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INDUS CIVILIZATION
The Indus or Harappan culture arose in the north-western part of the Indian
subcontinent. It is called Harappan civilisation because this was discovered first in 1921 at
the modern site of Harappa, situated in the province of west Punjab in Pakistan.It is also
called as Indus civilisation because it refers to precisely the same cultural, chronological and
geographic entity confined to the geographic bounds of the Indus valley.
Sir John Marshall was the first person to use the term Indus civilisation. The Indus or the
Harappan civilisation belongs to the Chalcolithic or Bronze Age since the objects of copper
and stone were found at the various sites of this civilisation. Nearly, 1,400 Harappan sites
are known so far in the sub-continent.They belong to early, mature and late phases of the
Harappan culture. But the number of the sites belonging to the mature phase is limited, and
of them only half a dozen can be regarded as cities.
Some of the noteworthy sites which have been excavated are Harappa (1921) by Daya Ram
Sahni, Mohenjodaro (1922) by R.D. Banerjee, Dholavira (1967-68) by J.P. Joshi and (199091) by R.S. Bisht, Kalibangan by Dr. A. Ghosh, Lothal (1955-63), Chanhu-daro, Banawali
(1975-77), etc.
Origin and Evolution:
The discovery of Indias first and earliest civilisation posed a historical puzzle as it seemed to
have suddenly appeared on the stage of history, full grown and fully equipped. The Harappan
civilisation till recently showed no definite signs of birth and growth.
The puzzle could largely be solved after the extensive excavation work conducted at
Mehrgarh near the Bolan Pass between 1973 and 1980 by two French archaeologists Richard
H. Meadow and Jean Francoise Jarrige.
According to them, Mehrgarh gives us an archaeological record with a sequence of
occupations. Archaeological research over the past decades has established a continuous
sequence of strata, showing the gradual development to the high standard of the full-fledged
Indus civilisation.

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These strata have been named pre-Harappan, early Harappan, mature Harappan and late
Harappan phases or stages. By reviewing the main elements of the rural cultures of the
Indian sub-continent the origin of the Indus civilisation can be traced. Any Pre-Harappan
culture claiming ancestry to the Indus civilisation must satisfy two conditions.
The first condition is that it must not only precede but also overlap the Indus culture.
The second is that the essential elements of the Indus culture must have been anticipated by
the Proto-Harappan (Indus) culture in its material aspects, viz, the rudiments of town
planning, provision of minimum sanitary facilities, knowledge of pictographic writing, the
introduction of trade mechanisms, the knowledge of metallurgy and the prevalence of
ceramic traditions.
The different stages of the indigenous evolution of the Indus can be documented by an
analysis of four sites which reflect the sequence of the four important stages or phases in the
pre-history and proto-history of the Indus valley region.
The sequence begins with the transition of nomadic herdsmen to settled agricultural
communities as per the evidence found at the first site i.e. Mehrgarh near the Bolan Pass. It
continues with the growth of large villages and the rise of towns in the second stage
exemplified at Amri.
The Amri people did not possess any knowledge of town-planning or of writing. The third
stage in the sequence leads to the emergence of the great cities as in Kalibangan and finally
ends with their decline, which is the fourth stage and exemplified by Lothal. Amri, Kot-Dijian
and Kalibangan cultures are stratigraphically found to be pre-Harappan.
The pre-Harappan culture of Kalibangan in Rajasthan is termed as Sothi culture by
Amalananda Ghosh, its excavator. The Harappan were owed certain elements such as the
fish scale and pipal leaf to the Sothi ware.
The four Baluchi cultures, viz, Zhob, Quetta, Nal and Kulli, undoubtedly pre-Harappan, also
have some minor common features with the Indus civilisation, and cannot be considered as
full-fledged proto-Harappan cultures.

