48 Lesser-Known Facts about Indus Valley Civilization

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Cities of Indus Valley Civilization:

12Mohenjo-Daro is the largest site, and Allahdino is the smallest site

excavated site of Mohenjo-daro

Mohenjo-Daro, with an area of around 300 hectares, was the largest city of the civilization. At its peak, it may had accommodated a population of about 40,000, which is huge regarding ancient standards.

IVC-Fact#12 Mohenjo-Daro was the largest city and Allahdino was the smallest Click to Tweet

13Oldest known settlement was Mehrgarh, established around 7000 BC

Mehrgarh was a small farming village that began during the Pre-Harappan period. It is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming and herding in South Asia.

IVC-Fact#13 Mehrgarh was the oldest Indus Valey settlement- 7000BC Click to Tweet

14Harappan towns and cities showed extraordinary levels of standardization

Not only the Harappan cities were well-planned, but also they followed a level of standardization that no other ancient culture could achieve at that time. Nearly all the cities that are discovered were constructed in a similar pattern. Houses were made of bricks that are precisely of the same standard dimensions. They all had sophisticated water management systems.

This particularly astonishes researchers because till now no evidence of any central ruler or authority has been found. Without any central power to impose these standards, how did they achieve this level of standardization!

IVC-Fact#14 Indus Valley cities showed extraordinary levels of standardization Click to Tweet

15Harappan towns and cities were laid down in a rectangular grid pattern

Upper town of Mohenjo-Daro
Plan showing upper town of Mohenjo-Daro

Harappan towns and cities were designed in a rectangular grid pattern. The main streets ran along North-South direction and secondary streets along East-West direction. They intersected at junctions making perfect right angles. Many scholars believe this is the result of religious or astronomical beliefs.

IVC-Fact#15 Harappan towns were laid in rectangular grid pattern with streets intersecting at 90 degrees Click to Tweet

16The cities had wide streets

Wide streets of Mohenjo-Daro

Roads, especially in Mohenjo-Daro, were as wide as 10.5 m. Harappa also had wide roads having a similar width. The smallest roads were at least of 1.5m – 3m wide. It is believed that most of the activities like market etc. were held along these streets which justify the widths very appropriately.

IVC-Fact#16 Streets in IVC cities were as wide as 10.5m and smaller streets were of at least 1.5m Click to Tweet

17Harappan streets were paved and graded with drainage systems

At Mohenjo-Daro, as well as in other cities, the streets were very carefully constructed keeping in mind the grading for the disposal of stormwater with channels running along the streets as well as underground pipes.

The streets were also paved with sundried or burnt bricks for convenient movement of ox-driven carts.

IVC-Fact#17 Harappan streets were paved and graded with drainage systems Click to Tweet

18Cities were constructed several times and every time along the same pattern

Over the period of 800-1000 years, many Harappan cities were constructed several times owing to destruction by floods, deposition of silts, etc. Every time a new construction was made they were done on top the original grid. For example, archaeologists have found that Mohenjo-Daro was constructed at least 9 times and each time on top of the earlier levels.

This proves their understanding of the importance of the grid pattern and also the degree of their standardization in planning.

IVC-Fact#18 Mohenjo-Daro was constructed at least 9 times and each time maintaining the original grid Click to Tweet

19Cities had distinct neighborhoods, specialized in various occupations

The Indus Valley cities can be divided into distinct neighborhood blocks with specific characteristics identified from the professions of the inhabitants. Occupants of different parts of the city were involved in different crafts and professions. One cluster may be involved in the manufacture of shell products, another may produce copper products, while some clusters may be involved with cotton or dyeing.

IVC-Fact#19 IVC cities had distinct neighborhoods with specialized occupations and crafts Click to Tweet

20There were well-built granaries, citadels, burial grounds and bathing platforms.

View of Granary and Great Hall on Mound F in Harappa
View of Granary and Great Hall on Mound F in Harappa

All the Indus Valley sites have been found to have granaries, citadels, burial grounds and bathing platforms. The granaries were huge in size and were very sophisticatedly designed. There were air passages to remove any moisture and keep the grains dry. This kind of advanced granaries was found only after 2800 years in Roman brick granaries.

IVC-Fact#20 Harappan granaries had advanced technologies only found after 2800 years in Roman brick granaries Click to Tweet

21All the structures were built of Burnt bricks of standard sizes

Bricks used in construction during the Mature Harappa Period were all manufactured in two basic sizes- 7 x 14 x 28 cms and 10 x 20 x 40 cms. The smaller bricks were used for the construction of residences and other smaller houses while the larger ones were used for public buildings, walls, etc. Both the types of bricks followed a ratio of 1 : 2 : 4.

There are also rock-cut structures found in Dholavira which shows they were not limited to bricks as a building material.

IVC-Fact#21 Harappans had standard bricks sizes with a ratio of 1:2:4 used for all constructions Click to Tweet

22The ratio 1 : 2 : 4 was maintained everywhere

Not only the bricks but this ratio was observed everywhere. For example, in the dimensions of houses, public structures, neighborhood blocks and even the entire region of the city. The scholars find it difficult to understand whether this level of standardization is enforced or deliberate, or whether it is related to religious beliefs or just a convention among the builders.

IVC-Fact#22 Harappan followed the ratio 1:2:4 in their dimensions of bricks, houses, neighborhood block and… Click to Tweet

23Most of the houses were two-storeyed and even three-storeyed with ample space within.

Schematic drawing showing Indus Valley houses

The Indus Valley civilization had excellent masons who were able to construct load-bearing brick structures up to two stories effortlessly. These houses had a central courtyard and a flat accessible terrace.

