100 Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts

indus valley civilization facts

Scientists from Archaeological Survey of India and India’s premier technology institute: IIT Kharagpur – have identified that Indus Valley Civilization is way older than what was thought previously.

The scientists have noted, through carbon dating of various pottery and animal remains that the Indus Valley Civilization is at least 8,000 years old while the previously held notion is that the civilization was 5,500 years old.

This means that Indus Valley Civilization came to existence before the Egyptian Civilization (dated 7,000 ka BP to 3,000 ka BP) and Mesopotamian Civilization (dated 6,500 ka BP to 3,100 ka BP).

Also, those scientists have identified a Pre-Harappan Civilization which started 1000 years before Indus Valley Civilization properly started. This means that ‘Cradles of Civilization’ as we have been taught in history has to be rewritten.

The whole world owes to Indus Valley Civilization – the oldest and the most ancient and highly advanced civilization of antiquity! In case you are wondering where to find the study, you can head for the renowned journal: Nature, where the study was published on May 25, 2016.

Please note: ka BP stands for Kilo Annum Before Present where Kilo Annum is a period of 1,000 years. So, based on the new findings:

Pre-Harappan period: 9,000 ka BP to 8,000 ka BP (7,000 BCE – 6,000 BCE)

Indus Valley Civilization: 8,000 ka BP to 2,500 ka BP (6,000 BCE – 500 BCE)

Dates are approximate estimates.

Learn more about this here, here and here.

Of all civilizations of antiquity, the name of Indus Valley Civilization shines bright and bold. The civilization is as old as 5500 BCE when evidences of various religious practices can be found.

Somewhere at around 4000 BCE, farming settlements started in the region and by 3000 BCE, urbanization began. Between 2500 and 2000 BCE, the civilization reached its peak and one of the most technologically advanced civilizations in the world.

The decline of the Indus Valley Civilization began when the River Saraswati began to dry up and climate changes started happening.

However, there are some foolish and utterly stupid people out there who think that the mythical Aryan Invasion was the cause of decline of the Indus Valley Civilization. In this article, let us learn about 100 astonishing Indus Valley Civilization facts.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 1-5

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

1. Of all the four civilizations, viz. Mesopotamian, Chinese, Egyptian and Indus, Indus Valley Civilization is largest in terms of its area. Its area was 1,260,000 square kilometres. It was spread over India, Pakistan, Afghanistan etc. Current findings by Indian scientists from IIT Kharagpur and Archaeological Survey of India show that the extent of the civilization was even bigger.

2. It had Ghaggar-Hakra valley to the east, Makran Coast (Baluchistan) to the west, Afghanistan in northeast and Daimabad (Maharashtra) in south.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

3. Owing to its vast area, 1056 cities have been found. Out of these 1056 cities, 96 of them have been excavated. Dholavaria, Rakhigarhi, Lothal, Kalibangan are some of the famous urban cities apart from Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

4. When it was at its highest stage of civilization, it had a population of 5 million. Yes, Indians had big land and big families too!

5. Out of the 5 million people, many of them lived in villages. Unfortunately, archaeologists are having tough time finding the conditions and culture and society in which they lived because of absence of any proper evidence. Their residences, archaeologists assume, were made of mud or wood which gets damaged easily and hence no trace.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 6-10

6. Not only that we don’t know much about the civilization, archaeologists are not sure what to call this civilization. Everyone calls it as Indus Valley Civilization but now some archaeologists say that Ghaggar-Hakra Valley civilization name is better because around 500 cities are excavated along the banks of Ghaggar-Hakra river (Saraswati).

7. However, some archaeologists think that the cities along the banks of Indus river were destroyed by floods and the cities near Ghaggar-Hakra river are being excavated more, thanks to the desert climate which helped in preserving these cities.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

8. During excavation, archaeologists found more and more of toys and they assumed that most of the inhabitants of this civilization were children.

9. British people used Indus Valley Civilization’s bricks to construct 150 kilometers or 93 miles long railway track from Karachi to Lahore.