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The culture of Northern Baluchistan is termed as Zhob culture after the sites in the Zhob
valley, the chief among them being Rana Ghundai. This culture is characterised by black and
red ware and terracotta female figurines. Nal culture is characterised by the use of whiteclipped ware with attractive polychrome paintings and the observance of fractional burial.
The characteristic pottery of the Quetta culture is the buff-ware, painted in black pigment
and decorated with geometrical designs. Apart from the painted motifs such as the pipal leaf
and sacred brazier, some pottery shapes are common to the Harappan and Kulli cultures. All
these pre-Harappan habitations preceding the phase of the Harappan civilization shows
evidences of people living in houses of stone and mud-brick.
Similarities were found in the cultural traditions of the diverse agricultural communities
living in the Indus region in the early Indus period. During the urban phase these little
traditions were fused into one great tradition.
However, even in the early Indus period, use of similar kinds of pottery terracotta mother
goddess, representation of the horned deity in many sites show the way to the emergence of a
homogenous tradition in the entire area.
The people of Baluchistan had already established trading relations with the towns of the
Persian Gulf and Central Asia. Kulli, situated on the southern foothills of the Baluchi
mountains near the Makran coast, occupies an important position on the trade route
between the Persian Gulf and the Indus Valley.
Thus, the available evidence suggests that the Harappan culture had its origin in the Indus
valley. And even within the Indus valley, several cultures seem to have contributed to evolve
the urban civilisation. There is no evidence to suggest that the Indus people borrowed
anything substantial from the Sumerians. It is thus difficult to accept Sir Mortimer Wheelers
assumption that the idea of civilization came to the Indus valley from Mesopotamia.
Date and Extent:
The Harappan culture existed between 2500 BC and 1800 BC. Its mature phase lay between
2200 BC and 2000 BC. The advent of radiocarbon dating has provided a new source of
information in fixing the Harappan chronology. Indus civilization was the largest cultural

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zone of the period the area covered by it (about 1.3 million sq.km.) being much greater
than that of other contemporary civilisation.
Over 1000 sites have discovered so far. It extends from Ropar, almost impinging upon the
sub-Himalayan foot-hills in the North to Daimabad in the Ahmadnagar district of
Maharashtra in the south, and from Sutkagendor (on the sea-coast of south Baluchistan) in
the west to Alamgirpur (in the upper Ganga-Yamuna Doab, U P.) in the east.
Characteristics of Indus Valley Civilisation:
1. Indus Valley Cities:
The excavated Indus cities may be classified into the following groups:
(i) Nucleus cities
(ii) Coastal towns
(iii) Other cities and townships.
I. Nucleus Cities:
(a) Harappa:
It was the first Indus site to be discovered and excavated in 1921 by Daya Ram Sahni. The
site has two large and imposing ruined mounds located some 25 kms. South-west of Montgomery district of Punjab (Pakistan) on the left bank of river Ravi.
The vast mounds at Harappa were first reported by Masson in 1826. Alexander Cunningham
identified Harappa with Po-Fa-to or Po-Fa-to-do visited by Hiuen-Tsang.
a) The western mound of Harappa, smaller in size represented the citadel, parallelogram in
plan and fortified.
b) Outside the citadel was the unfortified town having some important structures identified
with workmens quarters, working floors and granaries. The workmens quarters, 10 in
number were of uniform size and space (177.5 m). Close to these quarters were 16 furnaces,
pear- shaped on plan with cow-dung ash and charcoal.
c) 12 Granary building of 15.246.10 m each, arranged systematically in 2 rows (6 in each
row) with central passage 7 m. wide

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d) The material remains discovered at Harappa are of the typical Indus character, prominent
being.
e) 891 seals which form 36.32 per cent of the total writing material of the Indus civilisation ,
f) Two very important stone figurines (not available at any other site) which include one red
stone torso of a naked male figure (the prototype of the Jina or Yaksha Figure) and a female
figure in dancing pose.
g) A crucible used for smelting bronze was also found at a slightly higher level.
h) Dog attacking deer on a pin
Evidence of the disposal of the dead has been found to the south of the citadel area named as
cemetery R-37. Excavations have also yielded 57 burials of different types. The skeletons
were disposed of in the graves along with the grave-goods.
(b) Mohenjo-Daro:
The site of Mohenjo-Daro (or the Mound of the Dead) situated in the Larkana district of Sind
(Pakistan) and 540 km. south of Harappa is situated on the right bank of the river Indus. It
also has two mounds, the western being the citadel or acropolis and the eastern extensive
mound was enshrining the relics of the buried lower city. The mounds were excavated first
by Sir John Marshall. The citadel was fortified with big buildings extremely rich in
structures.
a. The most important public place of Mohenjo-Daro seems to be the Great Bath, with a bed
made water tight by the use of bitumen and a system of supplying and draining away water.
This tank which is situated in the citadel mound is an example of beautiful brick-work
measuring 11.887.01 meters and 2.43 meters deep. Flight of steps at either end lead to the
surface. There are side rooms for changing clothes. This tank seems to have been used for
ritual bathing.
b. In Mohenjo-Daro, the largest building is the great granary which is 45.71 meters long and
15.23 meters wide and lies to the west of the great bath.

