The story

Wanderwort origins and the Indus Valley Civilization?

I have noticed that there seem to be many words that have travelled the globe due to trade, such as the word orange or rice, which have plausible origins in proto-Dravidian. Meanwhile, it is hypothesized that the language (if it is a language, which some people argue against) recorded in the Indus script is a Dravidian one. All this makes me wonder if these numerous possibly-Dravidian Wanderworts are indicative of the Indus Valley Civilization's success in trade.

This page of Wikipedia lists 7 English words with possible Dravidian origins, notably:

  • Orange, through Old French orenge, Medieval Latin orenge and Italian arancia from Arabic نارنج naranj, via Persian نارنگ narang and Sanskrit नारङ्ग naranga-s meaning "an orange tree", derived from proto-Dravidian.
  • Rice, via Old French ris and Italian riso from Latin oriza, which is from Greek ὄρυζα oryza, through an Indo-Iranian tongue finally from Sanskrit व्रीहिस् vrihi-s "rice", derived from proto-Dravidian.
  • Sugar, through Old French sucre, Italian zucchero, Medieval Latin succarum, Arabic: سكر sukkar and Persian: شکر shakar ultimately from Sanskrit शर्करा sharkara which means "ground or candied sugar" (originally "grit" or "gravel"), from proto-Dravidian.

So, is it likely that the Dravidian language that these words came from is the language of the Indus Valley Civilization? Is this a poor, uninformed idea? or, alternatively, am I late to the party and this is already intuitively obvious to historians? What are your thoughts?

Sad to say, probably not. Let's look at the reported itenerary of these words:

Rice: via Old French ris and Italian riso from Latin oriza, which is from Greek ὄρυζα oryza, through an Indo-Iranian tongue finally from Sanskrit व्रीहिस् vrihi-s "rice", derived from proto-Dravidian.

So this word was first imported to Sanskrit (an Indo-Euorpean language descended likely from the language spoken by folks who destroyed the Indus Valley Civ), then to Greek, likely during the immediate time post-Alexander when those two languages would have been in contact. So no, unless you count having your territory overrun to be "trade", this wouldn't be one.

You see a similar pattern with your other two words:

Orange through Old French orenge, Medieval Latin orenge and Italian arancia from Arabic نارنج naranj, via Persian نارنگ narang and Sanskrit नारङ्ग naranga-s meaning "an orange tree", derived from proto-Dravidian.

Sugar through Old French sucre, Italian zucchero, Medieval Latin succarum, Arabic: سكر sukkar and Persian: شکر shakar ultimately from Sanskrit शर्करा sharkara which means "ground or candied sugar" (originally "grit" or "gravel"), from proto-Dravidian.

Both of these went into Sanskrit first, then into Persian, then to Arabic. The Sanskrit would indicate an Indo-European takeover of the words in the subcontinent. The Persian -> Arabic implies that the actual trade that moved these words west didn't happen until the Middle Ages. The Persians took over their namesake territory in the near east from the Greeks in the early middle ages. Arabic wasn't a particularly important (or well-traveled) language until about the 7th Century AD.

So it looks like in all cases the outside world only knows these terms thanks to the (Indo-European) Sanskrit speakers. Where trade outside the subcontinent is concerned, the trading parties appear to have been Greeks and Persians, trading with Sanskrit speakers.

Wikipedia gives etymology of the word, search each word separately. Mango originated from the Malayalam via Portuguese (also manga) during spice trade with Kerala in 1498. Rice Originated from Indo-Aryan (as in Sanskrit vrīhí-) and subsequently to Proto-Dravidian *wariñci according to Witzel and others. Orange Originated from the Sanskrit word for "orange tree" (नारङ्ग nāraṅga), which is probably of Proto-Dravidian origin. Anaconda The word anaconda is derived from the name of a snake from Sri Lanka. However, the name commonly used in Brazil is sucuri, sucuriju or sucuriuba. Reference: Wikipedia.

Do Indus texts potentially have the oldest Indo-European text that we know of?

There are some texts left by an ancient civilization in India. They were written around 2700-1800 BCE. They have not been able to decipher them yet. Is it possible that the texts were Indo-European? Or, could some of the later texts be Indo European because they wasn’t contact yet? Just curious. If they are, it probably beats Linear A if it is. If it is, the language may be the closest thing to Proto-Indo-European there is that has been recorded. Note: religious items may show what they believed, and similarities with other IE religions, including Hinduism, could be used as evidence.

Indus Valley Civilization: Its Wonders and Influences to the Modern World

Located in what is today known as the northeastern part of Afghanistan that stretches to Pakistan and northwestern part of India, the Indus Valley Civilization in its early stage existed as a Bronze Age civilization from 3300 to 1300 BCE. Its mature period covered 2600 to 1900 BCE.

Major life support

The civilization thrived in the Indus River, which is one of the chief rivers in Asia. Another water source that gave life to Indus Valley was the Ghaggar-Hakra River that passes through the northwest point of India and eastern section of Pakistan. These two rivers served as major life support for the population, providing the inhabitants with abundant water supply as well as channel for mobility in and around the valley.

Outstanding features

At the most, the Indus Valley civilization may have been populated with more than 5 million inhabitants. Over time, the people learned various crafts such as carving and metallurgy. Carnelian and seal carving was very popular as well as the use of metals such as lead, tin, copper and bronze. Apart from these skills, the Indus people were able to develop their own community plan that is akin to the present day urban planning system. Houses were made of bricks and buildings were erected in groups, resembling a modern urban environment characterized by tall buildings standing side by side. Another standout achievement of the Indus Valley people was their own meticulously planned drainage systems as well as an efficient water supply. Evidently, the Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization, already possessed the characteristics of metropolitan culture as seen in the layout of their communities. One of the striking features of these urban centers was their accessibility to places of hygiene (bath houses) where religious rites also took place as historians suggest.

More highlights of the civilization

More features of the urban plan of Indus Valley Civilization included a hydraulic engineering technique in which every house or village got water from common wells. In their own version of bathroom, the water used for bathing directly went to covered drainages located on the sides of the streets. Also, residential homes were linked only to inner and narrower streets and interior courtyards. On the other hand, major thoroughfares connected neighborhoods and villages. There were enormous walls that served as protection from floods and military invasions. Wheeled transportation was also present, making it possible for the people to engage in trade with one another and with traders outside their territory. The Indus Valley inhabitants already had their own writing system as shown in the inscriptions that were later uncovered.

Surveys and excavations

Sometime in 1842, an explorer of the British East India Company in the person of Charles Masson published his journeys along the Afghanistan region. He described an old city 25 miles from the Afghan area, which was not yet discovered by any archaeological study. Several years later, General Alexander Cunningham went to Harappa where British engineers were constructing the East Indian Railway Company perimeters that would link nearby cities together. He then visited the ancient city where he found the ruins of Harappa, crammed with destroyed bricks. One discovery led to another until more proofs of the old civilization were surveyed and excavated. Most parts of the brick ruins have served as support for the railroad tracks that passed from Karachi to Lahore.

Based on the various artifacts and the layout of communities, archaeologists came up with important theories. First, the entire Indus Valley existed as a single community as indicated by the uniform sizes and distances of bricks used in the buildings and walls. Second, the city was divided into different clusters that were individually headed by their respective rulers. Third, there were no rulers in Harappan society and everyone took an equal status.

Demise of the civilization

There is no clear conclusion as to how the Harappan communities collapsed. However there are certain beliefs by historians and archaeologists that natural calamities such as a big earthquake or military invasions may have caused the demise of the civilization. Nonetheless, despite its disappearance, the influences of this civilization from the olden times have made their apparent marks in the present day life of modern people.


Despite the clear evidence of some Hindu religious and social practices noticed in Indus Valley seals including Pashupatinath, the swastika, and more, Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit, dismisses these as not strong enough to prove the continuity of such practices.

—-> is this direction or <——-this direction? Which one is authentic?

In the West even now the word ‘Aryans’ is pronounced as ‘Ariyans’ like the ‘A’ is pronounced in ‘Air’. But we pronounce the A in Aryans like the ‘A’ is pronounced in ‘Awful’.

There is absolutely no possibility of the word Aryan having been ‘originated from the word ‘Iran’ as the Aryan phrase usage is dated back to at least 3000 years BCE. Whereas the word ‘Iran’ came into usage earliest in the 2nd Century CE. This, I consider as an indisputable proof. Hence there is only a possibility of Harappans moving towards Iran and settling there and not in reverse.

Another aspect to support the theory of the reverse expansion of Aryans from Rakhigarhi is the very ‘route’ itself. When Rakhigarhi was dated around 5500 BCE which is near Delhi in Haryana.

Puranic Evidence

The authors of the Outlook article have not even made a passing remark about Rishi Vashista and Arundhati. They were the pioneer in developing farming technology in Vedic times. Hence probably the farming was started by Indus Valley Civilization inhabitant in and around Kurukshetra or probably in Lothal area. When this strong puranic evidence is suggestive of native development of Farming, the Iranian farming argument may not hold water.

Granary for storing grains from Indus Valley site Image source:

The gripping narration of Rishi Parashurama killing Kshatriyas and driving the defeated lot out of Aryavartha cannot be simply ignored. Those who were defeated and humiliated had relinquished the Vedic practices, customs in a fit of anger, left India for good and settled in Iran. They were described in Puranas as ‘Parshvas’ later turned in to be called as ‘Parshians’ who were defeated by Parshram. So, the Puranas further describes that they (The Parshvas) reversed every belief of Vedas and formulated their own faith and practices which were just opposite to our main beliefs. Scholars like late Kota Venkatachalam (Books published in1956) and Subhash Kak (Books published in 1990’s) have elaborately discussed these facts. (Though Sri Subash Kak did not fully agree with the story of defeated Pershvas reversing the Vedic Gods).

Here is a list of devas that are included by the Zoroastrians amongst the forces of the good where I provide the corresponding Sanskrit spelling within brackets:

The three great Asuras: Ahura Mazda (Asura Medha) Mithra (Mitra): Also Mihr, together with Raman (Rama) Baga (Bhaga).

Common deities (Yajatas): Apas (Apah): Cosmic Waters Aban Aradvi (Sarasvati): also Harahvati and the goddess Anahita Airyaman (Aryaman) Asman (Ashman) Atar (Atharvan): Agni Dadar (Data) Gav (Gauh) Ushah (Usha): Dawn Vad (Vata): Wind Vayu (Vayu): Breath Yima (Yama) as in Jam or Jamshed.

Sri Subash Kak’s “Vedic Elements in the Ancient Iranian Religion of Zarathushtra” contains very comprehensive research work on this topic alone. Hence the modern researchers on Harappan sites, cannot and should not ignore this Puranic evidence and in fact, such Puranic evidence would only help them in corroborating the outcome of their study.

The geographical route of Aryan invasion and IVC sites enroute:

Another aspect to support the theory of the reverse expansion of Aryans from Rakhigarhi is the very ‘route’ itself. When Rakhigarhi was dated around 5500 BCE which is near Delhi in Haryana, the Mohenjodaro and Harappan sites which are on the eastern side of India and in Pakistan which were dated 3000 BCE and 1000 BCE, this very factor renders the Aryan invasion theory illogical and indefensible too. When the migration was in progress spanning thousands of years moving from West to East, the approaching sites ahead should be of a later age than the sites that were left behind when advancing towards the East of India.

Despite the clear evidence of some Hindu religious and social practices noticed in Indus Valley Civilization, Witzel dismisses these as not strong enough to prove the continuity of such practices and percolate in to later developed Hinduism.

But if the migration is visualised in reverse direction i.e migration from Rakhigarhi (East of India) to Harappa and further to Iran (West of India) the dating of these sites logically corroborates.

Further Dr VS Shinde had clearly spelt about the religion of the Indus Valley Civilization time. It was peaceful, worshipping Shiva linga, Pashupathi, and the people were well connected with peaceful coexistence throughout the 20 lakh Sq KM are in Arya Vartha.

Sanskrit and Tamil Alphabets

The close similarity of Tamil alphabets to Devanagari cannot just be ignored. This would tell the story differently.

Michael Witzel

Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit, one of the strong exponent of ‘Aryan’ theory, has summarised his observation on the latest findings in Rakhigarhi (proving the nativity of Indus Valley civilization, disproving it’s central Asian origins).

Indus Valley seal of Pashupatinath in Yoga posture Image Source: Wikipedia.

Wiltze is of the opinion that “the major rupture in civilisation beginning with the immigration of Indo Aryan speaking population around 1200 BC and says ‘only minorcontinuation of Harappan elements in the Vedic period were noticed. This shows that despite the fresh data showing IVC’s nativity and absence of central Asian influence, Wiltze still sticking to the Aryan Invasion theory and trying to disconnect the IVC’s ethnic progression and its influence in the Vedic period. Secondly, he reiterates the time of such ‘Indo Aryan language speaking immigrants interaction with native Indus Valley civilization people in 1200 BCE. So if we were to believe that Gautama Budha ‘s period is around 500 BCE, then the whole Vedic period is to be compressed in just 700 years. That is to say, the 4 Vedas, Aranyakas, Upanishads, Brahmanas, Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharata and subsequent historical events were all must have happened in just 700 years BCE, just before Gautama Budha or in 600 years before Mahaveer.

Despite the clear evidence of some Hindu religious and social practices noticed in IVC, Witzel dismisses these as not strong enough to prove the continuity of such practices and percolate in to later developed Hinduism.

1) The protection symbol ‘swastika’

2) Pashupatinath in Yoga posture

3) Different Yoga posture terracotta figurines

5) Red parting line in Hindu married woman’s head (Sindhoor)

Swastika motif found in Indus Valley (Harappa) Image Source:

Witzel dismisses the Pashupathi Nath sitting in a Padmasan posture (seal) as a ‘Eurasian deity i.e stone age Lord of the animals. This appears to be a futile contest on his part to detach the Indus Valley civilization from the Vedic age renaissance. He should also explain the Yogic postures, Shiva Linga, and present Hindu practices as listed above.

The other most astonishing evidence is Shiva Linga. But this evidence has been neatly bypassed and no explanation is forthcoming from Witzel. However, I have my own suspicion that this Shiva worship continued in IVC and later penetrated into Northern Karnataka.