10. Just as any other invention, the first people to plan the cities were the Harappans and the same story, the invention’s credit is given to Hippodamus, a Greek urban planner but not the technologically advanced Indus people. Pity, West, Pity!

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 11-15

11. Thanks to the planning of the cities, they were heavily populated but weren’t disordered and messy. Cities of Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations were noisy.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

12. Harappans are famous for their world-class drainage system. The usage of flush toilets, removal of waste water, channeling fresh water into bathrooms – they were masters in this area. They were exceptionally neat. Same type of sanitation is observed in Crete Island’s Minoan Civilization.

13. Town planning was not limited to cities alone, every town, village and city had the same grid pattern and every house constructed used the same bricks, which were of a particular dimension. The bricks were same for all the houses.

14. It is surprising to many researchers and scientists as for how this was achieved because, till date there is no evidences of any authority or leader ruling this Civilization.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

15. Water management system was also thoroughly developed there. There are evidences that tanks were constructed to store water. Canals and bunds were also constructed.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 16-20

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

16. In Lothal, one of the cities of the Civilization, water transport means were available and Terraquaculture was practised. It is an integrated practice of land and water use. These kinds of systems were followed in ancient civilization but the one that was present in Lothal was pretty ahead of its time.

17. Water conservation through the construction of reservoirs, rooftop rain harvesting was seen in different areas of the Civilization as the water availability was an issue.

18. Cities and towns of Harappa maintained rectangular grid pattern. The main streets followed North-South direction and East-West direction was followed by secondary streets. Forming perfect right angles, intersection of streets took place at junctions. Scientists believe that this was planned because of astronomical beliefs.

19. These cities had spacious roads. Mohenjo-Daro roads were 10 meters wide and the smallest roads width is estimated to be at least 1.5 m-3m.

20. Why so spacious roads? Two reasons. The first one is that the cities had huge population but amazing town planning led to almost no chaos on streets. The second one, the markets were held on the roads so they have to be of that width to accommodate people traveling and markets at the same time.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 21-25

21. Mohenjo-Daro was built 9 times and every time the new city on the remains of the old one. The cities which were destroyed were reconstructed again in the similar fashion but the cities were constructed on the remains of the previous one.

22. The cities were divided into blocks which followed a particular profession and all the blocks shared the materials produced within that city. Transportation outside the city was also seen.

23. The cities were divided into east and west parts – west part had a higher platform and there was a citadel present and it was fortified to protect from invaders and floods. This part was reserved for priests and administrators.

24. The east part was at a lower platform and the common folks of different profession lived there.

25. The purpose of citadels of Indus Valley Civilization was quite different from the citadels of other civilizations. They mainly served for diverting the water from floods.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 26-30

26. The houses used burnt bricks and every house had the same planning (construction) but the rich people had 3 storied houses while the normal ones had 2 storied houses. Those houses had courtyards and terraces too.

27. The houses were built in such a way that there was minimal noise, air pollution getting inside the house. For this, there was only one door which faced the main street, so, only one entrance for noise and pollution to enter.

28. Harappa was the first city to be discovered and it was discovered by Dayaram Sahni in 1921. Its present location is in Punjab (Pakistan). It was present on the banks of River Ravi.

indus valley civilization facts

29. The seals made out of stones, chariot made out of copper, and cemeteries (H and R 37) were excavated here (Punjab, Pakistan).

30. The second city to be discovered was Mohenjo-Daro. It was discovered by R.D. Banerjee. Its present location is in Sindh (Pakistan). It was present on the banks of River Indus.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 31-35

31. The word Mohenjo-Daro literally meant the “mound of dead”.

32. It may be surprising to many when we say that the cities of Indus Valley Civilization were akin to present-day New York.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

33. The archaeologists excavated statues of “dancing girls made of bronze”, a “man with beard till his bust”. They were amazed at the precision and perfection of those statues.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

34. Great Bath, Great Granary, Assembly Hall were the architectural structures excavated in Mohenjo-Daro. Great Bath’s use is still not known but the archaeologists assume that it served some religious purpose, so used only during ceremonial occasion.

