Elements of Continuity of Harappan Civilization

Even after the decline of the Harappan civilization many of its essential elements could continue in later phases of Indian history. These elements could be seen by having a glance at modern culture even today. The multiclass character, multiethnic character, and secular outlook. The matriarchal outcome of society & materialistic Outcomes continued in the later period. The Early Vedic Aryans were also materialistic in their outlook because they worship their god & goddess for cattle wealth, victory in battle & to have sons.

The elements of Harappan political life could also see in later phases of Indian History. Mauryan administration & Gupta administration were centralized in nature even though modern administration is centralized. The urban administration bodies of the Harappan type could be seen in the Mauryan period because the city of Patliputra administration by a council of 30 members.

The burial practices of Harappan continued through the ages. These are prevalent even today. Most of the elements of the Harappan religion continued into the later period. Many dimensions of the Harappan economy survived the decline of this civilization. Knowledge of agriculture didn’t die out crafts like pottery, seal making, metallurgy & stone cutting, etc. continued during later periods.

The symbol of Swastika is coming down from Harappan Civilization. It is used in religious activities even today because it is considered to be pious. The game of chess can also be traced to the Harappan civilization because evidence of a chessboard has been found. The knowledge of music & dance also continued in later periods.

Symbol Swastika Seal of Indus Valley Civilization
Symbol Swastika Seal of Indus Valley Civilization

Harappan used multiple stringed harps like an instrument. The knowledge of birds & animals of the Harappan civilization also contributed to a later period. The means of exportation used by Harappan to form carts, and boats continued to be used during later periods. In the settled life of the Harappan people, the knowledge of houses made of burnt bricks, knowledge of digging wells, and square pillars used by Harappan continued into later periods. The metallurgical knowledge of the Harappan people also continued because gold, silver, tin, copper, etc. were used in India throughout history. 

Significance of Seals of Harappan Civilization

The seals & sealing constitute one of the most important sources to understand of Harappan civilization the archaeological excavation has discovered around 2500 seals. The size of seals varies from 0.5 inches to 2.5 inches. Most of the seals are made up of steatite. Some metal seals have also been found.

Unicorn Seal
Unicorn Seal

Harappan seals are quadrilateral in shape. Various symbols are found on seals. The examination of these Harappan seals through light on the socio-eco-religious cultural & political life of this great civilization. The discoveries of seals from Harappan settlement indicate that seal making was an important craft & seal makers formed a part of the Harappan population.

Seals are an important excavation of miniature art (art on small scale) of Harappan. On a seal found at Lothal, a harp-like musical instrument is depicted. Harappan was aware of music. Seals contain pictographic script used by Harappan. Since seals were made by common people & were used commonly, it appears that most of the Harappan people were literate.

The birds & animals depicted on seals helped in understanding the knowledge of birds & animals of Harappan. The bull is the most commonly depicted animal. This indicates that the bull was having great significance in the life of the Harappan people. Fish is the most commonly depicted zoomorphic significance (loving significance). This indicates that Harappan practiced fishing.

Seals through light on Harappan external contact. A cylindrical seal of Mesopotamia civilization was found at Mohenjodaro. Persian Gulf seal was found at Lothal. These seals confirm that Harappan maintained trade & commercial relations with these regions. Seals through light on various dimensions of the religious life of Harappan civilization.

The mother goddess, proto-shiva & fertility deity are depicted on seals. The depiction of the bull on seals indicates animal worship. The black marks found on the seal indicate something like oil & fragrance was burnt by Harappan to please their deity. The square & rectangle shapes of Harappan seals through light knowledge of geometry.

The materials from which seals are made reveal the material culture of the Harappan civilization. Uniformity found among various Harappan settlements indicates that civilization was administered by the central authority.

The Harappa

Harappan cities are divided into two parts – known as upper town & lower town. There was open ground between the two. The lower town was located east of the upper town. Only at Dholavira (Gujarat), the city was divided into 3 parts. There was a middle town located between the upper town & lower town.

The upper town was surrounded by a fort/citadel (Fort). At Surkotada & Kalibangan even the lower town was fortified. At Chanhudaro there was no fort. Both parts of Harappan cities were laid out in a planned manner. Harappan followed the chessboard pattern/ grid pattern.

Details of City Planning

Urban Planning of Indus Valley Civilization
Urban Planning of Indus Valley Civilization

The main street in Harappan cities moved from north to south direction. It was about 30 feet wide. The main street was interested in several narrow lanes at the right angle. The houses were built alongside the lane.

There was small no mainland between the two houses (free areas – walls are not touching each other). Harappan houses comprised two or more rooms build around a courtyard. The doors were on one side of the wall. In one corner of the house, the kitchen was built. Windows were absent, ventilators were there. Some houses had a double story. The staircase was probably wooden because no evidence has been found.

