The Harappan civilization (Indus Valley civilization) in one of the most fascinating and important archaeological discoveries of the twentieth century.
Introduction: The Harappan culture (Indus Valley Civilization) was essentially a city culture. Civic Planning was advanced and sophisticated. The urban nature of the culture of Harappan civilization is reflected in their social, economic and religious activities. The houses were built of excellent materials and there was adequate town-planning and drainage system. They were religious people and mainly engaged in agriculture. They had good taste for clothing and ornaments.
The names of Daya Rain Sahani and R. D. Banerjee are associated with the discovery of Indus Valley Civilization. While the former made a trial excavation in 1921 at Harappa, the following year the latter discovered the similar remains beneath a Buddish Stupa at Mohenjo-Daro.
The social, economic, and religious culture of the Harappan Civilization is discussed below:
Houses: The Harappan civilization was advanced one. This is evidenced by the excellence of the materials used in the construction of houses and the commodious nature of residences. From the lay out, size and architecture of the houses, the average among the smaller being nine square meters it would appear that these were owned by a fairly well-to-do people forming a solid and important middle class. Several barrack like dwellings have been excavated these cities and their whole lay out is strongly suggestive of contemporary “coolie line or workmen’s quarter”.
Drainage System: One of the most striking features of this town planning is the excellent drainage system it maintained. Arrangements for draining out the waste water and refuse from individual houses down to the large street drains were definitely praiseworthy. The most important single construction at Mohenjo-Daro is a large bathing tank, 39 feet long, 23 feet wide, and 8 feet deep. This bath was inside a building which was 180 feet in length and 180 feet in width. In Harappa the remains of a quite big granary have been found.
Streets: The streets were broad and straight. The principal street was 33 feet wide. Houses substantially built of burnt bricks were flanked on the tow sides of the street. The houses were also provided with open courtyards, private wells, and both rooms, and stairways leading upward.
Dress: The Harappans used both cotton and wool. A stone bust of a man wears over his left shoulder a shawl decorated in a three-leaved pattern. The people usually used an upper garment as well as a lower garment covering the lower parts of the body.
Ornaments: Both men and women were quite fond of ornaments. Ornaments were made of gold, silver, bronze, and copper. The women wore rings, bracelets, necklaces, nose studs, and hair ornaments. The Men appeared to have followed the fashing of shaving the upper lip but keeping a thick beard.
Amusement: Gambling must have been a fairly common amusement of the older people. A charming figurine of a dancing girl shows appreciation of the art of dancing.
Seals: The Harappan culture is especially remarkable for the various seals. They are usually made of soft, white limestone. However, the distinctive and the important feature of the Harappan seals is the finely carved animal form and the pictographic writing appearing on the front face.
The Harappan people must have engaged themselves in agriculture, trade and commerce. They possibly traded with several parts of India. There are evidences that they had overseas trade connections with Mesopotamia.
The large population of Harappan civilization could scarcely have maintained itself without agriculture. The main items of their food included grains of barleys and wheat, dates, melons. Jars were also found which contained bones of animals and fish. Fish, mutton, pork, and meat of ducks, hens, and turtles must have been the favorite items of food.
The Harappan culture was a religious one. The people of Harappan civilix worshipped many gods and goddesses. Foremost among them was the Divine Mother whose clay, images have been found at Mohenjo-Daro. There also the figure of a good engraved on a seal has been found. It was a three- headed horned deity seated cross legged. Around this figure are grouped various animals. Scholars have identified this as “Pashupati” Siva. Harappans were frolic worshippers. However, it is quite strange that nothing resembling temple or the place of worship has been found anywhere.