35. Great Granary was where all the grains were stored of that city. Every city maintained their own granary. Granaries were highly advanced with air duct feature to prevent moisture formation. This kept the grain dry. This type of advanced granary was next seen some 2800 years later in the Roman Civilization.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 36-40

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

36. In Lothal (Gujarat), ruins of dockyard were excavated. Rice was cultivated there and there was a game similar to Chess. People of IVC traded with Mesopotamian Civilization from there.

37. How did we know that Mesopotamian Civilization traded with Indus Valley Civilization? The answer is simple. The seals used by Mesopotamia was seen in Indus Valley Civilization and vice versa. Mesopotamians referred to the word “Mel-lah-ha” which many consider that it referred to Indus Valley Civilization people.

38. The word “Me-lah-ha” is identified with “Met-akam”, a Tamil word which meant “high country”. The Sanskrit word, “Mleccha” (foreign, barbaric etc.) is also identified with “Me-lah-ha” word.

39. In a city called Chanduraho (Indus), evidences of cosmetics were found. Women used lipsticks and other cosmetics. Even small dressing tables were found.

40. In Kalibangan (Rajasthan), fire altars were found which meant sacrifices were made. In Surkotda (Gujarat), remains of horses and chariots were found but of inferior quality. In Ropar (Punjab, India), pit dwellings (for warmth and defense) were seen and pets were buried along with the owners i.e., they believed in afterlife. In Rangpur (Gujarat), rice husk was excavated.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 41-45

41. Mehrgarh was the oldest settlement of Indus Valley Civilization. It came to existence in pre-Harrapan period, circa 7,000 BCE. It started off as a small village. Herding and farming evidences have been found at Mehrgarh.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

42. Streets of IVC cities and towns used planned and systematic grading for stormwater disposal. Underground pipes and channels running alongside the wide streets were the systems used for stormwater disposal. Especially the Harappans were the ones who mastered water management system better than anyone else. They also had intricate underground foul water drainage system in place. Those underground drains had terracotta lid coverings. Chambers were also built with lids that could be opened. The purpose of those chambers was cleaning.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

43. One of the most striking feature of this civilization is the absence of the evidences of armies, slaves, wars, prisons etc.

44. Archaeologists think that either these evidences have been completely wiped out (which is highly unlikely) or they maintained an egalitarian system of governance.

45. The people of Indus Valley Civilization can easily be considered as masters when it comes to science. The knowledge that they had is highly unbelievable for a bronze-age civilization. They were precise in the measurements, their smallest measurement being 1.704 mm, the best of the civilizations of that age.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 46-50

46. They developed their own weight system, which was not similar to any system found in Mesopotamia or Egypt. They created stone cubes with weight increasing in ratio 5:2:1. They had the following weight units:

  • 0.05 unit
  • 0.1 unit
  • 0.2 unit
  • 0.5 unit
  • 1 unit
  • 2 unit
  • 5 unit
  • 10 unit
  • 20 unit
  • 50 unit
  • 100 unit
  • 200 unit
  • 500 unit

47. They were the first to develop a unified system of weights (they were present in multiples of 16) and measures. They used ivory for making scales and other instruments (found in Lothal).

48. The sizes of the bricks were of the ratio 4:2:1. There were three types of bricks -mud bricks, burnt bricks and decorated bricks (which came from Kalibangan, Rajasthan only). Walls were not plastered.

49. The 4:2:1 or 1:2:4 ratio was used not just for making bricks but also for making houses and neighbourhood blocks. Archaeologists aren’t sure about the reason behind such standardization. It could have been deliberate or enforced or a simple practice – a convention that was in practice. It could also have had some religious significance.

50. They used decimal system. Each unit of weight measured 28 grams and they were similar to ounce or Greek’s uncia.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 51-55

51. They invented an instrument for the construction of docks. The accuracy of the structures like dockyard is amazing and they constructed these only after meticulously studying currents, tides etc.

52. In 2001, the archaeologists made a very shocking discovery. The Harappans were adept in medicine too. They made this discovery when they were studying remains of two men (from Mehrgarh, Pakistan). They actually practiced proto-dentistry during the period 5,500 BCE – 7,000 BCE.