If we examine closely some later year artefacts and female figurines, we can notice the woman sporting a Bhindu and the forehead lashed with 3 line marks. Like the present day, Veera Shaivaits lash their foreheads with Vibhuthi.

Although, the Pashupatinath in Yoga posture (seal) was the early manifestation of Lord Shiva as some Shiv Linga artefacts too found from the same site. That may appear to be the very rudimentary form of Hinduism for our eyes but no regrets it was certainly with a cosmic understanding of the secrets of creation which paved the way in later days for Trinity Cosmic concept. Alas, such a Dharma called Hinduism survived to date, maybe there were no messengers sent by the God into that peaceful society to brainwash the clan, by writing single-holy-books, thereby destroying the very evolving mankind in the valley of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi at the buds.

In the meantime, another research work says Paleo-Rivers Predated Harappans by 35,000 Years? (Paleo-Rivers Predated Harappans By 35,000 Years).

Note: Text in bold within brackets are additional data on the topic.

Featured image courtesy: Wikipedia, and BBC.

This article was first published in

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely of the author. My India My Glory does not assume any responsibility for the validity or information shared in this article by the author.

The Indus Valley Civilization

An examination is made of the relationship between the Indus Valley Civilization and Indo-Aryan origins, a topic that has received a tremendous amount of attention from Indian archaeologists and historians. The issue discussed is whether the Indo-Aryans preceded, succeeded, or co-existed with the inhabitants of the Indus Valley cities. The different sections of the chapter look at archaeological evidence on the religion of the Indus Valley, evidence on the decline of the river Sarasvatī (which is referred to many times in the Ŗgveda, the oldest of the Sanskrit Vedic texts), the absence of the horse from the Harappan record (although it played an important part in the Vedic-Aryan culture), evidence of the spoked-wheel chariot (which is fundamental to Aryan identification), the Indus script, and urbanization and the Ŗgveda.

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Main keywords of the article below: civilization, mature, corpus, language, used, kot, extremely, record, judge, containing, difficult, diji, script, produced, system, valley, constituted, 1900, bce, indus, symbols, known, writing, periods, symbolise, harappan, inscriptions, 3500, short.

The Indus script (also known as the Harappan script ) is a corpus of symbols produced by the Indus Valley Civilization during the Kot Diji and Mature Harappan periods between 3500 and 1900 BCE. Most inscriptions containing these symbols are extremely short, making it difficult to judge whether or not these symbols constituted a script used to record a language, or even symbolise a writing system. [1] The only trace left by the language of the Indus Valley Civilization would be historical substratum influence, in particular the substratum in Vedic Sanskrit. [2] There are a handful of possible loanwords from the language of the Indus Valley Civilization. [2]

The Indus Script is the writing system developed by the Indus Valley Civilization and it is the earliest form of writing known in the Indian subcontinent. [3] As the Indus Valley Civilization was dying, so did the script they invented. [3] On the basis of the material culture associated with the Indus Valley Civilization, a number of scholars have suggested that this civilization was not Indo-European. [3] This is the main reason why the Indus Valley Civilization is one of the least known of the important early civilizations of antiquity. [3] By 1800 BCE, the Indus Valley Civilization saw the beginning of its decline. [3] Sumerian Meluhha may be derived from a native term for the Indus Valley Civilization, also reflected in Sanskrit mleccha, and Witzel (2000) further suggests that Sumerian GIŠ šimmar (a type of tree) may be cognate to Rigvedic śimbala and śalmali (also names of trees). [2] The Indus Valley Civilization was an ancient civilization located in what is Pakistan and northwest India today, on. [3]

At the International Conference on Mohenjodaro and Indus Valley Civilisation 2017 it was noted that two language engineers, Amar Fayaz Buriro and Shabir Kumbhar have engineered all 1839 signs of Indus script and presented a developed font. [1] Within India, different factions are fighting over whose language and culture descended from the Indus Valley Civilization. [4] Articles on inscriptions, the script or sign system, iconography and writing in the Indus Valley Civilization. [5] The Harappan region of the Indus Valley civilization had a structured form of communication as well as a writing system. [6] The Indus Valley civilization was very religious because they held sacred animals and they used them in their writing systems. [7] Because the Indus Valley Civilization spanned across present-day India and Pakistan, modern tensions between the two countries bleed into the Indus studies. [4] This seal comes from the Indus Valley Civilization and is currently housed in the National Museum of New Delhi. [4] In the 1920s many more of these artifacts, by then known as seals, were found and identified as evidence of a 4,000-year-old culture now known as the Indus Valley Civilization, the oldest known Indian civilization to date. [4]

There are also examples of this script being used on clay tags attached to bundles of goods that were traded between merchants some of these clay tags have been found in the Mesopotamia region, well outside the Indus Valley, a testimony of how wide goods travelled in ancient times. [3] Scholars also compare the Indus valley script with a writing system from ancient Persia, known as Linear Elamite. [1]

No depiction of horses on seals nor any remains of horses have been found in the subcontinent before 2000 BCE. Thus, it is very likely there were no Aryan speakers present before 2000 BCE in the Indus Valley. [1]

In a 2004 article, Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel presented a number of arguments stating that the Indus script is nonlinguistic, principal among them being the extreme brevity of the inscriptions, the existence of too many rare signs (increasing over the 700-year period of the Mature Harappan civilization), and the lack of the random-looking sign repetition typical of language. [1] Therefore, its candidacy for being the language of the Indus Civilization is dim. [1]

Dozens of towns and cities are established in the Indus Valley. [3] It would be some time before archaeologists realized those bricks came from the Indus Valley Civilization. [4] The Indus valley civilization flourished quite a long time back, approximately 4,000 years back. [8] The Indus Valley civilization poses an intractable problem, one that legions of archaeologists and scientists have puzzled over from the first excavations to a new study published last month. [9] What are your views on this and the Indus valley civilization? Can AI completely figure it out? Share your thoughts in the comments. [6]

Computational analysis of symbols used 4,000 years ago by a long-lost Indus Valley civilization suggests they represent a spoken language. [10]

The ancient cities of the Indus Valley belonged to the greatest civilization the world may never know. [9] The Indus River Valley civilization site is as important to archaeologists as ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. [11] The Indus River Valley Civilization developed a writing system that is still undeciphered to this day. [7] Amazingly, there's no archaeological evidence suggesting war or armies in the Indus River Valley civilizations. [11]

The term Indus script (also Harappan script) refers to short strings of symbols associated with the Indus Valley Civilization, in use during the Mature Harappan period, between the 26th and 20th centuries BC. In spite of many attempts at decipherments and claims, it is as yet undeciphered. [12] The Indus Valley Civilization stands as one of the great early civilizations, alongside ancient Egypt and Sumerian Civilization, as a place where human settlements organized into cities, invented a system of writing and supported an advanced culture. [13] Over 140 ancient towns and cities belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization have been discovered along its course. [13] Out of the lot, Mohenjo-daro became the largest city of the Indus Valley Civilization and holds the multiple distinction of being one of the world's first major urban centers, as well as, at the time, one of the most sophisticated cities in the world and a global architectonical and engineering masterpiece. [14] In most respects, the Indus Valley Civilization appears to have been urban, defying both the predominant idea of India as an eternally and essentially agricultural civilization, as well as the notion that the change from 'rural' to 'urban' represents something of a logical progression. [15] Some scholars argue that a sunken city, linked with the Indus Valley Civilization, off the coast of India was the Dwawka of the Mahabharata, and, dating this at 7500 B.C.E. or perhaps ever earlier, they make it a rival to Jericho (circa 10,000-11,000 B.C.E. ) as the oldest city on earth (Howe 2002). [13] The most compelling historical narrative still suggests that the demise and eventual disappearance of the Indus Valley Civilization, which owed something to internal decline, nonetheless was facilitated by the arrival in India of the Aryans. [15] A harp-like instrument depicted on an Indus seal and two shell objects from Lothal confirm that stringed musical instruments were in use in the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. [13] The ruins of Mohenjo daro ("Hill of the Dead"), one of the jewels of the Indus Valley Civilization and the ancient world. [14] The people of this Indus Valley civilization did not build massive monuments like their contemporaries, nor did they bury riches among their dead in golden tombs. [16] Indus civilization, also called Indus valley civilization or Harappan civilization, the earliest known urban culture of the Indian subcontinent. [17]

…the musical culture of the Indus valley civilization of the 3rd and 2nd millennia bce. [17] Whatever the reason, by around 1700 BCE, most of the Indus Valley Civilization cities had been abandoned. [14] The conventional historical narrative speaks of a cataclysmic blow that struck the Indus Valley Civilization around 1,600 BCE, but that would not explain why settlements at a distance of several hundred miles from each other were all eradicated. [15] The Indus Valley Civilization existed along the Indus River in present-day Pakistan. [13] A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture is evident in the Indus Valley Civilization. [13] Combined with monsoon-associated periods of flooding and drought, these changes in river patterns splintered the once-monolithic block of the Indus Valley Civilization. [14] Var's work is extremely significant since it also challenges the idea that the Indus Valley Civilization was pre-Aryan and that the Aryans invaded or migrated from the European zone. [13] By around 1800 BC, the Indus Valley Civilization was starting to crack. [14] Amazingly, the Indus Valley civilization appears to have been a peaceful one. [16] From excavated remains, it is clear that the Indus Valley civilization possessed a flourishing urban architecture. [17] The Indus Valley civilization raises a great many, largely unresolved, questions. [15] Remarkably, the lack of all these is what makes the Indus Valley civilization so exciting and unique. [16] Much of the history of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) and its aftermath is shrouded in a pseudo-historical controversy with political undertones. [18] The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), was an ancient civilization thriving along the lower Indus River and the Ghaggar River-Hakra River in what is now Pakistan and western India from the twenty-eighth century B.C.E. to the eighteenth century B.C.E. Another name for this civilization is the Harappan Civilization of the Indus Valley, in reference to its first excavated city of Harappa. [13] The Ancient Indus Valley Civilization Architecture, engineering, the arts, and sciences: these were only a few of the areas in which the Harappan civilization was accomplished. [16] Harappa was, in fact, such a rich discovery that the Indus Valley Civilization is also called the Harappan civilization. [16] The probable truth about the Indus Valley Civilization, the Aryans, and early Indian civilization is a mix of every leftist, nationalist, and ethnic pet theory, but not fully satisfactory to anyone. [18]

The Indus script, refers to short strings of symbols associated with the Indus Valley Civilization, people who lived in these 1400 towns had a common language. [19] The brevity of the Indus writings, if they are that, may mean they express only small bits of the language of the Indus Valley civilization, Robinson writes, similar to early types of Mesopotamia’s cuneiform that recorded only officials’ names and calculations of products, including grain. [20] Knorozov worked closely with Nikita Gurov, one the greatest Indologists of all time in Russia and another strong proponent that the language of the Indus Valley civilization was probably an older Dravidian one. [21]

A linguistic bridge connecting the Indus Script to another known language could reside in one of Mesopotamian cities that traded with the Indus civilization. [11]

In 2004, perhaps out of befuddlement and frustration, a group of scholars declared that the script marked only rudimentary pictograms and that the Indus Valley people were functionally illiterate. [9] The Indus Valley writing used seals with pictures and symbols on them. [7] We chose this artifact for the museum because it shows a clear example of what the writing from the Indus Valley looked like in ancient times. [7] Wells, who was not part of Rao and Vahia's team, spent 15 years painstakingly examining the disparate body of Indus Valley artifacts and compiling what is now the largest database of Harappan signs - 676 in total. [9] UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1988: Indus Art - 2500 BC - Stone (steatite) seal of the Indus Valley. [4]

Some of those who accept this hypothesis advocate designating the Indus Valley culture the "Sarasvati-Sindhu Civilization," Sindhu being the ancient name of the Indus River. [13] While the Indus (or Harappan) civilization may be considered the culmination of a long process indigenous to the Indus valley, a number of parallels exist between developments on the Indus River and the rise of civilization in Mesopotamia. [17] While others civilizations were devoting huge amounts of time and resources to the rich, the supernatural, and the dead, Indus Valley inhabitants were taking a practical approach to supporting the common, secular, living people. [16] As the evidence stands, the civilization was succeeded in the Indus valley by poverty-stricken cultures, deriving a little from a sub-Indus heritage but also drawing elements from the direction of Iran and the Caucasus --from the general direction, in fact, of the northern invasions. [17] Why did this civilization, considering its sophistication, not spread beyond the Indus Valley? In general, the area where the Indus valley cities developed is arid, and one can surmise that urban development took place along a river that flew through a virtual desert. [15] It has long been claimed that the Indus Valley was the home of a literate civilization, but this has been challenged on linguistic and archaeological grounds. [13] One of the most advanced and mysterious ancient society, the Indus River Valley civilization, was completely lost to history until the 1920s. [14] In the meantime, archaeologists have scrambled to understand the Indus River Valley civilization but we've been able to confirm frustratingly little from all we've found. [14]

In past articles, I’ve discussed the development of agriculture and civilization in South Asia, which originated in the Indus Valley region. [18]

The historical languages spoken in Northern India and Pakistan all belong to the Indic branch of Indo-European, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, etc., so maybe the people of the Indus valley spoke a very old Indo-European language. [12] A few thousand seals have been discovered in Indus Valley cities, showing some 400 pictographs: too few in number for the language to have been ideographic, and too many for the language to have been phonetic. [15]

Among the Indus civilization's mysteries, however, are fundamental questions, including its means of subsistence and the causes for its sudden disappearance beginning around 1900 B.C.E. Lack of information until recently led many scholars to negatively contrast the Indus Valley legacy with what is known about its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, implying that these have contributed more to human development. [13] The Indus civilization was predated by the first farming cultures in south Asia, which emerged in the hills of what is now called Balochistan, Pakistan, to the west of the Indus Valley. [13] " (Parpola, 1986) Sidenote: "Vedic" means from the time of the Vedas, the earliest text in India, and the Vedic culture is from around 1500 to 500 BC. However, no depiction of horses on seals nor any remains of horses have been found so far before 2000 BC. They only appear after 2000 BC. Very likely there were no Aryan speakers present before 2000 BC in the Indus Valley. [12] The Indus Valley people do not appear to have been in possession of the horse: there is no osteological evidence of horse remains in the Indian sub-continent before 2,000 BCE, when the Aryans first came to India, and on Harappan seals and terracotta figures, horses do not appear. [15]

