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Harappan Civilization

The Harappan civilization, also called the Indus Valley civilization, Harappan Civilization time from about 3300 to 1300 BCE. It started forming around 6000 BC but thrived from 2600 to 1900 BCE. They lived near the Indus river in what is now Pakistan. The two biggest cities were Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Harappa is in Punjab, and Mohenjo-daro is in Sindh.

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    The Harappans are famous for creating a good system of weights and measures. They also made art like sculptures, seals, pottery, and jewelry. People think they worshipped a mother goddess who stood for fertility.

    Harappan Civilization History

    The Harappan Civilization was one of the earliest urban cultures in the Indian subcontinent, dating back to about 2500–1700 BCE. It encompassed large cities like Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, along with over 100 towns and villages. The civilization was primarily agricultural, cultivating wheat, barley, peas, mustard, sesame, and cotton. They domesticated animals like cattle, dogs, cats, and possibly elephants. The society showed signs of craft specialization and trade networks extending from Central Asia to Mesopotamia. The Harappans developed a unique writing system known as the Indus Script, which remains undeciphered. Their religion is speculated to have included worship of a mother goddess and depicted animals on seals. The decline of the civilization around 1700 BCE is attributed to factors like climate change, drying rivers, and disruptions in river systems.

    Drainage System of Harappan Civilization

    The drainage system of the Harappan Civilization was an advanced network of channels and sewers designed to manage water flow and sewage. It included carefully constructed brick-lined drains that ran beneath streets and buildings, helping to prevent flooding and maintain sanitation within the cities. These drainage systems demonstrate the Harappan people’s engineering prowess and urban planning abilities.

    Seals of Harappan Civilization

    The Harappan Civilization produced numerous artifacts and artworks, with the emergence of its art forms occurring from around 2500 BCE onward. Archaeologists have unearthed thousands of seals from Harappan sites, primarily crafted from soft stone steatite. Some seals were made from terracotta, gold, agate, chert, ivory, and faience. Typically square with dimensions of 2X2, these seals were likely utilised for commercial purposes and occasionally carried as amulets, possibly serving as identification cards. They feature depictions of various animals alongside inscriptions in a pictographic script yet to be decoded.

    The depicted animals commonly include tigers, elephants, bulls, bison, and goats. Many seals are inscribed on both sides in a script resembling Kharosthi, written from right to left. Some seals exhibit mathematical images, suggesting their use for educational purposes. Among the most renowned artifacts is the Pashupati Seal from Mohenjo Daro, portraying a cross-legged figure in the center surrounded by animals, including an elephant, tiger, rhino, and buffalo.

    Harappan Civilization Religion

    The religious practices of the Harappan civilization remain a subject of conjecture. It is widely believed that they worshipped a mother goddess who represented fertility. Unlike the civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley Civilization appears to have lacked explicit evidence of temples or palaces associated with religious ceremonies or specific gods. Some seals from the Indus Valley depict swastika symbols, which later became significant in Indian religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism.

    Many seals from the Indus Valley feature depictions of animals, some portrayed in processions and others in hybrid forms, leading scholars to speculate about the significance of animals in the religious beliefs of the Indus Valley people. For instance, a Mohenjo-Daro seal depicts a part-human and part-buffalo creature attacking a tiger. This imagery bears a resemblance to the Sumerian myth involving a monster created by Aruru, the Sumerian goddess of earth and fertility, to combat Gilgamesh, the legendary hero of Mesopotamian literature. Such parallels hint at the potential influence of international trade on Harappan religious and cultural practices.

    Harappan Architecture

    The Harappan civilization is renowned for its advanced architectural achievements. Cities like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa boasted well-planned layouts, with buildings constructed using burnt bricks, showcasing impressive Harappan Architecture. These structures included multi-roomed houses, public baths, granaries, and even some monumental buildings, indicating a sophisticated understanding of engineering and construction techniques.

    Harappa Town Planning and Layout

    Town planning was a hallmark of the Harappan civilization. Cities were carefully laid out on a grid pattern, with streets running perpendicular to each other. The urban centers were divided into distinct residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, indicating a high level of organization and administration. Precise planning suggests a strong central authority and urban governance.

    Harappa Houses and Buildings

    Houses in Harappan cities were typically constructed of baked bricks, featuring multiple rooms arranged around a central courtyard. The larger houses often had two or more stories, with amenities such as wells and bathing areas. The uniformity in house design suggests a standardized architectural style and possibly a cohesive social structure within the civilization.

    Harappan Fortification

    Many Harappan cities were fortified with thick walls and defensive structures, indicating a need for protection and security. The walls were constructed using mud bricks and were reinforced with wooden beams. These fortifications served as a defense against potential threats and contributed to the overall stability of the urban centers.

