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HISTORY: Indus Valley Civilization

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Indus Valley Civilization: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.

  1. Important Discoveries:
    • 1921- Harappa Dayaram Sahni
    • 1922: Mohenjodaro- R. D. Banerjee
    • 1927: Sutkagendor- R. L. Staine
    • 1931: 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
    • Dholavira Rann of Kachh (Gujarat): R. S. Bisht
    • Ganverivala , Pakistan- Rafeeq Mugal
    • RakhiGarhi Jeend (Haryana): Rafeeq Mugal
  2. The first mention of the possibility of the Harappan civilization was made as early as 1826, by Charles Masen.
  3. The Civilization was named “Indus Valley Civilization” by Sir John Marshal (1924), after its discovery by Daya Ram Sahni and Vatsa in 1921-22.The maximum number of sites were explored by S.R. Rao, in Gujarat (190 sites). Around 2600 sites have been found and at present there are over 350 sites which have been excavated. Maximum sites found in Haryana.
  4. Extent of Indus Valley Civilization: As per latest estimates, Indus Valley Civilization encompassed a staggering 1.5 million sq km area in the North west of Indian subcontinrent.
    • Eastern-most limit-Alamgirpur of Western UP.
    • Southern-most limit-Daimabad of Maharastra.
    • Northern-most limit-Shortugai of Afganistan.
    • Western-most limit-Sutkangendor of Makaran coast.
  5. The largest Indus Valley Civilization site is Mohenjodaro. The smallest site is Allahdino. The largest sites in India are Dholavira, Rakhigarhi.
  6. Society:
    • The best information on social life comes from the terracota figures. The Indus Valley Civilization was probably ruled by the merchant class. The weapons used were: axes, bows, arrows and Gada. No defensive weapons have been found here. No swords were discovered. They are considered to be overall a peaceloving race.
    • There was a clear cut rich-poor division as indicated by town planning and burial practises.
      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. Four pot burials containing bone ashes were discovered at Surkatoda. Bodies were found buried in oval pits at Ropar.
    • The cemetery R37, containing 57 burials, is located at Harappa.
  7. Religion:
    • 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 four animals (elephant, tiger, rhino and buffalo), each lacing a different direction, and two deer appear at his feel.
    • 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.
    • The Harappans didn't have an organized religioussystem. They didn't construct any temple.
  8. Trade:
    • 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 excavation of Lothal, an Indus port town located off the Gujarat coast, shattered notions that the Civilization was landlocked and isolated. A 700 ft long dock's-even bigger than the one's in many present day ports has been discovered. It took an estimated million bricks to build. Hundreds of seals were found, some showing Persian Gulf origin, indicating that Lothal was a major port of exit and entry.
    • Outside the Indus system a few sites occur on the Makran Coast (Pakistan- Iran border), the westernmost of which is at Sutkagen Dor, near the modern frontier with Iran. These sites were probably ports or trading posts, supporting the sea trade with the Persian Gulf, and were established in what otherwise remained a argely separate cultural region. The uplands of Baluchistan, while showing clear evidence of trade and contact with the Indus Civilization, appear to have remained outside the direct Harappan rule.
    • 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).
    • Recent archaeological finds suggest that copper was also probably brought from Oman, on the southeastern tip of the Arabian peninsula.
    • The Mesopotamian king, whose date is known with certainty (2,350 B.C.), who claimed that ships from Indus Valley Civilization traded with him was King Sargon of Akkad.
  9. Measurement:
    • The articles used for weights show that in weighing 16 or its multiples were used. Weights were made up of chert, lime stone and steatite.
