Indian History for MP State Exams: Indus Valley Civilization (IVC)

By Trupti Thool|Updated : March 4th, 2022

Indus Valley Civilization: The Indus Valley Civilization (also known as the Harappan Civilization) was a Bronze Age society extending from modern northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. The civilization developed in three phases: Early Harappan Phase (3300 BCE-2600 BCE), Mature Harappan Phase (2600 BCE-1900 BCE), and Late Harappan Phase (1900 BCE-1300 BCE). Inhabitants of the ancient Indus River valley developed new techniques in handicraft, including Carnelian products and seal carving, and metallurgy with copper, bronze, lead, and tin.


John Marshall, the first scholar to use the term “Indus valley civilization”. The civilization flourished between 2500 BC-1750 BC.

Geographical Extent of IVC

1. Extent: The Indus valley civilization extended from Sutkagandor (in Baluchistan) in the West to Alamgirpur (Western UP) in the East; and from Mandu (Jammu) in the North to Daimabad (Ahmednagar, Maharashtra) in the South.


Image source: NCERT

2. Important cities

CityRiverArchaeological Importance
Harappa (Pakistan)RaviA row of 6 Granaries, Mother goddess figurines
Mohenjodaro (Pakistan)IndusGreat Granary, Great bath, Image of Pashupati Mahadeva, Image of Bearded man and Bronze image of a woman dancer
Lothal (Gujarat)BhogavaPort city, Double burial, Terracotta horse figurines.
Chanhudaro (Pakistan)IndusThe city without a citadel
Dholavira (Gujarat)IndusCity divided into 3 parts.
Kalibangan (Rajasthan)GhaggarPloughed field
Banawali (Haryana)GhaggarThe excavations of Banawali have provided evidence of three levels of Indus culture, namely Pre-Harappan, Developed Harappan and Northern Harappan. The residents here used to keep the plan of their house in a straight direction. But later he also enacted fortification laws, ramparts and lower city laws.
Rakhigarhi  (Haryana)GhaggarGranary, pillared gallery or pavilion, in which there are chambers in the side, fire altars built on a high platform, etc. are the main ones
Ropar (Haryana)GhaggarRopar is the first Indus Valley excavation site in independent India. The excavation of Ropar has given detailed information about the Indus Valley Civilization and Harappan Culture.
Mitathal (Haryana)Yamuna Mitathal is an important site for scholars, which Possel (1992) called the Indus Valley or the "Eastern Zone" of the Harappan Civilization.
Bhagatrav (Gujarat)NarmadaEvidence of the production of glazed pottery (pottery) is found in several key pieces, many clay samples with rich iron content, stone beads. It must have been the contemporary trading port of Lothal.
Rangpur (Gujarat)Sukbhadar River Raw brick forts, drains, pottery, weights, stone panels etc. found from Rangpur are important. Heaps of rice bran found here.
Sutkagandor (Pakistan)    Dasht RiverIt was a small settlement with substantial stone walls and entrances.
Sukotada (Gujarat)-In the excavation done here, a fort was found, which was made of raw bricks and mud.
Outside the wall there was a rough stone wall.
Kot Diji (Pakistan)Indus RiverThe pottery of this level has rough depictions of peacocks, antelope, fish scales and attached figures of balls.

Town planning and Structure of IVC

  • Grid system(Chess-board) of town planning
  • Rectangular houses with brick-lined bathrooms and wells together with stairways are found
  • Use of Burnt bricks
  • Underground drainage system
  • Fortified citadel

Agriculture of Indus Valley Civilisation

  • Hindon – Cotton – Major trade good – earliest people to produce Cotton.
  • Proofs of Rice husk found
  • Wheat and Barley were majorly cultivated
  • Use of wooden ploughshare. They had no idea about Iron implements.

Domestication of animals

  • Ox, Buffalo, Goats, Sheep and Pigs were domesticated
  • Asses and camels were used as Beasts of Burden
  • Elephants and Rhino were known
  • Remains of horse found in Surkotada and evidence of horse in Mohenjodaro and Lothal are also found. But the civilization was not horse-centred.

Technology and crafts

  • Bronze (Copper + tin) tools widely used
  • Stone implements were still in vogue
  • Potter’s wheel was put to full use
  • Bronzesmiths, Goldsmiths, Boat-Making, Brick-laying etc were other occupations commonly found

Trade of Indus Valley Civilisation

  • Presence of granaries, weights and measures, seals and uniform script signifies the importance of trade
  • The barter system was widely prevalent
  • Lothal, Sutkagendor were port cities used for conducting trade
  • Trade destinations – Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia. Contacts with Mesopotamia civilization are also seen

Political organization of IVC

  • Cultural homogeneity achieved through a strong central authority
  • No temples or religious structures found. Harappa was possibly ruled by Merchants class.
  • Weapons are rarely found.

Religious practices of IVC

  • Terracotta figure of Mother Goddess.
  • Phallu and Yoni worship.
  • Pashupati Mahadev seal found with the elephant, tiger, rhino and a bull surrounding him with two deer near his feet.

Tree and animal worship of IVC

  • Pipal tree worship was found.
  • One-horned Unicorn recognized as Rhino and the humped bull was commonly worshipped.
  • Use of Amulets to ward off ghosts and evil spirits.
  • The lion was not known in Harappan culture.

The Harappan script

  • Harappan script Pictographic in nature but not deciphered so far.
  • They are recorded on seals and contains only a few words
  • Harappan Script is the oldest script in Indian Sub-continent

Weights and Measures

  • Use of standardized weights and measures to keep accounts of private property, to indulge in trade and commerce etc.
  • Weights are found in multiples of 16.

Harappan Pottery of IVC

  • Well-developed Pottery techniques with elaborate designs of trees and circles.
  • Redware pottery painted with black designs.

Seals of Indus Valley Civilisation

  • Seals were used for the purpose of trade or worship. Images of animals such as Buffalo, bull, tiger etc were found inscribed in the seals

Statue of IVC

  • Discovery of Bronze statue of a naked woman and bearded man steatite statue

Terracotta figurines of IVC

  • Terracotta – Fire baked earthen clay
  • Used as toys or objects of worship
  • Massive stone works were not found in Harappa which shows the poorly developed artistic works made of stone

Origin, maturity and end of IVC

  • Pre-Harappan Settlements – Lower Sindh, Baluchistan and Kalibangan.
  • Mature Harappa – 1900BC – 2550BC.
  • Causes for the Decline of Civilization.
  • Decreasing fertility due to increasing salinity on the account of the expansion of the nearby desert.
  • Sudden subsidence of uplift of land causing floods.
  • Earthquakes caused changes in the course of Indus.
  • Harappan culture destroyed by invading Aryans.

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