The symbols are found on tiny seals, tablets and amulets, left by people inhabiting the Indus Valley from about 2600 to 1900 B.C. Each artifact is inscribed with a sequence that is typically five to six symbols long. [12]

His book, Vedic Glossary on Indus Seals argues that Greek evolved from old-Brahmi, which developed originally from the Indus Valley script. [13]

Linguists have cracked many tough scripts, from Mesopotamian cuneiform to Egyptian hieroglyphic to Central American Mayan glyphs, but there are a few ancient, mysterious scripts still in the field today, including the Indus Valley Civilization script of over four millennia ago, that are yet to be deciphered. [20] What the script could teach us about the Indus Valley civilization would be invaluable. [20] Steatite seals have images of animals, people (perhaps gods), and other types of inscriptions, including the yet un-deciphered writing system of the Indus Valley Civilization. [22] Indus Valley Civilization is generally characterized as a literate society on the evidence of these inscriptions. [19] The Indus Valley civilization was a Bronze Age civilization (3300-1300 BC) that extended from what is today northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. [20] The Indus Civilization --also called the Indus Valley Civilization, Harappan, Indus-Sarasvati or Hakra Civilization--was based in an area of some 1.6 million square kilometers in what is today eastern Pakistan and northeastern India between about 2500-1900 BC. There are 2,600 known Indus sites, from enormous urban cities like Mohenjo Daro and Mehrgarh to small villages like Nausharo. [23]

The Indus Valley Civilization had some of the most sophisticated and technologically advanced urban centres in ancient history. [22] The Indus Valley civilization lies pretty close to modern day Iran, so why not a link with ancient Persia or Elam pre-cultures. [20] Swastika Seals from the Indus Valley Civilization preserved at the British Museum. [19] The Indus Valley Civilization was the first major urban culture of South Asia. [24] The Indus Valley civilization was the largest of its time and covered a vast territory. [25] This revering civilization is referred to by archaeology as the Harappa or Indus Valley civilization. [25] Alpha Draconis was 0.6 degree away from the heavenly pole in 2780 B.C. and this period corresponds to the Indus valley civilization. [19] Less than 10 percent of the known Indus Valley sites over 800,000 square miles in northwest India and Pakistan have been excavated, so there is still much to discover about the civilization and decoding its script may help unravel much of the mystery surrounding this large and powerful culture. [20] Since there is prestige that comes with being the successor to a civilization that rivalled Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, many linguistic groups in India and Pakistan have tried to claim the Indus Valley as their own. [21]

Who/what they worshiped is uncertain because we haven't been able to translate the Indus Valley script. [26] Although the intricate details of the early Indus Valley culture might never be fully known, many pieces of the ancient puzzle have been discovered. [16] Ancient inscriptions that are claimed to bear a striking resemblance to those found in Indus Valley sites have been found in Sanur near Tindivanam in Tamil Nadu, Musiri in Kerala and Sulur near Coimbatore. [12] Some Indus Valley seals show swastikas, which are also found in Hinduism and other religions such as Buddhism and Jainism. [26] Other than the archaeological ruins of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, these seals provide the most detailed clues about the character of the Indus Valley people. [15] They may also have been a sea-faring people, and it is rather interesting that Indus Valley seals have been dug up in such places as Sumer. [15] The women portrayed on the seals are shown with elaborate coiffures, sporting heavy jewelry, suggesting that the Indus Valley people were an urbane people with cultivated tastes and a refined aesthetic sensibility. [15] Late Harappan from 1900 to 1300 BC, marked by violence, breakdowns in social order, the abandonment of most settlements, and the eventual extinction of the Indus Valley people. [14] The Indus Valley people had a merchant class that, evidence suggests, engaged in extensive trading. [15] Sailing was also, by all evidence, serious business for the Indus Valley people, who built boats and sea-worthy ships. [14] Just like Hinduism, Indus Valley people believed in the worship of Shiva, certain animals and trees among many other deities. [26] Most significantly, under what circumstances did the Indus Valley cities undergo a decline? The first attacks on outlying villages by Aryans appear to have taken place around 2,000 BCE near Baluchistan, and of the major cities, at least Harappa was quite likely over-run by the Aryans. [15] In the Rig Veda there is mention of a Vedic war god, Indra, destroying some forts and citadels, which could have included Harappa and some other Indus Valley cities. [15] The remains of the Indus Valley cities continue to be unearthed and interpreted today. [16] The remains of their walls yield clues about the culture that thrived in the Indus Valley. [16]

…great urban culture of the Indus civilization, a society of the Indus River valley that is thought to have been Dravidian-speaking, thrived from roughly 2500 to 1700 bce. [17] The Indus civilization apparently evolved from the villages of neighbours or predecessors, using the Mesopotamian model of irrigated agriculture with sufficient skill to reap the advantages of the spacious and fertile Indus River valley while controlling the formidable annual flood that simultaneously fertilizes and destroys. [17]

Its candidacy for being the language of the Indus Civilization is dim. [12]

Right: A collection of Indus valley seals with their molds. [14] Many historians believe that the religious beliefs of the Indus Valley people was the beginning of modern day Hinduism. [26] The Indus Valley people domesticated animals, and harvested various crops, such as cotton, sesame, peas, barley, and cotton. [15] The Indus Valley people did not develop agriculture on any large scale, and consequently did not have to clear away a heavy growth of forest. [15] The pointed scarcity of weapons makes it more likely that the Indus Valley people were led by a number of leaders representing each major community or cluster of communities, all working together voluntarily. [14] The discovery of amulets suggests that the Indus valley people had belief in magic and charms. [26] The Indus Valley was a polytheistic religion, which means they worshiped more than one god. [26] In 2600 B.C.E., the Indus Valley was verdant, forested, and teeming with wildlife. [13] It's possible that this ability to carry water is what warranted, at least in part, the use of more costly and harder to produce fire-baked bricks in the Indus Valley. [14] He argues that Babylonian and Egyptian mathematics owe a debt to the Indus Valley. [13]

Although this is their opinion, it appears that the writing system used in the Indus Valley was also employed in South India and that the language of the Indus Valley script was Tamil. [25] The historical languages spoken in Northern India and Pakistan all belong to the Indic branch of Indo-European, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, etc., so maybe the people of the Indus valley spoke a very old Indo-European language? The major problem with this model is the fact that horses played a very important role in all Indo-European cultures, being a people constantly on the move. [24] The method is to find out if the words of this language are found in the language of the neighbouring country where the people of Indus Valley used to go for trade or otherwise. [20] The ancient language of the Indus Valley, spoken in the timeframe of 2600-1900 BCE. [27] The neighbouring country was Sumer and hence we should look into the language of Sumer for words of any language ss spoken in Indus Valley. [20] Their lost language is very similar to these writing from Indus valley. [20]

Few doubt the greatness of the Indus Valley or Harappan civilization, which is believed to have been at its full maturity between 2600 and 1900 BC. The script used by those who lived in the widespread civilization that stretched across northern India (and what is now Pakistan) has still not been deciphered. [21] The Indus Valley is one of the world ™s earliest urban civilizations, along with its contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. [19] Over 4000 years ago a civilization existed in Indus Valley. [25]

People may have spoken a Dravidian language (or another language which is lost today), but that doesn't change the fact that there is strong genetic continuity between the people of the Indus Valley Civilization and the modern inhabitants of Pakistan and Northwestern India. [28] That's a huge problem, in a civilization as large and complex as the Indus Valley was, with sites spread across a huge area of mostly Pakistan and India, but also as I mentioned with sites showing presence in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Oman, we should not assume that everyone was speaking the same language. [28] The Indus Valley Civilization was centered on the Indus river and grew and flourished between 3300 B.C.E and 1300 B.C.E. It's exact boundaries are not known, but the sites where the Indus script are found are spread all over Pakistan, Western India, with some additional sites in Oman, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan. [28] Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were the two great cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, emerging around 2600 BCE along the Indus River Valley in the Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. [29] During 4300-3200 BCE of the Chalcolithic period, also known as the Copper Age, the Indus Valley Civilization area shows ceramic similarities with southern Turkmenistan and northern Iran. [29] Did the Indus Valley civilization eat oranges, rice, and sugar? This webpage says they ate barley, melon, and pomegranates, but I suppose they could have eaten oranges and rice as well. [30] "When Marshall excavated the Indus Valley Civilization, he gave it the date of about 3000 BC," said Dikshit. [31] The Srivijayan Empire could not grow all their own food while The Indus Valley civilization grown their own crops such as vegetable. [32]

The Indus Valley writing was in Tamil a Dravidian language. [25] Using a computer analysis, Knorozov suggested that an underlying Dravidian language was what people probably spoke in the Indus Valley. [21]

The symbols found on many other ancient artifacts remain a mystery, including those of a people that inhabited the Indus valley on the present-day border between Pakistan and India. [33] In the 'Language of the Proto-Indian Inscriptions,' the Russian scholar reached a conclusion that the symbols at the Indus Valley ruins represented a logosyllabic script. [21] For those interested in this topic, this writer would like to recommend, 'The Soviet Decipherment of the Indus Valley Script: Translation and Critique,' edited by Arlene Zide and Kamil Zvelebil. [21] The former argued in many publications that the Brahmi script was most likely connected to the Indus Valley script and not derived from one of the Semitic scripts. [21] Between 400 and as many as 600 distinct Indus Valley symbols have been found on seals, small tablets, ceramic pots and more than a dozen other materials, including a œsignboard that apparently once hung over the gate of the inner citadel of the Indus city. [19] "A fish is a common symbol found in all Indus Valley seals. [19]

The evidence to support elements of Tamils Religion, Saivam present in Indus Valley is with the recovery of many symbols of Siva lingam from the Indus Valley ™s remains. [19] All the Indus valley seals had been read by Dr. R. Mathivanan and it is established that it is Tamil writings. [19] It would appear that they introduced writing to the Indus Valley and later punch-marked coins. [25] The festivals that are being conducted for god Murukan in Asia justify his relationship to Ahmuvan and the words Ahmuvan and Murukan have stood as a definition of religious and cultural symbolism in time and space over several millenniums from Indus valley to Tamil Nadu in southern India. [19] The primordial God of Indus valley - Ahmuvan, stands inside a bigger loop embedded with 13 smaller loops with pipal tree leaves attached to it possibly denoting 13 time periods as found in the astronomical calculations of the Mayan. [19] The statistical results showed that the West-Asian sequences are ordered differently from sequences on artifacts found in the Indus valley. [34] Indus valley civilisation is more or less 7000 years old and there is documentary proof to show that it is very advanced, people were well versed in architecture, laying of roads, making clothes, furniture, jewellery and utensils. [19] Both Harappa and Mohenjo-daro share relatively the same architectural layout (Harappa is less well preserved due to early site defilement), and were generally not heavily fortified like other Indus Valley sites. [25] Some radiologist pointed out that the Kava stature Easter Islander curved looked like a man with the radiation poisoning, which reminds me of the theory of nuclear blast in Indus valley in a remote past and there were land bridges over pacific to connect these two cultures. [20]

If the Indus symbols are a spoken language, then deciphering them would open a window onto a civilization that lived more than 4,000 years ago. [33] More information about the Indus civilization and language is at [33] The survival of Brahui, a Dravidian language, spoken even today by large numbers of people in Baluchistan and the adjoining areas in Afghanistan and Iran, is an important factor in the identification of the Indus Civilization as Dravidian. [19]

The Indus valley people carried on active trade relations with the middle-east in gold, copper utensils, lapis lazuli, ivory, beads and semiprecious stones. [25] Surviving remnants of the Indus valley people in Southeast Asia, will be dealt with later. [25] One guess is that many of the Indus Valley people went to the north, into Elam and Sumer to re-join their former group. [25] Srinivasan et al, argue that the Indus Valley writing was a syllabic multilingual writing system. [25] Hinduism possibly had its genesis in the Indus Valley of so many centuries ago. [20] Nearly 1,400 Indus Valley sites (towns) have now been discovered. [19] The notion of unmoving pole star around 3000 B.C. refers to the Alpha Draconis of the Draco constellation in Indus valley and the Gamma Draconis of the same is named as the zenith-star since it almost lies in the zenith of Greenwich. [19]

The Indus Valley Civilization is the earliest known culture of the Indian subcontinent of the kind now called "urban" (or centered on large municipalities), and the largest of the four ancient civilizations, which also included Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China. [29] This Indus Script suggests that writing developed independently in the Indus River Valley Civilization from the script employed in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. [29] Miniature Votive Images or Toy Models from Harappa, c. 2500 BCE. The Indus River Valley Civilization created figurines from terracotta, as well as bronze and steatite. [29] Archaeological evidence suggests that the Indus River Valley Civilization constructed boats and may have participated in an extensive maritime trade network. [29] Indus River Valley Civilization Explained: Use this link from HipHughes History if you want to review the informational video or if you need to catch up with your notes. [35] Recent archaeological findings proove the Indus River Valley civilization is up to 2,000 years older than previously believed. [31]

When someone comes along claiming that the Indus Valley script isn't a script, or that it was used to write a Dravidian-family language instead of an Indo-European one, or some other lost language, it is an insult to the people of modern India and Pakistan. [28] An as yet undeciphered script found on relics from the Indus valley constitutes a genuine written language, a new mathematical analysis suggests. [36] If Indus script is not a language, a close analysis of its symbols could offer unique insight into the Indus Valley civilisation. [36] There were probably people from diverse backgrounds, speaking different languages, who came to trade, who may have used Indus styles of clothing, ornaments, and other markers of identity (or not), but still spoken different languages, perhaps their "mother-tongue" as well as whatever language was the lingua franca of the Indus Valley, the language people had in common. [28] Neither of them have yet come up with a conclusive decipherment, but even if they (or someone else) someday is able to prove that the Indus Script was used to write a Dravidian language, this does not mean that the people of the Indus Valley are not the ancestors of modern Pakistan and India, who speak Indo-European languages. [28]

The Indus Valley had shared a language that has still not been able to be translated till today but The Srivijayan Empire shared a language that has been translated. [32]

