INDUS VALLEY CIVILIZATION
The Indus Valley Civilization was an ancient
civilization located in what is Pakistan and northwest India today, on the fertile flood
plain of the Indus River and its vicinity. Evidence of religious practices in this area
date back approximately to
5500 BCE.Farming settlements began around 4000 BCE and around 3000 BCE
there appeared the first signs of urbanization. By 2600 BCE, dozens of towns and
cities had been established, and between 2500 and 2000 BCE the Indus Valley
Civilization was at its peak.
Mohenjo Daro, or "Mound of the Dead" is an ancient Indus Valley
Civilization city that flourished between 2600 and 1900 BCE. It was one of
the first world and ancient Indian cities. The site was discovered in the 1920s
and lies in Pakistan's Sindh province. Only a handful of archaeologists have
excavated here, described in the introduction and illustrated essay Mohenjodaro:
An Ancient Indus Valley Metropolis.
Discovery and Major Excavations
Mohenjo-daro was discovered in 1922 by R. D. Banerji, an officer of
the Archaeological Survey of India, two years after major
excavations had begun at Harappa, some 590 km to the north.
Largescale excavations were carried out at the site under the direction
of John Marshall, K. N. Dikshit, Ernest Mackay, and numerous
other directors through the 1930s.
Discovery of harappa
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 subcontinent.
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 (196768) by J.P.
Joshi and (1990-91) by R.S. Bisht, Kalibangan by Dr. A. Ghosh, Lothal (1955-63),
Chanhu-daro, Banawali (1975-77) , etc.
Town Planning: The excavations of the ruins showed a remarkable skill in town planning. The main streets and
roads were set in a line, sometimes running straight for a mile, and were varying in width from 4 meters to 10
meters. Most of these roads and streets were paved with fire brunt bricks. On the either side of the street
stood houses of various sizes which did not protrude into the streets. The main streets intersected at right
angles, dividing the city into squares or rectangular blocks each of which was divided length wise and cross
wise by lanes. Some buildings had a lamp post and a well. There was an elaborate drainage system which
emptied into the river.
The Drainage System; The Drainage System of the Indus Valley Civilization was far advanced. The drains
were covered with slabs. Water flowed from houses into the street drains. The street drains had manholes at
regular intervals. Housewives were expected to use pits in which heavier part of the rubbish will settle down
while only sewerage water was allowed to drain off. All soak pits and drains were occasionally cleaned by
workmen. In every house there was a well-constructed sink, and water flowed from the sink into the
underground sewers in the streets. This elaborate drainage system shows that the Indus Valley people
were fully conversant with the principles of health and sanitation.
Great Granary: Another large building in the city was the Great Granary which was made about 45 meters
long and 15 meters wide. It was meant to store food grains. It had lines of circular brick platforms for
pounding grain. There were barrack like quarters for workmen. The granary also had smaller halls and
Houses: The houses were of different sizes varying from a palatial building to one with two small rooms. The houses had a well,
a bathroom, and a covered drain connected to the drain in the street. The buildings were made of burnt bricks, which have
been preserved even to this day. Sun-dried bricks were used for the foundation of the buildings and the roofs were flat and
made of wood. The special feature of the houses was that rooms were built around an open courtyard. Some houses were
double storied. Some buildings had pillared halls; some of them measured 24 square meters. It is assumed that there also must
have been palaces, temples or municipal halls.
Great Bath: One of the largest buildings was the Great Bath measuring 180 feet by 108 feet. The bathing pool, 39 feet long, 28
feet wide and 8 feet deep was in the center of the quadrangle, surrounded with verandahs, rooms and galleries. A flight of
steps led to the pool. The pool could be filled and emptied by means of a vaulted culvert, 6 feet and 6 inches high. The walls
of the pool were made of burnt bricks laid on edge, which made the pool watertight. The pool was filled with water from a
large well, situated in the same complex. Periodic cleaning of the pool was done by draining off the used water into a big
drain. The Great Bath building had six entrances. The Great Bath reflected the engineering genius of those ancient
The Assembly Hall: An important feature of Mohen-jo-daro was its 24 square meters pillared hall. It had five rows of pillars, with
four pillars in each row. Kiln baked bricks were used to construct these pillars. Probably, it was the Assembly Hall or the ruler's
court. It is said that it also housed the municipal office which had the charge of town planning and sanitation.
