Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization was one of the earliest known urban civilizations in the world. It marked the advent of the Bronze Age in India and is expected to have evolved and flourished between 3300 and 1300 BC. As the name suggests, the Indus Valley Civilization mainly flourished around the basin of River Indus and extended till the Ghagger-Hakra River Valley and the Ganga-Yamuna Doab, covering some northwestern parts of India and most portions of Pakistan. Geographically, by area, the Indus Valley Civilization was the largest ancient civilization known to mankind. It had an approximate area cover of 1,260,000 square kilometers which was much greater than the area cover of its contemporaries including the Mesopotamia and the ancient Egypt. Historians believe that at its peak the Indus Valley Civilization was home to over five million people.
The Indus Valley Civilization is considered an urban civilization because the excavations at various Indus Valleysites revealed the presence of a sophisticated and technologically advanced culture, with proper the roadside drainage system and multistoried buildings. Also, the excavated cities and settlements were constructed with the help of baked bricks.
The mature phase of the Indus Valley Civilization is known as the Harappa Civilization. It is given this name as the first city belonging to this phase of the Indus Valley was excavated at Harappa, located in Punjab province of BritishIndia (now Pakistan). The Harappa Civilization is believed to have flourished between 2600 – 1900 BC. The ancient city of Harappa was first discovered in 1920. To date, more than 1052 Harappa settlements and cities have been found which include the Lothal, Dholavira, Rakhigarhi, Kalibanga and Mohenjo-daro. Amongst the various Harappasites excavated and found, Mohenjo-daro has been given the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Some factors for which the Indus Valley Civilization is widely speculated by historians around the world are listed below.
  • Town Planning
  • Science of Measurements
  • Knowledge
  • The Great Bath

Town Planning

It is evident from the excavations conducted at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro that there existed an incredible municipal and town planning in the ancient cities of Indus Valley. It has been observed that the ancient city ofHarappa was surrounded on all sides by huge walls. Also, on these strong built surrounding walls there existed watch-towers at regular distance. These walls and the watch-towers must have been constructed to protect the city from any enemy attack or invasion. These walls could have also been a protective measure against the floods in the region.
The planning in the ancient cities of the Indus Valley Civilization is not limited to these protective walls and watch-towers. Excavations at Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro and Rakhigarhi reveals the existence of a sophisticated urban sanitation system with proper sewerage and drainage facilities, which is comparably more advanced than any other similar sanitation system revealed at any contemporary ancient sites of the Mesopotamia or the ancient Egypt.
The Indus Valley has also impressed the world by its display of advanced architecture which includes the granaries, warehouses, dockyards and brick platforms.

Science of Measurements

The natives of the Indus Valley Civilization are believed to be one of the earliest to develop a uniform system of measurement. Several ivory scales have been found in the excavations at Lothal. These would have been their tool of measuring lengths. The smallest division marked on such an ivory scale, found at Lothal, was approximately 1.704 mm. This is the smallest division ever recorded on a Bronze Age scale found till date.
Along with the above mentioned ivory scales, several hexahedron weights have also been found in Lothal, which suggest that the natives of Harappa were also successful in establishing a uniform system of measuring mass and followed a decimal division of measurement for all practical purposes.


Measurements were not the only thing in which the natives of the Indus Valley Civilization excelled. These people had also been able to devise several sophisticated techniques in metallurgy and produced copper, bronze, tin and lead.
Square seals or coins have also been found in excavations at various Indus Valley sites. These coins are made up of ivory, clay and different metals. Besides, several coins made of a white stone powder have also been found. These coins bear the pictures of animals and manlike figures. It is believed by most historians that these were used to perform some rituals or were treated as currency to conduct trade.
The advanced architecture found at the various ancient sites suggests the understanding of advanced engineering amongst the natives of the Indus Valley Civilization. It is also believed that the ancient docks found at Lothal were constructed after a careful study of waves, tides and currents. However, the utility and function of the docks excavated at Lothal is yet disputed.

The Great Bath

Along with other signs of an urban society, a huge tank was also found in the excavations at Mohenjo-daro. This huge tank, built of baked bricks, is believed to be a place for community bath and is mentioned as the Great Bath in most history books on the Indus Valley Civilization. Within this tank, there exists a provision to drain and refill water in it from time to time. The presence of this tank makes most historians believe that the natives of the Indus Valley Civilization were well civilized and kept provision for cleanliness and hygiene.


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