  10. Town Planning:
    • The settlement is divided into two sections, one smaller but higher and the other much larger but lower. Archaeologists designate these as the Citadel or Acropolis and the Lower Town respectively. The same type of layout, with a separate acropolis and lower city is found at Mohenjodaro, Harappa and Kalibangan. At major three sites excavated, the citadel mound is on a north-south axis and about twice as long as it is broad. The lower city is laid out in a grid pattern of streets; at Kalibangan these were of regularly controlled widths, with the major streets running through, while the minor lanes were sometimes offset, creating different sizes of blocks. At all three sites the citadel was protected by a massive, defensive wall of brick, which at Kalibangan was strengthened at intervals by square or rectangular bastions. In all three cases the city was situated near a river, although in modern times the rivers have deserted their former courses.
    • The citadel and the lower city are joined at Surkatoda and Banawali. Chanhudaro had no citadel. The shape of citadel at Lothal is trapezium.
    • Three divisions of town were discovered at Dholavira and both upper and middle towns are fortified. The town which resembles European castles (due to stone masonry) is Dholavira.The only site where guard rooms were provided at gates is Dholavira.
    • The town which shows marked differences in its town planning and drainage system from other Indus Valley Civilization sites is Banawali.
    • The Indus ValleyCivilization site where houses are built just next to the wall is Desalpur. The towns which resemble castles of merchants are Desalpur, Rojdi,Balukot.
    • Lothal is famous for warehouse, granary, merchant's house, besides its warehouse.
    • One of the most distinctive features of Harappan cities was the carefully planned drainage system. It seems that streets with drains were laid out first and then houses built along them. If domestic waste water had to flow into the street drains, every house needed to have at least one wall along a street.
    • Houses never opened towards the main roads. They opened towards the galis. Exception is houses found in Lothal.
  11. Domestic architecture:
    • The most common building material at every site was brick, but the proportions of burned brick to unburned mud brick vary. Mohenjo-daro employs burned brick, perhaps because timber was more readily available, while mud brick was reserved for fillings and mass work. Kalibangan, on the other hand, reserved burned brick for bathrooms, wells, and drains. Most of the domestic architecture at Kalibangan was in mud brick.
    • The bathrooms of houses made during the time were usually indicated by the fine quality of the brickwork in the floor and by waste drains.
    • A house floor containing the design of intersecting circles was found at Kalibangan.
      The houses were constructed on the pattern of gridiron (chess). A huge palace-like building has been found at Banawali.
    • Important measurements:
      • Great Bath: 12 m x 7 m x 2.4 m.
      • Hammam/Granary: 46 m x 23 m.
      • Collegiate building: 10 m square court.
      • Cubical bricks:10 x 20 x 40 cm3.
      • Average brick size: 5.5 x 12.5 x 26 cm.
      • Ratio of length, breadth and height of bricks: 4 : 2 : 1.
      • Larger bricks to cover drains: 51 cm (+).
      • Stone weights used for trade were in the denominations of: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, ..... 160 and decimal multiples of 16. Eg. 16, 320, 6400, 8000, 12800, etc.
      • Length was generally measured in: Foot (37.6 cm) and cubit (52 cm approx).
      • Granary at Lothal: 214 x 36 x 4.5 m.
      • Harappan storehouse: 50 m x 40 m, with a 7 m central passage.
  12. Economic Life:
    • Representations on seals and terracotta sculpture indicate that the bull was known, and archaeologists extrapolate from this that oxen were used for ploughing. Moreover, terracotta models of the plough have been found at sites in Cholistan and at Banawali (Haryana).
    • Archaeologists have also found evidence of a ploughed field at Kalibangan (Rajasthan), associated with Early Harappan levels. The field had two sets of furrows at right angles to each other, suggesting that two different crops were grown together.
    • Traces of canals have been found at the Harappan site of Shortughai in Afghanistan. Water reservoirs found in Dholavira (Gujarat) may have been used to store water for agriculture.
    • Wheat and barly were main crops in Punjab, Sind and Rajasthan. While jowar, bajra and ragi were cultivated in Gujrat.
    • Rice husk was discovered in Lothal, Rakhigarhi and Rangpur .
    • Important fruits were coconut, banana.
    • Evidence of cotton come from Mohenjodaro, Lothal and Alamgirpur.
    • There is a evidence of fish-hooks also.