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c. To the north-east of the great bath is a long collegiate building, perhaps meant for the residence of a very high official, possibly the high priest himself, or a college of priests.
d. The lower unfortified city displayed all the elements of a planned city. The remarkable
thing about the arrangement of the houses in the city is that they followed the grid system
with the main streets running north-south and east-west dividing the city into many blocks.
This is true of almost all Indus settlements regardless of size. The main streets in the lower
city are about 9.14 metre wide. The drainage system of Mohenjo-Daro was very impressive.
These drains were covered with bricks and sometimes with stone slabs. The street drains
were equipped with manholes. Houses were made of kiln-burnt bricks as in Harappa.
e. Material remains of Mohenjo-Daro with its richness confirms that it was a great city of the
Indus civilisation. About 1398 seals representing 56.67 percent of the total writing material
of the Indus cities throws light on Harappan religion.
Important stone images found here includes the torso of a priest made of steatite (19 cm),
lime stone male head (14 cm), the seated male of alabaster (29.5 cm), the seated male with
the hands placed on knees (21 cm) and a composite animal figure made up of limestone. The
bronze dancing girl from Mohenjo-Daro, considered a masterpiece (14 cm) is made by cast
wax technique.
(c) Dholavira:
Situated in Kutch district of Gujarat, Dholavira is the latest and one of the two largest
Harappan settlements in India, the other being Rakhigarhi in Haryana. The ancient mounds
of Dholavira were first noticed by Dr J.P. Joshi but extensive excavation work at the site was
conducted by R.S. Bisht and his team in 1990-91.It shares almost all the common features of
the Indus cities but its unique feature is that there are three principal divisions (instead of
two in other cities), two of which were strongly protected by rectangular fortifications.
The first inner encloser hemmed in the citadel (the acropolis) probably housed the highest
authority and second one protected the middle town meant for the close relatives of the
administrators and other officials.The existence of this middle town, apart from the lower
town, is the unique feature of this settlement. The access to these fortified settlements at
Dholavira was provided through an elaborate gate-complex.

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(d) Kalibangan:
Situated in Ganganagar district of Rajasthan on the southern bank of the Ghaggar river this
site was excavated by B.B. Lai and B.K. Thapar (1961-69). This site also has two mounds
yielding the remains of a citadel and lower city respectively. Excavations have revealed
evidence of pre-Harappan and Harappan culture.
a. The citadel and the lower city both were fortified.
b. The citadel had mud-brick platforms having seven fire-altars in a row.
c. The lower fortified town had two gateways.
e. The people of Kalibangan used mud-bricks for the construction of houses, the use of burnt
bricks has been found only in wells, drains and pavements.
f .The cylindrical seals found at Kalibangan had an analogy in the Mesopotamian
counterpart. The discovery of inscribed sherds clearly suggests that Indus script was written
from right to left.
g. Excavations at Kalibangan revealed the evidence of the ploughed field.
II. Coastal towns
(a) Lothal:
It was an important trading centre of the Indus civilisation and situated near the bed of the
Bhogavo River at the head of the Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat. Lothal was excavated by S R.
Rao which brought to light five period sequences of cultures. It was one rectangular
settlement surrounded by a brick wall. Along the eastern side of the town was a brick basin,
which has been identified as a dockyard by its excavator.
a) The house of a wealthy merchant yielded gold beads with axial tubes and sherds of
Reserved Slip Ware related to the Sumerian origin indicating that the merchants were
engaged in foreign trade.

