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Indus Valley Civilization (Notes+MCQ) PDF Download

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Features of Indus Valley Civilization

  • The history of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization (IVC), also known as Harappan Civilization.
  • It flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia, in contemporary Pakistan and Western India.
  • The Indus Valley was home to the largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China.
  • In the 1920s, the Archaeological Department of India carried out excavations in the Indus valley wherein the ruins of the two old cities, viz. Mohenjodaro and Harappa were unearthed.
  • In 1924, John Marshall, Director-General of the ASI, announced the discovery of a new civilization in the Indus valley to the world.
  • On the valleys of river Indus.
  • Also known as Harappan Civilization.
  • Beginning of city life.
  • Harappan Sites discovered by – Dayaram Sahni (1921) – Montgomery district, Punjab, Pakistan.
  • Mohenjodaro discovered by – R. D. Banerji – Larkana district, Sind, Pakistan.
  • The city was divided into Citadel(west) and Lower Town(east).
  • Red pottery painted with designs in black.
  • Stone weights, seals, special beads, copper tools, long stone blades, etc.
  • Copper, bronze, silver, gold present.
  • Artificially produced – Faience.
  • Specialists for handicrafts.
  • Import of raw materials.
  • Plough was used.
  • Bodies were buried in wooden coffins, but during the later stages ‘H symmetry culture’ evolved where bodies were buried in painted burial urns.
  • Sugar cane not cultivated, horse, iron not used.

Indus Valley Sites and Specialties


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  • Seals out of stones
  • Citadel outside on banks of river Ravi


  • Great Bath, Great Granary, Dancing Girl, Man with Beard, Cotton, Assembly hall
  • The term means ” Mount of the dead”
  • On the bank of river Indus
  • Believed to have been destructed by flood or invasion (Destruction was not gradual).


  • Bank of Indus river. – discovered by Gopal Majumdar and Mackey (1931)
  • Pre-Harappan culture – Jhangar Culture and Jhukar Culture
  • Only cite without citadel.


  • At Rajasthan on the banks of river Ghaggar, discovered by A. Ghosh (1953)
  • Fire Altars
  • Bones of camel
  • Evidence of furrows
  • Horse remains ( even though Indus valley people didn’t use horses).
  • Known as the third capital of the Indus Empire.


  • At Gujarat near Bhogava river, discovered by S.R. Rao (1957)
  • Fire Altars
  • Beside the tributary of Sabarmati
  • Storehouse
  • Dockyard and earliest port
  • double burial
  • Rice husk
  • House had front entrance (exception).


  • Punjab, on the banks of river Sutlej. Discovered by Y.D Sharma (1955)
  • Dog buried with humans.


  • Haryana
  • On banks of lost river Saraswathi
  • Barley Cultivation.


  • The biggest site in India, until the discovery of Rakhigarhi.
  • Located in Khadir Beyt, Rann of Kutch, Gujarat. Discovered by J.P Joshi/Rabindra Singh (1990)
  • 3 parts + large open area for ceremonies
  • Large letters of the Harappan script (signboards).

Phases of Indus Valley Civilization

Three phases of IVC are:

  • the Early Harappan Phase from 3300 to 2600 BCE,
  • the Mature Harappan Phase from 2600 to 1900 BCE, and
  • the Late Harappan Phase from 1900 to 1300 BCE.
  • The Early Harappan Phase is related to the Hakra Phase, identified in the Ghaggar-Hakra River Valley.
  • The earliest examples of the Indus script date back to 3000 BC.
  • This phase stands characterized by a centralized authority and increasingly urban quality of life.
  • Trade networks had been established and there are also pieces of evidence of the cultivation of crops. Peas, sesame seeds, dates, cotton, etc., were grown during that time.
  • Kot Diji represents the phase leading up to the Mature Harappan Phase.
  • By 2600 BC, the Indus Valley Civilization had entered into a mature stage.
  • The early Harappan communities were turned into large urban centers, like Harappa and Mohenjodaro in Pakistan and Lothal in India.
  • The signs of a gradual decline of the Indus River Valley Civilization are believed to have started around 1800 BC and by 1700 BC, most of the cities were abandoned.
  • However, one can see the various elements of the Ancient Indus Valley Civilization in later cultures.
  • Archaeological data indicates the persistence of the Late Harappan culture until 1000-900 BC.

Town Planning and Structures

  • The Harappan culture was distinguished by its system of town planning.
  • Harappa and Mohenjodaro each had its own citadel or acropolis, which was possibly occupied by members of the ruling class.
  • Below the citadel in each city lay a lower town containing brick houses, which were inhabited by the common people.
  • The remarkable thing about the arrangement of the houses in the cities is that they followed the grid system.
  • Granaries constituted an important part of the Harappan cities.
  • The use of burnt bricks in the Harappan cities is remarkable, because in the contemporary buildings of Egypt mainly dried bricks were used.
  • The drainage system of Mohenjodaro was very impressive.
  • In almost all cities every big or small house had its own courtyard and bathroom.
  • In Kalibangan many houses had their wells.
  • At sites such as Dholavira and Lothal (Gujarat), the entire settlement was fortified, and sections within the town were also separated by walls.