  13. Political Organisation:
    • Perhaps the Harappan rulers were more concerned with commerce than the conquests, and Harappans was possibly ruled by a class of merchants.
  14. Art & Crafts:
    • The variety of materials used to make beads is remarkable: stones like carnelian (of a beautiful red colour), jasper, crystal, quartz and steatite; metals like copper, bronze and gold; and shell, faience and terracotta or burnt clay. Some beads were made of two or more stones, cemented together, some of stone with gold caps. The shapes were numerous – discshaped, cylindrical, spherical, barrel-shaped, segmented. Some were decorated by incising or painting, and some had designs etched onto them.
    • A crucible for making bronze articles was discovered at Harappa. Maximum bronze figures have been found in Mohenjodaro. The Bronze dancing girl was found in Mohenjodaro. Mostly limestone was used for sculptures. Limestone sculpture of a seated male priest was found at Mohenjodaro. The only place where pottery depicting humans has been found is in Harappa. Pottery inkpots and writing tablets (leafs) were found at Chanhudaro. War-tools made of copper and bronze were discovered at Mohenjodaro.
      A terracota model of a ship was found at Lothal. A seat latrine has been found at Mohenjodaro. This is also true of the two small male torsos discovered in Harappa.
    • In Dholavira (Rann of Kutch, Gujarat) Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found elaborate stone gateways with rounded columns, apart from giant reservoirs for water. A board inlaid with large Harappan script characters' probably the world's first hoardings was also found here.
    • Metals:The most extensively used metal in Indus Valley Civilization was pure copper (unalloyed copper).The metal which made earliest appearance during the Indus Valley Civilization was Silver. The Harappans obtained raw material from outside The various minerals (metals) used by Indus Valley Civilization people and their sources are: Silver from Afghanistan and Iran and Iraq; Lead from Kashmir, Rajasthan, etc.; Gold from Karnataka; Copper from Rajasthan; Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan. Iron was not known to Indus Valley Civilization people.
  15. Tools and Implements:
    • They used tools made up of copper, bronze and stone. Stone tools were also in common use. They were produced on a large scale in factory sites like Sukkur in Sind . Agricultural implements were found in Mohenjodaro. Cotton spindles, (and sewing needles) have been found in Mohenjodaro.
  16. Pottery:
    • 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. Pots were generally decorated with the designs of trees and circles.The only place where pottery depicting humans has been found is in Harappa.
  17. Seals:
    • Seals are the greatest artistic creations of the Indus people.
    • Most commonly made of steatite (soft stone) with figurines and letters in Harappan scripts. 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. Other animals are ox, brahmi bull, elephant, buffalo, antilope. Horse, cow and lion are not depicted.
    • Maximum number of seals have been found in Mohenjodaro (57%). Second maximum at Harappa (36%). The Garuda is depicted on a seal from Harappa. The Sumerian Gilgamesh seal also shows two tigers. Persian-gulf seal was found at Lothal and it is a button seal.
    • A Tiger seal was found at Banawali. 34. Iraqi cylindrical seal was found at Mohenjodaro.
      The seals depicting the lord Pasupati Siva, Sumerian Gilgamesh and his two lions were found at Mohenjodaro.The major seal producing units were at Chanhudaro.
  18. 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 inscription of maximum letters(26) recovered from Mohenjodaro.
    • The language of the Harappans is still unknown and must remain so until the Harappan script is deciphered.
  19. Animals:
    • Known animals were bull, dog, rabbit and bird. The Garuda is depicted on a seal from Harappa.Evidence of the rhinoceros comes from Amri and Kalibangan. The Sumerian Gilgamesh seal also shows two tigers. The interesting evidences about the horse during Indus Valley Civilization are:
      • Horse bones have been found in Surkatoda.
      • Horse tooth has been found in Ranaghudai.
      • Terracota figure of a horse has been found inLothal.
      • Ashes of a horse have been found in Suktagendor.
