Describe the features of industry valley civilisation.

The history of India begin with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilisation also known as Harappan civilisation. Harappan culture arose in the north western part of the Indian subcontinent. The modern sites of Harappa, situated in the province of west of Punjab in Pakistan. It is also called Indus civilization because it refers to precisely the same culture, chronological and geographical entity confined to the geographic bounds of the Indus valley.
The Indus Valley civilisation was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilisation of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China.
In 1920s the Archaeological Department of India carried out excavations in the Indus Valley wherein the ruins of the two old citiesviz, Mohenjodaro and Harappa were unearthed.
In 1924, John Marshall was the first person to use the term โ€˜Indus civilisationโ€™.
The Indus or the Harappan civilisation belongs to the Chalcolithic or Bronze age since the objects of copper and stone were found at the various sites of this civilisation.
The Archaeological remains show that before the emergence of Harappa civilisation the people lived in small villages. As the time passed, there was the emergence of small towns which ultimately led to full fledged town during the Harappa period.
The whole period of Harappa civilisation is in fact divided into three phases:

  1. Early Harappan stage (2900 โ€“ 2600 B.C.)
    During this period, many settlements were established in the hill and plain areas. These people used copper, wheel and plough. There are also evidences of defensive walls, long distance trade, arts and crafts etc. during this period. There was uniformity in the pottery tradition throughout the civilisation.
  2. Mature Harappa stage (2600 โ€“ 1800 B.C.)
    During this period many large cities emerged with uniform type of bricks, weights, seals, beads and pottery. These cities were carefully planned. Inland and foreign trade was also evident in these cities.
  3. Late Harappa civilisation (1900 โ€“ 1400 B.C.)
    It was the phase of decline during which many cities were abandoned and the trade disappeared leading to the gradual decay of the significant urban traits. The excavation at lethal reveals this stage of evolution.


  1. Town planning:
    The Harappan culture was distinguished by its system of town planning. Harappa and Mohenjodaro each had its own citadel or acropolis, which was possibly occupied by members of the ruling class. Below the citadel in each city lay a lower town containing brick houses, which were inhabited by the common people. The remarkable thing about the arrangement of the houses in the cities is that they followed the grid system. Granaries constituted an important part of the Harappan cities. The use of burnt bricks in the Harappan cities is remarkable, because in the contemporary buildings of Egypt mainly dried bricks were used. The drainage system of Mohenjodaro was very impressive. In almost all cities every big or small house had its own courtyard and bathroom. In Kalibangan many houses had their wells. At sites such as Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat), the entire settlement was fortified, and sections within the town were also separated by walls.
  2. Agriculture
    The Harappan villages, mostly situated near the flood plains, produced sufficient food grains. Wheat, barley, rai, peas, sesame, lentil, chickpea and mustard were produced. Millets are also found from sites in Gujarat. While rice uses were relatively rare.The Indus people were the earliest people to produce cotton. While the prevalence of agriculture is indicated by finds of grain, it is more difficult to reconstruct actual agricultural practices. Representations on seals and terracotta sculpture indicate that the bull was known, and archaeologists extrapolate shows oxen were also used for ploughing. Most Harappan sites are located in semi-arid lands, where irrigation was probably required for agriculture. Traces of canals have been found at the Harappan site of Shortughai in Afghanistan, but not in Punjab or Sindh. Although the Harappans practised agriculture, animals were also reared on a large scale. Evidence of the horse comes from a superficial level of Mohenjodaro and from a doubtful terracotta figurine from Lothal. In any case the Harappan culture was not horse centred.
  3. Economy
    The importance of trade in the life of the Indus people is witnessed by the presence of numerous seals, uniform script and regulated weights and measures in a wide area. The Harappans carried on considerable trade in stone, metal, shell, etc. Metal money was not used and trade was carried by barter system. They practised navigation on the coast of the Arabian Sea. They had set up a trading colony in northern Afghanistan which evidently facilitated trade with Central Asia. They also carried commerce with those in the land of the Tigris and the Euphrates. The Harappans carried on long distance trade in lapis lazuli; which may have contributed to the social prestige of the ruling class.
  4. Crafts
    The Harappans were very well acquainted with the manufacturing and use of Bronze. Copper was obtained from the Khetri copper mines of Rajasthan and Tin was possibly brought from Afghanistan. Textile impressions have also been found on several objects. Huge brick structure suggest that brick-laying was an important craft. This also attests the existence of a class of masons. The Harappans practised boat-making, bead making and seal-making. Terracotta manufacture was also an important craft. The goldsmiths made jewellery of silver, gold and precious stones. The potter’s wheel was in full use, and the Harappans produced their own characteristic pottery, which was glossy and shining.
  5. Institutions
    Very few written materials have been discovered in the Indus valley and the scholars have not been able to decipher the Indus script so far. As a result, there is difficulty in understanding the nature of the state and institutions of the Indus Valley Civilization. No temples have been found at any Harappan sites. Therefore the possibility of priests ruling Harappa can be eliminated. Harappa was possibly ruled by a class of merchants. If we look for a centre of power or for depictions of people in power, archaeological records provide no immediate answers. Some archaeologists are of the opinion that Harappan society had no rulers, and that everybody enjoyed equal status. Another theory argues that there was no single ruler, but a number of rulers representing each of the urban centers.
  6. Religion
    Harappa numerous terracotta figurines of women have been found. In one figurine a plant is shown growing out of the embryo of a woman. The Harappans, therefore, looked upon the earth as a fertility goddess and worshipped her in the same manner as the Egyptians worshipped the Nile goddess Isis. The male deity is represented on a seal with three horned heads, represented in the sitting posture of a yogi. This god is surrounded by an elephant, a tiger, a rhinoceros, and has a buffalo below his throne. At his feet appear two deer.The depicted god is identified as Pushupati Mahadeva. Numerous symbols of the phallus and female sex organs made of stone have been found. The people of the Indus region also worshipped trees and Animals. The most important of them is the one horned unicorn which may be identified with the rhinoceros and the next important was the humped bull. Amulets have also been found in large numbers.

Many Scholars believe natural factors are behind the decline of this civilisation. The natural factors could be geological and climatic. It is believed that the Indus Valley region experienced several tectonic disturbances which causes earthquakes which also changed courses of rivers or dried them up.
Another natural reason might be changes in patterns of rainfall.
There could be also dramatic shifts in the river courses which might have brought floods to the producing areas.
It has been postulated that in Saraswati region, the civilisation declined mainly because of the shifting of the river channels.
Due to combination of these natural causes there was a slow but inevitable collapse of Indus Valley Civilisation.

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