Indus Valley Civilization (2600 – 1800 BC) culture notes

Also known as’ Bronze Age’ / ‘Saraswathi sindhu’ / ‘Harappan civilization’.

indus valley civilizationSeals Indus Valley Civilization

  • Usually in Square, Rectangular, Circular & Triangular shapes with an average size of ‘2 x 2.’
  • Engraved in pictographic script (Writing – Right to left) along with animal impressions which are yet to be deciphered
  • Made up of soft river stone, Copper, steatite, gold & ivory – mainly for trade & commerce
  • An average of 5 signs are present on Seals.
  • Decorated with animals pics like Unicorn, Bull, Rhinoceros, Elephant, Tiger, Bison, Goat & Buffalo etc..
  • No seal found with the image of cow till now.
  • Indus seals found in Mesopotamia i.e Sign of possible trade.

Significance of Seal

  • Used as an amulet i.e to ward off the evil.
  • Also used as an educational tool. Some seals have presence of pie sign.
  • Prominent Seals; Pashupati, humped bull, elephant & rhinoceros.

Terracota imagesTerracotta Sculptures Indus Valley Civilization

  • It is a fire baked clay & is handmade using pinching method
  • Ex:- Mother Goddess, Toy carts with wheels etc.

Bronze Sculptures

  • The technique used for casting is known as “Lost Wax Technique.”

Indus valley civilizationBronze dancing girl

  • It is a naked girl wearing only ornaments which include bangles, armlets, necklace & amulets.
  • The left hand is on the hip & made using “Lost Wax Technique.”

Lost Wax Technique

  • wax figures are covered with a coating of clay and allowed to dry
  • Then it is heated & the molten wax is allowed to drain out through a tiny hole at the bottom of the clay
  • The hollow mould is then filled with bronze or any other metal
  • Once the metal is cooled, the clay is removed
  • Ex:- ‘Dancing Girl’ & buffalo with its uplifted head, back & horns

Other stone Sculpture

  • 2 Stone male figures; Torso in red sandstone & Bust of a bearded man in steatite.

Indus valley potteryPottery – Indus Valley Civilization

  • Mainly plain, red & black painted.
  • Consists primarily of wheel- made wares, & very few being hand-made.
  • Under red & black pottery, red color was used to paint background.
  • While black colour to draw designs of trees, birds, human figures & geometrical patterns.

Use of Pottery

  • For household purpose (storage of water, food grains etc.)
  • For decoration- Miniature vessels used for decoration (Less than 1/2 inch)
  • Used as perforated pottery i.e large hole at the bottom & small holes all over the wall, & probably was used for straining liquor).


  • Made of a large variety of materials like precious metals, gemstones, bone & even baked clay.
  • Necklaces, armlets & finger rings were common & Worn by male & female. But earrings wore only by females.
  • Evidences of dead bodies buried along with ornaments have also been found.
  • Conscious of Fashion
  • Cinnabar was used as a cosmetic lipstick, face paint & eyeliner were also known.
  • Spinning of cotton & wool was common.

Great bathExtensive Town Planning

  • Citadel / Acropolis at cities for member of ruling class (west side) & brick houses below citadel in town for commoners
  • Fortifications with gateways enclosing the walled cities shows that there may have been a fear of being attacked
  • Concept of two-storied houses was also present
  • Large scale use of baked bricks as building material.
  • Granaries in Citadels with strategic air-ducts, gives an idea of an organised collection & distribution system
  • Remarkable grid system of roads & Roads cutting at right angle to each other.
  • Remarkable underground drainage system connecting all houses & streets covered by bricks / stone slabs.
  • Great Bath – public bathing place shows the importance of ritualistic bathing and cleanliness in this culture.

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