  20. The End of the Civilisation:
    • After 2000 BC, the Indus culture slowly declined and gradually faded out. Some ascribe this to the decreasing fertility of the soil.
    • 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.


SOME IMPORTANT HARAPPAN SITES:
  1. Mohenjodaro:

    • Mohenjodaro is located on the banks of Indus river.It is the largest of all Indus citie.
    • In Sindhi language, the word Mohenjodaro means mound of the dead’.
    • The site of Mohenjodaro was constructed at least seven times.
    • Stupa, great bath, college, Hammam, granary and assembly hall belong to Mohenjodaro.
    • 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.
    • Maximum number of seals have been found in Mohendojaro (57%).
    • Maximum bronze figures have been found in Mohenjodaro.
    • The Bronze dancing girl, limestone sculpture of a seated male priest, war-tools made of copper and bronze, a seat latrine , the seals depicting the lord Pasupati Siva, Sumerian Gilgamesh and his two lions , agricultural implements, Cotton spindles, (and sewing needles) were found in Mohenjodaro.
    • There is surprisingly little evidence of public places of worship, although at Mohenjo-daro a number of possible temples were unearthed in the lower city, and other buildings of a ritual character were reported in the citadel.
  2. Harappa:
    • Harappa is located on the banks of river Ravi, was the first site to be excaveted.
    • 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.
    • The cemetery R37, containing 57 burials, is located at Harappa.
    • The site where oxendriven carts were found was Harappa.
  3. Kalibangan:
    • Kalibangan is located on the banks of river Ghaggar/Saraswati.
    • Has pre-Harappan as well as Harappan cultural phases.
    • Less developed compared to Mohenjodaro
    • There is evidence of mud-brick fortification of 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
    • Stone rubble has been used at Kalibangan. Evidence of the rhinoceros comes from Amri and Kalibangan. It also tells us that there was plenty of rainfall there.
  4. Chanhudaro:
    • Chanhudaro is located on Indus/Sutlej;
    • Only Indus city without a citadel.
    • Pottery inkpots and writing tablets (leafs) were found here.
    • Excavations reveal that people of Chanhudaro were expert craftsmen. archaeologists have discovered here metalworkers’,shell-ornament makers’ and bead-makers’ shops
    • The city was twice destroyed by inundations.Here more extensive but indirect evidenceof super-imposition of a barbarian lifestyle is seen
    • The major seal producing units were at Chanhudaro. Bead-maker's shop and equipments were found at Chanhudaro.
  5. Dholavira:
    • 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.
    • The town which resembles European castles (due to stone masonry) is Dholavira.
    • The only site where guard rooms were provided at gates is Dholavira. In Dholavira (Rann of Kutch, Gujarat) Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found elaborate stone gateways with rounded columns, apart from giant reservoirs for water. A board inlaid with large Harappan script characters probably the world's first hoardings was also found here.

  6. Lothal:
    • Lothal is located on Bhogavo
    • 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
    • The shape of citadel at Lothal is trapezium. An atta chakki (grinding stone) was discovered at Lothal.A terracota model of a ship was found at Lothal.Rice husk was discovered in Lothal.
  7. Ropar:
    • Ropar is located on Sutlej.
    • 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 veryinteresting
    • One example of rectangular mudbrick ‘chamber was noticed.
  8. Banwali:
    • Like Kalibangan, Amri, Kot Diji and Harappa, Banwali also saw two cultural phases - pre-Harappan and Harappan.
    • The town which shows marked differences in its town planning and drainage system from other Indus Valley Civilization sites is Banawali.
    • A huge palace-like building has been found at Banawali.
    • Human and animal figures, clay bangles and statue of mother Goddess found here.
    • Here we find large quantity of barely, sesamum and mustard.
    • A Tiger seal was found at Banawali.Deluxe pottery was discovered at Banawali.
  9. Surkotada:
    • Excavations leveal a citadel and a lower town, both of which were fortified.
    • Horse bones have been found in Surkatoda.Ashes of a horse have been found in Suktagendor.

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