    Harappa Water Reserves

    The Harappans were skilled in water management, evidenced by the presence of numerous wells, reservoirs, and tanks throughout their cities. These water reserves provided a steady supply of freshwater for domestic use, agriculture, and other activities, contributing to the sustainability of the civilization in an otherwise arid environment.

    Harappa Arts and Crafts

    The Harappan civilization excelled in various forms of art and craftsmanship. Archaeological findings reveal exquisite pottery, jewelry, seals, and figurines made from terracotta, bronze, and ivory materials. The intricate designs and shapes found on these artifacts reflect the Harappan people’s aesthetic sensibilities and cultural sophistication.

    Harappan Civilization Worship

    The Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization, practised various forms of worship. They revered nature and engaged in Yoni Worship. Additionally, they worshipped fire through rituals performed at Havan Kund and revered trees like the peepal tree. The Mother Goddess, known as Shakti or Matridevi, held significant reverence in their religious practices. Animals such as oxen and unicorns were also objects of worship, while the deity Pashupati Mahadev was revered as the lord of animals.

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    Town Planning of Harappan Civilization

    The Harappan civilization, also referred to as the Indus Valley civilization, was the first known urban society in the Indian subcontinent. Their city planning followed a grid-based layout, where streets and alleys intersected at right angles, dividing the city into rectangular blocks.

    Key features of Harappan town planning included:

    • Drainage system: Advanced drainage channels lined with stone or bricks connected every residence to street drains, which were part of a main underground drain.
    • The Great Bath: The most significant public space in Mohenjodaro was the Great Bath, measuring 39 feet long, 23 feet wide, and 8 feet deep, with a floor made of charred bricks.
    • Utilization of burnt bricks: Burnt bricks were extensively used in construction, distinguishing Harappan architecture.
    • Separate dressing rooms: Each end of the Great Bath featured stairs leading to the surface and various changing areas.
    • Harappan Granary: The largest building in Mohenjodaro was a 150-foot long by 50-foot broad granary, while Harappa boasted up to six granaries.
    • High mud-brick system: Each city, including Harappa, Mohenjodaro, and Kalibangan, had a fortress built on a tall mud-brick pedestal.
    • Construction of brick buildings: Below the fortress in each city lay a lower town of brick structures inhabited by common citizens.

    Decline of Harappan Civilization

    The exact cause of the decline of the Harappan civilisation and its culture remains to be determined due to the lack of records from that period. However, archaeological evidence suggests the decline was gradual and likely occurred over approximately 600 years, from 1900 to 1300 BCE.

    The decline of the Indus Valley Civilization, which began around 1700 BCE, is attributed by archaeologists to four main factors:

    • Deforestation: Continuous depletion of resources in the areas surrounding Harappan settlements led to environmental degradation and made these areas unsuitable for habitation.
    • Floods: Regular flooding of the regions surrounding the Indus Valley Civilization caused widespread destruction.
    • Earthquakes and epidemics: Natural disasters and disease outbreaks likely contributed to the downfall of the Indus Valley Civilization.
    • Possible Aryan invasion: Some scholars propose that the Aryans, believed to have migrated to the Indian subcontinent around 1500 BCE, may have invaded and contributed to the destruction of the Harappan Civilization.

    Despite its demise, the legacy of the Indus Valley Civilization endures, evidenced by its significant cultural contributions to the Indian subcontinent.

    FAQs on Harappan Civilization

    Who discovered the Harappa civilization?

    The Harappa civilization was first discovered by an archaeologist named Sir John Marshall in 1924.

    Who is considered the father of the Harappan civilization?

    The civilization was initially discovered by an archaeologist named Sir John Marshall.

    What are the first two Harappan cities?

    The earliest roots of the Harappan Civilization trace back to cultures like Mehrgarh, around 6000 BC. The two most significant cities of the civilization are Mohenjo-daro and Harappa.

    What was the Harappan civilization known for?

    The Harappan civilization, also known as the Indus Valley Civilization, was known for its advanced urban planning, sophisticated drainage systems, and well-built brick houses. They were also skilled in trade and had a well-developed writing system.

    Which was the first city of Harappan civilization?

    The first city of the Harappan civilization is believed to be Harappa, which was discovered in the 1920s. It was one of the major urban centers of the civilization, along with Mohenjo-Daro.

    Who discovered Harappan seal?

    The Harappan seals were first discovered during the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro by archaeologists like Sir John Marshall and Daya Ram Sahni in the early 20th century. These seals are known for their intricate animal and script motifs.

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