Indus Valley Civilization: Indian History Study Notes

Indus Valley Civilization: Indian History Study Notes

Indus civilization, also called Indus valley civilization or Harappan civilization, the earliest known urban culture of the Indian subcontinent. The nuclear dates of the civilization appear to be about 2500–1700 BCE, though the southern sites may have lasted later into the 2nd millennium BCE.

While the Indus (or Harappan) civilization may be considered the culmination of a long process indigenous to the Indus valley, a number of parallels exist between developments on the Indus River and the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia. It is…

The civilization was first identified in 1921 at Harappa in the Punjab region and then in 1922 at Mohenjo-daro (Mohenjodaro), near the Indus River in the Sindh (Sind) region. Both sites are in present-day Pakistan, in Punjab and Sindh provinces, respectively. The ruins of Mohenjo-daro were designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1980.


There were four important urban civilizations.
  • Egypt
  • Mesopotamia
  • South Asia (Indus Valley Civilization)
  • China.

Out of these the largest was Indus Valley Civilization.


  •  This is also called Harappan civilization.
  •  The Indus Valley civilization period is considered to be between 2700 – 1700 BC.
  • The civilization spread over the whole Sind, Baluchistan, whole of Punjab, Northern Rajasthan, Kathiawar and Gujarat.
  • Harappa was the first city to be excavated in 1920’s.
  • Marshall and R D Bannerji were behind these excavations.
  • In the year 1968 Sir More Time Wheeler said that the Indus valley Civilization was fully developed.
  • The idea of civilization probably came from Mesopotamia (This is mostly Iraq area and parts of Iran, Syria and Turkey).

The most important cities of Indus Valley Civilization are

  1. Harappa
  2. Mohenjo-Daro.
The other important cities of Indus Valley Civilization are
  • Lothal                     –             Ahmadabad
  • Ropar                      –            Chandigarh
  • Kalibangan            –             Rajasthan
  • Kot Doji                  –             Sind
  • Chanhu-daro         –             Sind
  • Dholavira               –             Kutch (Gujarat)
  • Banwali                  –             Hissar (Haryana)
  • Surkatoda              –             Gujarat
  • Sutkagendor          –             Makran coast (Pakistan and Iran border)
  • Harappa-Kalibangan-Mohenjadaro represented the heart of Harappan civilization.
  • The most remarkable feature of the Harappan civilization was its urbanization.
  • Each city was divided into a citadel (fortress) are where the essential institutions were located.
  • The people lived in the lower areas.
  • The evidence of agriculture in Indus Valley Civilization came from a place called Mehrgarh near Bolan Pass.
  • The people in this area were growing Wheat and Barley.
  • Varieties of painted pottery were found.
  • The people of Indus valley Civilization also used Seals and Copper objects.
  • The evidence of well developed culture was seen at Amri (Located in Sindh province of Pakistan).
  • Houses of stone or mud brick were also seen.
  • These people also constructed granaries.
  • Thin pottery was identified, on which animal motifs such as humped Bull were seen.
  • Brick making was a large scale industry.
  • The town planning was rectangular in shape.
  • The town planning is the unique feature of the Civilization.
  • The drainage system is one of the impressive achievements.
  • A kind of Municipal organization was existing.
  • The houses were constructed with kuccha bricks and not with stones.
  • The bath rooms and drainage built with Pukka bricks and made waterproof by adding Gypsum.
  • The people of Harappan civilization cultivated Wheat, Barley, Peas and Dates.
  • They also cultivated Sesame and Mustard for oil.
  • The Harappans were earliest people to grow cotton.
  • There was no practice of canal irrigation.
  • The Harappans use toothed harrow for ploughing.
  • Sheep, Goat, Humped Cattle, Buffalo and Elephant were domesticated.
  • Camel was also reared.
  • Horse was not known to the Harappans.
  • Deer was used as a game. (Hunting, probably for food).
  • In Amri (Sind province of Pakistan) instance of Indian Rhinoceros was reported.
  • There were proves of Terracotta boats.
  • There was no evidence of coins.
  • The system of weights and measurements was existed.
  • Cubes of agate (Micro crystalline variety of Silica) were employed for weighing purpose.
  • For length measurement strips of shell that are un shrinkable in hot and cold were used.
  • Seals were used for stamping goods. (This was seen in Mesopotamia).
  • The Mesopotamian literature mentioned the merchants of Ur (A place in Iraq) carried trade with foreign merchants.
  • Tilmun             –          Island of Bahrain
  • Magan             –           Oman
  • Meluhha          –           India (Indus region of Saurashtra)
  • The Harappans were aware of mining metal working.
  • The Harappans did not leave any inscriptions describing their system of government.
  • At places like Sukkur the axes, knives; spearheads were produced in large scale.
  • Temples were not found in the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • Mother goddess was made up of clay.
  • Mother goddess was worshiped for fertility.
  • A seated figure of male god was found. (Probably Pashupati Mahadeva).
  • Symbols of Phallus (Male sex organ) and female sex organs made in stone were worshipped.
  • Pipal tree was treated as sacred.
  • The Bull was worshipped.
  • Some Indus people buried their dead in graves.
  • A large cemetery was seen in Harappa and in other areas people practiced urn burial.
  • The graves contained house hold pottery, ornaments and mirrors.
  • During burial the head was pointed towards North.

