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An Overview of Indus Valley Civilisation

December 4, 2023

Explore the Indus Valley civilization, a prehistoric urban society that flourished on the Indian subcontinent between 2500 and 1700 BC by traveling back in time. Historians and archaeologists are still fascinated by the Indus civilization, which was among the world’s first civilizations along with Mesopotamia and Egypt. Its vast reach, sophisticated urban design, and enigmatic writing system.

This blog will explore the secrets and rich history of this remarkable civilization, illuminating its sophisticated planning, way of life, and enduring impact on contemporary society.

 An Overview

  • The two main phases of the Indus Valley civilization’s existence were the early phase, which lasted from 3300 to 1300 BC, and the mature period, which lasted from 2600 to 1900 BC.
  • This ancient civilization covered what is now northeastern Afghanistan, northwest India, and Pakistan and was situated along the Indus River.
  • It is among the first civilizations in history, along with Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.
  • In the present-day Pakistani provinces of Sindh and Punjab, the Indus River Valley gave rise to the famous towns of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa around 2600 BC.
  • Archaeological discoveries and excavations in these cities in the 19th and 20th centuries shed light on prehistoric cultures and lifestyles.
  • The Indus Valley civilization was exhibited by the well-planned layouts and sophisticated infrastructure of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.
  • This site seeks to investigate this ancient civilization’s culture, History, and lasting legacies.


Respected British archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler made important contributions to the fields of archaeology in India and Great Britain. After World War II, he was appointed the head of archaeology for the Indian government, where he was responsible for figuring out the origins and development of the Indus civilization.

Wheeler’s research, which relied on tangible evidence from Harappan ruins and knowledge of their trade with Egypt and Mesopotamia, enabled archaeologists to approximate the beginning and end of the Indus civilization.

The commerce of the stunning blue stone lapis lazuli was one intriguing facet of the civilization. Its precise origin was unknown until the Indus Valley civilization was discovered, even though people knew it originated in India. 

Lapis Lazuli continued to arrive even after civilization collapsed, nonetheless, this area was probably the source of the first exports. The various stages of the Harappan civilization came into being, exposing the history of human development. The following categories apply to these periods.

Pre-Harappan Period 7000 to 5500 BC

The Neolithic age, which was typified by well-known locations like Mehrgarh (the Agaraian Civilization), was distinguished by notable developments in agriculture, the cultivation of plants and animals, and the production of ceramics and tools.

Mature Harappan Period 2800 to 1900 BC

Larger cities and widespread urbanization emerged during this time. Around 2600 BC, famous towns like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa came into existence. Similar urban planning ideas were adopted by other urban centers like Ganeriwala, Lothal, and Dholavira, which ultimately resulted in the creation of over a thousand cities around the region.

Late Harappan Period 1900 to 1500 BC

The entrance of Aryan migrants from the north, maybe from Iran’s plateaus, matched the demise of the civilization. There is concrete evidence that climate change-related events like famines, floods, and droughts have contributed to the downfall of civilization. This fall might have been exacerbated by the breakup of trade relations with Egypt and Mesopotamia.

Post-Harappan Period 1500 to 600 BC

The civilization’s cities were deserted, and its citizens fled south. The Indus Civilization was in decline by the time of Cyrus II’s conquest in 530 BC.

This chronological framework sheds light on the circumstances that determined the fate of this ancient civilization and helps us trace its progress and eventual fall.

Early Excavations and the Discovery of the Indus Valley Civilisation

The beginnings of the Indus Valley civilization are said to have occurred in the 19th century when British soldier-turned-explorer Charles Masson discovered ancient ruins, such as Harappa.

Masson’s discoveries were first ignored, but Sir Alexander Cunningham finally became interested in them. Under John Marshall’s direction, it wasn’t until 1904 that the importance of Harappa and the neighboring Mohenjo-Daro site was understood. 

Furthermore, these sites’ excavations revealed the presence of the mysterious Indus Valley civilization, which was a revolutionary development in archaeology. Researchers have found and investigated several settlements and cities from this prehistoric society, revealing its incredible history, despite obstacles such as the 1947 partition of India.

Cities of Indus Valley Civilisations

This civilization had a network of urban centers with well-thought-out designs, cutting-edge architecture, and efficient political structures. What had started out as little Early Harappan towns had grown into expansive cities by 2600 BC. 

