Meaning of Civilisation

A civilisation signifies a highly developed way of living characterised by a developed social system and technological development. It involves a community of people who share certain values, concepts and practices.

Features of Civilisation

  • People dwelling in cities and towns.
  • Organised occupation like agriculture and trade.
  • System of administration including legal, political and religious organisations.
  • Growth of craft and different forms of art and architecture.
  • Use of script and language for communication.

The Discovery of Indus Valley Civilisation

  • The Indus Valley Civilisation was a river valley civilisation that flourished in the region drained by the river Indus and its tributaries.
  • In 1921, an Indian archaeologist, Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni first found the ruins of the city of Harappa.
  • Rokhal Das Bonnerji, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India discovered the ruins of Mohen Jodaro in Sindh, Pakistan.
  • The Indus Valley Civilisation developed around 4700 years ago.

Architectural Features

Mohenjodaro – The Great Bath

  • It is a very special tank that was built in Mohenjodaro.
  • It was lined with bricks, coated with plaster and made watertight with a layer of natural tar.
  • There were steps leading down to it from two sides and rooms on all its sides.
  • Water was probably brought in from a well and drained out after use.
  • Important people took a dip in this tank on special occasions.

Town Planning in Harappa

  • The Harrapan Civilisation had well planned cities.
  • Many of these cities were divided into two or more parts.
  • The part to the west was smaller but higher. It was called acropolis or citadel. Probably it was the residential area for the members of ruling class.
  • The part to the east was larger but lower. This was called the lower town. Probably it was the residential area for common people.

Sites of Indus Valley Civilisation


Houses, Drains and Streets

  • The houses of the common people were generally one or two storey high. Each house had a separate bathroom, a kitchen and a well.
  • The Harappan cities had a well-planned drainage system. The drains in houses were connected to the street drains. The smaller drain led into bigger ones. The drains were covered, and inspection tanks were provided at regular intervals to clean them.
  • The streets cut each other at right angles. Houses were made on both sides of the street.

The Great Granaries

  • The granaries were used to store food grains.
  • Some granaries had circular platform which were probably used for threshing.
  • The granaries were built near the riverbanks so that the excess produce could be easily transported in case of requirement.

Dress and Ornament

  • Cotton was probably grown at Mehrgarh from about 7000 years ago.
  • The Indus Valley people used to spin cotton and woollen yarn. This has been confirmed from the discovery of several clay spindles of different sizes all over the cities.
  • Men and women, both rich and poor wore ornaments.
  • These ornaments were made of gold, silver, copper, bronze, ivory and shells.
  • Precious and semi-precious stones were also used in making jewellery.

Life in The City

  • Harappan cities included several social groups such as rulers, craft persons, scribes, merchants etc.
  • Rulers: – They were the people who planned the construction of special buildings in the city.
  • Craft persons: – They made all kinds of things either in their own homes or in special workshops.
  • Scribe: – These people helped in preparing the seal and perhaps wrote on the material that have not survived.
  • Art of writing: – These people used the pictographic script for writing purpose.

Trade and Commerce

  • Regular trade was done between traders of one city and the other.
  • They got raw material from distant places also.
Raw Material Places from where they were brought
Gold Present day Karnataka
Copper Present day Rajasthan and Oman
Tin Afghanistan and Iran
Precious stones Present day Gujarat, Iran and Afghanistan

Lothal – The Harappan town in Gujarat

  • The city of Lothal stood beside a tributary of the Sabarmati in Gujarat.
  • It was an important centre of stone making, shell and metal objects.
  • Raw material such as semi-precious stones were easily available in the nearby area.

Dholavira – The Harappan town in Gujarat

  • Located on Khadir Beyt in the Rann of Kutch.
  • Divided into three parts.
  • Each part was surrounded with massive stone walls.
  • Entrances were made through gateways.

Reasons for the end of Harappan Civilisation

  • Probably deforestation occurred on a large scale as fuel was required for baking bricks and for smelting copper ores.
  • Some scholars suggest that the rivers dried up.
  • There nay have been flood in some areas.
  • Probably due to grazing by large herd of cattle.
  • Invasions by the Aryans.

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