Indus Valley Civilisation

Indus Valley Civilisation

The Harrapan art and architecture tells us a great deal about the social, economic and political life of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Social Life


  • From the seals, terracotta figurines and copper tablets we get an idea on the religious life of the Harappans.
  • The chief male deity was Pashupati, (proto-Siva) represented in seals as sitting in a yogic posture.
  • The chief female deity was the Mother Goddess represented in terracotta figurines.
  • They believed in ghosts and evil forces and used amulets as protection against them.
  • There is sufficient evidence for the prevalence of phallic worship.
  • Numerous stone symbols of femals sex organs (yoni worship). It indicates the presence of worshipping fertility.
  • The worship of fire is proved by the discovery of fire altars at Lothal, Kalibangan and Harappa.
  • Indus people who worshipped Gods in the form of trees (pipal, etc) and animals (unicorn etc)


  • They were conscious of fashion. Different hairstyles were in vogues and wearing of beard was common. Cinnabar was used as a cosmetic and face, paint, eyeliners etc were also known
  • The beads and ornaments remains of the Harappan period indicates that both men and women decorated themselves with a large variety of ornaments.


  • This is not proved that there existed any classes or cast as the Aryan’s varna system. Based upon the mounds we can assume that there were classes if not castes according to the occupation of the people, probably priestly class and general people.


Entertainment and Games:

  • Dance and music were their popular amusements.
  • Some tubular and conical dices discovered in these cities show that the evil of gambling is as old as history.
  • Another game which they played resembles our modern chess.
  • Marbles dolls and animal toys show that the children of Mohenjo-daro were well supplied with playthings.


Political Life

  • There is no clear-cut idea on the political organization of the Harappa.
  • But if we take into account the culture homogeneity of the Indus civilisation, it can be said that this cultural homogeneity would not have been possible to achieve, without a central authority.
  • No temples have been found either at any Harappa sites. We have no religious structures of any kind expect for the great Bath.
  • Therefore, it would be wrong to think that priests ruled in Harappa.
  • The Harappa rulers were more concerned with commerce than conquests and Harappa was possibly ruled by a class of merchants.
  • There were numerous specimens of weapons of war such as axes, spearheads, daggers, bows, arrows made of copper and bronze.


Economic Life

  • There was a great progress in all spheres of economic activity such as agriculture, industry and crafts and trade.
  • Wheat and barley were the main crops grown besides sesame, mustard and cotton.
  • Surplus grain is stored in granaries.
  • Animals like sheep, goats and buffalo were domesticated. The use of horse is not yet firmly established. A number of other animals were hunted for food including deer.
  • Specialized groups of artisans include goldsmiths, brick makers, stone cutters, weavers, boat-builders and terracotta manufacturers.
  • The discovery of granaries and the urban lifestyle of the people proves that the Harappan people were undoubtedly “comfort loving” and were prosperous.
  • It also shows great knowledge of crop-pattern and seasons.
  • The major cities of Harappan Civilization showcase one of the earliest examples of civic planning; house markets, public baths, storage facilities, grid-like system, drainage.
  • The proper drainage system shows that the inhabitants of the Harappan cities were hygiene conscious.



  • Thousands of seals have been discovered not only from the Harappans sites but also from the remains of other world civilisations.
  • Every merchant and his family had a seal bearing and emblem and a brief inscription.
  • But it is still unknown whether they used these seals as currency or not.
  • In absence of evidence, it is safe to assume that the Harappans practised barter system and got goods they need in exchange of their articles.



  • The Indus people sowed seeds in the flood plain in November, when the flood water receded, and reaped their harvests of wheat and barley in April before the advent of the next flood.
  • The Harappans probably used the wooden plough with wooden or copper ploughware.
  • The Indus people produced wheat, barley, peas, kodon, sanwa, jowar, ragi, etc.
  • The Indus people were the earliest people to produce cotton.



Trade and Commerce:

  • The thriving agricultural economy supported a flourishing trade both within the northern and western areas of the sub-continent and between the people of this culture and those of the Persian and Gulf and Mesopotamia.
  • The products of Indus have been found in Mesopotamia. It seals and produce were also discovered at Sumer.
  • The findings of Indus seals suggest that merchants from Indus actually resided in Mesopotamia.
  • Their chief merchandise was probably cotton exported from probably Lothal harbour.


Crafts and Industries:

  • Mohenjo-daro was a great industrial center. Weaving was probably the chief industry.
  • Harappans were also acquainted with the art of dyeing. Pottery was an important industry.
  • Harappan pictographical scripts are mainly found on potteries.
  • Harappans used to export these pots made on potter’s wheel and burnt in kilns.
  • The art of smelting metals was well-known to the people of Harappa.


Weights and Measures:

  • The regulations of weights and measures forms the basis of trade and Harappans were very accurate in this respect.
  • The sexagesimal system and the decimal system were known to the Harappans.



  • Transport and communications are a major part of trade and commerce.
  • Harappans also had good transporting system for their internal and external trade.
  • Representation of ships and boats are found on some seals and as graffiti on pottery.
  • They relied upon the bullock carts and rarely horse carts.

They practicsed navigation on the coasts of the Arabian Sea. Mohenjo-daro seals bear the picture of ship

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