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The Decline of the Harappan Civilization

History | 8-14 yrs | Animation, Video

History of Harappan Civilization

The city of Harappa was divided into two parts- The Citadel, which was home to the great public bath, as well as large residential buildings that housed around 5000 people. It also had two large assembly halls, but there is no evidence of the presence of any kings, priests, armies, palaces or temples. So the purpose of the Citadel is still unclear. The Lower City was laid out in a grid like pattern. Most of people lived here and seemed to have been traders or artisans.

They resided with others who were in the same profession as theirs. Potters’ kilns, dyers’ vats, metal working, bead making, shell making suggest that the people of Harappa had a wide range of occupations. Materials were procured from far-away places to make a wide range of things such as seals, beads and other artifacts.

Seals which were discovered during excavations had pictures of Gods, animals and other inscriptions. Some of these seals were used to stamp clay on trade goods. Goods made in the Indus valley traveled as far as Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), Afghanistan and other parts of India. Jewelery that was discovered in the area suggests that the people of the Indus Valley had access to gold, copper and semi-precious stones.

The city had good flood control measures and irrigation systems in place.

In spite of this, evidence suggests that Mohenjo-daro was destroyed and rebuilt seven times. This was because of the damage caused by severe floods and the river changing its course. The entire city was wiped out. The repeated rebuilding process proves that their architects were dedicated workers and always dealt with nature’s forces. Extensive agricultural production and trade with Sumer (one of the oldest civilizations) in Southern Mesopotamia supported life at Harappa.

Weapons and tools were made from copper and bronze but not iron. Wheat, rice and a variety of vegetables and fruits were cultivated. A number of animals were domesticated and cotton was woven and dyed for clothing.

The people of Harappa seemed to have lived peaceful lives, with little fear of invasion. According to one theory, When the Aryans arrived from the Northwest, they hardly encountered any resistance from the Harappans. The Harappan people were overpowered by their superior military skills. All the cities fell one by one, weakened already by constant floods and rebuilding. Harappans, who were termed ‘Dasyus’ by the Aryans, either joined the lower sections of the Aryan community or fled south. This theory is no longer popular.

Drought and a slowdown in trade with Mesopotamia and Egypt are now thought to be more likely causes of the decline of the Indus Valley civilization.

The fall of Mohenjo-daro is a typical example of the decay of this great culture. It took another thousand years before a city as well-planned was built again.

Excavations reveal that the people of Harappa were technologically advanced and had an efficient system of governance in place.

Some artifacts that were excavated from the area include soapstone seals like the humped Brahmani bull and Pashupati. Other carved figures that were discovered include the bronze dancing girl and the statue of a priest and a man’s torso.

Stone implements and cave paintings from this period have been found in many parts of Asia. There is also evidence suggesting the domestication of animals, village settlements and wheel-turned pottery dating from the middle of the 6th century BC, which were discovered on the foothills of Singh and Baluchistan, both in Pakistan.

Archelogists, R.D. Bannerjee and Sir John Marshall rediscovered this historic site in the 1920s, giving the world a peek into ancient cultures and civilizations.

For more such interesting history articles and videos, visit History for Kids category.


  1. Your article on Harappan Civilisation is quite out dated and needs updation in view of archeological discoveries made in the last few decades. Most archeologists & Indologists now reject Aryan Invasion Theory.