The Indus River Valley Civilization, also known as Harappan civilization, developed the first accurate system of standardized weights and measures, some as accurate as to 1.6 mm. [29] All this makes me wonder if these numerous possibly-Dravidian Wanderworts are indicative of the Indus Valley Civilization's success in trade. [30] NEW DEHLI, India -- When archaeologist KN Dikshit was a fresh-faced undergraduate, in 1960, a remarkable discovery pushed back the origin of civilization in the Indus River Valley by some 500 years. [31] This is the name given to a collection of symbols found on artefacts from the Indus valley civilisation, which flourished in what is now eastern Pakistan and western India between 2500 and 1900 BC. [36] The people of the Indus Valley, also known as Harappan (Harappa was the first city in the region found by archaeologists), achieved many notable advances in technology, including great accuracy in their systems and tools for measuring length and mass. [29] The script of Indus valley civilisation is not deciphered yet. [37] Some Indus Valley seals show a swastika symbol, which was included in later Indian religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. [29] Many Indus Valley seals also include the forms of animals, with some depicting them being carried in processions, while others showing chimeric creations, leading scholars to speculate about the role of animals in Indus Valley religions. [29] Indus Valley excavation sites have revealed a number of distinct examples of the culture’s art, including sculptures, seals, pottery, gold jewelry, and anatomically detailed figurines in terracotta, bronze, and steatite--more commonly known as Soapstone. [29] Seals have been one of the most commonly discovered artifacts in Indus Valley cities, decorated with animal figures, such as elephants, tigers, and water buffalos. [29] Use these websites for the LIFE IN THE INDUS VALLEY internet scavenger hunt activity: Ancient India for Kids and History for KidsIndia. [35] The smallest division, approximately 1.6 mm, was marked on an ivory scale found in Lothal, a prominent Indus Valley city in the modern Indian state of Gujarat. [29] The Srivijayan Empire did not have any artefacts that was found by the archaeologists but The Indus Valley did. [32] The Aryan Invasion Theory has been thoroughly debunked, but the modern implications of who the Indus Valley people were, are still at issue. [28] People were living in The Indus Valley since around 5000BC while in Srivijaya since AD 700-1200. [32] We probably can't know most of those things, unless we find longer inscriptions, or the Indus Valley equivalent of the Rosetta Stone. [28] It's name is Indus Valley Civilisation and it was located on Indus river. [37] The Indus Valley Civilisation does not have a large collection of Buddhist texts while the Srivijayan does. [32] The Srivijayan Empire had no class structure while The Indus Valley has a class structure. [32] The Indus Valley has its roots since 3300BC while the Srivijayan Empire had it since 200CE. [32]

Some scholars, such as G.R. Hunter, S. R. Rao, John Newberry, Krishna Rao, and Subhash Kak have argued that the Brāhmī script has some connection with the Indus system, while others such as Iravatham Mahadevan, Kamil Zvelebil and Asko Parpola have argued that the script had a relation to a Dravidian language. [1] The Finnish scholar Asko Parpola wrote that the Indus script and Harappan language "most likely belonged to the Dravidian family". [1]

The Dholavira signboard is one of the longest in the Indus script, with one symbol appearing four times, and this and its large size and public nature make it a key piece of evidence cited by scholars arguing that the Indus script represents full literacy. [1] Since writing in ancient times is generally associated with elites trying to record and control transactions, it is also believed that the Indus Script was used as an administrative tool. [3] Square stamp seals are the dominant form of Indus writing media they are normally an inch square (2.54 centimetres) displaying the script itself on the top and an animal motif at the centre. [3] Another possibility for continuity of the Indus tradition is in the megalithic culture graffiti symbols of southern and central India (and Sri Lanka), which probably do not constitute a linguistic script but may have some overlap with the Indus symbol inventory. [1] The Vedic culture that would dominate North India for the centuries to come did not have a writing system, nor did they adopt the Indus Script. [3] Unfortunately, no bilingual inscriptions have yet been found to allow the Indus Script to be compared to a known writing system. [3] During the early Harappan phase (c. 3500-2700 BCE), we find the earliest known examples of the Indus Script signs, attested on Ravi and Kot Diji pottery excavated at Harappa. [3] Early examples of the symbol system are found in an Early Harappan and Indus civilisation context, dated to possibly as early as the 35th century BCE. In the Mature Harappan period, from about 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE, strings of Indus signs are commonly found on flat, rectangular stamp seals as well as many other objects including tools, tablets, ornaments and pottery. [1]

Sproat claimed that there existed a number of misunderstandings in Rao et al., including a lack of discriminative power in their model, and argued that applying their model to known non-linguistic systems such as Mesopotamian deity symbols produced similar results to the Indus script. [1] A 2009 paper published by Rajesh P N Rao, Iravatham Mahadevan, and others in the journal Science also challenged the argument that the Indus script might have been a nonlinguistic symbol system. [1] The Indus Script combined both word signs and symbols with phonetic value. [3] Analysing recurring sign patterns, another technique that can help to unlock the meaning of a writing system, cannot be successfully performed for the Indus Script. [3] The Brahmi script is the earliest writing system developed in India after the Indus script. [3]

The paper concluded that the conditional entropy of Indus inscriptions closely matched those of linguistic systems like the Sumerian logo-syllabic system, Rig Vedic Sanskrit etc., though they are careful to stress that this does not by itself imply that the script is linguistic. [1] Since the Indus Script has not been deciphered yet, its use is not known with certainty and all that we think we know is based on archaeological evidence alone. [3] According to Mahadevan, a stone celt discovered in Mayiladuthurai (Tamil Nadu) has the same markings as that of the symbols of the Indus script. [1] Indian archaeologist Shikaripura Ranganatha Rao claimed to have deciphered the Indus script. [1] Parpola, Asko (2008) Is the Indus script indeed not a writing system? [1] Based on the fact that only one sign is displayed on the pottery surface, these examples represent a premature stage in the development of the Indus Script. [3] Slightly over 400 basic signs have been identified as part of the Indus Script. [3] This view is based on the fact that roughly 400 signs have been identified, which makes it unlikely that the Indus Script was solely phonetic. [3] If the hypothesis that the hundreds of signs can be reduced to just 39 is true, that means that the Indus Script could be solely phonetic. [3] There are a number of factors preventing scholars from unlocking the mystery of the Indus Script. [3] Support for a connection between the Indus script and the Brahmi script has also been sought, due to graphic similarities between Brahmi and the late Harappan script. [1] A comprehensive description of Parpola's work until 1994 is given in his book Deciphering the Indus Script. [1] This is a hypothesis But I have no illusions that I will decipher the Indus script, nor do I have any regret". [1] "Science: Machine learning could finally crack the 4,000-year-old Indus script". [1] "Proposal for encoding the Indus script in Plane 1 of the UCS" (PDF). [1] Examples of Indus writing has been found on seals and seal impressions, pottery, bronze tools, stoneware bangles, bones, shells, ladles, ivory and on small tablets made of steatite, bronze and copper. [3] In the early 1970s, Iravatham Mahadevan published a corpus and concordance of Indus inscriptions listing 3,700 seals and 417 distinct signs in specific patterns. [1] In Kenoyer, J. Proceedings of the conference on the Indus civilization. [2] Corpus of Indus seals and inscriptions, Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia (Academia scientiarum Fennica), 1987-2010. [1] Onshore explorations near Bet Dwarka in Gujarat revealed the presence of late Indus seals depicting a 3-headed animal, earthen vessel inscribed in what is claimed to be a late Harappan script, and a large quantity of pottery. [1] In his book Indus Age: The Writing System (1996), Gregory Possehl suggested that Subhash Kak's Indus-Brahmi continuity approach appeared academically most sound. [1] The Indus symbols have been assigned the ISO 15924 code "Inds". [1]

To begin with, some of the languages of ancient times, such as Egyptian, were deciphered thanks to the recovery of bilingual inscriptions, that is by comparing an unknown script with a known one. [3] The origin of this script is poorly understood: this writing system remains undeciphered, there is no agreement on the language it represents, no bilingual texts have been found thus far and its connection with Indian writing systems proper (e.g. Brahmi, Devanagari and Bengali script) is uncertain. [3] One of the most common ones has been that the script belongs to the Indo-Aryan language. [1] Other languages connected to the script include Austroasiatic and Sino-Tibetan. [1]

Mahadevan considers this as evidence of the same language being used by the neolithic people of south India and the late Harappans. [1] Further possibilities include nearby language isolates such as Burushaski, Kusunda and Nihali as well as the extinct Sumerian civilization with which there was trade contact. [1] Jane R. McIntosh suggests one such possibility: Para-Munda was originally the main language of the civilization, especially in the Punjab region. [2]

The Linear A script was the writing system used by the Minoan civilization. [3]

Harappan language, the ancient script is as yet undeciphered, but a prevailing theory suggests a Dravidian origin. [2] Scholars have suggested a number of possibilities: Indo-European and Dravidian are the two language families most commonly favoured, but other options have been proposed as well, such as Austroasiatic, Sino-Tibetan, or perhaps a language family that has been lost. [3] Much like the Indo-Aryan language, the reconstructed vocabulary of early Munda does not reflect the Harappan culture. [1] The June 2014 issue of Language carries a paper by Sproat that provides further evidence that the methodology of Rao et al. is flawed. [1] Rao et al.' s rebuttal of Sproat's 2014 article and Sproat's response are published in the December 2015 issue of Language. [1]

It is quite possible that multiple languages were spoken in the IVC, similar to how Sumerian and Akkadian co-existed in Mesopotamia for centuries. [2] Scholars gained knowledge of the Elamite language from a bilingual monument called the Table of the Lion in the Louvre museum. [1] The Russian scholar Yuri Knorozov suggested, based on computer analysis, the Dravidian language as the most likely candidate for the underlying language of the script. [1] Iravatham Mahadevan, another historian who supports the Dravidian hypothesis, says, "we may hopefully find that the proto-Dravidian roots of the Harappan language and South Indian Dravidian languages are similar. [1] Later, the proto-Dravidian immigrants introduced their language to the area in 5th millennium BC. The Dravidian language was spoken by the new settlers in the southern plains, while Para-Munda remained the main language of those in Punjab. [2]

After 1900 BCE, the systematic use of the symbols ended, following the final stage of the Mature Harappan civilization. [1]

An archaeological dig at Mohenjo-daro near Larkana, Pakistan Saqib Qayyum But the Indus civilization is also known for their still undeciphered scripts, which were carved into smooth stones used as seals, terracotta tablets, and some metal objects. [11] The main corpus of writing dated from the Indus Civilization is in the form of some two thousand inscribed seals in good, legible conditions (seals are used to make impressions on malleable material like clay). [7]

The study, which appears in the journal Science, likens the Indus script to the ancient languages of Sumerian from Mesopotamia and Old Tamil from the Indian subcontinent. [38]

RANKED SELECTED SOURCES(39 source documents arranged by frequency of occurrence in the above report)


The Indus Valley Civilisation is named after the Indus river system in whose alluvial plains the early sites of the civilisation were identified and excavated. [22] [j] Following a tradition in archaeology, the civilisation is sometimes referred to as the Harappan, after its type site, Harappa, the first site to be excavated in the 1920s this is notably true of usage employed by the Archaeological Survey of India after India's independence in 1947. [23] [k]

The term "Ghaggar-Hakra" figures prominently in modern labels applied to the Indus civilisation on account of a good number of sites having been found along the Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan. [24] The terms "Indus-Sarasvati Civilisation" and "Sindhu-Saraswati Civilisation" have also been employed in the literature after a posited identification of the Ghaggar-Hakra with the river Saraswati described in the early chapters of Rig Veda, a collection of hymns in archaic Sanskrit composed in the second-millennium BCE. [25] [26] Recent geophysical research suggests that unlike the Sarasvati, whose descriptions in the Rig Veda are those of a snow-fed river, the Ghaggar-Hakra was a system of perennial monsoon-fed rivers, which became seasonal around the time that the civilisation diminished, approximately 4,000 years ago. [4] [l]

The Indus civilization was roughly contemporary with the other riverine civilisations of the ancient world: Egypt along the Nile, Mesopotamia in the lands watered by the Euphrates and the Tigris, and China in the drainage basin of the Yellow River and the Yangtze. By the time of its mature phase, the civilisation had spread over an area larger than the others, which included a core of 1,500 kilometres (900 mi) up the alluvial plain of the Indus and its tributaries. In addition, there was a region with disparate flora, fauna, and habitats, up to ten times as large, which had been shaped culturally and economically by the Indus. [27] [m]

Around 6500 BCE, agriculture emerged in Balochistan, on the margins of the Indus alluvium. [6] [n] [28] [o] In the following millennia, settled life made inroads into the Indus plains, setting the stage for the growth of rural and urban human settlements. [29] [p] The more organized sedentary life, in turn, led to a net increase in the birth rate. [6] [q] The large urban centres of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa very likely grew to containing between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals, and during the civilization's florescence, the population of the subcontinent grew to between 4–6 million people. [6] [r] During this period the death rate increased as well, for close living conditions of humans and domesticated animals led to an increase in contagious diseases. [28] [s] According to one estimate, the population of the Indus civilization at its peak may have been between one and five million. [30] [t]

The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) extended from Pakistan's Balochistan in the west to India's western Uttar Pradesh in the east, from northeastern Afghanistan in the north to India's Gujarat state in the south. [25] The largest number of sites are in Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir states in India, [25] and Sindh, Punjab, and Balochistan provinces in Pakistan. [25] Coastal settlements extended from Sutkagan Dor [31] in Western Baluchistan to Lothal [32] in Gujarat. An Indus Valley site has been found on the Oxus River at Shortugai in northern Afghanistan, [33] in the Gomal River valley in northwestern Pakistan, [34] at Manda, Jammu on the Beas River near Jammu, [35] India, and at Alamgirpur on the Hindon River, only 28 km (17 mi) from Delhi. [36] The southernmost site of the Indus valley civilisation is Daimabad in Maharashtra. Indus Valley sites have been found most often on rivers, but also on the ancient seacoast, [37] for example, Balakot, [38] and on islands, for example, Dholavira. [39]

— From, John Marshall (ed), Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization, London: Arthur Probsthain, 1931. [40]

