Economy of Indus Valley Civilisation

Trade & Transportation

  • Granaries are found at Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, Kalibangan and Lothal.
  • Large granaries were near each citadel, which suggests that the state stored grain for ceremonial purposes and regulation of grain production and sale.
  • The Harappans conducted considerable trade in stone, metal, shell, etc., within the Indus culture zone. However, their cities did not have the necessary raw material for the commodities they produced.
  • They did not use metal money.
  • In weights and measures mostly 16 or its multiple were used.

Trade Links

  • Harappans had commercial links with Afghanistan and Iran. They set up a trading colony in northern Afghanistan which facilitated trade with Central Asia.
  • Harappans executed long-distance trade in lapis lazuli: lapis objects may have contributed to the social prestige of the ruling class.
  • Mesopotamian records from about 2350 BC onwards refer to trade relations with Meluha, which was the ancient name given to the Indus region.
  • Mesopotamian texts speak of two intermediate trading stations called Dilmun and Makan, which lay between Mesopotamia and Meluha. Dilmun is identifiable with Bahrain on the Persian Gulf.
  • Archaeologists have discovered a massive, dredged canal and what they regard as a docking facility at the probability carried exchanges through a barter system. I.e., coastal city of Lothal in western India (Gujarat) and Sutkagendor on Makran coast.


  • The furrows discovered in the pre-Harappan phase at Kalibangan (Rajasthan) indicate that fields were ploughed during the Harappan period.
  • Harappans probably used the wooden plough drawn by oxen and camels.
  • Harappan villages, mostly situated near the flood plains, produced sufficient food grains not only for their inhabitations but also for the town’s people.
  • Indus people produced wheat, barley, ragi, peas, etc. A substantial quantity of barley was discovered at Banawali (Haryana).
  • In addition, sesamum and mustard were grown. At Lothal and Rangapur in Gujarat, rice husk was found embedded in clay and pottery.
  • Indus people were the earliest people to produce cotton and because of this, the Greeks called the area Sindon which is derived from Sindh. Spindle whorls made of terracotta and faience to spin thread have also been found at Harappan sites.
  • Animal Husbandary: In IVC, animals were raised on a large scale. Oxen, buffaloes, goats, sheep and pigs were domesticated. Humped bulls were favoured by Harappans. There is evidence of dogs, cats, asses and camels being bred.
    • Evidence of horse comes from a superficial level of Mohenjo-Daro and from a doubtful terracotta figurine from Lothal. Remains of a horse are reported from Surkotada, situated in west Gujarat and relate to around 2000 BC but the identity is doubtful.
    • Thus, we can say that Harappan people were aware about Horse, but they did not domesticate Horse.
  • Note: Faience is an artificially produced material. It is a paste made from crushed quartz and coloured with various materials.


  • IVC people were aware of Copper, Bronze, silver and Gold. Iron was not used in IVC.
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