History Notes: What was Indus Valley Civilization?

Indus Valley Civilization: Everything you need to know

This article aims to delve into the Indus valley civilization and study it from the perspective of the SSC CGL/CHSL and banking examinations.

The history of India began with the onset of the Indus valley civilization.

In around 2600-1900 BC, a civilization thrived in the Indus valley which was known as the Indus Valley Civilization. This civilization is the largest of the 4 ancient civilizations.
In 1920’s the archeological department of India dug out the cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro The people in this civilization were called Harappas.
Their first settlements were established around 2600 BC in Western India now Pakistan.
The civilization flourished around the same time as the states of Egypt and
This civilization was spread across Jammu in the North, Narmada Estuary in the south, Makran coast in the west and meerut in the east.
Cities such as Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro grew along the major trade routes.

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Indus Valley Civilization

CitiesRiverImportant findings
HarappaRavi river in PunjabA row of 6 Granaries was
made for food.
Mother goddess figurines
were found.
Bullock carts were
Sandstone statues of
human anatomy was found.
MohenjodaroLarkana district near the
Indus river in Pakistan
Great granary Great Bath
image of Pahupati
Image of bearded man
image of a women dancer
A piece of cotton cloth
LothalBhogava river in GujaratFirst Port City
Double burial
Terracotta horses
Rice husk
ChanhudaroSindh near the Indus riverCity without a citadel
Bead makers
DholaviraLuni river in GujaratCity divided into 34 parts
Water harvesting system
And a water reservoir

The Indus valley civilization is divided into 3 phases-
a) Early Harappan phase (Hakra Phase) from 3300 to 2600 BC.
b) The Mature Harappan Phase from 2600 to 1900 BC.
c) The late Harappan phase from 1900 to 1300 BC.

The Indus valley script dates back to 3000 BC.
Cultivation of cotton, peas, dates and their trade was common in this civilization.
The phase leading up to the mature Harappan phase is termed as Kot Diji.
Around 1800-1700 BC people started abandoning the cities of Harappa and

Town Planning

The town planning was done in a grid system.
Harappa and Mohenjodaro had their own citadel and acropolis which was occupied by the rulers.
Rectangular houses with brick lined bathrooms and wells together with stairwells found Use of burnt bricks is found to be common during this period.
The Drainage system in Mohenjo-Daro was impressive as it was underground.
Granaries constituted an important part of these cities
In the city of Kalibangan, many houses had their own individual wells.
The cities of Dholavira and Lothal were fortified completely and sections within the town were separated by walls.

Agriculture in the Indus Valley Civilization

Major cities in this civilization were built around rivers for proper irrigation.
Harappas were the first people to produce cotton.
Wheat and Barley were cultivated.
Rice too was possibly cultivated as rice husks have been discovered dating back to the Indus civilization.
Use of wooden ploughs to plough the fields with the help of Oxens was used.
Traces of canal irrigation have also been found in the city Shortughai.


Oxens, Buffalo, Goats, Sheep, and Pigs were domesticated
Asses and camels were used to carry load
Elephants and Rhino were known
Traces of horses around that period were found too, however they were not used widely.

Economy of the Indus Valley Civilization

The importance of trade in this civilization can be seen due to the widespread use of seals, uniform script and regulated weight measurement systems for transactions.
The Harappans carried trade in stone, metal and shells.
Weights are found in multiples of 16.
Barter system was the main system to conduct trade.

Crafts in the Indus valley Civilization

Bronze was widely used and manufactured
Brick laying was an important craft and skilled masons were required for it.
Potter’s wheel was used extensively.

Bead making, boat making and seal making were also widely craft induced occupations in the Harappa civilization.
Goldsmiths made jewelry using gold, silver and precious stones.
Teracotta – Fire baked earthen clay was used to make sculptures.
It is used to make toys or objects of worship.

Religion and culture in the Indus Valley Civilization

All people were a part of the same culture.
No temples and religious structures existed.
Weapons were rarely found.
Terracotta figures of mother goddess were worshipped. Harappans looked at earth as a fertility goddess and worshiped her.
Pashupati Mahadev seal found with elephant, tiger, rhino and bull surrounding him with 2 deers near his feet.
Peepal tree was worshiped.
1 horned rhino and humped bull were worshiped.
Amulets were used to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.
The Lion was not known
Harappan script dates back to 3000 BC and was pictographic in nature but hasn’t been deciphered so far.They are recorded on seals and only contain a few words.

Harappan script is the oldest script in the Indian subcontinent.

The late Harappan phase and the decline of the Indus valley civilization

At around 1800BC it is believed that:
 There was decreasing fertility of soils due to increasing salinity.
 There was sudden subsidence of uplift of land causing floods.
 Earthquakes caused changes in the course of Indus.
 Harappan culture was destroyed by the invasion of Aryans.
All these reasons are said to have caused the decline of the Indus valley

However, the latest artifacts and evidence of the survival of the civilization dates back to 900 BC.

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