Home > Places of Interest > Harappa, Punjab

Harappa, Punjab

By: Grahame Johnston - Updated: 18 Sep 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Indus Valley Harappa Punjab India

The ancient Indus Valley was home to one of the world’s first great urban cultures. The Indus Valley Civilization flourished in a rich vast river plain and the surrounding regions are now known as Pakistan and the Punjab.

Dominating for 700 Years

The earliest settlements began integration into an extensive urban culture around 5000 years BP (Before Present). Archaeologists rediscovered this ancient Indian civilization which had once predominated the region for more than 700 years, recognising that hidden beneath the red Indian soils was an entire society that built, ruled and developed their lives at the same time as the early Egyptians and the great Mesopotamians.

Harappa Society

The citizens who founded, built and ruled the cities of the Indus Valley are referred to as the Harappa peoples named after the most famous of the archaeological excavations near the modern village of Harappa.

Today’s extant village of Harappa is a true type-site of the ancient Harappa cities. The town lies in the Punjab’s Montgomery District. The villagers here have walked over and across the ancient mounds of the former great city since its decline around 1900 BC. The region appears to have been habitually inhabited throughout history.

Archaeological Excavation

Sir Alexander Cunningham briefly excavated the looming mounds of Harappa during the 1872-73 season. Some twenty years previously, local villagers had robbed the site of its useful building materials, such as bricks, stripping the area of its identifying architectural features and rendering the site more difficult for Cunningham to survey. During his short expedition he found little of interest except an Indus seal.

Extensive excavations were not conducted at Harappa until 1920. Many subsequent expeditions under the auspices of the Archaeological Survey of India were undertaken before independence. Immediately after WW2 Sir Mortimer Wheeler visited the site and excavated what is said to be fortification walls. These and other excavations since have brought to the attention of the world the existence of the lost Indus Valley civilization and it is now recognised that Harappa is the earliest urban cultural setting in the Indian sub-continent.

Many Mounds

Although a small site, of little more than a three mile circle, within this is a host of exciting peaked mounds. Archaeologists have named each mound using a letter system.

The centre of mound A/AB, in ancient times, was continuously rebuilt showing evidence of many settlements. A public bathing area and the town’s water well are located behind a curved wall. The well is one of only eight public and/or private wells found at Harappa leading to the conclusion that water in general may not have been in short supply.

Mysterious Platforms

Between the mounds AB and F are numerous circular platforms originally located inside houses and small courtyards. These mysterious architectural features are thought to be related to the threshing of grain and have been called workman’s platforms since they are near to the Great Granary structure.

The Great Granary?

Mound F contains the Great Granary, a dual set of six rooms on either side of a long passageway, with its earliest strata layers dating to 2500 BC. Although the early European archaeologists, influenced by Continental and Eastern cultural architecture, presumed the arrangement to be a granary, no storage containers or clay storage jar seals, as would be common for the shipment and trade of grain, have ever been found. And, since not one berry of grain has been discovered, archaeological analysts prefer to call these structures simply Great Halls until further excavations bring more clarity to their use.

The extant village nearby still store their grain in earthen granary structures. These small-scale granaries with their re-sealable ground-level-hole access to the grain provide a reasonable counter-example to the Great Granary concept.

Littered with Potsherds

All across the excavation site, along sweeping ridges and filling up shallow valleys are thousands upon thousands of discarded potsherds. The heavy rains, each year, cause fresh surface erosion that brings new pieces of pottery to the surface.

Also brought to the surface are the creeping salt deposits. Many of the reconstructed areas of Harappa show signs of white salt deposits that have crept up from out of the ground causing problems in many areas of the site.

The National Geographic Society continues to fund archaeological research into the early writing of the Indus peoples. Hundreds of inscribed artefacts have been located on the eastern side of mound AB. It is hoped that further discoveries will provide more clues as to the development of early Indus writing.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I recently was on a trip to Turkey and stopped along my sites, Ephesus Knidos and St Nicholas Island. I would love to assist in preservation or on a dig. sincerely L.
Linda Goetz - 18-Sep-18 @ 5:22 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Rando A boy from Rom
    Re: Types of Archaeology
    very helpfull website on finding reading materials
    29 July 2020
  • KANU Z
    Re: Nabodinus, Last Great King of Babylon
    This is great and and helpful. But in addition I would request that when ever such information is published include…
    18 July 2020
  • Skid
    Re: Pottery Experts
    Hi, I found a small piece of pottery in a filed in Staffordshire, to me it looks old , how can I identify it? Thanks
    8 July 2020
  • Archeologists foreve
    Re: Types of Archaeology
    It is every helpful site and it has helped me to decide what type of archeologist I want to become in future...
    5 July 2020
  • Archeologists foreve
    Re: Types of Archaeology
    It is every helpful site and it has helped me to decide what type of archeologist I want to beco e in future????
    5 July 2020
  • Nat
    Re: Types of Archaeology
    Hi, I’ve had a passion for the field of archeology since I was extremely young; come to to find there are different types of archeological…
    3 July 2020
  • Sukadi
    Re: Stone Tool Experts
    I have a number of pieces I believe to be stone tools , gathered during years that I lived in Congo, in the 1970’s. Is there a way to have them…
    28 June 2020
  • Ace
    Re: Pottery Experts
    Hello I need help by an Archioligist as there is nobody to help me in Victoria Australia .. I have a DING a Chinese sacrificial v3 leged vessel I…
    27 June 2020
  • AMAN
    Re: Academic Qualifications to Be An Archaeologist
    sir i complete MA in history. can i become an archaeologist can i apply form for job in archaeological…
    23 June 2020
  • Tictoc
    Re: Pottery Experts
    I have found a broken piece of pottery with distinctive patterns. I’m looking for it to be identified please. I found it on the shore of the river…
    22 June 2020