List the food items available to people in Harappan cities. Identify the groups who would provide these.
How do the archaeologists find socio-economic disparities in the Harappan society? What disparities do they emphasise?
Describe how artefacts help in identifying social differences during the Harappan period.
Describe briefly how the study of artefacts helps in identifying social differences of the Harappan period.
Explain the socio-economic differences in Harappan society that archaeological finds seem to suggest.
Explain the strategies used by the archaeologists to understand socioeconomic differences among the Harappans.
“The burials in Harappan sites reveal the economic and social differences amongst the people living within a particular culture.” Give two evidences in support of your answer.
Examine how archaeologists have used burial to find out the social and economic differences amongts Harappan people.
The archaeologists find many socio-economic disparities in the Harappan society. They make the following disparities as their base for further study :
1. Burials. We find many burials at the Harappan sites. At that time, the dead were generally laid in pits. Along with the dead body, different kinds of things were also kept. These things could be precious or ordinary. There was also a difference in the pits in which the dead were buried. The precious things reflected the strong economic condition of the dead. The common things were the symbol of his/her weak economic position.
2. Things of Luxury. The archaeologists also study artefacts to identify many other social and economic differences. These things can be classified as utilitarian and luxuries. The utilitarian things are objects of daily use. They are made of ordinary material such as stone or clay. They include querns, pottery and body scrubbers. They were possessed by all the people in all the Harappan settlements. On the other hand, the luxuries were those objects which were rare and were made from costly and non-local materials or were made with the help of complicated technologies. For example, the pots of faience (a material prepared with the mixture of silica, colour and gum) were considered costly and precious because they were very difficult to make. The economic status of those societies was comparatively high where such things have been found.
Would you agree that the drainage system of the Harappan cities indicates town-planning? Give reasons for your answer.
Describe briefly the drainage system of the Harappan cities.
“The drainage system in Harappan Civilisation indicates town planning.” Support the statement with examples.
“One of the most distinctive features of the Harappan cities was the carefully planned drainage system.” Elaborate.
Describe the drainage system of the Harappan cities.
We completely agree with the fact that all the Harappan cities had a carefully planned
drainage system. In other words, the drainage system was an integral part of the
town-planning. This system was essential to keep the city neat and clean. From this point of
view, the drainage system of the Harappan cities was perfect. The domestic waste water
passed through gutters to flow into the street drains. It seems as if the streets along with
the drains were laid out first. Then the residences were made along side these roads. One
wall of the house always touched the side of a street so that the waste water may easily
flow into the drains of the street.
The main drain was made of mud and bricks. It was covered with such bricks which could be removed for the purpose of sanitation. The gutters of the houses first fell into a sump or cess-pit. The solid in the water was accumulated here and the water flowed into the main drain. In this way, the dirty water flushed out of the city. According to Mackay, “It is certainly the most complete ancient system as yet discovered.” In the end we can say that every house of the Harappan society was connected to the street drains which were made of bricks set in mortar. They were covered with limestone or loose bricks which could be easily removed for cleaning. In fact, the drainage system is considered a wonder of archaeology.
List the material used to make beads in the Harappan civilisation. Describe the process by which one kind of bead was made.
Explain the techniques of craft production, especially bead making at the Harappan sites of Lothal and Chanhudaro.
One of the important craft of the people of Harappan civilisaiton was to prepare bands. It was mainly prevalent in Chanhudaro.
Material Used : A large variety of material was used to make the beads. It included beautiful colour stones like carnelian, jasper, crystal, quartz and steatite. Besides these, copper, bronze, gold shell, faience, terracota or burnt clay were also used.
The Process of Making Beads : The process of making beads was remarkable. It deffered according to the material. It had the following statges:
1. The beads did not have geometrical forms like the ones made out of harder stones. They had a variety of shapes.
2. The red colour of carnelian was obtained by firing the yellowish raw material.
3. Nodules were chipped into rough shapes. Thus they were finely flaked into to final form.
4. The last phase of the process incuded grinding, polishing and drilling. The specialised drills have been found at many sites like Chanhudaro, Lothal and Dholavira.
Look at the image and describe what you see. How is the body placed? What are the objects placed near it? Are there any artefacts on the body? Do these indicate the sex of the skeleton?
(i) Body has been kept in North-Southern direction in a pit.
(ii) Many graves contain pottery and ornaments which include jar.
(iii) Yes, jewellery like bangles are there on the body
(iv) Yes, this indicates towards the sex of the skeleton, i.e., it is the body of a woman.
Discuss a few specialities or special features of Mohenjodaro.
Describe the distinctive features of domestic architecture of Mohenjodaro.