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b) Metal-workers, shell ornament makers and bead-makers shops have been discovered
here.
c) The discovery of the Persian Gulf seal and the Reserved Slip Ware suggests that Lothal was
engaged in the maritime activities.
(b) Sutkagendor:
Situated at a distance of 500 kms to the west of Karachi on the Makran coast it functioned as
a trading post of the Harappans. It was originally a port of Harappan according to
archaeologist Dales but later cut off from the sea due to coastal uplift. Excavation at the site
revealed the two-fold division of the township into citadel and Lower city.
(c) Balakot:
Situated at a distance of 98 km to the north west of Karachi this coastal settlement yielded
the relics of the pre-Harappan and Harappan civilisation. Baked bricks were used in few
drains but the standard building material were the mud-bricks.
(d) Allahdino:
The excavations at Allahdino were undertaken by W. A. Fairservis and are situated at a
distance of 40 kms to the east of Karachi. These coastal cities have yielded the remains of
mud-brick structures.
III. Other cities and township:
(a) Surkotada:
Situated about 270 km. north-west of Ahmedabad in Gujarat the settlement pattern of
Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro and Kalibangan was repeated here. As at Kalibangan, both the
citadel and the lower town were fortified. There was also an inter-communicating gate
between the two.In addition to mud- bricks, stone rubble was liberally used for construction.
In the last phase of this site, bones of horses, hitherto unknown, have been discovered.
(b) Banawali:
Situated in the Hissar district of Haryana it was on the bank of the river Rangoi, identified
with the ancient bed of Sarasvati River. The excavations conducted by R.S. Bisht have yielded
two cultural phases, Pre-Harappan and Harappan, similar to that of Kalibangan.

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The Harappan phase showed significant departure from the established norms of townplanning (chess-board pattern as in Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, etc.). The roads were neither
always straight, nor are they cut at right-angles. It lacked systematic drainage system, a
noteworthy feature of the Indus civilisation.
(c) Chanhudaro:
The township of Chanhudaro, situated about 130 km. south of Mohenjodaro, consists of a
single mound divided into several parts by erosion. An evidence of material remains clearly
shows that it was the major centre of production for the beautiful seals.
The hoards of copper and bronze tools, castings, evidence of the crafts like bead-making,
bone items and seal making suggest that Chandhudaro was mostly inhabited by artisans and
crafts-men. Excavations have also unearthed a furnace with a brick- floor used for glazing
steatite beads.
(d) Kot Diji:
Situated on the left bank of the Indus River about 50 km. east of Mohenjo-Daro, the site of
Kot Diji excavated by F.A. Khan Yields two cultural phases pre-Harappan and Harappan
civilisation. Material remains discovered at the site are terracotta bulls, five figurines of the
Mother Goddess and large unbaked cooking brick-lined ovens.
2. Polity and Society:
There is no clear idea about the political organization of the Harappans. If the Harappan
cultural zone is considered identical with the political zone, the sub-continent did not
witness such a large political unit until the rise of the Maurya Empire. The Harappans made
the first ever experiment to bring about political unity of the divergent geographical units of
the civilisation without the use of force.
The total absence of internecine wars, religious or political, speaks volumes about the
peaceful administration of the Indus state. It would be wrong to think that priests ruled in
Harappa, as they did in the cities of lower Mesopotamia for we have no religions structures
of any kind except the Great Bath.

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There are some indications of the practice of fire cult at Lothal in the later phase, but no
temples were used for the purpose. Perhaps the Harappan rulers were more concerned with
commerce than with conquests, and it was possibly ruled by a class of merchants.
3. Social set-up:
An important characteristic of the Indus civilisation was its urban life. The rural areas not
only supported but often contributed to the socio-cultural development. The social
stratification is reflected in the dwellings and disposition of the dead bodies in the graves.
4. Dress, Hairstyles and Ornaments:
The Harappan men wore robes which left one shoulder bare, and the garments of the upper
classes were often richly patterned. Beards were worn, and men and women alike had long
hair.
The elaborate head-dresses of the Mother Goddess probably had their counter-parts in the
festive attire of the richer women. The women wore a short skirt that reached upto the knee;
and it was held by a girdle-a string of beads.
The coiffures of the women were often elaborate, and pigtails were also popular, as in
present-day India. Women loved jewellery and wore heavy bangles in profusion, large
necklaces, and earrings. Mirrors of bronze were very common. It appears that the ladies at
Mohenjo-Daro knew the use of collyrium, face-paint and other cosmetics. Chanhudaro finds
indicate the use of lipsticks. Bronze razors of various types served for the toilet of the male.
5. Amusements:
Kids played with terracotta toys such as rattles, birds shaped whistle, bulls with movable
heads, monkeys with movable arms, figures which ran down strings, the favorite being the
baked clay cart.
Dice was used in gambling, marbles of jasper and chert were played by rich children. Music
and dance were secular. Hunting and fishing was in vogue. On a few seals, hunting of wild
rhino and antelope are shown.