The first modern accounts of the ruins of the Indus civilisation are those of Charles Masson, a deserter from the East India Company's army. [41] In 1829, Masson traveled through the princely state of Punjab, gathering useful intelligence for the Company in return for a promise of clemency. [41] An aspect of this arrangement was the additional requirement to hand over to the Company any historical artifacts acquired during his travels. Masson, who had versed himself in the classics, especially in the military campaigns of Alexander the Great, chose for his wanderings some of the same towns that had featured in Alexander's campaigns, and whose archaeological sites had been noted by the campaign's chroniclers. [41] Masson's major archaeological discovery in the Punjab was Harappa, a metropolis of the Indus civilization in the valley of Indus's tributary, the Ravi river. Masson made copious notes and illustrations of Harappa's rich historical artifacts, many lying half-buried. In 1842, Masson included his observations of Harappa in the book Narrative of Various Journeys in Baluchistan, Afghanistan, and the Punjab. He dated the Harappa ruins to a period of recorded history, erroneously mistaking it to have been described earlier during Alexander's campaign. [41] Masson was impressed by the site's extraordinary size and by several large mounds formed from long-existing erosion. [41] [u]

Two years later, the Company contracted Alexander Burnes to sail up the Indus to assess the feasibility of water travel for its army. [41] Burnes, who also stopped in Harappa, noted the baked bricks employed in the site's ancient masonry, but noted also the haphazard plundering of these bricks by the local population. [41]

Despite these reports, Harappa was raided even more perilously for its bricks after the British annexation of the Punjab in 1848–49. A considerable number were carted away as track ballast for the railway lines being laid in the Punjab. [43] Nearly 160 km (100 mi) of railway track between Multan and Lahore, laid in the mid 1850s, was supported by Harappan bricks. [43]

In 1861, three years after the dissolution of the East India Company and the establishment of Crown rule in India, archaeology on the subcontinent became more formally organised with the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). [44] Alexander Cunningham, the Survey's first director-general, who had visited Harappa in 1853 and had noted the imposing brick walls, visited again to carry out a survey, but this time of a site whose entire upper layer had been stripped in the interim. [44] [45] Although his original goal of demonstrating Harappa to be a lost Buddhist city mentioned in the seventh century CE travels of the Chinese visitor, Xuanzang, proved elusive, [45] Cunningham did publish his findings in 1875. [46] For the first time, he interpreted a Harappan stamp seal, with its unknown script, which he concluded to be of an origin foreign to India. [46] [47]

Archaeological work in Harappa thereafter lagged until a new viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, pushed through the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act 1904, and appointed John Marshall to lead the ASI. [48] Several years later, Hiranand Sastri, who had been assigned by Marshall to survey Harappa, reported it to be of non-Buddhist origin, and by implication more ancient. [48] Expropriating Harappa for the ASI under the Act, Marshall directed ASI archaeologist Daya Ram Sahni to excavate the site's two mounds. [48]

Farther south, along the main stem of the Indus in Sind province, the largely undisturbed site of Mohenjo-daro had attracted notice. [48] Marshall deputed a succession of ASI officers to survey the site. These included D. R. Bhandarkar (1911), R. D. Banerji (1919, 1922–1923), and M. S. Vats (1924). [49] In 1923, on his second visit to Mohenjo-daro, Baneriji wrote to Marshall about the site, postulating an origin in "remote antiquity," and noting a congruence of some of its artifacts with those of Harappa. [50] Later in 1923, Vats, also in correspondence with Marshall, noted the same more specifically about the seals and the script found at both sites. [50] On the weight of these opinions, Marshall ordered crucial data from the two sites to be brought to one location and invited Banerji and Sahni to a joint discussion. [51] By 1924, Marshall had become convinced of the significance of the finds, and on 24 September 1924, made a tentative but conspicuous public intimation in the Illustrated London News: [22]

"Not often has it been given to archaeologists, as it was given to Schliemann at Tiryns and Mycenae, or to Stein in the deserts of Turkestan, to light upon the remains of a long forgotten civilization. It looks, however, at this moment, as if we were on the threshold of such a discovery in the plains of the Indus."

In the next issue, a week later, the British Assyriologist Archibald Sayce was able to point to very similar seals found in Bronze Age levels in Mesopotamia and Iran, giving the first strong indication of their date confirmations from other archaeologists followed. [52] Systematic excavations began in Mohenjo-daro in 1924–25 with that of K. N. Dikshit, continuing with those of H. Hargreaves (1925–1926), and Ernest J. H. Mackay (1927–1931). [49] By 1931, much of Mohenjo-daro had been excavated, but occasional excavations continued, such as the one led by Mortimer Wheeler, a new director-general of the ASI appointed in 1944.

After the partition of India in 1947, when most excavated sites of the Indus Valley civilisation lay in territory awarded to Pakistan, the Archaeological Survey of India, its area of authority reduced, carried out large numbers of surveys and excavations along the Ghaggar-Hakra system in India. [53] [v] Some speculated that the Ghaggar-Hakra system might yield more sites than the Indus river basin. [54] By 2002, over 1,000 Mature Harappan cities and settlements had been reported, of which just under a hundred had been excavated, [12] [13] [14] [55] mainly in the general region of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra rivers and their tributaries however, there are only five major urban sites: Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Dholavira, Ganeriwala and Rakhigarhi. [55] According to a historian approximately 616 sites have been reported in India, [25] whereas 406 sites have been reported in Pakistan. [25] However, according to archaeologist Shereen Ratnagar, many Ghaggar-Hakra sites in India are actually those of local cultures some sites display contact with Harappan civilization, but only a few are fully developed Harappan ones. [56]

Unlike India, in which after 1947, the ASI attempted to "Indianise" archaeological work in keeping with the new nation's goals of national unity and historical continuity, in Pakistan the national imperative was the promotion of Islamic heritage, and consequently archaeological work on early sites was left to foreign archaeologists. [57] After the partition, Mortimer Wheeler, the Director of ASI from 1944, oversaw the establishment of archaeological institutions in Pakistan, later joining a UNESCO effort tasked to conserve the site at Mohenjo-daro. [58] Other international efforts at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa have included the German Aachen Research Project Mohenjo-daro, the Italian Mission to Mohenjo-daro, and the US Harappa Archaeological Research Project (HARP) founded by George F. Dales. [59] Following a chance flash flood which exposed a portion of an archaeological site at the foot of the Bolan Pass in Balochistan, excavations were carried out in Mehrgarh by French archaeologist Jean-François Jarrige and his team. [60]

The cities of the Indus Valley Civilisation had "social hierarchies, their writing system, their large planned cities and their long-distance trade [which] mark them to archaeologists as a full-fledged 'civilisation.'" [61] The mature phase of the Harappan civilisation lasted from c. 2600–1900 BCE. With the inclusion of the predecessor and successor cultures – Early Harappan and Late Harappan, respectively – the entire Indus Valley Civilisation may be taken to have lasted from the 33rd to the 14th centuries BCE. It is part of the Indus Valley Tradition, which also includes the pre-Harappan occupation of Mehrgarh, the earliest farming site of the Indus Valley. [18] [62]

Several periodisations are employed for the IVC. [18] [62] The most commonly used classifies the Indus Valley Civilisation into Early, Mature and Late Harappan Phase. [63] An alternative approach by Shaffer divides the broader Indus Valley Tradition into four eras, the pre-Harappan "Early Food Producing Era", and the Regionalisation, Integration, and Localisation eras, which correspond roughly with the Early Harappan, Mature Harappan, and Late Harappan phases. [17] [64]

Dates (BCE) Main Phase Mehrgarh phases Harappan phases Post-Harappan phases Era
7000–5500 Pre-Harappan Mehrgarh I and Bhirrana
(aceramic Neolithic)
Early Food Producing Era
5500–3300 Pre-Harappan/Early Harappan [65] Mehrgarh II–VI
(ceramic Neolithic)
Regionalisation Era
c. 4000–2500/2300 (Shaffer) [66]
c. 5000–3200 (Coningham & Young) [67]
3300–2800 Early Harappan [65]
c. 3300–2800 (Mughal) [68] [65] [69]
c. 5000–2800 (Kenoyer)
Harappan 1
(Ravi Phase Hakra Ware)
2800–2600 Mehrgarh VII Harappan 2
(Kot Diji Phase,
Nausharo I)
2600–2450 Mature Harappan
(Indus Valley Civilisation)
Harappan 3A (Nausharo II) Integration Era
2450–2200 Harappan 3B
2200–1900 Harappan 3C
1900–1700 Late Harappan Harappan 4 Cemetery H [70]
Ochre Coloured Pottery [70]
Localisation Era
1700–1300 Harappan 5
1300–600 Post-Harappan
Iron Age India
Painted Grey Ware (1200–600)
Vedic period (c. 1500–500)
c. 1200–300 (Kenoyer) [65]
c. 1500 [71] –600 (Coningham & Young) [72]
600–300 Northern Black Polished Ware (Iron Age) (700–200)
Second urbanisation (c. 500–200)
Integration [72]

Mehrgarh is a Neolithic (7000 BCE to c. 2500 BCE) mountain site in the Balochistan province of Pakistan, [73] which gave new insights on the emergence of the Indus Valley Civilization. [61] [w] Mehrgarh is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming and herding in South Asia. [74] [75] Mehrgarh was influenced by the Near Eastern Neolithic, [76] with similarities between "domesticated wheat varieties, early phases of farming, pottery, other archaeological artefacts, some domesticated plants and herd animals." [77] [x]

Jean-Francois Jarrige argues for an independent origin of Mehrgarh. Jarrige notes "the assumption that farming economy was introduced full-fledged from Near-East to South Asia," [78] [x] [y] [z] and the similarities between Neolithic sites from eastern Mesopotamia and the western Indus valley, which are evidence of a "cultural continuum" between those sites. But given the originality of Mehrgarh, Jarrige concludes that Mehrgarh has an earlier local background," and is not a "'backwater' of the Neolithic culture of the Near East." [78]

Lukacs and Hemphill suggest an initial local development of Mehrgarh, with a continuity in cultural development but a change in population. According to Lukacs and Hemphill, while there is a strong continuity between the neolithic and chalcolithic (Copper Age) cultures of Mehrgarh, dental evidence shows that the chalcolithic population did not descend from the neolithic population of Mehrgarh, [92] which "suggests moderate levels of gene flow." [92] [aa] Mascarenhas et al. (2015) note that "new, possibly West Asian, body types are reported from the graves of Mehrgarh beginning in the Togau phase (3800 BCE)." [93]

Gallego Romero et al. (2011) state that their research on lactose tolerance in India suggests that "the west Eurasian genetic contribution identified by Reich et al. (2009) principally reflects gene flow from Iran and the Middle East." [94] They further note that "[t]he earliest evidence of cattle herding in south Asia comes from the Indus River Valley site of Mehrgarh and is dated to 7,000 YBP." [94] [ab]

The Early Harappan Ravi Phase, named after the nearby Ravi River, lasted from c. 3300 BCE until 2800 BCE. It started when farmers from the mountains gradually moved between their mountain homes and the lowland river valleys, [96] and is related to the Hakra Phase, identified in the Ghaggar-Hakra River Valley to the west, and predates the Kot Diji Phase (2800–2600 BCE, Harappan 2), named after a site in northern Sindh, Pakistan, near Mohenjo-daro. The earliest examples of the Indus script date to the 3rd millennium BCE. [97] [98]

The mature phase of earlier village cultures is represented by Rehman Dheri and Amri in Pakistan. [99] Kot Diji represents the phase leading up to Mature Harappan, with the citadel representing centralised authority and an increasingly urban quality of life. Another town of this stage was found at Kalibangan in India on the Hakra River. [100]

Trade networks linked this culture with related regional cultures and distant sources of raw materials, including lapis lazuli and other materials for bead-making. By this time, villagers had domesticated numerous crops, including peas, sesame seeds, dates, and cotton, as well as animals, including the water buffalo. Early Harappan communities turned to large urban centres by 2600 BCE, from where the mature Harappan phase started. The latest research shows that Indus Valley people migrated from villages to cities. [101] [102]

The final stages of the Early Harappan period are characterised by the building of large walled settlements, the expansion of trade networks, and the increasing integration of regional communities into a "relatively uniform" material culture in terms of pottery styles, ornaments, and stamp seals with Indus script, leading into the transition to the Mature Harappan phase. [103]

According to Giosan et al. (2012), the slow southward migration of the monsoons across Asia initially allowed the Indus Valley villages to develop by taming the floods of the Indus and its tributaries. Flood-supported farming led to large agricultural surpluses, which in turn supported the development of cities. The IVC residents did not develop irrigation capabilities, relying mainly on the seasonal monsoons leading to summer floods. [4] Brooke further notes that the development of advanced cities coincides with a reduction in rainfall, which may have triggered a reorganisation into larger urban centers. [105] [e]

According to J.G. Shaffer and D.A. Lichtenstein, [106] the Mature Harappan Civilisation was "a fusion of the Bagor, Hakra, and Kot Diji traditions or 'ethnic groups' in the Ghaggar-Hakra valley on the borders of India and Pakistan". [107]

By 2600 BCE, the Early Harappan communities turned into large urban centres. Such urban centres include Harappa, Ganeriwala, Mohenjo-daro in modern-day Pakistan, and Dholavira, Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi, Rupar, and Lothal in modern-day India. [108] In total, more than 1,000 cities and settlements have been found, mainly in the general region of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra Rivers and their tributaries. [12]


A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture is evident in the Indus Valley Civilisation, making them the first urban centre in the region. The quality of municipal town planning suggests the knowledge of urban planning and efficient municipal governments which placed a high priority on hygiene, or, alternatively, accessibility to the means of religious ritual. [109]

As seen in Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and the recently partially excavated Rakhigarhi, this urban plan included the world's first known urban sanitation systems: see hydraulic engineering of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Within the city, individual homes or groups of homes obtained water from wells. From a room that appears to have been set aside for bathing, waste water was directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets. Houses opened only to inner courtyards and smaller lanes. The house-building in some villages in the region still resembles in some respects the house-building of the Harappans. [ac]

The ancient Indus systems of sewerage and drainage that were developed and used in cities throughout the Indus region were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in the Middle East and even more efficient than those in many areas of Pakistan and India today. The advanced architecture of the Harappans is shown by their impressive dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms, and protective walls. The massive walls of Indus cities most likely protected the Harappans from floods and may have dissuaded military conflicts. [111]

The purpose of the citadel remains debated. In sharp contrast to this civilisation's contemporaries, Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, no large monumental structures were built. There is no conclusive evidence of palaces or temples. [112] Some structures are thought to have been granaries. Found at one city is an enormous well-built bath (the "Great Bath"), which may have been a public bath. Although the citadels were walled, it is far from clear that these structures were defensive.

