(IGP) GS Paper 1 - History of India & Indian National Movement - "The Harappan Civilization"

Integrated Guidance Programme of General Studies for IAS (Pre) - 2013

Subject -  History of India & Indian National Movement
Chapter : The Harappan Civilization

Salient Features

  • Urban Civilisation
  • Bronze Age Civilisation (Flourished during Circa 2500-2000 B.C.)
  • The largest Civilisation in geographical area of the ancient world.
  • Town-planning and well developed drainage system.
  • Gridiron layout and fortification


  • Origin lies in various indigenous Pre-Harappan cultures
  • Indus Civilisation was culmination of a long series of cultural evolution.
  • Emerged out of the farming communities of Sind and Baluchistan, Haryana Oujarat and Rajasthan.
  • Continuous cultural evolution from 6000 BC onwards in North West India which finally culminated in the rise of Indus Civilisation

Phases of Development

  • Archaeological excavation & research have revealed phases of cultural development bursting up in the emergence of a full-fledged civilization at Kalibangan,
  • Banavali and Rakhigarhi.
  • Began in Baluchistan & Sind are then extended into the plains.
  • These phases are Pre-Harappan, Early Harappan, Mature Harappan and Late Harappan
  • Extent of Harrappa:- From in North Manda (J & K) to 1600 k.m Daimabad (Maharastra.) in East Alamgirpur (U.P.) to 1100 K.m Sutkangedor (Bluchistan). Total Area was 12,99,600 Sq. k.m.
  • These phases of cultural evolution are represented by Mehargarh, Amri, Kalibangan and Lothal respectively

Different Phases and Transformation

  • Pre-Harappan - Mehargarh - nomadic herdsrnen to settled agriculture
  • Early Harappan - Amri - growth of large villages and towns
  • Mature Harappan - Kalibangan - rise of great cities
  • Late Harappan - Lothal mature as well as decling phase.

Features of Town Planning

  • A great uniformity in town planning, the fundamental lay-out of prominent urban settlements exhibits apparent similarities.

  • Based on ‘Grid Pattern’: streets and lanes cutting across one another at right angles dividing the city into a number of rectangular blocks. Main streets ran from north to south and were as wide as 30 feet.Streets and lanses were not paved.

  • Use of standardized burnt bricks on massive scale in almost all types of constructions (an extraordinary feature of the contemporary civilizations), circular stones were used at Dholavira.

Art and Craft


  • Mainly two types Plain pottery and Red and Black Pottery with decoration, the majority being the former.

  • Widespread use of potter’s wheel made up of wood, use of firing technique, use of kiln.

  • Variety of Pleasing Design — Horizontal strips, Check, Chess-Board Pattern, Interesecting Circles (Pattern exclusively found), Leaves & Petals, Natural

  • Motif — Birds, Fish, Animals, Plants, Human Figure — Rare (A Man & A Child found from Harappa), Triangles.

  • Pottery had plain bases. Few ring bases have been found.

  • Mainly famous colour of pot was pink. General design was on the red base horizontally black line on pots.


  • Seals are the greatest artistic creation of the Harappan people — cutting &polishing craftmanship is excellent.

  • No of seals discovered is approx. 2000

  • Made of steatite (Soft stone), Sometimes of Copper, Shell, Agate, Ivory, Faience, Terracotta.

  • Size— 4 inch to 2Y2 inch.

  • Shape — Square, Rectangular, Button, Cubical, Cylinder, Round

  • Two main types:- Square — carved animal & inscription, small boss at the back. Rectangular— inscription only, hold on the back to take a cord.

Technical Achievements

  • Lost-Wax technique, used for making bronze images.

  • English Bond method-Bonding system for bricks.

  • Flemish Bond method-used for making staircases.

  • Kiln Bricks — Evidence of Kiln has been  found at Rakhigarhi

  • Water Harvesting System—Dholaveera

  • For small measurement binary system and for big measurement decimal system were used in Harappa.

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Customs and Amusements:

  • A good number of toys — Clay Cart, Rattles, Bulls with mobile heads, Monkey with movable arms, Dices, Chessboard.

  • Hunting, Fishing, Cock-Fighting


  • Predominance of Mother Goddess, denotes people’s faith in fertility cult.

  • Male deity — Pasupati Shiva.

  • Animal worship (200l atry)— Unicorn bull and humped bull.

  • Tree worship — Pipal.

  • Fertility Cult — Phallus worship.

  • Nature worship.

  • Amulets and Talisman (Mohanjodaro)

  • Sacred bath — Water Cosmology

Weights & Measure

  • Standard weights and measures, uniformity and accuracy of denominations.

  • Weights were made of a variety of material — state, jasper, chert, alabaster, limestone and quartzile, but main1 polished chert.

  • For larger weights decimal system was used and for smaller ones binary system was followed.

  • The unit weight had the calculated value of 0.8 750 gms, the largest weights was 10970 gms.


  • Main crops: Wheat & Barley.

  • Others Peas, Rai, Linseed, Mustard, Cotton, Dates.


  • Copper, Silver, Gold, Jade, Lapis Lazulli, Lead. Tin, Ingot (Lead+Silver), Electrum (Silver & Gold)

Language & Script:

  • Yet not deciphered, pictographic or ideographic approximately 450 signs have been listed, written from right from left and left to in alternate lines style known as Boustrophedan, inscriptions are short.


  • Evidences

  • Sumerian text make a mention of Meluha which is identified with Indus Civilization and two intermediate trading stations Dilmun (Bahrain) and Makan (Makaran Coast).

  • Appearance of Indus seals in the Mesopotamian cities of Ur, Kish,Susa, Tell Asmar, Lagash.

  • Cylindrical seals of Mesopotamian type have been found in Indus valley (Mohanjodaro).

  • “Persian Gulf Seals” of intermediate trading stations have been discovered from Indus region (Lothal).

  • Discovery of”Reserved slip ware” of Mesopotamian type from Harappa & Lothal.

  • Internal Trade: With Saurashtra, Maharastra, South India, Rajasthan, ports of western UP.

  • Ports: Port was found in Lothal. This is the first manmade port in the world.

  • Item of Imports: Gold, Silver, Copper, Tin, Lapis Lazuli,-Amethyst, Agate, Jade, Shells.

  • Items of Exports

  • Agricultural products Wheat, Barley, Peas, Oil Seeds

  • Finished Products Cotton goods, Pottery1 Beads, Shells, Terrocotta Products, Ivory Products

For Detail Description, Analysis and More MCQs of the Chapter Buy this Study Notes:

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