Mohenjodaro is a type site (most representative site/site from most of the features of civilization that have been discovered). In Mohenjo-Daro, almost every house had a well. There was a public well on every street. More than 700 wells had been found in the city of Mohenjodaro. Every street was having underground covered drainage.

The drains of side lanes opened in the bigger drain of the main street. The drainage had manholes at regular intervals which were used to clean the drainage. There were soak pits in drainage for recharging the underground water table. This indicates that Harappan practiced water harvesting. The left-out water in drains is carried to the field for irrigation purposes. Harappan collected rainwater in pounds.

16 water reservoirs have been found at Dholavira. One reservoir was so big that it could store more the 250000 cubic meters of water. Some of these reservoirs were interconnecting. This indicates that Harappan new technology of water filtration by using a method of sedimentation.

These pounds were filled by collecting rainwater in that area. In this way, Harappan conserved each & every drop of water available to them. It was because of this highly advanced system of water management, Harappan cities like Dholavira could flourish in arid regions where water was external scarce. Dams were built by Harappan in rivers for flood irrigation. The Harappan used to flush toilets. Harappan first it would have such toilets.

The discovery of evidence of such toilets indicates that Harappan was concerned about Sanitation. To protect cities from the threat of flash floods. The upper town was built at some height concerning the lower town. It was surrounded by a strong fort. All important installation was located within this fort.

Previous Year Questions for UPSC Prelims

Ques 1: Consider the following statements regarding the Great Bath located at the site of Mohenjodaro of Harappan Civilisation:

I.The Great Bath is a finely built brick structure that measures 12 m by 7m, and is nearly 3m deep from the surrounding pavement.

II.The floor of the bath was constructed of sawn bricks set on edge in gypsum mortar, with a layer of bitumen sandwiched between the inner and outer brick layers.

III. Water was evidently supplied by a large well in an adjacent room, and an outlet from one corner of the bath led to a high corbelled drain disgorging on the west side of the mound.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

a.Only I

b.I and II

c.I and III

d.All of the above

Answer: Option D

Explanation: A layer of bitumen was sandwiched between the inner and outer brick layers of the bath’s floor, which was made of sawn bricks put on edge in gypsum mortar. An exit from one corner of the bathroom led to a high corbelled drain disgorging on the west side of the mound, indicating that water was provided by a sizable well in a nearby room.

Porticos and clusters of rooms around the bathroom, and a stairway led to an upper level. It is generally accepted that this bath had some connection to the ritual bathing that has been a staple of Indian life since ancient times.

Ques 2: Consider the following statements regarding the granaries found at the various sites of Indus Valley Civilisation:

I.Granaries are immediately located to the west of the Great Bath at Mohenjodaro is a group of 27 blocks of brickwork crisscrossed by narrow lanes.

II.Somewhat similar structures have also been found at Harappa, Kalibangan and Lothal.

III.These structures have been identified as granaries which were used for storing water.

Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct?

a.Only I

b.I and II

c.I and III

d.All of the above

Answer: Option B

Explanation: The Great Bath at Mohenjodaro lies immediately to the west of a collection of 27 brick buildings that are divided by constricting corridors. Overall, it is 50 meters east to west and 27 meters north to south. At Harappa, Kalibangan, and Lothal, somewhat comparable structures have been discovered. It has been determined that these buildings are granaries, which were used to store grains.

Quick Questions on Elements of Continuity of Harappan Civilization for UPSC Preparation

The civilization is renowned for its innovative handicraft methods, extensive drainage systems, baked-brick homes, and urban planning. Urbanization-related aspects of the Harappan Culture envisioned towns: Town planning was a distinctive feature of the Harappan society.

The Early Harappan Phase, which lasted from 3300 to 2600 BCE, Mature Harappan Phase, which lasted from 2600 to 1900 BCE, and Late Harappan Phase, which lasted from 1900 to 1300 BCE, are the three phases of IVC.

The creation of urban centres was the Harappan Civilization’s most distinctive characteristic. The most well-known Harappan Civilization site is Mohenjodaro. The following sections made up the settlement: Citadel It was higher but smaller.

An important turning point in the prehistory of the Indian subcontinent is the Harappan civilization. In many aspects, the civilisation serves as a wonderful model for the contemporary world. They are unmatched experts in drainage systems, water management and harvesting systems, and municipal planning.

The first known urban culture on the Indian subcontinent is the Indus civilization, often known as the Indus valley civilization or the Harappan civilization. Although the southern sites may have continued later until the second millennium bce, the nuclear dates of the civilisation seem to be about 2500-1700 bce.

Many historians think that changes in the region’s topography and climate are what caused the fall of the Indus civilisation. The Indus river may have flooded and changed course due to movement in the Earth’s crust, or outer layer.

Due to its existence during the Bronze Age, which lasted between 3000 and 1000 BCE, the Harappan culture is referred to as a Bronze Age civilization.

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