Indus Valley Civilization – Ancient India
Indus Valley Civilization (2500 BC – 1500 BC)
- From the beginning of the 4th millennium BC, the individuality of the early village cultures began to be replaced by a more homogenous style of existence.
- By the middle of the 3rd millennium, a uniform culture had developed at settlements spread across nearly 500,000 square miles, including parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Baluchistan, Sindh and the Makran coast.
- It was a highly developed civilization and derived its name from the main river of that region— Indus.
- The cities were far more advanced than their counterparts in prehistoric Egypt, Mesopotamia or anywhere else in Western Asia.
Year Site Discovered by
192I Harappa Dayaram Sahni
1922 Mohenjodaro R. D. Banerjee
1927 Sutkagendor R. L. Staine
193I Chanhudaro N. G. Majumdar
1953 Rangpur M. Vats
1953 Kalibangan A. Ghosh
1955-56 Ropar Y. D. Sharma
1957 Lothal S. R. Rao
1972-75 Surkotada I. Joshi
1973-74 Banwali R. S. Bisht
Difference Between Pre-Harappan and roto-Harappan
Cultures that preceded Harappan culture are pre-Harappan, while proto-Harappan cultures are those pre- Harappan cultures which have some close similarities with the Harappan culture or which may be said to have anticipated certain essential elements of Harappan culture.
In shun, all prolo-Harappan cultures are necessarily pre-Harappan cultures, but all pre-Harappan cultures are not necessarily proto-Harappan cultures.
Script and Language
Harappan script is regarded as pictographic since its signs represent birds, fish and a variety of human forms. The script was boustrophedon.
written from right to left in one line and then from left to .right in the next line. The number of signs of the Harappan script is known to be between 400 and 600.
The language of the Harappans is still unknown and must remain so until the Harappan script is deciphered.
- Harappan Pottery is bright or dark red and is uniformly sturdy and well baked.
- It is chiefly wheel made, and consists of both plain and painted ware, the plain variety being more common.
- Harappan people used different types of pottery such as glazed, polychrome, incised, perforated and knobbed. The glazed Harappan pottery is the earliest example of its kind in the ancient world.
- On the whole, Harappan pottery was highly utilitarian in character, though the painted designs on some pieces show a remarkable artistic touch.
- They are the greatest artistic creations of the Indus people.
- Most commonly made of steatite (soft stone).
- The technique of cutting and polishing these seals with white luster was a unique invention of the Harappans.
- The majority of the seals have an animal engraved on them with a short inscription.
- Unicorn is the animal most frequently represented on the seals.
- Main type – (a) the square type with a carved animal and inscription, (b) the rectangular type with inscription only.
- Three forms of burials are found at Mohenjodaro, viz. complete burials. fractional burials (burial of some bones after the exposure of the body to wild beasts birds) and post-cremation burials.
- But the general practice was extended inhumation, the body lying on us back, with the head generally to the north.
- The chief male deity was the Pashupati Mahadeva (proto-Siva), represented in seals as sitting in a yogic posture on a low throne, and having three faces and two horns. He is surrounded by lour animals (elephant, tiger, rhino and buffalo), each lacing a different direction, and two deer appear at hisfeel.
- The chief female deity was the Mother Goddess, who has been depicted in various forms
- There is sufficient evidence for the prevalence of phallic worship. Numerous stone symbols of female sex organs (yoni worship), besides those of the phallus, have been discovered.
- The worship of fire is proved by the discovery of fire altars at Lothal. Kalibangan and Harappa.
- Indus people also worshipped Gods in the form of trees (piapal, etc.) and animals (unicorn etc)
- Further they believed in ghosts and evil forces and used amulets as protection against them.
Trade and Commerce
- Inter-regional trade was carried on with Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Maharashtra. South India, parts of Western Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
- Foreign trade was conducted mainly with Mesopotamia and Bahrain. Trade was carried on by overland as well as overseas transport.
- Bullock carts and pack-oxen were employed for land transport. There is evidence of sea and river transport by ships and boats in several seals and terracotta models, apart from the dockyard at Lothal.
- The Sumerian texts refer lo trade relations with Meluha’ which was the ancient name given to Indus region and they also speak of two intermediate stations called Dilmun (identified with Bahrain) and Makan (Makran coast).
- After 2000 BC, the Indus culture slowly declined and gradually faded out. Some ascribe this to the decreasing fertility of the soil till account of the increasing salinity, caused by the expansion of the neighbouring desert.
- Others attribute is to some kind of depression in the land, which caused Hoods. Still others point out that the Aryans destroyed it.
- According to some scholars, decline of trade, particularly oceanic trade with the Sumerians, must have contributed partly in the decline.