53. Harappans had excellent knowledge of metallurgy and they created bronze, lead, tin and copper. No other civilization was so technologically developed as Indus Valley.

54. They knew many metals like silver, gold etc. and used them. Silver was used for the first time in Indus Valley Civilization only.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

55. People of IVC loved art. They made several terracotta figures, statues, seals, pottery and many more with love.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 56-60

56. That is the reason why till this day everyone is spellbound by the anatomical details and realistic nature of the arts.

57. Not just dancing and painting, but they played and loved listening to music. Archaeologists found out an instrument similar to harp and there are evidences (from Lothal) of the usage of the stringed instruments.

58. The pillars’ tops were sometimes decorated with intricate designs and archaeologists believe that this kind of art was way advanced than all other civilizations.

59. They knew various types of cosmetics and facial paints; ornaments were worn by both men and women.

60. The usual games they used to indulge in are chariot race, dice and a game akin to chess.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 61-65

61. It is thought that Hinduism started taking shape from IVC period. The multitude of images of Mother Goddess (Shakti or Kali), who was the most important deity of that period and many seals of Pasupati validate this.

62. They even revered plants, natural forces and animals just like Hindus. Peepal tree, pigeon and Swastik symbol found in Hindu religion were worshipped for the first time in IVC period. Pasupati seal caught everyone’s eye because it strikingly resembles Lord Shiva of the present-day Hindu religion.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

63. Pasupati, with three horned head, is seen in a yogic posture with four animals – rhino, tiger, deer and elephant towards the four corners. Peepal tree, pigeon and Swastik symbol was also seen on the seal.

64. Burial of the dead was also of different types

  • Complete burial – where the dead body was buried completely.
  • Post-cremation burial.
  • Fractional burial where dead body was left in open so that animals and birds could feed on the dead bodies and after that, the leftover body was buried (it is seen in some sections of Indian community even now).

65. Most of the economy ran on trade. There are evidences of different types of transport and just like any other field, they made good progress in the transport system as well.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 66-70

66. There were two types of trade. The first one was inland trade – done through bullock carts and small boats and the other one was dock transport where they used ships to transport material to Mesopotamia, Persia and Egypt.

67. Men and women shared equal status in society. However, there was economic inequality seen in the society.

68. Just like any other section of life, little is known about the agricultural practices of this great civilization. But it is assumed that whatever agricultural practices farmers used made the civilization prosper because there always used to be surplus production.

69. Plough was used and fertile alluvial soil was used (which was brought by Indus, Ghaggar-Hakra rivers). However, presence of only fertile alluvial soil proves to be insufficient for sustaining such big cities.

70. This civilization refutes the hydraulic despotism hypothesis which talks how civilizations, cities and societies emerged.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 71-75

71. According to this theory, for any city to sustain, it needs food; food comes from agriculture and agriculture, at such large scale, can only happen if there is irrigation system.

72. For the irrigation system to develop, the city should be centralized by all means where in the central head of the city or the state can suppress other minor rebellions and treat people as slaves.

73. But, in Indus Valley Civilization, there were no kings, no ministers, no slaves, no forced labor. How they achieved this great feat is still an unsolved mystery.

74. It is seen that they used to store water in dams, and make use of other water conservation systems like terrace agriculture etc.

75. They were the first people to test the purity of gold. They used some touchstone with gold streaks (excavated in Banawali) to test the purity of gold. Some goldsmiths make use of this method even now in India.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 76-80

76. If archaeological evidences are to be believed, these were the people who domesticated and cultivated cotton way back in 6th millennium BCE. They made textiles by spinning and weaving.

77. They just didn’t domesticate and cultivate it, they produced it in huge quantities and cotton was one of the prime products (to be exported), which was in great demand.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

78. They were the ones who invented buttons. Yes, buttons were invented long back, some 5,000 years ago. However, they were used for ornamental purposes and not for fastening. They were made of curved shells.

79. World’s oldest and most probably the first signboard is seen in the ruins of Dholavaria. The archaeologists excavated a 30-cm long signboard in Dholavaria in 1999. Indus script was used on the signboard.