Dress: From the sculptured figures it can be seen that the dress of men and women consisted of two pieces of
cloth-one resembling a dhoti, covering the lower part, and the other worn over the left shoulder and under
the right arm. Men had long hair designed differently. Women wore a fan shaped head dress covering there
hair. The discovery of a large number of spindles showed that they knew weaving and spinning. Similarly it
was concluded, by the discovery of needles and buttons, that the people of this age knew the art of
Ornaments: Both men and women wore ornaments made of gold, silver, copper and other metals. Men wore
necklaces, finger rings and armlets of various designs and shapes. The women wore a head dress, ear rings,
bangles, girdles, bracelets and anklets. Rich people wore expensive ornaments made of gold while the poor
had ornaments made of shell, bone or copper.
Cosmetics: The ladies of Mohen-jo-daro were not lagging behind in styles as used by the ladies of the present
day, when it came to the use of cosmetics and the attainment of beauty. Materials made of ivory and metal
for holding and applying cosmetics prove that they knew the use of face paint and collyrium.
Bronze oval mirrors, ivory combs of various shapes, even small dressing tables, have been found at Mohen-
jo-daro and other sites. Women tied the hair into a bun and used hair pins made of ivory. Toilet jars, found
at Mohen-jo-daro, show that women took interest in cosmetics.
Furniture and Utensils: The furniture and utensils found at Mohen-jo-daro show a high degree of civilization
because of their variety in kind and design. The beautifully painted pottery, numerous vessels for the kitchen,
chairs and beds made of wood, lamps of different material, toys for children, marbles, balls and dice,
indicate what people manufactured in those days.
Conveyance A copper specimen found at Harappa resembles the modern Ekka (cart) with a topcover. Bullock
carts with or without the roof was the chief means of conveyance.
Amusements and Recreation: The Indus Valley people liked more of indoor games than outdoor
amusements. They were fond of gambling and playing dice. Dancing and singing were considered great
arts. Boys played with toys made of terracotta, while girls played with dolls.
Agriculture: Agriculture was the main occupation of the Indus Valley people. Crops such as wheat, barley,
peas and bananas were raised. In the olden days, there was enough rain in that region and occasional
floods brought a great deal of fertile soil to the area. People used to plough the land with wooden
ploughshares drawn by men and oxen. From the existence of granaries it is concluded that there were surplus
Food: Specimens of wheat and barley show that they were cultivated in that region. Rice was also probably
grown. There is evidence to show that date palms were grown in the area. Besides these, the diet of the
people consisted of fruits, vegetables, fish, milk and meat of animals i.e. beef, mutton and poultry.
Domestication of Animals: The people of Harappa domesticated animals like oxen, buffaloes, pigs, goats and
sheep. Camels and asses were used as means of transport. Dogs and cats were kept as pets. The humped
bull was considered a great asset in the farming community. Crafts The discovery of spindles at the sites of
Harappan culture shows that the people used to spin and weave. Goldsmiths made jewellery of gold, silver
and precious stones. People were also engaged in brick-laying and in the art of sculpture. The making of
seals was developed during this period. Bronze-smiths made various types of weapons and tools such as
knives, spears, saws and axes which were used in daily life.
Trade: Traders carried on trade in the country as well as with other countries like Egypt, Babylon and
Afghanistan. Many seals of Harappa found in Mesopotamia show that trade existed between the two
countries. The seals were made of terracotta and were used by merchants to stamp their goods.
The great bath
The most interesting structure of this metropolis of Mohenjo-daro is
the Great Bath which is about 55 meters long and 33 meters wide. It
is found to contain a large, open space at the centre and galleries,
rooms lie on all sides.
In the central space, there was the provision of a large swimming enclosure, having the
measurements of 12 meters long, 7 meters wide and 2.4 meters deep.
The water was discharged probably by a huge drain with a corbelled roof more than 1.8 meters
The strength and durability of the constructions of Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro were superb as
they could withstand the ravages of five thousand years.
Built on top of a tapered brick platform, this building had a
solid brick foundation that extended for 50 meters east west and
27 meters north south. The foundation was divided into 27
square and rectangular blocks by narrow passageways, two
running east west and eight running north south. A section of the
northern foundation had hollow sockets for wooden beams
used to support a stairway or wooden structure. Later wells and
walls are seen in the foreground.