IVC-Fact#23 Harappan houses were two to three storeyed with central courtyard and flat accessible terrace Click to Tweet

24The houses in Indus Valley Civilization were strategically designed to prevent dust and noise.

The houses had only one door and no windows towards the main streets. The door would open into a central courtyard which would have access to multiple rooms. All the windows and ventilators of the houses opened towards this courtyard and saved the house from pollution and noise.

IVC-Fact#24 In Indus Valley Civilization houses were strategically designed to prevent dust and noise Click to Tweet

25Harappan houses were the first to have the luxury of attached bathrooms with flush toilets

well in mohenjo-daro

Almost all the houses in Indus Valley Civilization had bathrooms with access to running water and toilets with sophisticated drainage facilities. This technology is way ahead of its time and is first seen in this civilization.

IVC-Fact#25 Harappan houses were firsts to have attached bathrooms and toilets with running water Click to Tweet

26They were experts in creating complex water management system

Indus Valley drain and well with bathing platform

In Mohenjo-Daro, archeologist found a very advanced water management system with 80 public toilets and more than 700 wells. Every house had its own bathroom and wells were strategically located to supply water to every neighborhood. There was also a system to store rainwater. The discovery of earliest public water tank which is now known as Great Bath shows their skills in architecture.

IVC-Fact#26 All Indus Valley cities had complex water management systems with easily accessible wells Click to Tweet

27At least one Great Bath in every city

The Great Bath, Mohenjo-daro

The towns used to have Great Baths. Though the exact purpose of baths is not clear, it is believed that these might be used for religious bathing.

IVC-Fact#27 Each towns used to have a 'Great Bath' probably used for religious bathing Click to Tweet

28Awareness of hygiene

It is very clear that the Indus Valley people were well-aware of the importance of living and maintaining a hygienic life. They had put so much effort to provide personal and public baths for everyone, stormwater runoff channels, underground wastewater systems and even garbage disposal. These facts make their attempts to make a healthy and hygienic life quite obvious.

IVC-Fact#28 Harappans made their best attempts to live a healthy, hygienic life Click to Tweet

29In Mohenjo-Daro, there were dustbins along the streets

brick chambers as garbage bin in Mohenjo-Daro

Archaeologists have found several brick containers that were strategically located along the street junctions of Mohenjo-Daro specifically for garbage disposal.

IVC-Fact#29 In Mohenjo-Daro, there were dustbins along the streets Click to Tweet

30Underground wastewater system

Covered Drain

There is little doubt that the Harappan were experts in managing water systems. There were separate water channels for stormwater and foul water running along the streets. Foul water drains were underground and were covered with terracotta lids. There were even chambers with openable lids for cleaning purposes.

IVC-Fact#30 Harappan streets were lined with separate stormwater and underground foul water channels Click to Tweet

31Presence of several major port cities proves the large-scale Maritime trade

dockyard at Lothal
The Dockyard at Lothal

Lothal is believed to be the world’s first dockyard. Balakot, Suktagendor, and Allahdin are other major port cities that give us an idea of the magnitude of the Maritime trade that existed with other civilizations.

IVC-Fact#31 Harappan port city of Lothal had the world's first dockyard. Click to Tweet

32At Dholavira there was a complex water management system to store water for the dry seasons

Cities like Dholavira build dams to control the flow of water so that they can store water in gigantic reservoirs. They used to store water for irrigation and for domestic supplies throughout the year. At Dholavira there were 16 reservoirs around the city.

computer graphic image of Dholavira
Computer Graphic Image of Dholavira

These dams and reservoirs solved two purposes- first, they protected the city from floods; second, they ensured water supply throughout the year.

IVC-Fact#32 Harappan city of Dholavira had 16 reservoirs to protect from flood and provide water for irrigation Click to Tweet

16 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for this information. I love ancient history. I hope someone deciphers their language. Their lack of symbols being put together on stone makes me wonder if they used some type of paper to write on. If so, they would have had libraries to store them in. I’m sure more artifacts will be discovered over time that will shed more light on this interesting civilization.

    • google: S. Kalyanaraman Sarasvati Research Center May 26, 2017, for the recent decipher of Indus script. Also another researcher has done this: google: Suzanne Redalia – Apr 17, 2016.

  2. This civilization has been turned into a ‘Faceless’ (Possehl) one due to careless mistakes of historians. The present form of the RigVeda may be dated to about 1500 BC but Vedic culture is much older. Names such as Ayodhya (Rehman Dheri) Kashi, Koshala, Magadha (Sumerian Mah Gud) Melukhkha(Maha Uksha), Kalinga, Kikata etc. go back to this era. Some of the seals at least can be read if it is assumed that Brahmi was an offshoot of the Harappan writing system. The name Mohenjo Daro is a transform of Maha Indra Dvara.

  3. First time I have read such a detailed and most informative article on the Indus Valley Civilization although I belong to its geographic region, with my family originating in Ahmedabad and presently living in Karachi. I have visited both the Harrapa and Moenjo Daro sites, and am quite familiar with the present day geography and sociology of the complete Indus Valley Site in Pakistan. The Hakra River now exists only as the Hakra Distributory on the fringes of the green belt in the area of Bahawalpur.

  4. We do not know what happened to IVC. Yet a civilisation which lived for such a long time, even with migration must have left impressions or links with later civilisations. What I am saying is there should be continuum unless it is a magical vanishing of a civilisation. I am curious to know what are these continuum signs.

  5. Is it possible that the civilisation ended because of not one great flood but similar floods over a longer period of time thus forcing the few people left to migrate to other destinations?

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