the Harappan site includes sesame, lentil.
  • Millets were found from sites in Gujrat.
  • Evidence of cotton comes from Mehargarh and lothal.
  • Indigo cultivation was evidenced at Rojdi.
  • Sugarcane is unknown for the Indus people.
  • Canals were only found at Shortughai and not in Punjab or Sindh indicating the usage of well water for irrigation.
  • Dholavira revealed water reservoirs which might have been used to store water.
  • The Harappan kept animals on a large scale. Oxen buffaloes, Goats, Pigs were domesticated. They also kept asses and camels which were used as beasts of burden.
  • Evidence of horse comes from Mohenjodaro and Lothal.
  • A single instance of Rhinocerous has also been reported from Amri.
  • Shortughai (Afghanistan) was near the best source of Lapiz Lazuli( A highly Values Blue Stone).
  • Lothal was the near source of Carnelian.
  • Copper was brought from Oman both Omani copper and Harappan artefacts have traces of Nickel suggesting a common origin,
  • Tin may have been brought from Afghanistan and Iran.
  • Harappan seals and other objects have also been found at Mesopotamia attesting to the existence of trade relation between them.
  • Cotton and Cotton fabric were the chief items of export.
  • Specialised drills have been found at Chanhudaro, lothal and Dholavira.
  • Nageshwar and Balakot were specialised centres for making shell objects including bangles, ladles and inlay.
  • The weights were made up of Chert and were generally in cubical shape. They had no marking while the lower denominations of weights were binary and higher denomination followed by the decimal system.
  • Heat and cold resistance strips of shell were used for length measurement.
  • Fire altars have been discovered in Kalibangan.
  • Harappan were great experts in the use of “Potter’s Wheel”.
  • The Harappan scripts are photographic in nature and yet to be deciphered. It was written from right to left in the first line and left to right in the second line. This writing style is called “Boustrophedon
  • Unicorn is the animal most frequently represented on the seals. The famous bull seal has been discovered from Mohenjodaro.
  • The Persian seal is found in Lothal.
  • Figurines were made up of fire-baked Earthen clay which came to be called “Terracota Figurines“.
  • The Harappan artisan-made beautiful images of metal. A woman dancer made of Bronze is the best specimen of them.

Religious Life

  • Worship of mother Goddess was a common feature of religion.
  • The Harappan looked upon the earth as a fertility goddess.
  • The Chief Male deity, the Pashupati Mahadeva the lord of the beast is represented on the seals in sitting posture of a Yogi.
  • Worship of tree, fire, water, snake, various animals and probably sun seems to have been in vogue among the Indus People.

Decline of Indus Valley Civilisation

  • The Harappan civilisation disappeared approximately 1800 to 1500 B.C.
  • Floods and Rainfall were responsible for the decline of the civilisation.
  • according to some scholars invasion of Aryans were the main cause of the decline of this civilisation.

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