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6. Religious Practices:
Except for the discovery of fire altars at Kalibangan, we have not found any cult objects,
temples at any of the Harappan sites. On the basis of the material remains discovered at
various Harappan sites we can say that the Harappan people had many features of the later
Hinduism, such as worship of the Mother Goddess, Pashupati Siva, animal worship, treeworship, etc.
The chief female deity was Mother Goddess. In one terracotta figurine found at Harappa, a
plant is shown growing out of the embryo of a woman. Probably the image represents the
goddess of earth. The Harappans, therefore, looked upon the earth as a fertility goddess and
worshipped her.
The most striking deity of the Harappan culture is the horned-deity of the seals. He is
depicted on three specimens, in two, seated on a small dais, and in the third on the ground;
in all three his posture is cross-legged (sitting posture of a yogi). On the largest of the seals,
he is surrounded by four wild animals, an elephant, a tiger, a rhinoceros and a buffalo, and
beneath his feet appear two deer.
Marshall boldly called this god Proto-Siva, and the name has been generally accepted;
certainly the horned god has much in common with the Siva of later Hinduism, who is, in his
most important aspect a fertility deity, is known as Pasupati, the Lord of Beasts. Phallic
worship was an important element of Harappa religion.
Many cone-shaped objects have been found, which almost certainly formalized representation of the phallus are. The linga or phallic emblem in later Hinduism is the symbol of the
god Siva. The people of the Indus region also worshipped trees. The picture of a deity is
represented on a seal in the midst of the branches of the pipal tree which continues to be
worshipped to this day.
Animals were also worshipped and many of them are represented on seals. The most
important of them is the humped bull. The inhabitants of the Indus region thus worshipped
gods in the form of trees, animals and human beings. Amulets have been found in large
numbers. Probably the Harappans believed in ghosts and evil forces.

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7. Burial Practices:
Cemeteries excavated at several Indus sites like Mohenjodaro, Harappa, Kalibangan, Lothal
and Ropar throws light on the burial practises of the Harappans. Three forms of burials have
been found at Mohenjo-Daro, viz., complete burials, (means the burial of the whole body
along with the grave goods) fractional burials, (burial of some bones after the exposure of the
body to wild beasts and birds) and post-cremation burials.
From the Lothal cemetery comes evidence of another burial type with several examples of
pairs of skeletons, one male and one female in each case, buried in a single grave. Bodies
were always placed in the north-south direction with the head in the north.
8. Economy:
The Harappan economy was based on irrigated surplus agriculture, cattle rearing,
proficiency in various crafts and brisk trade both internal and external.
I. Agriculture:
The Harappan villages, mostly situated near the flood plains, produced sufficient foodgrains
not only to feed themselves but also the town people. No hoe or ploughshare has been
discovered, but the furrows discovered in the pre-Harappan phase at Kalibangan show that
the fields were ploughed in Rajasthan in the Harappan period.
The Harappans probably used the wooden ploughshare. We do not know whether the plough
was drawn by men or oxen. Stone sickles may have been used for harvesting the crops.
Gabarbands or nalas enclosed by dams for storing water were a feature in parts of
Baluchistan and Afghanistan, but channel or canal irrigation seems to have been absent.
The Indus people produced wheat, barley, rai, peas, etc. They produced two types of wheat
and barley. A good quantity of barley has been discovered at Banawali. In addition to this,
they produced sesamum, mustard, dates and varieties of leguminous plants.
At Lothal and Rangpur, rice and spike- lets were found embedded in clay and pottery. The
Indus people were the earliest people to produce cotton. Because cotton was first produced
in this area the Greeks called it Sindon, which is derived from Sindh.