Important cities in the Indus Valley Civilization


  • This is the first site to be excavated in the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • The city of Harappa located on the banks of river Ravi.
  • This is the premier city of civilization.
  • The Citadel was surrounded by a brick wall.
  • A number of Granaries were found in Harappa (striking feature).
  • A large cemetery (burial place) was seen in Harappa.


  • This is the largest city of Indus valley civilization.
  • This is located on the banks of the river Indus.
  • The local name of Mohenjo-Daro was “Mound of Dead”.
  • The people here build and rebuild houses at the same location.
  • The Citadel was surrounded by a brick wall. (Like Harappa).
  • In citadel area Great Bath is the most striking structure. (Place for important rituals).
  • To the west of Great bath granaries were also found.
  • To the other side of Great bath a long building was located. This was used as residence for high officials.
  • Assembly hall was another significant building in Mohenjo-Daro.
  • A figure of dancing girl was recovered from Mohenjo-Daro.
  • The dancing girl figure was made up of Bronze.
  • A Bearded Head in stone was recovered from Mohenjo-Daro.
  • Mohenjo-Daro had a public bath worked by an indigenous hydraulic system. (This is a system of force applying at one point is transmitted to another point using an incompressible fluid).
  • Seals representing marks of authority of traders were found in Mohenjo-Daro.


  • Kalibangan was excavated in the year 1960.
  • This is located on the southern banks of the river Ghaggar.
  • Both the citadel and lower city were surrounded by a wall. (Unlike Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro).
  • Fire altars were discovered in Kalibangan. (Also in Lothal).
  • (Fire altar is a sacrificial fire offered to God in almost all religious places). This is the worship of God Agni.
  • There were indications of usage of wooden plough.
  • Kalibangan shows the writing was boustrophedon. (This is a bi-directional text, i.e. from right to left and left to right).


  • This is located on the coast of Gulf of Cambay.
  • A vast brick built dockyard was discovered here.
  • This is an important sea port for trade with the West Asia.
  • Fire altars were discovered in Lothal. (Also in Kalibangan).
  • Rice was first cultivated in Lothal in 1800 BC.


  • This is located near to the Makran coast.
  • The town has a citadel surrounded by a stone wall built for defense.


  • There are various theories regarding the decline.
  • The decline suddenly occurred between 1800 and 1700 BC.
  • One theory says that the people of Indus Valley Civilization were destroyed by invasion barbaric tribes.
  • Other theory says that the Aryans the next settlers destroyed the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • Floods and earth quakes may be a reason for the decline.
  • Change of course of rivers. Mohenjo-Daro was destroyed by the course of river Indus away from it.
  • Ecological factors are the other reasons for the decline of Indus Valley Civilization.

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