Most city dwellers appear to have been traders or artisans, who lived with others pursuing the same occupation in well-defined neighbourhoods. Materials from distant regions were used in the cities for constructing seals, beads and other objects. Among the artefacts discovered were beautiful glazed faïence beads. Steatite seals have images of animals, people (perhaps gods), and other types of inscriptions, including the yet un-deciphered writing system of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Some of the seals were used to stamp clay on trade goods.

Although some houses were larger than others, Indus Civilisation cities were remarkable for their apparent, if relative, egalitarianism. All the houses had access to water and drainage facilities. This gives the impression of a society with relatively low wealth concentration. [113]

Authority and governance

Archaeological records provide no immediate answers for a centre of power or for depictions of people in power in Harappan society. But, there are indications of complex decisions being taken and implemented. For instance, the majority of the cities were constructed in a highly uniform and well-planned grid pattern, suggesting they were planned by a central authority extraordinary uniformity of Harappan artefacts as evident in pottery, seals, weights and bricks presence of public facilities and monumental architecture heterogeneity in the mortuary symbolism and in grave goods (items included in burials). [ citation needed ]

These are some major theories: [ citation needed ]

  • There was a single state, given the similarity in artefacts, the evidence for planned settlements, the standardised ratio of brick size, and the establishment of settlements near sources of raw material.
  • There was no single ruler but several cities like Mohenjo-daro had a separate ruler, Harappa another, and so forth.
  • Harappan society had no rulers, and everybody enjoyed equal status. [114] [better source needed]


The people of the Indus Civilisation achieved great accuracy in measuring length, mass, and time. They were among the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures. [ dubious – discuss ] A comparison of available objects indicates large scale variation across the Indus territories. Their smallest division, which is marked on an ivory scale found in Lothal in Gujarat, was approximately 1.704 mm, the smallest division ever recorded on a scale of the Bronze Age. [ citation needed ] Harappan engineers followed the decimal division of measurement for all practical purposes, including the measurement of mass as revealed by their hexahedron weights. [ citation needed ]

These chert weights were in a ratio of 5:2:1 with weights of 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 units, with each unit weighing approximately 28 grams, similar to the English Imperial ounce or Greek uncia, and smaller objects were weighed in similar ratios with the units of 0.871 . However, as in other cultures, actual weights were not uniform throughout the area. The weights and measures later used in Kautilya's Arthashastra (4th century BCE) are the same as those used in Lothal. [116]

Harappans evolved some new techniques in metallurgy and produced copper, bronze, lead, and tin. [ citation needed ]

A touchstone bearing gold streaks was found in Banawali, which was probably used for testing the purity of gold (such a technique is still used in some parts of India). [107]

Arts and crafts

Various sculptures, seals, bronze vessels, pottery, gold jewellery, and anatomically detailed figurines in terracotta, bronze, and steatite have been found at excavation sites. [117] The Harappans also made various toys and games, among them cubical dice (with one to six holes on the faces), which were found in sites like Mohenjo-daro. [118]

The terracotta figurines included cows, bears, monkeys, and dogs. The animal depicted on a majority of seals at sites of the mature period has not been clearly identified. Part bull, part zebra, with a majestic horn, it has been a source of speculation. As yet, there is insufficient evidence to substantiate claims that the image had religious or cultic significance, but the prevalence of the image raises the question of whether or not the animals in images of the IVC are religious symbols. [119]

Many crafts including, "shell working, ceramics, and agate and glazed steatite bead making" were practised and the pieces were used in the making of necklaces, bangles, and other ornaments from all phases of Harappan culture. Some of these crafts are still practised in the subcontinent today. [120] Some make-up and toiletry items (a special kind of combs (kakai), the use of collyrium and a special three-in-one toiletry gadget) that were found in Harappan contexts still have similar counterparts in modern India. [121] Terracotta female figurines were found (c. 2800–2600 BCE) which had red colour applied to the "manga" (line of partition of the hair). [121]

The finds from Mohenjo-daro were initially deposited in the Lahore Museum, but later moved to the ASI headquarters at New Delhi, where a new "Central Imperial Museum" was being planned for the new capital of the British Raj, in which at least a selection would be displayed. It became apparent that Indian independence was approaching, but the Partition of India was not anticipated until late in the process. The new Pakistani authorities requested the return of the Mohenjo-daro pieces excavated on their territory, but the Indian authorities refused. Eventually an agreement was reached, whereby the finds, totalling some 12,000 objects (most sherds of pottery), were split equally between the countries in some cases this was taken very literally, with some necklaces and girdles having their beads separated into two piles. In the case of the "two most celebrated sculpted figures", Pakistan asked for and received the so-called Priest-King figure, while India retained the much smaller Dancing Girl. [122]

Ceremonial vessel 2600-2450 BC terracotta with black paint 49.53 × 25.4 cm Los Angeles County Museum of Art (US)

Cubical weights, standardised throughout the Indus cultural zone 2600-1900 BC chert British Museum (London)

Mohenjo-daro beads 2600-1900 BC carnelian and terracotta British Museum

Ram-headed bird mounted on wheels, probably a toy 2600-1900 BC terracotta Guimet Museum (Paris)

Human statuettes

A handful of realistic statuettes have been found at IVC sites, of which much the most famous is the lost-wax casting bronze statuette of a slender-limbed Dancing Girl adorned with bangles, found in Mohenjo-daro. Two other realistic statuettes have been found in Harappa in proper stratified excavations, which display near-Classical treatment of the human shape: the statuette of a dancer who seems to be male, and a red jasper male torso, both now in the Delhi National Museum. Sir John Marshall reacted with surprise when he saw these two statuettes from Harappa: [123]

When I first saw them I found it difficult to believe that they were prehistoric they seemed to completely upset all established ideas about early art, and culture. Modelling such as this was unknown in the ancient world up to the Hellenistic age of Greece, and I thought, therefore, that some mistake must surely have been made that these figures had found their way into levels some 3000 years older than those to which they properly belonged . Now, in these statuettes, it is just this anatomical truth which is so startling that makes us wonder whether, in this all-important matter, Greek artistry could possibly have been anticipated by the sculptors of a far-off age on the banks of the Indus. [123]

These statuettes remain controversial, due to their advanced techniques. Regarding the red jasper torso, the discoverer, Vats, claims a Harappan date, but Marshall considered this statuette is probably historical, dating to the Gupta period, comparing it to the much later Lohanipur torso. [124] A second rather similar grey stone statuette of a dancing male was also found about 150 meters away in a secure Mature Harappan stratum. Overall, anthropologist Gregory Possehl tends to consider that these statuettes probably form the pinnacle of Indus art during the Mature Harappan period. [125]

Reclining mouflon 2600–1900 BC marble length: 28 cm Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Male dancing torso 2400-1900 BC limestone height: 9.9 cm National Museum (New Delhi, India)

The Dancing Girl 2400–1900 BC bronze height: 10.8 cm National Museum (New Delhi)


Thousands of steatite seals have been recovered, and their physical character is fairly consistent. In size they range from squares of side 2 to 4 cm ( 3 ⁄ 4 to 1 + 1 ⁄ 2 in). In most cases they have a pierced boss at the back to accommodate a cord for handling or for use as personal adornment.

Seals have been found at Mohenjo-daro depicting a figure standing on its head, and another, on the Pashupati seal, sitting cross-legged in what some [ who? ] call a yoga-like pose (see image, the so-called Pashupati, below). This figure has been variously identified. Sir John Marshall identified a resemblance to the Hindu god, Shiva. [126]

A harp-like instrument depicted on an Indus seal and two shell objects found at Lothal indicate the use of stringed musical instruments.

A human deity with the horns, hooves and tail of a bull also appears in the seals, in particular in a fighting scene with a horned tiger-like beast. This deity has been compared to the Mesopotamian bull-man Enkidu. [127] [128] [129] Several seals also show a man fighting two lions or tigers, a "Master of Animals" motif common to civilizations in Western and South Asia. [129] [130]

Seal 3000–1500 BC baked steatite 2 × 2 cm Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Stamp seal and modern impression: unicorn and incense burner (?) 2600-1900 BC burnt steatite 3.8 × 3.8 × 1 cm Metropolitan Museum of Art

Seal with two-horned bull and inscription 2010 BC steatite overall: 3.2 x 3.2 cm Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland, Ohio, US)

Seal with unicorn and inscription 2010 BC steatite overall: 3.5 x 3.6 cm Cleveland Museum of Art

Trade and transportation

The Indus civilisation's economy appears to have depended significantly on trade, which was facilitated by major advances in transport technology. The IVC may have been the first civilisation to use wheeled transport. [133] These advances may have included bullock carts that are identical to those seen throughout South Asia today, as well as boats. Most of these boats were probably small, flat-bottomed craft, perhaps driven by sail, similar to those one can see on the Indus River today however, there is secondary evidence of sea-going craft. Archaeologists have discovered a massive, dredged canal and what they regard as a docking facility at the coastal city of Lothal in western India (Gujarat state). An extensive canal network, used for irrigation, has however also been discovered by H.-P. Francfort. [134]

During 4300–3200 BCE of the chalcolithic period (copper age), the Indus Valley Civilisation area shows ceramic similarities with southern Turkmenistan and northern Iran which suggest considerable mobility and trade. During the Early Harappan period (about 3200–2600 BCE), similarities in pottery, seals, figurines, ornaments, etc. document intensive caravan trade with Central Asia and the Iranian plateau. [135]

Judging from the dispersal of Indus civilisation artefacts, the trade networks economically integrated a huge area, including portions of Afghanistan, the coastal regions of Persia, northern and western India, and Mesopotamia, leading to the development of Indus-Mesopotamia relations. Studies of tooth enamel from individuals buried at Harappa suggest that some residents had migrated to the city from beyond the Indus Valley. [136] There is some evidence that trade contacts extended to Crete and possibly to Egypt. [137]

There was an extensive maritime trade network operating between the Harappan and Mesopotamian civilisations as early as the middle Harappan Phase, with much commerce being handled by "middlemen merchants from Dilmun" (modern Bahrain, Eastern Arabia and Failaka located in the Persian Gulf). [138] Such long-distance sea trade became feasible with the development of plank-built watercraft, equipped with a single central mast supporting a sail of woven rushes or cloth. [139]

It is generally assumed that most trade between the Indus Valley (ancient Meluhha?) and western neighbors proceeded up the Persian Gulf rather than overland. Although there is no incontrovertible proof that this was indeed the case, the distribution of Indus-type artifacts on the Oman peninsula, on Bahrain and in southern Mesopotamia makes it plausible that a series of maritime stages linked the Indus Valley and the Gulf region. [140]

In the 1980s, important archaeological discoveries were made at Ras al-Jinz (Oman), demonstrating maritime Indus Valley connections with the Arabian Peninsula. [139] [141] [142]


According to Gangal et al. (2014), there is strong archeological and geographical evidence that neolithic farming spread from the Near East into north-west India, but there is also "good evidence for the local domestication of barley and the zebu cattle at Mehrgarh." [76] [ad]

According to Jean-Francois Jarrige, farming had an independent origin at Mehrgarh, despite the similarities which he notes between Neolithic sites from eastern Mesopotamia and the western Indus valley, which are evidence of a "cultural continuum" between those sites. Nevertheless, Jarrige concludes that Mehrgarh has an earlier local background," and is not a "'backwater' of the Neolithic culture of the Near East." [78] Archaeologist Jim G. Shaffer writes that the Mehrgarh site "demonstrates that food production was an indigenous South Asian phenomenon" and that the data support interpretation of "the prehistoric urbanisation and complex social organisation in South Asia as based on indigenous, but not isolated, cultural developments". [143]

Jarrige notes that the people of Mehrgarh used domesticated wheats and barley, [144] while Shaffer and Liechtenstein note that the major cultivated cereal crop was naked six-row barley, a crop derived from two-row barley. [145] Gangal agrees that "Neolithic domesticated crops in Mehrgarh include more than 90% barley," noting that "there is good evidence for the local domestication of barley." Yet, Gangal also notes that the crop also included "a small amount of wheat," which "are suggested to be of Near-Eastern origin, as the modern distribution of wild varieties of wheat is limited to Northern Levant and Southern Turkey." [76] [ae]

The cattle that are often portrayed on Indus seals are humped Indian aurochs, which are similar to Zebu cattle. Zebu cattle is still common in India, and in Africa. It is different from the European cattle, and had been originally domesticated on the Indian subcontinent, probably in the Baluchistan region of Pakistan. [146] [76] [ad]

Research by J. Bates et al. (2016) confirms that Indus populations were the earliest people to use complex multi-cropping strategies across both seasons, growing foods during summer (rice, millets and beans) and winter (wheat, barley and pulses), which required different watering regimes. [147] Bates et al. (2016) also found evidence for an entirely separate domestication process of rice in ancient South Asia, based around the wild species Oryza nivara. This led to the local development of a mix of "wetland" and "dryland" agriculture of local Oryza sativa indica rice agriculture, before the truly "wetland" rice Oryza sativa japonica arrived around 2000 BCE. [148]

According to Akshyeta Suryanarayan et. al. while large proportion of data remains ambiguous, being building of reliable local isotopic references for fats and oils still unavailable and lower lipid levels in preserved IVC vessels, available evidence indicates (food) vessel's usage had been multi-functional, and across rural and urban settlements usage was similar and cooking in Indus vessels constituted dairy products, ruminant carcass meat, and either non-ruminant adipose fats, plants, or mixtures of these products. [149]


It has often been suggested that the bearers of the IVC corresponded to proto-Dravidians linguistically, the break-up of proto-Dravidian corresponding to the break-up of the Late Harappan culture. [150] Finnish Indologist Asko Parpola concludes that the uniformity of the Indus inscriptions precludes any possibility of widely different languages being used, and that an early form of Dravidian language must have been the language of the Indus people. [151] Today, the Dravidian language family is concentrated mostly in southern India and northern and eastern Sri Lanka, but pockets of it still remain throughout the rest of India and Pakistan (the Brahui language), which lends credence to the theory.