“The domestic architecture of Mohenjodaro was unique.” Explain the statement with examples.
Describe the unique features of the urban centres of the Harappa Civilization.
Mohenjodaro was a unique and very important city of Harappan civilisation. Though it was discovered after Harappa, yet it has been very popular because of its unique features. Its special features are as follows:
1. A Planned Urban Centre : Harappa was a planned urban centre. It was divided into two sections. One section of this city was small and built on a higher place. The second section was large but it was at a lower place. The archaeologists designated the first section as the citadel and the second section as the lower town. The citadel owed its height to the fact that buildings were constructed on mud brick platforms. It had walls on all its sides. These walls separated it from the Lower Town.
2. The Lower Town : The Lower Town was also a walled town. Most of the
buildings were built on platforms which served as foundations. It has been estimated that if
one worker moved about a cubic metre of earth daily, it would have needed four million
person days. In other words, we can say that it required mobilisation of labour on a very
All the buildings in the city were built on the platforms. Thus, the settlement was first planned and then implemented as per the building plan. This planning is also evident from the bricks which were both baked and sun-dried. These bricks were of standardised ratio. Their length and width was four times and twice the height respectively. Such bricks were used in all the settlements of the Harappan civilisation.
3. Well Planned Drainage System : The drainage system of the Harappan cities was also carefully planned. All the roads and streets were laid out on a grid pattern and intersected at right angles. It seems that streets having drains were laid out first. Thereafter houses were built along them. Every house had at least one wall along a street so that the domestic waste water could flow directly into the drain of the street.
4. Residence or Domestic Architecture : The Lower Town of Mohenjodaro had
an expansion of residential buildings. All these buildings had a courtyard. The rooms were
on all the sides of the courtyard. In the hot and dry weather, this courtyard was perhaps
the centre of activities like cooking and weaving. While constructing residential buildings,
the people had full concern for their privacy. These buildings did not have any windows in
the walls along the ground level. Besides this, the main entrance does not give a direct
view of the interior or the courtyard.
Every house had its own bathroom. It was floored with bricks. Its gutter was connected to the street drain through the wall. Some houses also had a staircase to reach a second storey or the roof. Many houses had wells. These wells were in a room which was easily approachable from outside and any body could reach it. It was perhaps built to be used by travellers. Many scholars believe that there were about 700 such wells in Mohenjodaro.
5. The Citadel : The citadel had many buildings which were used for special public purposes. The most important were the following two structures:
(i) The Warehouse : It had a vast structure. The lower portion of this building was made of bricks. Although a part of this portion is still intact, its upper portion was made of wood which decayed since long.
(ii) The Great Bath : Another vast structure is the Great Bath which was a large rectangular tank in a courtyard. It had a corridor on all its sides. It had steps on both north and south sides so that one may go into it. It was made of bricks and a mortar of gypsum. It had also rooms on its three sides. One room had a large well. There was also a provision to flush the water of the tank into a huge drain. In fact, the Great Bath was a unique structure and had distinctive features. It was used for some kind of a special ritual bath.
List the raw materials required for craft production in the Harappan civilisation and discuss how these might have been obtained.
A number of craft production centres were there in Harappan civilisation. For this, different types of raw materials could have been used. Some of the raw materials are given below :
(i) Carnelian (red colour)
(xi) Terracotta or burnt clay
(xiii) Lapis Lazuli (blue stone)
(xii) Different types of wood and stones
Different ways of obtaining them : Soil, wood, etc., were the raw materials which were locally available. But stones, fine quality wood, metals, etc., were procured from distant places. For this, different methods were used to obtain them such as the following:
(i) Establishment of Settlements : Harappan people established their settlements at those places where raw material was easily available. For example, shell was easily available in Nageshwar and Balacot. Few other places were also there like Shortughai in Afghanistan. This place was situated near to the source of lapis lazuli. In the same way Lothal for carnelian, Rajasthan and Gujarat were famous for copper.
(ii) Sending Expeditions : Sending expeditions was another policy of obtaining raw material. For example, expedition was sent to Khetri region of Rajasthan for copper and to South India for gold. Local communities were contacted through these expeditions. Availability of Harappan evidences in distant places indicates toward these contacts. Evidences found in Khetri region were given the name of Ganeshwar-Jodhpura culture by archaeologists. Huge reserves of copper products are found over here. Probably inhabitants of this area used to send copper to Harappan people.
What are the problems of archaeological interpretation in reconstruction of the past?
Discuss how archaeologist reconstruct the past.
Examine the problems faced by archaeologists in the interpretation of religious practices of Harappa.
