The Harappan Civilization was one of the oldest civilization in the Indian sub-continent known for its modern structures. It was a Bronze Age Civilization in the northwestern region of South Asia. It is called Harappan because the remnants of the civilization was discovered first at the modern site of Harappa located in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. Archeological evidences suggest that the civilization flourished in the Indus valley, hence it is also known as the Indus Valley Civilization. The entire history of the Harappan Culture can be sub-divided into three phases– the Early Harappan Phase(3300 BC – 2600 BC), the Mature Harappan Phase (2600BC – 1900 BC) and the Late Harappan Phase(1900 BC – 1300BC). Before discussing about the town planning of Indus Valley Civilization let us have quick discussion about it’s discovery.
The discovery of Harappan Civilization(Indus Civilization)
The Harappan Civilization is a path-breaking discovery that relates us to the Ancient India’s way of living and lifestyle. The discovery is not a result of a particular day but it is a conglomeration of various archaeological findings that has been discovered continuously since 19th century. In 1853, a British engineer, Sir Alexander Cunningham discovered a seal. The seal was a smooth black stone without polish. A bull without a hump was engraved on the seal. There were two stars under the neck of the bull and it was looking to the right. Above the bull there was an inscription of six characters. Cunningham thought that the seal cannot be Indian. However, the seal stimulated the discovery of the Harappan Civilization.
In 1921, an Indian archaeologist, Ray Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni, started excavating the Harappan site. In 1922, another archaeologist Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay (R.D Banerji) discovered Mohenjo-daro in Sindh and started excavation. Large scale excavation were carried out at Mohenjo-daro under the supervision of Marshall in 1931. The same site was excavated by Mackey in 1938. In 1948 Vats excavated Harappa. Mortimer Wheeler also excavated Harappa in 1946. This were all done in the pre-Independence period.
After the Independence, Suraj Bhan, M.k Dhavalikar, B.K Thapar, B.B lal among many others continued excavation works in areas of Gujarat, Haryana and Rajasthan. In Pakistan F.A khan, A.H Dani, M.R Mughal and many others excavated many areas.
Town Planning of Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization can be distinguished from its remarkable system of Town Planning. It is almost unbelievable that such arrangement existed in the ancient time unless one studies the remnants of the towns. The town planning has amazed the archaeologist from all over the world. Let’s have a look on the features of the towns in Harappan culture.
- The Citadels or Acropolis – The Harappa and Mohenjo-daro had a citadel or acropolis mount built on a high podium of mud-brick. The citadel is believed to be occupied by the ruling class.
- The Houses -The common people lived in the brick houses of the lower town that lay below the citadel. The houses were arranged in the form of a grid system, with roads cutting across one another almost in right angles.
- The Great Bath – The great Bath was the most important public place of Mohenjo-daro. It may have been used for ritual bathing. The dimension of the Great Bath was 11.88 m(length) x 7.01 m (breadth) x 2.43 m(depth). The floor of the bath was made of burnt brick. There was a large well in the adjacent room and an outlet to drain out the dirty water. Side rooms were available to change clothes. And there were flight steps at either end to the surface.
- Granaries – The largest building in Mohenjo-daro is a granary. It is 45.71 m long and 15.23 m wide. In the citadel of Harappa, there were as many as six granaries. Each granary measured 15.23 m x 6.09 m. Some kind of circular brick platforms are found to the south of the granaries at Harappa. These might be used for threshing of grains.
- The drainage system – Almost all the cities had a good drainage system. Every house had their own courtyard and bathrooms. In Kalibangan most houses had wells. The waters from the houses were flown to the big drains of the city. Altogether the cities had a unique drainage system that were probably not present in any civilization of that time.