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II. Domestication of Animals:


Although the Harappans practised agriculture, animals were kept on a large scale. Oxen,
buffaloes, goats, sheeps and pigs were domesticated. The humped bulls were favoured by the
Harappans. From the very beginning dogs were regarded as pets.
Cats were also domesticated. Asses and camels were used as beasts of burden. Camel bones
are reported at Kalibangan. Evidence of horse are also reported from Mohenjodaro, Lothal
and Surkotada. Elephants and rhinoceros were well known to the Harappans.
III. Technology and Crafts:
The Harappan culture belongs to the Bronze Age. The people of Harappa used many tools
and implements of stone, but they were very well acquainted with the manufacture and use
of bronze. Bronze was made by the smiths by mixing tin with copper.
Numerous tools and weapons recovered from the Harappan sites suggest that the bronze
smiths constituted an important group of artisans in the Harappan society. Objects of gold
are reasonably common, silver makes its earliest appearance in the Indus civilization and
was relatively more common than gold. Lead, arsenic, antimony and nickel were also used by
the Harappan people.
The axes, chisels, knives, spearheads, etc., were made of bronze and stone. They seem to
have been produced on a mass-scale in place like Sukkur. Two short copper swords found in
Mohenjodaro are of the slashing type and not cutting type.
As for craft specialization, the towns of Chanhudaro and Lothal have yielded evidence of the
presence of workshops of bead-makers. Balakot, Lothal and Chanhudaro were centres for
shell-working and bangle- making.
Apart from them the evidences indicate the presence of potters, stone masons, brick makers,
seal cutters, traders, priests, etc. The Harappans also practised boat making. Weavers wove
cloth of wool and cotton. Spindle whorls were used for spinning. The potters wheel was in
full use, and the Harappans produced their own characteristic pottery, which was made
glossy and shining. Most of the time it means the use of a pinkish pottery with bright red slip
and standard representation of trees, birds, animals and geometric motifs, in black.

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No human figure is depicted on the pottery from Mohenjo-Daro but a few pottery pieces
discovered from Harappa portray a man and a child. The Harappan pottery was highly
utilitarian in character with artistic touch.
The greatest artistic creations of the Harappans are the seals. About 2000 seals have been
found, made of stealite, these seals range in size from 1 cm to 5 cm. Two main types are seen.
First, square with a carved animal and inscription and second, rectangular with an
inscription only. Stone sculptures and terracotta figurines have been reported from various
sites. Figurines made of fire-baked clay, commonly called terracotta which were either used
as toys or objects of worship. It was used mainly by the common people and it represented
sophisticated artistic works.
9. Trade:
The importance of trade in the life of the Indus people is attested not only by granaries found
at Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro and Lothal but also by the presence of numerous seals, uniform
script and regulated weights and measures in a wide area. They did not use metal money.
Most probably they carried on all exchanges through barter.
In return for finished goods and possibly food grains, they procured metals from the
neighbouring areas by boats and bullock-carts. Inter-regional trade was carried on with
Rajasthan, Saurashtra, Maharashtra, parts of western Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Foreign
trade was conducted mainly with Mesopotamia or Sumeria (modern Iraq) and Iran.
Their cities also carried commerce with those in the land of the Tigris and the Euphrates.
Discovery of many Indus seals in Mesopotamia and evidence of imitation by the Harappans
of some cosmetics used by the urban people of Mesopotamia suggests that some of the
Harappan merchants must have resided or visited Mesopotamia.
About two dozen Indus type seals were also discovered from different cities of Mesopotamia
like, Ur, Susa, Lagash, Kish and Tell Asmar. Reciprocal evidence comes from the Indus cities
also-discovery of a circular button seals which belongs to a class of Persian Gulf seals, several
bun-shaped copper ingots of Mesopotamian origin and the Reserved Slip Ware of the
Mesopotamian type at Lothal.

