Sunday, November 1, 2009



Human inhabitation  in the Indian subcontinent is traced to the Paleolithic  and Neolithic period. Dated from about 2500 to 1500 BC. This civilization is considered to be at par with the other civilizations of the world .

Sir John Marshal, the director general of archaeology with his team excavated sites at Sind and Punjab. The ruins at Mohenjodaro in the Larkana  district of Sind in the lower Indus and at  Harappa on the banks of the Ravi has brought to light the existence of the Indus valley civilization. These excavations were further supported by the discovery in 1931 at Chanhudaro near Mohenjodaro. Traces of the Indus valley civilization was discovered at Rupar in Ambala district and Rangpur, and Lothal in Saurashtra, Bharatpur in Rajasthan, Kalibangan in the Burdwan district of West Bengal are a proof of the existence of the Indus valley civilization. Harappa being the main source of knowledge about the civilization historians also call  this civilization as the Harappan culture.


The Indus valley civilization is believed to belong to the copper stone age as the presence of iron tools and implements has not yet been established at any part of this civilization. 

Archaeological excavation indicates that the Indus valley civilization could have flourished in about  300 BC much before the existence of other West Asian civilization. Contacts with the civilization of Mesopotamia, Elam and Babylon can be deduced by the discovery of the Indus valley clay seals, pottery there. This suggests that  the civilization flourished from about 3000 BC to 1500 BC.

Anthropological investigation and examination of the human remains shows that four racial types existed in this civilization. They were the proto - Australiod, Mediterranean, Alpine and the Mongoloid. Archaeological excavation reveal the existence of various racial types. Of all these the existence of the Dravidian race holds its relevance owing to its wide spread acceptance.

Decline of the Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus valley culture though existed in its modern form else where it had to submit to the ultimate ravages of time which is the universal law. The physical existence of the civilization ended due to various factors.

(a) Changes in the climate leading to the decline of land and agriculture, thereby enforcing the need to evacuate to other area might have been the reason for the dissertation of the Indus valley.
(b) Increase in population, excessive deforestation decline in agriculture etc might have created economic problems leading to the gradual decay of the culture.
(c) Frequent floods may have led to the devastation of the city
(d) The invasion of the Aryans is the other view that is said to be another reason which might have also led to the extinction of the life in the Indus valley.

The Indus valley civilization has put India at par with the other civilization of the world, which is  said to be the foundation on which the present cultures of  nations are builded.


a) Town Planning

The ruins of Mohenjodaro provides evidence to confirm the existence of a system of planning in the city. The streets were broad and straight cutting each other at right angles. The drains were lined with bricks and manholes to facilitate regular cleaning. This speaks  highly of the civilization's advanced nature.

The citadel was the main part of the city built on a raised platform. It consisted of public buildings, a bath, granaries and quarters for providing shelter to the persons propagating religion. The planning of the city brings to light the existence of an active and efficient bureaucracy to administer the activities of the city.

Around the citadel was spread the remaining part of the city where the common people dwelt and pursued their profession. Houses were well planned and was built on both sides of the street. it had flat roofs and were connected by stairs to the upper storeys. They had thick walls and windows were few. Every house had a kitchen with a fireplace and large jars for storing grains or keeping other articles of use. The roofs of houses were flat. each house had bathrooms with a system of covered drains connected to the main drain of the street. A courtyard and a well were the special. features that brings to light the system of planning existing then.

(b) Society

Society in the Indus valley civilization is said to have comprised of three distinct social groups. One group ruled and administered the city, the other group included the merchants who were associated with trade and other business activities in the city. The third group were the labourers who worked in the city. They also included the farmers who cultivated wheat and barley as their main crops. Animals like the buffaloes, sheeps and pigs and the humped bull were bred. Fish, mutton, beef, poultry and pork consisted the food they ate. Animals like the elephant, camels and dogs were also domesticated. The discovery of a large number of clay spindles suggest  the use of cotton besides woolen  and linen fabrics.

Men also seemed to have worn ornaments like fillets, necklaces, finger rings and armlets. Women were fond of ornaments like earrings, bangles, bracelets, necklaces, girdles and anklets made of shell, beads, gold and silver and copper. Razors, bronze mirrors and combs made of ivory speaks of the people interest in personal upkeep. Toys like the whistle and carts besides puppets, rattles and dolls made of terracotta speaks greatly about the attitude of the people in child care. People enjoyed playing in dice and marble. Gambling was a favourite past time of the elder members in the society.

(c) Occupation

The discovery of various equipments such as axes, knives, spears and daggers made of bronze and copper suggest metal work as a major profession commonly pursued in the towns. Copper was used for making weapons and utensils besides ornaments. Spinning, weaving and pottery also formed important occupation. Pottery in red with designs painted in black resembling shapes such as interesting circles, pipal, leaves, peacocks were on it. The discovery of numerous seals made of clay with figures of animals like the tiger, rhinoceros, elephant and crocodile gives us more information of the significance of these animals in the Harappan society. These seals also have inscriptions in pictographic script. 
Agriculture with domesticating animals was a major occupation. The location of granaries near river, where the civilization itself flourished was an important feature. The ornaments of these period worn by both men and women reflects the skilled craftsmanship of the people in the Harappan culture.

(d) Trade

The Indus valley people maintained commercial contacts with Egypt and Crete, Mesopotamia and the towns in the Persian Gulf. Excavations at Lothal reveals the existence of a dock supporting the activities of trade in that period. Trade also existed with Northern Afghanistan from where the Harappans bought the famous blue gemstones,' Lapiz  Lazuli'.

(e) Religion

The  clay seals discovered during excavation reveals the presence of  a male god. The figure of a female god also suggest  their beliefs on the female was source of creation. The seal with a male god wearing a head dress surrounded by various animals exhorts the belief in the male symbol of strength. The Indus valley people cremated their death. This idea has been established owing to the discovery of many urns containing human bones and ashes. In general it can be derived that worship of the forces of nature in its lively forms such as stones, strong animals was the religion they followed. This must have been the principles upon which the present day  Hinduism has prescribed as its principles.

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