Prominent among these urban centers were Kalibangan, Dholavira, Rupar, Rakhigarhi, and Lothal in modern-day India, and  Harappa, Ganeriwala, and Mohenjo-Daro in what is now Pakistan.

Over 1,052 communities and cities have been discovered by researchers in total, most of which are centered on the Indus River and its tributaries. Up to 5 million people may have lived in the Indus Valley civilization at its height, according to estimates.

The Indus Valley civilization’s city remnants also exhibit an incredible level of organization, as shown by the thoughtfully designed waste disposal and wastewater drainage systems, in addition to communal amenities like granaries and baths. 

The majority of people living in these cities were merchants and artisans, who were divided into several areas. The superiority of urban planning illuminates the advanced culture that flourished in this ancient civilization by reflecting the existence of efficient municipal governments that placed a high value on hygienic practices and religious rites.

Society and Governance in the Indus Valley Civilization

The portrayals of ruling characters in the Harappan civilization and the existence of a central authority are not well understood from archaeological discoveries. The amazing uniformity of Harappan artifacts—such as seals, bricks, weights, and pottery—that all follow regulated weights and sizes, on the other hand, is stunning and points to the possibility of some sort of governance or authority.

Over time, three major theories have been proposed to describe the rule or governance of the Harappan civilization. According to the first, there was once a single state that included every community within the civilization. This argument is supported by the consistent artifacts, planned towns, regular brick sizes, and the intentional construction of settlements close to raw material sources.

According to the second theory, different kings oversaw distinct urban centers, such as Mohenjo-Daro, Harappa, and other settlements, in a more decentralized structure.

In conclusion, some scholars have proposed that the Indus Valley civilization functioned without the traditional kings that we know today, and that its citizens had a more equal and egalitarian standing in the community.

Innovation and Exchange

Innovation and trade flourished in the Indus Valley civilization. Their use of regulated weights and measures, well-engineered bricks, and an advanced municipal sanitation system demonstrated their technological prowess. 

Their proficiency in metallurgy encompassed copper, bronze, and other metals. One of their noteworthy crafts was carving seals. Their extensive trading network, which stretched from Central Asia to the Middle East, was made possible by innovations like wheeled transportation, boats, and a canal at Lothal.

Furthermore, the fact that trade commodities such as wood, metals, minerals, and jade were present in Mesopotamia demonstrated their substantial long-distance trading. The inventiveness and trade of this civilization have left a lasting impression on our comprehension of antiquity.

Religion and Culture

There is still much to learn about the religion and language of the Harappan civilization. The exact nature of this script is still unknown, despite the fact that inscriptions at Harappa have been found that feature trident-shaped markings. It’s unclear what language it represents and how it relates to South Indian and Indo-European languages. 

The lack of temples or palaces in the archaeological record adds to the mystery surrounding the Harappan religion, but some researchers have proposed that they worshipped a fertility-symbolizing mother goddess.

The animals depicted on their seals, some in processions and others mythical, have led to conjecture regarding their importance in Harappan religious and cultural practices. However, there are indications of foreign influences in artistic depictions and figures such as the Dancing Girl, a little bronze figurine, and the peculiar clothing of a priest-king figure.

In addition, these artifacts—which include figurines with intricate details, gold jewelry, sculptures, and pottery—offer insights into the diverse artistic and cultural legacy of the Indus Valley civilization.


The remarkable technology of the Indus Valley civilization was well-known. Utilizing minuscule scales that were even smaller than a rice grain, they were experts in measuring. They developed a standardized system of measures and weights that was extremely advanced for the times.

They demonstrated meticulous planning by using bricks of the same size when constructing towns. They were adept at carving seals, and they frequently used these seals to identify their belongings and traded commodities. They were also masters at crafting elaborate things with vibrant gemstones and working with metals like copper and bronze.

Art and Craft

Relics discovered during excavations in the Indus Valley provide insight into the rich artistic legacy of the people. Sculptures, seals, ceramics, gold jewelry, and elaborate terracotta, bronze, and steatite figurines are among the finds.

Notable discoveries include a little bronze figure known as the “Dancing Girl,” which suggests the civilization’s love of coordinated dances, and a “Priest-King” figurine with a beard and patterned gown. Animals shown in terracotta sculptures range from dogs and monkeys to cows and bears.

Historians also think that elaborate necklaces, bangles, and other jewelry made by the inhabitants of the Indus Valley River demonstrated their artistic ability and rich cultural heritage.

It was all about the civilization of the Indus Valley. Go to the Lakeshore City website for additional details.

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