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All these provide conclusive proof of trade links between the two civilisations. The
Mesopotamian records from about 2350 B.C. onwards refer to trade relations with Meluha,
which was the ancient name given to the Indus region, and they also speak of two
intermediate stations called Dilmun (identified with Bahrain on the Persian Gulf) and
Makan (Makran Coast). Shortughai located near Badakhsan in north-east Afghanistan was
one of the Harappan trading outpost, beyond the high passes of the Hindukush.
The Harappan cities did not possess the necessary raw material for the commodities they
produced and hence depended upon the products imported from distant places. Main
imports consisted of precious metals like gold (from North Karnataka), silver (probably from
Afghanistan or Iran), Copper (from Khetri copper mines of Rajasthan, Baluchistan and
Arabia), lead (East and South India), tin (Afghanistan and Hazaribagh in Bihar), and several
semi-precious stones like lapis lazuli (Badakshan in North-East Afghanistan), turquoise
(central Asia and Iran), amethyst (Maharashtra), agate (Saurashtra), jade (central Asia), and
chalcedonies and carnelians (from Saurashtra and west India).
Main exports were several agricultural products and a variety of finished products such as
cotton goods, carnelian beads, pottery, shell and bone inlays etc.
10. Weights and Measures:
The knowledge of script must have helped the recording of private property and accountskeeping. Numerous articles used for weights have been found. They show that in weighting
mostly 16 or its multiples were used; for instance, 16, 64, 160, 320 and 640.
The Harappans also knew the art of measurement. The measures of length were based upon
a foot of 13.2 inches and a cubit of 20.6 inches. Several sticks inscribed with measure marks,
one of these made of bronze have been discovered.
11. Script and Language:
The Harappans invented the art of writing like the people of ancient Mesopotamia. Although
the earliest specimen of Harappan script was noticed in 1853 and the complete script
discovered by 1923, it has not been deciphered so far. Unlike the Egyptians and
Mesopotamians, the Harappan did not write long inscriptions. Most inscriptions were
recorded on seals, and contain only a few words.

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These seals may have been used by propertied people to mark and identify their private
property. Altogether there are about 250 to 400 pictographs, and in the form of picture each
letter stands for some sound idea or object.
The Harappan script is not alphabetical but mainly pictographic since its sign represent
birds, fish, varieties of the human form, etc. and it was written from right to left like modern
Urdu.
There are two main arguments as to the nature of the language; that it belongs to the IndoEuropean or even Indo-Aryan family, or that it belongs to the Dravidian family. Parpola and
his Scandinavian colleagues gave a hypothesis that the language was Dravidian.
Problems of Decline:
In the absence of any written material or historical evidence, scholars have made various
speculations regarding the causes for the decline of the Harappan culture. Cities like
Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa and Kalibangan saw a gradual decline in urban planning. Later on
some of the settlements like Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa etc. were abandoned. However, in
most other sites people continued to live.
Some important features associated with the Harappan civilization, writing, uniform
weights, pottery and architectural style disappeared of. Wheeler believed that the Indus
civilization was destroyed by the Aryan invaders. It has been pointed out that in the late
phases of Mohenjo-Daro there are evidences of a massacre.
However, it has been pointed out that Mohenjo-Daro was abandoned by about 1800 B.C.,
Aryans on the other hand are said to have come to India around 1500 B.C. Thus, this theory
of sudden death cannot explain the decline. The gradual death theory is supported by several
scholars.

PAVAN

PAVAN

R. Raikes, a hydrologist, has set forth a theory that due to tectonic activity, the flood plains of
the lower Indus river were raised which led to prolonged submergence of cities like
Mohenjo-Daro and Chanhudaro and hence their abandonment. But the cause for the decline
of some of the other Indus cities like Kalibangan and Banawali seems to be not the floods but
the drying up of rivers.
W.A. Fairservis have tried to explain the decay of the Harappan civilization in terms of the
problems of ecology. He believes that the Harappans degraded their delicate environment. A
growing population of men and animals confronted by falling resources wore out the
landscape which resulted into more floods and droughts. These stresses in the end led to the
collapse of the urban culture. The enduring fertility of the soils of the Indian sub-continent
disproves this hypothesis.
E.J.H. Mackay, Lambrick and John Marshall suggest that the decline of the Harappan
Civilization was mainly due to the vagaries of the Indus river, Shereen Ratnagar of
Jawaharlal Nehru University, proposed in 1986 that lift-irrigation may have resulted in an
over-reaching of its ecological limits.
The Harappans are also said to have suffered from several suicidal weaknesses. The
Harappans, for instance lacked plasticity of mind as seen in the non-changing successive
layers of the cities, non- adoption of the technical advancement of the Mesopotamians (iron
technology). Also the Harappans ignored defence, as suggested by the paucity of sharp edged
effective weapons.
The eclipse of sea- trade might have contributed to the decline of the Harappan civilization
but it cannot be held as the main cause. Thus, as seen above, there are several important
causes for the decline of the civilisation. Also, there is enough evidence to show that the great
Harappan civilisation did not come to a sudden dead end instead it seems to have faded
away gradually

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