Harappan Civilisation

Context: A burial site has been discovered at Khatiya Village, in Kutch region, Gujarat. It is considered to be the largest pre-urban Harappan cemetery.

About Khatiya cemetery

Situated on the banks of the Gandi stream, which flows into the Great Rann of Kutch. Researchers believe that in prehistoric times, the Great Rann of Kutch was a navigable area through which the Ghaggar-Harka-Nara River used to pass. However, the river eventually dried up, transforming Kutch into an arid region.


  • The excavation at the cemetery has revealed 500 graves, out of which 197 have been excavated so far.
  • Relation to ‘pre-urban’ Harappan phase: The Harappan civilisation, is said to have thrived along the banks of river Indus from around 5,000 BC to 1,000 BC. It is divided into the pre-Urban phase (5,000 BC to 2,600 BC); Urban phase or Mature phase (2,600 BC to 1,900 BC) and Post-Urban phase (1,900 BC to 1,000 BC). 
  • Burial goods: Shell bangle, pottery shards, stone blades and even human skeletal remains have been found.
  • Pottery: Found as burial goods at the Khatiya site are mainly redware, buffware and greyware. It is comparable to the pre-urban Harappan pottery of Sindh and Baluchistan and North Gujarat.
  • With these findings, conclusion is drawn that the cemetery is believed to be 5,000 years old, belonging to the ‘pre-urban’ phase of the Harappan civilisation.

Harappan Civilisation

  • The Harappan civilization, also known as the Indus Valley Civilization, is considered the beginning of Indian history. It can be divided into three phases:
  • Early Harappan Phase from 3300 to 2600 BCE.
  • Mature Harappan Phase from 2600 to 1900 BCE.
  • Late Harappan Phase from 1900 to 1300 BCE.

Early Harappan Phase

  • The early Harappan phase marked the transition towards the mature Harappan period. 
  • During this phase, farmers from the highlands gradually migrated between their mountain residences and the lowland river valleys. 
  • The earliest specimens of the Indus script date back to the third millennium BCE, and trade networks connected this civilization to other regional cultures and distant sources of raw materials.
  • By this time, the villagers had successfully cultivated a diverse range of crops such as peas, sesame seeds, dates, and cotton. Additionally, they also domesticated animals like the water buffalo.
  • By 2600 BCE, early Harappan villages had developed into major urban centres, signalling the beginning of the mature Harappan phase.
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The following sites show how the Early Harappan phase originated and took shape:

  • Mehrgarh: The earliest evidence for this development comes from Mehrgarh, Baluchistan.
  • First phase: People used stone tools but no potteries are found.
  • Second phase: Stone tools were refined and potteries were made.
  • Third phase: Greater use of pottery and copper tools were introduced.
  • Incipient Urbanism: Gradually, villages were getting larger and agriculture more developed. It was from these settled agricultural communities, the early phase of the Harappan civilization developed, marked by beginning of cities.
  • Ghaggar-Hakra-Indus Axis: In this region, the civilisation developed fully. Around 40 Early Harappan sites have been discovered.
  • Amri: Located near the Indus River. It shows the development of Indus pottery tradition from hard made, monochrome potteries to nicely painted, wheel-made potteries decorated with humped Indian bull. The use of copper and bronze also increased.
  • Kot Diji: This was a very important Early Harappan site. It is located on the left bank of river Indus opposite Mohenjodaro. One important feature is the diverse forms of wheel-made potteries decorated with plain dark brown stripes. This kind of pottery has been named as the Kot-Dijian Pottery and was widely spread in the Indus area.
  • The motifs such as horned bull, scaled fish and pipal leaves, used in the Amri and Kot Diji potteries, have been found extensively even during the mature Harappan period.
  • Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana:
  • Harappa: The site reveals the existence of Early Harappan phase. Kot Diji-type of potteries have been found. Lapis lazuli, steatite and terracotta human figurines are reported from these levels.
  • Kalibangan: Situated in north Rajasthan (on now dried-up Ghaggar bank). During its Early Harappan period, people lived in houses made of mud bricks of standard sizes.

Copper axes, terracotta bangles shell, carnelian etc. have been found. Evidences about the use of plough for agricultural purposes are found.

  • Banawali: Located at the now dried-up course of Ghaggar and Saraswati, Hissar district of Haryana. Material objects found at the site comprise potteries, terracotta bangles, terracotta animal figurines, shell etc. At one place, a depiction of covered cart with spoked wheel have been found.

Practice MCQ

Q. With reference to ancient Indian history, consider the following pairs:

S.NO. Early Harappan site   Associated River
1. Banawali : Saraswati
2. Khatiya burial site : Bhogava
3. Kalibangan : Ghaggar
4. Amri : Luni

How many pairs given above is/are incorrectly matched?

(a) Only one pair

(b) Only two pairs

(c) Only three pairs

(d) All four pairs

Scroll down for answer










Answer: (b)

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