Origin of Harappan Civilization

In 1921, Dayaram Sahni discovered Harappa and R. D. Banerjee discovered Mohenjodaro. Other cities which were discovered alongside Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro were Lothal, Dholavira and Surkotada (present Gujarat), Kalibangan (present Rajasthan), and Chanhudaro (present Pakistan). The civilization encompassing these cities came to be known as the Indus Valley Civilization as it developed on the banks of River Indus and its tributaries. In this article, we have discussed the Origin of the Harappan Civilization.

Origin of the Harappan Civilization

There are many theories regarding the origin of the Harappan Civilization. While some scholars believe that the civilization came into existence because of the sudden migration of people into the Indus basin, many believe that the Harappan Civilization was not indigenous. Recent research has shown that the civilization was an extension of local villages.

Extent of the Harappan Civilization

The Harappan Civilization covered the parts of Punjab, Haryana, Sindh, Baluchistan, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Western Uttar Pradesh. After Partition, Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Chanudaro, and Sutkagendor have become parts of Pakistan. Manda, Banawali, Kalibangan, Alamgiri, Lothal, Rupara and Rangpur are in India.

Sources of the Harappan Civilization

Archaeological remains of the civilization such as seals, pottery, sculptures, and buildings are one of the main sources of the Harappan Civilization. Archaeological sources of the civilization:

The Great Bath

  • The Great Bath discovered at Mohenjo-daro revealed that the people had attained a high level of perfection in the art of building.
  • It has been suggested that the Great Bath was used for bathing during religious ceremonies.
  • It is also suggested that perhaps a hierarchal structure existed in a society where the ruling class collected taxes to build structures for public use.

The Citadel

  • The cities of the civilization were divided into two parts—lower and upper. The elevated portion of the city is known as citadel.
  • Important buildings such as the Great Bath, granary, assembly halls and workshops were built in this part of the city.
  • The citadel points towards an elaborate and efficient planning of the city which justifies that the Harappan Civilization was an urban civilisation.
  • Presence of some houses on the elevated platform and some on the lower parts of the city indicates that perhaps society was divided into the ruling and ruled classes.


  • About 2,000 seals were discovered from the sites of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro.
  • Most of these seals were rectangular and square in shape. They bear the images of one-horned bull, goat, tiger, elephant and rhinoceros. The western part of the city was built on the higher platform known as citadel.
  • These seals reveal the trade, religious beliefs and script of the people. The seal with an image of pashupati show that perhaps people believed in lord Shiva.
  • Seals also tell us about the trading practices of the period. The discovered seals show that the Harappans were trading with other civilizations as many Harappan seals were found in Mesopotamia.

Bearded Man and Dancing Girl

  • The discovery of the sculpture of a bearded man from Mohenjo-daro with a shawl worn over his left shoulder and half closed eyes is considered a sculpture of a yogi.
  • This sculpture points towards the existence of skilled artisans in the Harappan Civilization.
  • Similarly, the bronze sculpture of a dancing girl also indicates skilled craftsmanship.


  • The burials of people in the Harappan Civilization give us an idea about religious rituals, beliefs and practices of the people.
  • These cemeteries were found in Lothal, Kalibangan and Rupar. Excavation of various goods such as animals, copper, shell spoons with the dead body indicates that perhaps people believed in life after death.


The Discovery of a rectangular dockyard at Lothal in Gujarat indicates that the people had maritime trade relations with other civilizations.


  • The Harappans used a pictographic script with signs representing birds, animals, fish and varieties of human forms.
  • There are about 375–400 signs of the Harappan script.
  • The Harappan script has not been deciphered till yet.

Also, Read The Harappan Civilisaion

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