Harappa is an archaeological site from the Indus Valley civilization, located in Punjab, Pakistan.

Archaeological site[]

The site of the ancient city contains the ruins of a Bronze Age fortified city, which was part of the Indus Valley civilization centered in Sindh and the Punjab, and then the Cemetery H culture.[1] The city is believed to have had as many as 23,500 residents and occupied about 370 acres with clay brick houses at its greatest extent during the Mature Harappan phase (2600–1900 BC), which is considered large for its time.[2][3] Per archaeological convention of naming a previously unknown civilization by its first excavated site, the Indus Valley Civilization is also called the Harappan Civilization.


Harappan small figures

Miniature Votive Images or Toy Models from Harappa, ca. 2500. Hand-modeled terra-cotta figurines with polychromy.

Statues of various deities (such as, Indra, the god of storm and war) have been found at many sites and, chief among them, terracotta pieces depicting the Shakti (the Mother Goddess) suggesting a popular, common worship of the feminine principle. In about 1500 BCE it is thought another race, known as the Aryans, migrated into India through the Khyber Pass and assimilated into the existing culture, perhaps bringing their gods with them. While it is widely accepted that the Aryans brought the horse to India, there is some debate as to whether they introduced new deities to the region or simply influenced the existing belief structure. The Aryans are thought to have been pantheists (nature worshipers) with a special devotion to the sun and it seems uncertain they would have had anthropomorphic gods.


Harappa Red pottery, IVC

Harappa. Fragment of Large Deep Vessel, circa 2500 B.C. Red pottery with red and black slip-painted decoration, 4 15/16 × 6 1/8 in. (12.5 × 15.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum

Clay and stone tablets unearthed at Harappa, carbon dated to 3300–3200 BCE., contain trident-shaped and plant-like markings. "It is a big question as to if we can call what we have found true writing, but we have found symbols that have similarities to what became Indus script" said Dr. Richard Meadow of Harvard University, Director of the Harappa Archeological Research Project.[4] This primitive writing is placed slightly earlier than primitive writings of the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, dated c.3100 BCE.[4] These markings have similarities to what later became Indus Script.[4]

A large number of small square seals engraved with human or animal motifs, have also been found at such sites as Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. The pictographic inscriptions suggest a form of writing or script, however despite the efforts of philologists and modern cryptographic analysis, the signs remain undecipherable. It is also unknown if they reflect proto-Dravidian or other non-Vedic language(s).

In February 2006 a school teacher in the village of Sembian-Kandiyur in Tamil Nadu discovered a stone celt (tool) with an inscription estimated to be up to 3,500 years old.[5] [6] Indian epigraphist Iravatham Mahadevan postulated that the four signs were in the Indus script and called the find "the greatest archaeological discovery of a century in Tamil Nadu".[5] Mahadevan proposed that such evidence would support that the Indus Valley language was of Dravidian origin. However, the absence of a Bronze Age in South India, contrasted with the knowledge of bronze making techniques in the Indus Valley cultures, calls into question the validity of his hypothesis.


Harappan society was not entirely peaceful, with the human skeletal remains demonstrating some of the highest rates of injury (15.5%) found in South Asian prehistory.[7] Paleopathological analysis demonstrated that leprosy and tuberculosis were present at Harappa, with the highest prevalence of both disease and trauma present in the skeletons from Area G (an ossuary located south-east of the city walls).[8] Furthermore, rates of cranio-facial trauma and infection increased through time demonstrating that the civilization collapsed amid illness and injury. The bioarchaeologists who examined the remains have suggested that the combined evidence for differences in mortuary treatment and epidemiology indicate that some individuals and communities at Harappa were excluded from access to basic resources like health and safety, a basic feature of hierarchical societies worldwide.[8]


  1. Basham, A. L.; Dani, D. H. (Winter 1968–1969). "(Review of) A Short History of Pakistan: Book One: Pre-Muslim Period.". Pacific Affairs 41 (4): 641–643. doi:10.2307/2754608. 
  2. Fagan, Brian (2003). People of the earth: an introduction to world prehistory. Pearson. p. 414. ISBN 978-0-13-111316-9. 
  3. "Archeological Site of Harappa". World Heritage Centre. UNESCO. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 BBC, UK website. "Earlist writing found". BBC News. Retrieved 17 July 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Subramaniam, T. S. (May 1, 2006). ""Discovery of a century" in Tamil Nadu". The Hindu. Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
  6. Subramaniam, T. S. (May 1, 2006). "Significance of Mayiladuthurai find". The Hindu. Retrieved 2008-05-23. 
  7. Robbins Schug, Gwen (2012). "A peaceful realm? Trauma and social differentiation at Harappa". International Journal of Paleopathology 2 (2–3): 136–147. doi:10.1016/j.ijpp.2012.09.012. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Robbins Schug, Gwen (2013). "Infection, Disease, and Biosocial Processes at the End of the Indus Civilization". PLoS ONE 8: e84814. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0084814.