- Even though there are various theories for the downfall of this civilization, the most accepted version is that of ecological destruction.
- The Great Granary measuring 1 69 ft x 3 5 feet is the largest and the most remarkable structure found at Harappa.
- So far 891 seals have been recovered from Harappa, and that is 40% of the total number of seals belonging to Indus Valley Civilization that have been found.
- A red sandstone naked male torso has been found, which shows traces of Jainism
- Between the granary and the citadel, have also been found a series of circular platforms, probably for the pounding of grain
- At a lower level below the granary, platforms and the citadel were crowded one-room dwellings, which suggest slave habitats.
- In Sindhi language, the word Mohenjodaro means mound of the dead’.
- It is the largest of all Indus cities.
- The Great Bath is the most important public place, measuring 39 feet (length) X 23 feet (breadth) X 8 feet (depth). Located at the center of the citadel, it is remarkable for beautiful brickwork Its floor is made of burnt bricks set in gypsum and mortar. It must have served as a ritual-bathing site.
- Remains have been found of an oblong multi-pillared assembly hall and a big rectangular building, which must have served administrative purposes.
- Most of Mohenjodaro houses are built of kiln-fired brick.
- The major streets are 33 feet wide and run north-south, intersecting subordinate ones, running east-west at right angles.The evidence of Indian ships (figured on a seal) and a piece of woven cloth has been discovered from here.
- The evidence of Indian ships (figured on a seal) and a piece of woven cloth has been discovered from here.
- There is a large granary consisting of podium of square blocks of burnt-bricks with a wooden superstructure.
- Parallel rows of two-roomed cottages found The workmen or poor sections Of the society perhaps used these cottages.
- A bronze dancing girl, steatite statue of a priest and a seal bearing Pashupati have been found here.
- It is important to remember that Mohenjodaro shows nine levels of occupation towering over 300 feet above the present flood plain.
- Excavation reveals that the city was flooded More than seven times.
- Has pre-Harappan as well as Harappan cultural phases.
- Less developed compared to Mohenjodaro.
- There is evidence of mud-brick fortification.
- Pre-Harappan phase here shows that the fields were ploughed unlike the Harappan period.
- Archaeologists have discovered two platforms (within the citadel) with fire altars suggesting the practice of cult sacrifice.
- The existence of wheel conveyance is proved by a cartwheel having a single hub
- Only Indus city without a citadel.
- Existence of Pre-Harappan as well as Harappan cultural phase.
- A small pot was discovered here, which was probably an ink pot.
- Excavations reveal that people of Chanhudaro were expert craftsmen. Archaeologists have discovered here metal- workers’, shell-ornament makers’ and bead-makers’ shops.
- The city was twice destroyed by inundations.Here more extensive but indirect evidence of super-imposition of a barbarian lifestyle is seen
- Like Kalibangan, Amri, Kot Diji and Harappa, Banwali also saw two cultural phases – pre-Harappan and Harappan.
- Human and animal figures, clay bangles and statue of mother Goddess found here.
- Here we find large quantity of barely, sesamum and mustard.
- Excavations leveal a citadel and a lower town, both of which were fortified.
- It is the only Indus site where the remains of a horse have actually been round.
- Pre-Harappan and Harappan phases found.
- According to excavations, the city was probably destroyed due to fire
- Wheel made painted pottery, traces of a defensive wall and well-aligned streets, knowledge of metallurgy, artistic toys etc.
- Five figur ines of Mother Goddess discovered
- The excavations have yielded five-fold sequence of cultures — Harappan, PGW, NBP, Kushana-Gupta and Medieval.
- The evidence of burying a dog below the human burial is very interesting
- One example of rectangular mudbrick ‘chamber was noticed.
- It is the latest and one of the two largest Harappan settlements in India, the other being Rakhigarhi in Haryana.
- The other Harappan towns were divided into two parts — Citadel and the Lower Town, but Dholavira was divided into three principal divisions, two of which were strongly protected by rectangular fortifications.
- There are two inner enclosures — the first one hemmed in the citadel (which probably housed the highest authority) and the second one protected the middle town (meant for the close relatives of the rulers and other officials). The existence of this middle town, apart from the lower town, is the real exclusive feature of this city.
- Only Indus site with an artificial brick dockyard. It must have served as the main seaport of the Indus people It was surrounded by a massive brick wall, probably as flood protection.
- Lothal has evidence for the earliest cultivation of rice (1800 BC) The only other Indus site where rice husk has
- been found is Rangpur near Ahmedabad.
- Fire altars, indicating the probable existence of a fire cult, have been found.
- A doubtful terracotta figurine of horse is found here.