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  • The Harappan villages, mostly situated near the flood plains, produced sufficient food grains.
  • Wheat, barley, rai, peas, sesame, lentil, chickpea, and mustard were produced. Millets are also found from sites in Gujarat. While rice uses were relatively rare.
  • The Indus people were the earliest people to produce cotton.
  • While the prevalence of agriculture is indicated by finds of grain, it is more difficult to reconstruct actual agricultural practices.
  • Representations on seals and terracotta sculpture indicate that the bull was known, and archaeologists extrapolate shows oxen were also used for plowing.
  • Most Harappan sites are located in semi-arid lands, where irrigation was probably required for agriculture.
  • Traces of canals have been found at the Harappan site of Shortughai in Afghanistan, but not in Punjab or Sindh.
  • Although the Harappans practiced agriculture, animals were also reared on a large scale.
  • Evidence of the horse comes from a superficial level of Mohenjodaro and from a doubtful terracotta figurine from Lothal. In any case, the Harappan culture was not horse centered.


  • The importance of trade in the life of the Indus people is witnessed by the presence of numerous seals, uniform script and regulated weights and measures in a wide area.
  • The Harappans carried on a considerable trade in stone, metal, shell, etc.
  • Metal money was not used and trade was carried by a barter system.
  • They practiced navigation on the coast of the Arabian Sea.
  • They had set up a trading colony in northern Afghanistan which evidently facilitated trade with Central Asia.
  • They also carried commerce with those in the land of the Tigris and the Euphrates.
  • The Harappans carried on long-distance trade in lapis lazuli; which may have contributed to the social prestige of the ruling class.


  • The Harappans were very well acquainted with the manufacturing and use of Bronze.
  • Copper was obtained from the Khetri copper mines of Rajasthan and Tin was possibly brought from Afghanistan.
  • Textile impressions have also been found on several objects.
  • Huge brick structure suggests that brick-laying was an important craft. This also attests the existence of a class of masons.
  • The Harappans practiced boat-making, bead making, and seal-making. Terracotta manufacture was also an important craft.
  • The goldsmiths made jewelry of silver, gold and precious stones.
  • The potter’s wheel was in full use, and the Harappans produced their own characteristic pottery, which was glossy and shining.


  • Very few written materials have been discovered in the Indus valley and the scholars have not been able to decipher the Indus script so far.
  • As a result, there is difficulty in understanding the nature of the state and institutions of the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • No temples have been found at any Harappan sites. Therefore the possibility of priests ruling Harappa can be eliminated.
  • Harappa was possibly ruled by a class of merchants.
  • If we look for a center of power or for depictions of people in power, archaeological records provide no immediate answers.
    • Some archaeologists are of the opinion that Harappan society had no rulers, and that everybody enjoyed equal status.
    • Another theory argues that there was no single ruler, but a number of rulers representing each of the urban centers.

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  • In Harappa, numerous terracotta figurines of women have been found. In one figurine a plant is shown growing out of the embryo of a woman.
    • The Harappans, therefore, looked upon the earth as a fertility goddess and worshipped her in the same manner as the Egyptians worshipped the Nile goddess Isis.
  • The male deity is represented on a seal with three-horned heads, represented in the sitting posture of a yogi.
    • This god is surrounded by an elephant, a tiger, a rhinoceros, and has a buffalo below his throne. At his feet appear two deer. The depicted god is identified as Pushupati Mahadeva.
  • Numerous symbols of the phallus and female sex organs made of stone have been found.
  • The people of the Indus region also worshipped trees and Animals.
  • The most important of them is the one-horned unicorn which may be identified with the rhinoceros and the next important was the humped bull.
  • Amulets have also been found in large numbers.

The decline of the Indus Valley Civilization

  • The IVC declined around 1800 BCE but the actual reasons behind its demise are still debated.
  • One theory claims that Indo-European tribe i.e. Aryans invaded and conquered the IVC.
    • In later cultures, various elements of the IVC are found which suggest that civilization did not disappear suddenly due to an invasion.
  • On the other hand, many scholars believe natural factors are behind the decline of the IVC.
    • The natural factors could be geological and climatic.
    • It is believed that the Indus Valley region experienced several tectonic disturbances which cause earthquakes. Which also changed courses of rivers or dried them up.
    • Another natural reason might be changing in patterns of rainfall.
  • There could be also dramatic shifts in the river courses, which might have brought floods to the food-producing areas.
  • Due to the combination of these natural causes, there was a slow but inevitable collapse of IVC.
    Indus Valley Civilization (Notes+MCQ)

