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Indus Valley Civilization (IVC)

  • This civilization flourished in the western part of South Asia (present day Pakistan and North-West India).

  • It flourished between 2600 BC and 1900 BC.

  • IVC was an urban civilization; whereas Vedic civilization was a rural civilization.

  • IVC was a bronze-age civilization; the main metal used was bronze.

  • It is also known as 'Harappan Civilization' because Harappa was the first Indus Valley site to be excavated.

Geographical Extend

  • It extended from Sutkagendor (in Baluchistan) in the West to Alamgirpur (Western UP) in the East; and from Mandu (Jammu) in the North to Daimabad (Ahmednagar, Maharashtra) in the South.

Important Sites

  • In Pakistan

    • Harappa (on river Ravi)- discovered by John Marshall and Daya Ram Sahni.

    • Mohenjodaro (on river Indus)-discovered by R.D. Banerjee.

  • In India

    • Kalibangan (Rajasthan)

    • Lothal, Dholavira, Surkotda (Gujarat)

    • Banawali (Haryana)

    • Ropar (Punjab)


  • Agriculture was the main occupation. (Cattle rearing was the main occupation of Vedic society)

    • Main crops were wheat, barley, cotton, etc.

    • Rice uses were relatively rare.

    • They were the first people to cultivate cotton.

    • Oxen were used for ploughing.

    • Most Harappan sites are located in semi-arid lands, where irrigation was probably required for agriculture.

    • Traces of canals have been found in Afghanistan.

  • Animals were domesticated like sheep, goats, and pigs.

    • IVC was not horse centred. (Vedic Civilization was horse-centred)

  • Trade was conducted with the Sumeria (Mesopotomia).

    • Trade was carried by barter system.

    • Main items for trade were- metals, shells, lapis lazuli (precious stone) , etc.

  • Metal works using copper, bronze, and tin.

    • Copper was obtained from the Khetri copper mines of Rajasthan and Tin was possibly brought from Afghanistan.

    • Gold and silver were known.

    • Iron was not known to them.

  • Huge brick structure suggest that brick-laying was an important craft.

  • The potter's wheel was used to make potteries.


  • No temples; so there were no priests.

  • The people worshipped male and female deities.

  • They looked upon the earth as a fertility goddess (female deity).

  • Male deity is represented on a seal with three horned heads (Pushupati Mahadeva).

  • Phallus (male sex organ) and female sex organs were worshipped.

  • They also worshipped trees and animals (like 'one horned unicorn' and 'humped bull').


  • IVC was possibly ruled by a class of merchants.

  • Some archaeologists are of the opinion that Harappan society had no rulers, and that everybody enjoyed equal status.

  • Another theory argues that there was no single ruler, but a number of rulers representing each of the urban centers.

Decline of the IVC

  • IVC started declining around 1900 BC and disappeared around 1400 BC.

  • The actual reasons behind its decline are still debated.

  • Some theories about the decline of IVC are:

    • 'Mortimer Wheeler' claims that the Aryans invaded and conquered the IVC.

      • Later studies suggest that civilization did not disappear suddenly due to an invasion.

    • Natural factors

      • It is believed that the Indus Valley region experienced several tectonic disturbances which caused earthquakes, which also changed courses of rivers or dried them up.

      • Another reason might be changes in the patterns of rainfall due to which there were drying up of the rivers, deforestation, and destruction of the green cover.

      • There could be also dramatic shifts in the river courses, which might have brought floods to the food producing areas.

      • It is now accepted that these natural factors could have led to the decline of the Indus Valley civilization. Due to the natural calamities, people moved eastwards and cities were abandoned.



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