80. As we have not deciphered this script till now, we don’t know what’s written on that signboard. It is believed that the signboard was placed at the portico of north gate of the citadel of Dholavaria.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 81-85

81. Thanks to the very little knowledge that we have, we don’t know what were the exact uses of seals. There are nearly 4000 seals of different varieties like some have animals inscribed on them. On some of them Gods’ and Goddesses’ (Shakti or Maa Kali and Pasupati) images are present. Others were used in stamping clay on goods that were to be traded. However, the archaeologists believe that there are other reasons for these seals to be produced in such huge numbers which are yet to be known.

Indus Valley Civilization Facts

82. Coming to the script they used, it was pictographic (symbols and pictures) and Boustrophedon i.e. it started from the left side to the right side and then it continued without stopping from right to left side.

83. 400 symbols were used but the they used them very meagrely. They used 20 symbols at once which is so far the longest sentence or sequence found till now.

84. Their meagre usage of the symbols made many archaeologists and scholars to think that the script is not really a language and in 2004 Farmer, Sproat, and Witzel produced a paper saying Indus script is not a language but a set of non-linguistic symbols.

85. Some say that these symbols were exclusively used for trade purposes. But, if they were to be used for trade purposes, then why was there a mass production of pots and other ritual objects which had these symbols? No one has answered this question till now.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 86-90

86. What is surprising is that there are no monuments or palaces or temples found in this civilization. We don’t even have an idea of their political structure and religious beliefs.

87. As a challenge to the above paper, Kendriya Vidyalaya’s, Natwar Jha studied the seals and identified the Indus script as some type of Vedic Sanskrit.

88. He also said that the Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations owe a lot to the Indus people as the number and alphabet system was started from Indus Valley Civilization.

89. He also challenges the common notion that Sanskrit and other European languages developed from a proto-language. Instead, he says that Greek language was developed along the lines of Old-Brahmi script which originated in IVC.

90. So, according to him, all the European languages are born out of the language used during IVC time.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 91-95

91. No matter how great a civilization is, it has to sink one day or the other, obliging to wheel of time. IVC was no exception. This sinking started from 1900 BCE.

92. People started abandoning their cities from 1900 BCE and started to live along the other banks of the rivers.

93. The reasons behind the collapse is still unknown. But there are some theories proposed by scholars and archaeologists. The first and the most ridiculous theory one could ever frame was the Aryan Invasion theory by Mortimer Wheeler.

94. This theory finds its roots in the West claiming that they were Aryans and a superior race than Indians. The fact was that they just couldn’t digest to see a civilization being so advanced than their thinking.

95. The other theory was proposed by Lambrick and it is supposed to be one of the main reasons of the collapse of IVC. According to Lambrick, the climate changed from being warm and wet to cold and dry. As the Indus people depended on the rains, they couldn’t survive such severe climate change. However, this theory is no longer the most accepted theory as in 2016, Indian scientists came up with some amazing evidences wherein they proposed that weather change didn’t kill IVC abruptly but it was a gradual phasing out of the civilization because of changes in monsoon. Nature.

Astonishing Indus Valley Civilization Facts: 96-100

96. The change of course of Indus river is also cited as one of the reasons for the collapse. Adding to this, Ghaggar-Hakra river bed dried up completely to make the once flourishing cities to deserts.

97. Another theory was proposed by Robert Raikes. He said that the change in tectonic plates were responsible for the change in the course of river Indus and which led to the collapse of IVC.

98. This theory, though not completely perfect, geologists say that the tectonic movements happened in the time when the great civilization was nearing its end.

99. IVC contributions are numerous. Many other coming civilizations used and further developed the technology used by Indus people. If the Indus script was the beginning of the language, then the whole world owes a lot to this civilization.

100. Needless to say, Hinduism or aptly put Sanatana Dharma took its shape and finds its roots in this great old yet urban civilization.

That’s it for now. And yes, allow us to tell you that archaeologists failed to know more about IVC as they know about other civilizations. It is just the tip of the iceberg folks! Wonder what marvels are to be unraveled when more excavations are done.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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