80+ Multiple Choice Questions from Indus Valley Civilization

  1. Which of the following was common both to the Harappan society and the Rigvedic society?
    (a) Iron implements
    (b) Female deities
    (c) Urban centers
    (d) Horses
    (d) Horses
  2. Which one of the following archaeologists initially discovered the Mohenjo-Daro site of the Indus Valley civilization?
    (a) Sir John Marshal
    (b) Rakhal Das Bannerjee
    (c) Daya Ram Sahni
    (d) Sir Mortimer Wheeler
    (b) Rakhal Das Bannerjee
  3. Which among the following throws light on Harappan Culture?
    (a) Archaeological finds
    (b) The Harrapan script
    (c) The rock edicts
    (d) None of the above
    (a) Archaeological finds
  4. What is the name the script of the Harappans:
    (a) describes their war against the indigenous inhabitants
    (b) has not yet been deciphered
    (c) is written in Prakrit language
    (d) None of the above is true
    (b) has not yet been deciphered
  5. The cities of Kalibangan and Lothal are associated with:
    (a) Egyptian culture

    (b) Harappan culture
    (c) Aryan culture
    (d) Chinese civilization
    (b) Harappan culture
  6. The excavations at which of the following sites provided the evidence of maritime trade being carried on during the period of the Harappan culture?
    (a) Mohenjo-Daro
    (b) Lothal
    (c) Kalibangan
    (d) Roper
    (b) Lothal
  7. The Harappans did not know the use of:
    (a) Bronze
    (b) Gold
    (c) Iron
    (d) Silver
    (c) Iron
  8. Harappan Culture was spread over:
    (a) Punjab, Sind, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat
    (b) Sind, Punjab, Baluchistan, Afghanistan
    (c) Sind, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat
    (d) Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan, Afghanistan
    (c) Sind, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat
  9. The Aryans succeeded in their conflicts with the pre-Aryans because
    (a) they used elephants on a large scale

    (b) they were taller and stronger
    (c) they were from an advanced urban culture
    (d) they used chariots driven by horse
    (d) they used chariots driven by horse
  10. The Great Bath of Indus Valley civilization is found at
    (a) Harappan
    (b) Mohenjodaro
    (c) Ropar
    (d) Kalibangan
    (b) Mohenjodaro
  11. The glory of the Harappan culture rests chiefly on:
    (a) Architecture
    (b) town planning
    (c) craftsmanship
    (d) administrative system
    (b) town planning
  12. The staple food of the Vedic Aryans was
    (a) barley and rice
    (b) milk and its products
    (c) rice and pulses
    (d) vegetables and fruits
    (b) milk and its products
  13. The Harappan Civilizations is known for its:
    (a) Agriculture
    (b) overseas trade and commerce
    (c) art and painting
    (d) drainage system
    (d) drainage system
  14. Lothal is a site where dockyards of which of the following civilizations were found?
    (a) Indus Valley
    (b) Mesopotamian
    (c) Egyptian
    (d) Persian
    (a) Indus Valley
  15. Indus Valley civilization is also known as the Harappan culture because:
    (a) the site of Harappa is six times larger than Mohenjo-Daro site
    (b) the Indus Valley civilization is considered the elementary/initial stage of the Vedic culture and Harappa is believed to be the same as Harappa mentioned in the Vedas
    (c) Harappa was the first site to be excavated in the Indus valley
    (d) the most important/significant evidence of the achievements of this civilization have been excavated from Harappa
    (c) Harappa was the first site to be excavated in the Indus valley
  16. Of the following sites associated with the Indus Valley Civilizations, one located in India is:
    (a) Lothal
    (b) Mohenjo-Daro
    (c) Harappa
    (d) None of the above
    (d) None of the above
  17. With which period is Indus Valley civilization associated?
    (a) 567-487 BC
    (b) 327-325 BC
    (c) 300-200 BC
    (d) 2300-1750 BC
    (d) 2300-1750 BC
  18. Which of the following is correct?
    (a) The Indus Valley Civilization existed even before the spread of Harappan Culture
    (b) The Indus Valley Civilization co-existed with the Aryan Civilizations
    (c) The Indus Valley people used materials made of iron
    (d) The Indus Valley Civilizations was an urban civilization
    (d) The Indus Valley Civilizations was an urban civilization
  19. The Indus Valley Civilizations people had the knowledge of:
    (a) gold, silver, copper, iron, bronze but not tin
    (b) gold, silver, copper, bronze, lead but not iron
    (c) gold, silver, copper, bronze, tin, iron but not lead
    (d) gold, silver, copper, tin, iron but not bronze
    (b) gold, silver, copper, bronze, lead but not iron
  20. Which of the following is the most important feature of the Indus Valley Civilization?
    (a) Burnt brick buildings
    (b) Gold coins
    (c) The sound system of administration
    (d) Art & architecture
    (a) Burnt brick buildings

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