According to Heggarty and Renfrew, Dravidian languages may have spread into the Indian subcontinent with the spread of farming. [152] According to David McAlpin, the Dravidian languages were brought to India by immigration into India from Elam. [af] In earlier publications, Renfrew also stated that proto-Dravidian was brought to India by farmers from the Iranian part of the Fertile Crescent, [153] [154] [155] [ag] but more recently Heggarty and Renfrew note that "a great deal remains to be done in elucidating the prehistory of Dravidian." They also note that "McAlpin's analysis of the language data, and thus his claims, remain far from orthodoxy." [152] Heggarty and Renfrew conclude that several scenarios are compatible with the data, and that "the linguistic jury is still very much out." [152] [ai]

Possible writing system

Between 400 and as many as 600 distinct Indus symbols [160] have been found on stamp seals, small tablets, ceramic pots and more than a dozen other materials, including a "signboard" that apparently once hung over the gate of the inner citadel of the Indus city of Dholavira. Typical Indus inscriptions are no more than four or five characters in length, most of which (aside from the Dholavira "signboard") are tiny the longest on a single surface, which is less than 2.5 cm (1 in) square, is 17 signs long the longest on any object (found on three different faces of a mass-produced object) has a length of 26 symbols.

While the Indus Valley Civilisation is generally characterised as a literate society on the evidence of these inscriptions, this description has been challenged by Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel (2004) [161] who argue that the Indus system did not encode language, but was instead similar to a variety of non-linguistic sign systems used extensively in the Near East and other societies, to symbolise families, clans, gods, and religious concepts. Others have claimed on occasion that the symbols were exclusively used for economic transactions, but this claim leaves unexplained the appearance of Indus symbols on many ritual objects, many of which were mass-produced in moulds. No parallels to these mass-produced inscriptions are known in any other early ancient civilisations. [162]

In a 2009 study by P.N. Rao et al. published in Science, computer scientists, comparing the pattern of symbols to various linguistic scripts and non-linguistic systems, including DNA and a computer programming language, found that the Indus script's pattern is closer to that of spoken words, supporting the hypothesis that it codes for an as-yet-unknown language. [163] [164]

Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel have disputed this finding, pointing out that Rao et al. did not actually compare the Indus signs with "real-world non-linguistic systems" but rather with "two wholly artificial systems invented by the authors, one consisting of 200,000 randomly ordered signs and another of 200,000 fully ordered signs, that they spuriously claim represent the structures of all real-world non-linguistic sign systems". [165] Farmer et al. have also demonstrated that a comparison of a non-linguistic system like medieval heraldic signs with natural languages yields results similar to those that Rao et al. obtained with Indus signs. They conclude that the method used by Rao et al. cannot distinguish linguistic systems from non-linguistic ones. [166]

The messages on the seals have proved to be too short to be decoded by a computer. Each seal has a distinctive combination of symbols and there are too few examples of each sequence to provide a sufficient context. The symbols that accompany the images vary from seal to seal, making it impossible to derive a meaning for the symbols from the images. There have, nonetheless, been a number of interpretations offered for the meaning of the seals. These interpretations have been marked by ambiguity and subjectivity. [166] : 69

Photos of many of the thousands of extant inscriptions are published in the Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions (1987, 1991, 2010), edited by Asko Parpola and his colleagues. The most recent volume republished photos taken in the 1920s and 1930s of hundreds of lost or stolen inscriptions, along with many discovered in the last few decades formerly, researchers had to supplement the materials in the Corpus by study of the tiny photos in the excavation reports of Marshall (1931), MacKay (1938, 1943), Wheeler (1947), or reproductions in more recent scattered sources.

Edakkal Caves in Wayanad district of Kerala contain drawings that range over periods from as early as 5000 BCE to 1000 BCE. The youngest group of paintings have been in the news for a possible connection to the Indus Valley Civilisation. [167]


The religion and belief system of the Indus Valley people have received considerable attention, especially from the view of identifying precursors to deities and religious practices of Indian religions that later developed in the area. However, due to the sparsity of evidence, which is open to varying interpretations, and the fact that the Indus script remains undeciphered, the conclusions are partly speculative and largely based on a retrospective view from a much later Hindu perspective. [168]

An early and influential work in the area that set the trend for Hindu interpretations of archaeological evidence from the Harappan sites [169] was that of John Marshall, who in 1931 identified the following as prominent features of the Indus religion: a Great Male God and a Mother Goddess deification or veneration of animals and plants symbolic representation of the phallus (linga) and vulva (yoni) and, use of baths and water in religious practice. Marshall's interpretations have been much debated, and sometimes disputed over the following decades. [170] [171]

One Indus Valley seal shows a seated figure with a horned headdress, possibly tricephalic and possibly ithyphallic, surrounded by animals. Marshall identified the figure as an early form of the Hindu god Shiva (or Rudra), who is associated with asceticism, yoga, and linga regarded as a lord of animals and often depicted as having three eyes. The seal has hence come to be known as the Pashupati Seal, after Pashupati (lord of all animals), an epithet of Shiva. [170] [172] While Marshall's work has earned some support, many critics and even supporters have raised several objections. Doris Srinivasan has argued that the figure does not have three faces, or yogic posture, and that in Vedic literature Rudra was not a protector of wild animals. [173] [174] Herbert Sullivan and Alf Hiltebeitel also rejected Marshall's conclusions, with the former claiming that the figure was female, while the latter associated the figure with Mahisha, the Buffalo God and the surrounding animals with vahanas (vehicles) of deities for the four cardinal directions. [175] [176] Writing in 2002, Gregory L. Possehl concluded that while it would be appropriate to recognise the figure as a deity, its association with the water buffalo, and its posture as one of ritual discipline, regarding it as a proto-Shiva would be going too far. [172] Despite the criticisms of Marshall's association of the seal with a proto-Shiva icon, it has been interpreted as the Tirthankara Rishabhanatha by Jains and Vilas Sangave. [177] Historians such as Heinrich Zimmer and Thomas McEvilley believe that there is a connection between first Jain Tirthankara Rishabhanatha and the Indus Valley civilisation. [178] [179]

Marshall hypothesised the existence of a cult of Mother Goddess worship based upon excavation of several female figurines, and thought that this was a precursor of the Hindu sect of Shaktism. However the function of the female figurines in the life of Indus Valley people remains unclear, and Possehl does not regard the evidence for Marshall's hypothesis to be "terribly robust". [180] Some of the baetyls interpreted by Marshall to be sacred phallic representations are now thought to have been used as pestles or game counters instead, while the ring stones that were thought to symbolise yoni were determined to be architectural features used to stand pillars, although the possibility of their religious symbolism cannot be eliminated. [181] Many Indus Valley seals show animals, with some depicting them being carried in processions, while others show chimeric creations. One seal from Mohenjo-daro shows a half-human, half-buffalo monster attacking a tiger, which may be a reference to the Sumerian myth of such a monster created by goddess Aruru to fight Gilgamesh. [182]

In contrast to contemporary Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilisations, Indus Valley lacks any monumental palaces, even though excavated cities indicate that the society possessed the requisite engineering knowledge. [183] [184] This may suggest that religious ceremonies, if any, may have been largely confined to individual homes, small temples, or the open air. Several sites have been proposed by Marshall and later scholars as possibly devoted to religious purpose, but at present only the Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro is widely thought to have been so used, as a place for ritual purification. [180] [185] The funerary practices of the Harappan civilisation are marked by fractional burial (in which the body is reduced to skeletal remains by exposure to the elements before final interment), and even cremation. [186] [187]

Around 1900 BCE signs of a gradual decline began to emerge, and by around 1700 BCE most of the cities had been abandoned. Recent examination of human skeletons from the site of Harappa has demonstrated that the end of the Indus civilisation saw an increase in inter-personal violence and in infectious diseases like leprosy and tuberculosis. [188] [189]

According to historian Upinder Singh, "the general picture presented by the late Harappan phase is one of a breakdown of urban networks and an expansion of rural ones." [190]

During the period of approximately 1900 to 1700 BCE, multiple regional cultures emerged within the area of the Indus civilisation. The Cemetery H culture was in Punjab, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh, the Jhukar culture was in Sindh, and the Rangpur culture (characterised by Lustrous Red Ware pottery) was in Gujarat. [191] [192] [193] Other sites associated with the Late phase of the Harappan culture are Pirak in Balochistan, Pakistan, and Daimabad in Maharashtra, India. [103]

The largest Late Harappan sites are Kudwala in Cholistan, Bet Dwarka in Gujarat, and Daimabad in Maharashtra, which can be considered as urban, but they are smaller and few in number compared with the Mature Harappan cities. Bet Dwarka was fortified and continued to have contacts with the Persian Gulf region, but there was a general decrease of long-distance trade. [194] On the other hand, the period also saw a diversification of the agricultural base, with a diversity of crops and the advent of double-cropping, as well as a shift of rural settlement towards the east and the south. [195]

The pottery of the Late Harappan period is described as "showing some continuity with mature Harappan pottery traditions," but also distinctive differences. [196] Many sites continued to be occupied for some centuries, although their urban features declined and disappeared. Formerly typical artifacts such as stone weights and female figurines became rare. There are some circular stamp seals with geometric designs, but lacking the Indus script which characterised the mature phase of the civilisation. Script is rare and confined to potsherd inscriptions. [196] There was also a decline in long-distance trade, although the local cultures show new innovations in faience and glass making, and carving of stone beads. [103] Urban amenities such as drains and the public bath were no longer maintained, and newer buildings were "poorly constructed". Stone sculptures were deliberately vandalised, valuables were sometimes concealed in hoards, suggesting unrest, and the corpses of animals and even humans were left unburied in the streets and in abandoned buildings. [197]

During the later half of the 2nd millennium BCE, most of the post-urban Late Harappan settlements were abandoned altogether. Subsequent material culture was typically characterised by temporary occupation, "the campsites of a population which was nomadic and mainly pastoralist" and which used "crude handmade pottery." [198] However, there is greater continuity and overlap between Late Harappan and subsequent cultural phases at sites in Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh, primarily small rural settlements. [195] [199]

"Aryan invasion"

In 1953 Sir Mortimer Wheeler proposed that the invasion of an Indo-European tribe from Central Asia, the "Aryans", caused the decline of the Indus Civilisation. As evidence, he cited a group of 37 skeletons found in various parts of Mohenjo-daro, and passages in the Vedas referring to battles and forts. However, scholars soon started to reject Wheeler's theory, since the skeletons belonged to a period after the city's abandonment and none were found near the citadel. Subsequent examinations of the skeletons by Kenneth Kennedy in 1994 showed that the marks on the skulls were caused by erosion, and not by violence. [200]

In the Cemetery H culture (the late Harappan phase in the Punjab region), some of the designs painted on the funerary urns have been interpreted through the lens of Vedic literature: for instance, peacocks with hollow bodies and a small human form inside, which has been interpreted as the souls of the dead, and a hound that can be seen as the hound of Yama, the god of death. [201] [202] This may indicate the introduction of new religious beliefs during this period, but the archaeological evidence does not support the hypothesis that the Cemetery H people were the destroyers of the Harappan cities. [203]

Climate change and drought

Suggested contributory causes for the localisation of the IVC include changes in the course of the river, [204] and climate change that is also signalled for the neighbouring areas of the Middle East. [205] [206] As of 2016 [update] many scholars believe that drought, and a decline in trade with Egypt and Mesopotamia, caused the collapse of the Indus Civilisation. [207] The climate change which caused the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilisation was possibly due to "an abrupt and critical mega-drought and cooling 4,200 years ago," which marks the onset of the Meghalayan Age, the present stage of the Holocene. [208]

The Ghaggar-Hakra system was rain-fed, [209] [aj] [210] [ak] and water-supply depended on the monsoons. The Indus Valley climate grew significantly cooler and drier from about 1800 BCE, linked to a general weakening of the monsoon at that time. [4] The Indian monsoon declined and aridity increased, with the Ghaggar-Hakra retracting its reach towards the foothills of the Himalaya, [4] [211] [212] leading to erratic and less extensive floods that made inundation agriculture less sustainable.

