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Harappan cities in Gujarat

Updated on September 22, 2016


A Stupa – An Archaeological Sources

The archaeological excavation at Harappan and Mohenjodaro, Kot Diji, Ropar, Mehrgarh and several other sites have proved that a planned civilization existed in the Indus Valley 5,000 years ago. The ruins of Nalanda in Bihar reveal the ancient (contemporary) system of education.

Coins – Coins are valuable sources of information. These coins are made of gold, silver, copper and other metals.

They tell us about the economy of the kingdom, the periods of rulers and trade activities with other regions.

Inscriptions : Inscriptions are written records engraved on rocks, metal pillars, copper plates, cave walls, walls of temples and places and on clay tablets.

Inscriptions provide us important information about events, ruling and declarations of ancient rulers. Inscriptions also deal with the administration and the qualities of the kings. They also provide us with important dates of coronation, specimen of art and relation with neighboring and distant rulers.

Literary Sources

Whatever our ancestors wrote is an evidence in the form of written records. These are literary sources. In the beginning, when paper was not invented, people of that period used to write on Bhojpatra, the dried bark of trees.

They also wrote on a solid rock stone, copper plates, rock pillars and tablets.

It is from these records our history is made, as we know it today. Handwritten records of the past, in the form of books, are called manuscripts. These accounts of contemporary events help us in knowing our past and provide us information about customs, religious beliefs and cultures of people.

Literary sources may be divided into two types

Religious Literature: Writing that deals with religion is called religious literature. The Vedas, the Aranyakas, the Brahmanas, the Upanishads, Tripitaka, Dipvamsa, the Mahavamsa and Jataka are religious books on the sub – continent. These give us important information about ancient India.

Secular literature: Writings which are not religious are known as secular literature. These include the historical accounts and biographies written by poets and foreign travelers. They were written to record happenings, events, administrative setup, rules and declarations by the kings.

The Arthashastra written by Kautilya, on how to run the government, gives us information about the Mauryan administration and contemporary society. Travelers’ accounts are also included in secular literature. A number of foreign travellers, who visited India from time to time, left very important social and political accounts of the country in their travelogues. Megasthenes lived in India for some time as the Greek ambassador at the court of Chabndragupta Maurya. He wrote the Indika.

Harappan civilization

Civilizations were developed along rivers

Civilization comes from the Latin word service which means someone who lives in a town. People are called civilized when they live in organized groups such as towns. Such organized groups are called civilization.

Most civilizations were developed along rivers. This happened because rivers supplied a continuous flow of water for farming and human consumption.

It was thousands of years later, in 1921, that the first city, Harappan was discovered. Later, many more sites were excavated. Historians and archaeologists researched and concluded that these cities belonged to a common culture.Since these cities were located in the valley of the River Indus, this culture began to know as the Indus valley civilization. Archaeologists and historians also refer to this civilization as the Harappan Civilization as Harappa was the first site to be excavated.

Harappan was the first excavated by Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sani in the year 1921.Rakhal Das Banerji, in the year 1922, discovered Mohenjo – daro (Mound of the Dead) in Larkana district of Sind, Pakistan.

Great Bath: A tank like structure, discovered from Mohenjo -daro, probably used for bathing. Rattle; A toy filled with small pellets, which makes a noise when shaken.

Gola Dharo, Lothal and Dholavira cites were in Gujarat

Gala Dharo

It is a newly excavated site in the Kutch region. Archaeological findings suggest that articles on shell, faience and copper were manufactured here. Finished and unfinished shell bangles have been found from this site. A wide open area was also there in the settlement, where public ceremonies could be held.

A very distinct seal has been found from this site, which is hollow and shaped like a box.


The city of Lothal is a coastal site. It is situated between Bhogava and the Sabarmati river, in Gujarat that is close to the gulf of Khambat. Since Lothal was a port town, it's easy access to raw materials such as semi – precious stones. Lothal was an important center for creating objects out of shells, metals and stones. A large warehouse has been found in the citadel area, which was perhaps used to store goods.From this warehouse, numerous seals and sealings (impression of the seals on clay) have been recovered.

The lower town had workshop of shell workers and coppersmiths. The most important brick structure at Lothal is the dockyard where goods were located and unloaded. This confirms that it was an important trading centre.


The city of Dholavira is situated in Khadir Island in the Rann of Kutch. It is locally known as Kotada. As per size, it is one of the largest settlements in India and among the five largest sites in the Indian subcontinent. Unlike some other Harappan cities, which were divided into two parts, Dholavira was divided into three parts – a citadel, a middle town and a lower town. Each part was surrounded by massive stone walls along with big gateways. To the north of the citadel was a large open area probably used for public ceremonies.

Dholavira has evidence of copper – working and bead – working areas. The most extraordinary find is the oldest signboard in the world, having a large inscription and made up of ten letters. The inhabitants had also learnt the art of conserving water in reservoirs and dams.

Lothal city Ahmadabad

The lower town

Most of the buildings in the lower town were residential quarters. The houses were one or two storyes high and built of baked bricks. Most houses had a central courtyard, around which rooms were constructed. The windows opened into the courtyard, where all household activities took place. The -hearth was normally made in a sheltered corner of the courtyard. Every house had a bathing area along with a well. Terracotta drainpipes were used for draining water from the roof. Archaeologists have even found remnants of baked brick staircases.

Village life

Village people grew crops and reared animals. The farmers and herders living in the villages supplied food to people living in the towns. Archaeological remains of plants show that the Harappan grew wheat, pulses, peas, barley, rice, sesame, linseed, mustard, banana, melon and pomegranate.

A toy model of a plough which has been found indicates that people used ploughs to farm the land. The Harappans reared sheep, cattle, goats and buffaloes. These animals may have been used for milk and meat.

Harappan also excelled in making statuettes in stone. A large number of terracotta animals and human figurines have been found from all over Indus Valley. They also made terracotta toy cats, rattles, whistles in the form of birds, dice and cakes.


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