Indus Valley Civilisation

The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC), also known as the Indus Civilisation,[1] was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in its mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE.[2][lower-alpha 1] Together with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, it was one of three early civilisations of the Near East and South Asia, and of the three, the most widespread, its sites spanning an area stretching from today’s northeast Afghanistan, through much of Pakistan, and into western and northwestern India.[3][lower-alpha 2] It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, and along a system of perennial, mostly monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan.[2][4]

Indus Valley Civilisation
Geographical rangeBasins of the Indus River, Pakistan and the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river, northwest India and eastern Pakistan
PeriodBronze Age South Asia
Datesc.3300 – c.1300 BCE
Type siteHarappa
Major sitesHarappa, Mohenjo-daro (27°19′45″N 68°08′20″E), Dholavira, Ganeriwala, and Rakhigarhi
Preceded byMehrgarh
Followed byPainted Grey Ware culture
Cemetery H culture
Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro, Sindh province, Pakistan, showing the Great Bath in the foreground. Mohenjo-daro, on the right bank of the Indus River, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the first site in South Asia to be so declared.
Miniature votive images or toy models from Harappa, c. 2500 BCE. Terracotta figurines indicate the yoking of zebu oxen for pulling a cart and the presence of the chicken, a domesticated jungle fowl.

The civilisation's cities were noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, clusters of large non-residential buildings, and new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin).[5] The large cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa very likely grew to contain between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals,[6] and the civilisation itself during its florescence may have contained between one and five million individuals.[7]

Gradual drying of the region's soil during the 3rd millennium BCE may have been the initial spur for the urbanisation associated with the civilisation, but eventually weaker monsoons and reduced water supply caused the civilisation's demise, and caused its population to scatter eastward and southward.[8][lower-alpha 3]

The Indus civilisation is also known as the Harappan Civilisation, after its type site, Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated early in the 20th century in what was then the Punjab province of British India and now is Pakistan.[9][lower-alpha 4] The discovery of Harappa and soon afterwards Mohenjo-daro was the culmination of work beginning in 1861 with the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India during the British Raj.[10] There were however earlier and later cultures often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan in the same area; for this reason, the Harappan civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan to distinguish it from these other cultures.

By 2002, over 1,000 Mature Harappan cities and settlements had been reported, of which just under a hundred had been excavated.[11][lower-alpha 5][13][14] However, there are only five major urban sites:[15][lower-alpha 6] Harappa, Mohenjo-daro (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Dholavira, Ganeriwala, and Rakhigarhi.[16][lower-alpha 7] The early Harappan cultures were preceded by local Neolithic agricultural villages, from which the river plains were populated.[17][18]

The Harappan language is not directly attested, and its affiliation uncertain as the Indus script has remained undeciphered.[19] A relationship with the Dravidian or Elamo-Dravidian language family is favoured by a section of scholars.[20][21]