Indus Valley Civilization in Ancient India

Indus Valley Civilization in Ancient India was the first urban civilization in South Asia.Indus Valley Civilization reflects the foundation structure of modern India. Let’s learn.


The Indus Valley Civilization can be classified in three phases

  • The Early Phase (3200-2600 BCE)
  • Mature phase (2600-1900 BCE)
  • Late phase (1900-1300 BCE)
  • Indus civilization belongs to Proto-Historic period/Chalcolithic age
  • IVC belongs to the Bronze Age
  • First discovered site in the Indus Civilization is Harappa. This is why this civilization is also known as Harappan Civilization.
  • John Marshall was the first person to use the word ‘Indus civilization
 Knowledge Booster: Know about Pre-History Phase

Palaeolithic age(50000-10000 BCE) is earliest period,known as age of hunters and food gatherers.Mesolithic age(10000-6000 BCE) is intermediate stone age culture,known as age of hunters and herders.Neolithic age(6000-1000 BCE) is the age of food producers. Chalcolithic age(1000-500BCE) is known as Copper-stone age.

Brief Info on various Indus Sites

SiteLocationRiverYear of ExcavationArchaeologist
AlamgirpurMeerut, Uttar Pradesh,IndiaHindon1974Y.D. Sharma
BanawaliHisar, Haryana,IndiaGhaggar1974R.S. Bisht
ChanhudaroSindh, PakistanIndus1931M.G. Majumdar
DholaviraGujarat,IndiaRann of Kutch1985-90M.S. Vats,B.B. Lal
HarappaMontgomery, PakistanRavi1921Daya Ram Sahni
KalibanganHanumangarh, Rajasthan,IndiaGhaggar1953B.B. Lal
Kot DijiKhairpur, Sindh, PakistanIndus1953Fazal Ahmed
LothalAhmedabad, Gujarat,IndiaBhogava1957S.R. Rao
Mohenjo daroLarkana, Sindh, PakistanIndus1922R.D. Banerjee
RangpurAhmedabad, Gujarat,IndiaBhadar1931 R.S. Bisht
RoparRupnagar, Punjab, IndiaSutlej1953 Y.D. Sharma
SurkotadaGujarat ,IndiaRann of Kutch1964J.P Joshi
SutkagenDor Makran, Balochistan, PakistanDasht1927R.L. Stein
DaimabadMaharashtra, IndiaPravara1958B. P. Bopardikar
Do You Know?
Ropar is the first Indus valley site which was excavated in independent India.
Do You Know?
Meaning of Mahenjodaro – ‘Mound of the Dead‘ and Meaning of Kalibanga – ‘Bangles of black colour
Knowledge Booster: Why is Mohenjodaro called “The mound of the dead”?

Indus Valley Civilization is more than 6,000 years old and people could learn about it only after excavation. About 6,000 years back this civilization was buried under the earth. Buildings were buried and everything destroyed, only skeletons were found. So, In Sindhi, they refer to it as Muen JO Daro i.e. Place of dead people. In Sindhi language MUEN means DEAD People and JO DARO Means Place or Location.

Indus Valley Civilization in Ancient India

Geographical Limit of Indus Valley Civilization

Geographical Limit of Indus Valley Civilization

At a Glance: Indus City Situated at the River Bank

• Harappa – Ravi

• Mohenjodaro – Indus

• Chanhudaro – Indus

• Sutkagendor – Dasht

• Rangpur – Meedar

• Ropar – Sutlej

• Lothal – Bhogava

• Kalibangan – Ghaggar

• Dholavira – Luni

• Banawali – Ghaggar

• Alamgirpur – Hindon

Society of Indus Valley Civilization
  • Urban society comprising mostly of the middle class families.
  • Indus valley houses were were 2-3 stories high and were built with mud bricks with proper sewage systems.
  • Town planning and drainage system of Indus Civilization was excellent. The well laid out roads inside the town were the main features of Indus Civilization.
  • Courtyard houses in Indus/Harappan Civilization was the earliest foundation structure of modern houses.These were open to the sky and knows as ‘Brahmasthals’ or the soul of a house.The Courtyards were primarily used for activities like sacred rituals.
  • People were expert in red black pottery.
The Harappan pottery were excellent piece of art.The pottery is very bright or dark red. These are uniformly sturdy and well baked.It was found that the plain pottery was more famous compare to the painted one. 
  • Copper,Bronze,Silver,Gold were known to people of Indus Civilization.
Which metal was unknown to the people of Indus civilization?
  • They were also good at metallurgy and producing alloys.
  • The Indus people used clothes made of cotton/wool and sandals made of cloth.
  • They relished non-vegetarian food.Fish-eating was common. Milk and curd was also consumed.
  • Sindh and Punjab area of Indus civilization largely consumed wheat and barley while people in Rangpur and Surkotda consumed rice and millets.
  • The IVC script was pictographic and logosyllabic (each symbol stood for a word/syllable).
Do You Know?