The problems of archaeological interpretations are perhaps most evident in the attempts to reconstruct religious fraction of Harappans. Explain.
There are certain problems in archaeological interpretation. Possibly most problems come in the reconstruction of religious practices. Early archaeologists feel that few unusual and unfamiliar objects are probably of religious importance. It includes terracotta figurines of women which were heavily jewelled and some with elaborate head dresses. They were named as Mother Goddesses. Raw stone statues of men with an almost standerdised posture, seated with one hand on the knee are also included in this. Except this, statue of priest king is also a statue of this type. In other instances, structures have been assigned ritual importance. They include the Great Bath and fire alters found at Lothal and Kalibangan. Some important examples in this regard are given ahead :
(i) Some seals depict ritual scenes. Efforts have been made to reconstruct religious beliefs and practices by examining seals.
(ii) Some other seals depicting pictures of plants indicate towards worship of nature. But some animals made on seals—like animal with a horn seems imaginary and composite creatures.
(iii) In some seals, a figure shown seated crosslegged in a yogic posture, sometimes, surrounded by animals. It has been regarded as a depiction of ‘Proto-Shiva’, who is one of the major deities of Hinduism.
(iv) Except this, conical stone objects have been classified as ‘Lingas’.
Many reconstructions of Harappan Civilisation regarding religion have been made on the
assumption that similarities exist in the earlier and later religious traditions. It is so
because archaeologists generally move from known to unknown means and from present to past.
This policy could be plausible in case of stone querns but not in case of religious
We can take example of seals of Proto-Shiva. There is a mention of a diety, called ‘Rudra’ in the most ancient religious text ‘Rig Veda’ (C. 1500—1500 B.C.E.). Later on, this name was used for ‘Shiva’ in the later Puranic traditions. But on contrary to ‘Shiva’, Rudra is not mentioned as a Pashupati and a Yogi in Rig Veda. In other words, this depiction hardly matches the mention of Rudra in Rig Veda.
Discuss the functions that may have been performed by rulers in Harappan society.
Cities and settlements of Harappan civilisation were planned. Many craft production centres were there for whom raw material was brought from far off places. Agricultural settlements were also developing. All these functions could have been performed by any ruling class because general masses could not take important collective decisions. Yet, some scholars deny the existence of any ruling class in Harappan civilisation but it hardly seems real. In short, the following functions could have been performed by rulers in the Harappan society.
(i) Urban Planning : Urban planning of Harappan civilisation was of top
quality. Cities were developed according to a proper plan. Streets and roads were wide
enough and all roads bisected each other at right angles. People lived in houses of baked
bricks. Length, breadth and height of bricks were of a standardised ratio. Ruler class lived
in citadel of towns and general masses lived in lower towns. There were provisions of
windows and doors in houses. Every house had a courtyard, bathroom, kitchen and stairs to
reach a second storey or the roof. There were two storey or triple storied houses. People
used to make large buildings. One Great Bath has also been found at Mohenjodaro which could
have been used for some kind of a special ritual bath. It was 11.88 metres in length, 7.01
metres in breadth and 2.43 metres in depth. Largest building of this town was the warehouse
with the dimension of 45.71m × 15.23 m. Six warehouses have been found at Harappa.
Harappan cities had the carefully planned drainage system. Drainage system was properly made which was covered with bricks. These bricks could have been removed at the time of cleaning. Domestic waste water had to flow into the street drains. Every house needed to have at least one wall along the street.
(ii) Different Crafts : Different types of crafts prevailed in Harappan culture which could have been regulated by the state. Tin and nickel were mixed by craftsmen to make copper. Copper was used to make statues, jars and different types of implements like axe, cutter, knife, etc. Evidences have been found about different crafts that prevailed in Harappan towns. Existence of large buildings indicates towards the existence of house making in that age. They were experts in making seals and statues. Some people used to make jewellery of gold and silver. Harappan craftsmen were also experts in bead making. They were familiar with the art of weight making. Jars made by them were quite shiny.
(iii) Settlement near Sources of Raw Material : Some raw materials were locally available for craftsmen. That is why craft centres were developed by the state, near those areas where raw material was easily available. Raw materials included beads, shells, metals, etc.
(iv) Procuring Raw Material from Distant Places : Rulers used to send expeditions to far off places to procure raw material for craft production. For example, expeditions may have been sent to Khetri region of Rajasthan (for copper) and South India (for gold).
(v) Contacts with Distant Lands : Rulers established contacts with distant lands. Mainly copper was brought through these contacts. Evidences have been found that copper was brought from Oman, on the South east tip of the Arabian Peninsula.