Aridification reduced the water supply enough to cause the civilisation's demise, and to scatter its population eastward. [213] [214] [105] [e] According to Giosan et al. (2012), the IVC residents did not develop irrigation capabilities, relying mainly on the seasonal monsoons leading to summer floods. As the monsoons kept shifting south, the floods grew too erratic for sustainable agricultural activities. The residents then migrated towards the Ganges basin in the east, where they established smaller villages and isolated farms. The small surplus produced in these small communities did not allow development of trade, and the cities died out. [215] [216]


There are archaeological evidences of major earthquakes at Dholavira in 2200 BCE as well as at Kalibangan in 2700 and 2900 BCE. Such succession of earthquakes, along with drought, may have contributed to decline of Ghaggar-Harka system. Sea level changes are also found at two possible seaport sites along the Makran coast which are now inland. Earthquakes may have contributed to decline of several sites by direct shaking damage, by sea level change or by change in water supply. [217] [218] [219]

Continuity and coexistence

Archaeological excavations indicate that the decline of Harappa drove people eastward. [220] According to Possehl, after 1900 BCE the number of sites in today's India increased from 218 to 853. According to Andrew Lawler, "excavations along the Gangetic plain show that cities began to arise there starting about 1200 BCE, just a few centuries after Harappa was deserted and much earlier than once suspected." [207] [al] According to Jim Shaffer there was a continuous series of cultural developments, just as in most areas of the world. These link "the so-called two major phases of urbanisation in South Asia". [222]

At sites such as Bhagwanpura (in Haryana), archaeological excavations have discovered an overlap between the final phase of Late Harappan pottery and the earliest phase of Painted Grey Ware pottery, the latter being associated with the Vedic Culture and dating from around 1200 BCE. This site provides evidence of multiple social groups occupying the same village but using different pottery and living in different types of houses: "over time the Late Harappan pottery was gradually replaced by Painted Grey ware pottery," and other cultural changes indicated by archaeology include the introduction of the horse, iron tools, and new religious practices. [103]

There is also a Harappan site called Rojdi in Rajkot district of Saurashtra. Its excavation started under an archaeological team from Gujarat State Department of Archaeology and the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania in 1982–83. In their report on archaeological excavations at Rojdi, Gregory Possehl and M.H. Raval write that although there are "obvious signs of cultural continuity" between the Harappan Civilisation and later South Asian cultures, many aspects of the Harappan "sociocultural system" and "integrated civilization" were "lost forever," while the Second Urbanisation of India (beginning with the Northern Black Polished Ware culture, c. 600 BCE) "lies well outside this sociocultural environment". [223]

Previously, scholars believed that the decline of the Harappan civilisation led to an interruption of urban life in the Indian subcontinent. However, the Indus Valley Civilisation did not disappear suddenly, and many elements of the Indus Civilisation appear in later cultures. The Cemetery H culture may be the manifestation of the Late Harappan over a large area in the region of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, and the Ochre Coloured Pottery culture its successor. David Gordon White cites three other mainstream scholars who "have emphatically demonstrated" that Vedic religion derives partially from the Indus Valley Civilisations. [224]

As of 2016 [update] , archaeological data suggests that the material culture classified as Late Harappan may have persisted until at least c. 1000–900 BCE and was partially contemporaneous with the Painted Grey Ware culture. [222] Harvard archaeologist Richard Meadow points to the late Harappan settlement of Pirak, which thrived continuously from 1800 BCE to the time of the invasion of Alexander the Great in 325 BCE. [207]

In the aftermath of the Indus Civilisation's localisation, regional cultures emerged, to varying degrees showing the influence of the Indus Civilisation. In the formerly great city of Harappa, burials have been found that correspond to a regional culture called the Cemetery H culture. At the same time, the Ochre Coloured Pottery culture expanded from Rajasthan into the Gangetic Plain. The Cemetery H culture has the earliest evidence for cremation a practice dominant in Hinduism today.

The inhabitants of the Indus Valley civilisation migrated from the river valleys of Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra, towards the Himalayan foothills of Ganga-Yamuna basin. [225]

Near East

The mature (Harappan) phase of the IVC is contemporary to the Early and Middle Bronze Age in the Ancient Near East, in particular the Old Elamite period, Early Dynastic, the Akkadian Empire to Ur III Mesopotamia, Prepalatial Minoan Crete and Old Kingdom to First Intermediate Period Egypt.

The IVC has been compared in particular with the civilisations of Elam (also in the context of the Elamo-Dravidian hypothesis) and with Minoan Crete (because of isolated cultural parallels such as the ubiquitous goddess worship and depictions of bull-leaping). [229] The IVC has been tentatively identified with the toponym Meluhha known from Sumerian records the Sumerians called them Meluhhaites. [230]

Shahr-i-Sokhta, located in southeastern Iran shows trade route with Mesopotamia. [231] [232] A number of seals with Indus script have been also found in Mesopotamian sites. [232] [233] [234]


After the discovery of the IVC in the 1920s, it was immediately associated with the indigenous Dasyu inimical to the Rigvedic tribes in numerous hymns of the Rigveda. Mortimer Wheeler interpreted the presence of many unburied corpses found in the top levels of Mohenjo-daro as the victims of a warlike conquest, and famously stated that "Indra stands accused" of the destruction of the IVC. The association of the IVC with the city-dwelling Dasyus remains alluring because the assumed timeframe of the first Indo-Aryan migration into India corresponds neatly with the period of decline of the IVC seen in the archaeological record. The discovery of the advanced, urban IVC, however, changed the 19th century view of early Indo-Aryan migration as an "invasion" of an advanced culture at the expense of a "primitive" aboriginal population to a gradual acculturation of nomadic "barbarians" on an advanced urban civilisation, comparable to the Germanic migrations after the Fall of Rome, or the Kassite invasion of Babylonia. This move away from simplistic "invasionist" scenarios parallels similar developments in thinking about language transfer and population movement in general, such as in the case of the migration of the proto-Greek speakers into Greece, or the Indo-Europeanisation of Western Europe.


Proto-Munda (or Para-Munda) and a "lost phylum" (perhaps related or ancestral to the Nihali language) [235] have been proposed as other candidates for the language of the IVC. Michael Witzel suggests an underlying, prefixing language that is similar to Austroasiatic, notably Khasi he argues that the Rigveda shows signs of this hypothetical Harappan influence in the earliest historic level, and Dravidian only in later levels, suggesting that speakers of Austroasiatic were the original inhabitants of Punjab and that the Indo-Aryans encountered speakers of Dravidian only in later times. [236]

Wanderwort origins in the Indus Valley Civilization?

I have noticed that there seem to be many words that have travelled the globe due to trade, such as the word orange or rice, which have plausible origins in proto-Dravidian. Meanwhile, it is hypothesized that the language (if it is a language, which some people argue against) recorded in the Indus script is a Dravidian one. All this makes me wonder if these numerous possibly-Dravidian Wanderworts are indicative of the Indus Valley Civilization's success in trade.

This page of Wikipedia lists 7 English words with possible Dravidian origins, notably:

Orange, through Old French orenge, Medieval Latin orenge and Italian arancia from Arabic نارنج naranj, via Persian نارنگ narang and Sanskrit नारङ्ग naranga-s meaning "an orange tree", derived from proto-Dravidian.

Rice, via Old French ris and Italian riso from Latin oriza, which is from Greek ὄρυζα oryza, through an Indo-Iranian tongue finally from Sanskrit व्रीहिस् vrihi-s "rice", derived from proto-Dravidian.

Sugar, through Old French sucre, Italian zucchero, Medieval Latin succarum, Arabic: سكر sukkar and Persian: شکر shakar ultimately from Sanskrit शर्करा sharkara which means "ground or candied sugar" (originally "grit" or "gravel"), from proto-Dravidian.

So, is it likely that the Dravidian language that these words came from is the language of the Indus Valley Civilization? Is this a poor, uninformed idea? or, alternatively, am I late to the party and this is already intuitively obvious to historians? What are your thoughts?

Trailing The Origins Of Indus Valley Civilization

The ancient history of India has always been a hot topic of discussion. Whether it is the historians, the politicians or the archaeologists, everyone has some sort of theory about our origins and how India flourished in a time period when rest of the world was still living like nomads. Indus Valley civilization is considered an important point of Indian history that has left its mark in Indian Subcontinent and the traces of which go till Pakistan and Afghanistan.

For someone who has an undying love for history and ancient architecture, chasing the traces of this civilization is considered an ultimate travel goal. Even if you are a traveller with zero enthusiasm for history, keeping knowledge of these historical locations can prove very useful during civil service exams (just kidding).


Rakhigarhi, Haryana – The biggest Indian Harappan excavation site till date


Located in Fatehabad district of Haryana, Banawali is another well constructed site of Harappan region with a fort like appearance. This is one of the few townships located entirely inside walls from all the side. Age of Empires anyone?

How to reach – Fatehabad is three hour away from Delhi from where one can find the way to Banawali village. This place accounts for a nice day trip over the weekend and one can explore the ruins and return the same day.

Stay - While day trip from Delhi makes sense, one can also stay in resorts in Fatehabad and plan a full fledged weekend escape.


Considered to be the oldest site of Indus Valley or Harappan Civilization, this place is so rich with ancient artefacts that it took almost 34 years to complete the excavation project and the final report was only published in 2003.

Lothal Harappan Period Archaeological Site

Rann of Kutch

Another huge part of Indus Valley civilization with a massive township, Dholiwara is famous because of its many reservoirs. The step-well here is so big that the great bath of Mohenjo-Daro is considered nothing compared to it.

How to reach - Dholavira is located on an island called Khadir Bet in the Rann of Kutch. Dholiwara is 370 km from Ahmedabad and 220 km from Bhuj. You can either explore Dholiwara during your Kutch trip. The nearest station from Dholiwara is Bhachau.

Stay - There are a lot of luxury resorts in Kutch white desert. You can plan your trip during Ran Festival for the best trip experience.

Alamgirpur, West Uttar Pradesh

Unlike a majority of Harappan Civilizations, Alamgirpur near Meerut thrived by using wood and other sources of fuel. Apart from this, Alamgirpur’s township was very famous for its pottery workshops and many items like roof tiles, dishes, cups, vases, cubicle dice, beads, terrecotta cakes, carts, etc. have been found here.

How to reach – Alamgirpur is near Meerut and can be accessed via trains and buses.

Stay - Both Delhi and Meerut have deluxe and luxury stay options. You can also take a detour to Alamgirpur on your trip to Rishikesh.


Earlier Mohejo- Daro, not that traumatising movie where actors sported attires like the Greeks, used to hold the title of biggest site with the ruins of Indus Valley. Rakhigarhi in Haryana was discovered by archaeologists and since then remains of a flourishing township, toys and utensils have been found here.

How to reach - Considering that your trip starts from Delhi, Rakhigarhi is a nice day trip and can be reached from Hisar and then driving towards the village Hansi.

Stay - You can stay in Delhi or Gurgaon. There are a couple of luxury resorts in Hissar that will add to a pampered weekend experience.

How to reach – Kalibangan can be covered on a day trip from Bikaner. This place is one of the most unique finds in Rajasthan and visiting here can give you a whole new experience of your journey. The nearest town is Hanumangarh and has a fair connectivity by trains and buses.

Stay - One can stay in Bikaner and take a day trip to Kalibangan.

At a distance of 85 kilometers from Ahmedabad, Lothal is the most unique of all the sites that belong to Harappan culture. This is the only site where all the houses have their front doors opening on the street. Lothal presents a fine example of town planning and is visited by numerous tourists and history lovers on a regular basis.

How to reach – The best time to visit Lothal is after September when the heat of Gujarat goes down a little. Lothal can be accessed from Ahmedabad on a day trip and you can also get there is by train to Burkhi station, which is just 7 km from the site.

Stay - It is recommended to stay in Ahmedabad and then explore Lothal on a day trip

Manda’s excavation site belongs to the northernmost tip of the Indus Valley Civilization where a township flourished in the foothills of Himalayas. This township can into existence because of the presence of Chenab River and an ease to procure wood from the nearby forests.

How to reach – Manda is located in Akhnoor, 28 km from Jammu. Those planning a road trip to Kashmir and Ladakh can take a detour to Manda and then continue towards Srinagar after exploring the site.

Stay - You can either stay in Jammu or visit Manda on your way to Udhampur or Srinagar.

The presence of Harappan Culture is not limited to the destinations mentioned above but spans to many other big and small locations. These places, however, will give you an introduction to one of the most ancient civilizations of the world and will make you hope that Bollywood gives us a decent and well researched movie about it.

All About Sindhis

Fabrics have been discovered in the Indus Valley. Cottonseeds were discovered at Mehrgarh towards Quetta,west of Indus River.

The earliest documentation of woven fabric in the Indian subcontinent is found on the sculpted bust of King-Priest of Mohenjo Daro-Indus Valley Civilization-2200-1800 B.C.

The 3 sun shaped discs “Trefoil” show the unity of sun earth & water gods .

This shawl pattern is still reproduced today in Sindh . The same trefoil was found on the Hathor cow and on the bodies of Sumerian bulls in Mesopotamia.

The word cotton is from the Arabic “al-qattan” . The Sanskrit word for cotton is Karpasa.

The Greek word Karpasos and the Latin term Carbasus have evidently been derived from Sanskrit.

It was only in 1607 that cotton was introduced to North America in Virginia.

Cotton was called `”White Gold and ‘King Cotton’ as it built the fortunes of farmers in North & South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and Mississippi, on the backs of the infamous black slave labour. Later the use of Sea Island [extra long staple cotton –ELS- greater than 1.3 inches long] and “Upland” cotton made USA one of the largest cotton producers in the world along with China, India, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

The ancient Indian magnum opus Vedas, show a time in the Atharva Veda where one of its passages personifies day and night as two sisters weaving. The warp symbolized darkness, and the woof symbolized light. The sacred place that thread and weaving held is illustrated in many hymns of the Vedas. The Hindi-Urdu words for warp & weft areTana and Bana. (Warp = Vertical thread wound on a Roller. The Woof=Weft = thread at right angles to the Warp/ Horizontal Thread.)

Buddhist literature chronicles the work of the skilled weavers and spinners of Kashi who excelled in fine muslin, so fine that oil could not seep through. It was women who spun, and the cotton cloths were washed, calendered, starched and perfumed. Fine cotton muslin was used to wrap the bodies of emperors and also the Buddha when he attained enlightenment nirvana.

The woven cloth, textile design and iconography in early India was based on the principles of different Vedas – hence the trefoil motif of the King Priest from Mohenjodaro showing the unity of sun, earth, and water gods. n all its cycles, illusions and dreams.

List of notable Dravidian peoples

Name Country with official language status Population Notes
Tamils   India
  Sri Lanka
78 million [156] They belong to the south-Dravidian linguistic subgroup. Tamils are native to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, parts of Kerala and Sri Lanka, although they are also widespread throughout in many countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Réunion, Seychelles, the United States, Canada, and parts of European countries.
Kannadigas   India 36.9 million [157] Kannadigas belong to the south-Dravidian subgroup. Kannadigas are native to Karnataka, parts of northern Kerala, parts of southern Maharashtra, and the northwest region of Tamil Nadu, India.
Malayalis   India 38 million [158] Malayalis belong to the south-Dravidian linguistic subgroup, and are native to Kerala and Puducherry, southwestern Tamil Nadu, and Southern Karnataka.
Telugus   India 74 million [159] They belong to the central Dravidian subgroup. Telugus are native to Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Puducherry. There is also a minority group in Sri Lanka and Singapore.
Tuluvas   India 2 million (approx.) They belong to the south Dravidian subgroup, and are found in coastal Karnataka and northern Kerala (alternatively named Tulu Nadu).
Brahuis   Pakistan
2.5 million Brahuis belong to the north-Dravidian subgroup. The majority are found in Balochistan, Pakistan, with smaller numbers in Southwestern Afghanistan.
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