Harappan writing was boustrophedon, that is while reading,it is to be read from right to left and left to right in alternate lines. The Harappan script has not been deciphered so far.

Economic Life of Indus Valley Civilization
  • The inferences about economical structure of Indus Civilization have been derived from its flourishing trade relations with its contemporary Mesopotamian,Egypt and Sumerian civilizations.
  • Engaged in foreign trade with Mesopotamia, Sumer & Bahrain.
Do You Know?
The Mesopotamians called the Indus Valley Region as ‘Meluha
  • Seals hold a special significance in the Harappan Civilization. Every merchant probably had a seal bearing an emblem, often of a religious character on one side.
  • The standard Indus seal was a square/ oblong plaque made of steatite stone.
  • They carried out internal and external trade.
  • There was no metallic money was in circulation and trade was conducted by means of barter.
  • Inland transport primarily employed bullock carts.
  • Bead-making factories were found at Chanhudaro and Lothal.
  • A dockyard has been exacavated in Lothal and sea ports have been found at Rangpur, Somnath and Balakot.
Which animal was most common in the Indus seals?
Unicorn and Humped Bull
Where was the famous Mesopotamian seal (Bull seal) found?
Where was the famous seal of Pashupati Mahadev found?
Which site is known as Manchester of Indus civilization for its cotton trade?
Religious Life and Culture of Indus Valley Civilization
  • Religious belief is considered as a secular.
  • No temple structure has been found.
  • People used to worship Mother goddess,Pashupati Mahadeva or proto-Shiva,Lingam,Pipal tree,Humped Bull,Birds (dove and pigeon),One-horned unicorn,stones.
  • They believed in ghosts, evil forces and superstitions.
  • Coffins containing dead bodies were found at Harappa.
  • Evidence of animal sacrifice was found.
Agriculture in Indus Valley Civilization
  • IVC was the earliest known civilization to produce cotton.
  • Wheat, Millets and Barley were most common agricultural products.
  • Rice cultivation was observed at Lothal and Rangpur.
  • People domesticated animals like cats, dogs, oxen, buffaloes, goats, humped bulls, sheep, pigs, asses, camels on a large scale.
  • The presence of rabbits, peacocks, ducks, pigeons, wild fowl and monkeys were found on pottery paintings.
  • Remains of horses was found at Surkotda.
  • Dogs with men in grave was found in Ropar.
Where a vase depicting the folk tale 'The thirsty cow' was found?
Which crop was unknown to have grown in Indus valley civilization?
Decline of Indus Valley Civilization

There is no archaeological evidence of the reason behind the fall of Indus Civilization. Some possible theories are:

Wheeler, Piggot and Gordan ChildeExternal Aggression or Aryan Invasion
KVR KennedyEpidemic
Marshall and RaikesTectonic Disturbance
RL Stein and AN GhoshClimatic Change
Marshal, SR Rao, MackeyFlood
HT Lambrick, Walter Fairservis, Sood and AggarwalUnstable river system, Ecological imbalance,Dryness of river
Some important Indus River Valley questions for Exam
  • Copper Chariot was found-Daimabad
  • A Stone cut water reservoir was found-Dholovira
  • Assembly hall and collegiate building were found-Mahenjodaro
  • Sandstone dancer was found–Rangpur
  • Granary outside to citadel was found–Mahenjodoro
  • Teracotta Replica of a plough was found-Banawali
  • Dancing girl sculpture was found-Mahenjodaro
  • ‘The Great Bath’ made of burnt bricks is located at-Mahenjodaro
  • Two rows of six granaries was found-Harappa
  • A dockyard and a teracotta model of a ship was found-Lothal
  • Unique water harvesting system was found-Dholavira
What is largest site in Indus Civilization?
What is the largest Indian site in Indus Civilization?
Knowledge Booster: What is the difference between Mehrgarh and Indus Valley Civilization?

Mehrgarh is a Neolithic site whereas Indus Valley Civilization belongs to the Chalcolithic age/Bronze age. Mehrgarh is considered as the most important Neolithic sites in archaeological history. Mehergarh civilization is the precursor to the Indus Valley Civilisation.

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