The Indus Valley culture, also known in India as
the Sindhu Civilisation, prospered along the banks of the Indus
(the River Sindhu). Another name by which it is also known is the
Harappan Civilisation, thanks to this site being the first location
of discovery for any artefacts from this period (now in Pakistan).
Historians have tried to provide a chronology for
the Harappan period by dividing it into sections; Pre-Harappan
(7000-3000 BC), Early Harappan (3000-2600 BC), Mature Harappan
(2600-1900 BC), and Late Harappan (1900-1300 BC).
The Early Harappan period occupies the
Bronze Age. It was first discovered and reported by a British East
India Company army man by the name of Charles Masson in 1842. In
1922, Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay, an archaeologist connected to the ASI,
excavated another city, that of Mohenjo-Daro in the vicinity of Harappa.
Between 1922-1923, the explorers Sir John Marshall, Rai Bahadur Dayaram
Sahni and Madho Swarup Vats conducted digs at Harappa and unearthed
a fairly sophisticated urban civilisation (objects discovered in
these towns were included ornaments, personal grooming items such as cosmetics, combs, mirrors, lipstick, etc, utensils,
tools, beads, statuettes, seals with animal figurines carved on
them, toys, furniture, and weapons, made of clay, terracotta, ceramics, bronze and copper). The township was well
planned with a grid-like structure consisting of roads, lampposts every few metres,
multi-storey brick houses, a drainage system, dustbins, granaries, tanks, public baths (such
as the great bath discovered at Mohenjo-Daro which is 54.8 x 33
metres square (180 x 108 square feet), and a lot more.
In due course many such excavations were made in and around the
region including Chanhudaro in 1931, Sindh, Hyderabad, Jacobabad and
the Narmada Valley, leading to a lot of information being amassed about this culture.
Today, both Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro towns lie in the Punjab region
The civilisation had its own illegible script (pictorial) which
remains undeciphered to this day.
The cities seemed to have
been home to people of different races
(deduced on the basis of skeletal remains), though a section of
scholars believe that the majority were of Dravidian stock.
There are many theories about the original
inhabitants of the Indus Civilisation, and more about why it might
Following that collapse (and perhaps
speeding it up), the Aryan Invasion theory describes Indo-European
groups migrating into the region from the north (where they become
known as Aryans) and driving out the inhabitants, supposedly Dravidians,
forcing them towards the southernmost parts of India. Amongst the
earliest proponents of this theory was Max Mueller, a German Orientalist and author based in Britain. He proposed that the
origins of the Aryans lay in Central Asia, from where branches
migrated to Europe and Iran. From Iran, branches
further diverged towards Mesopotamia and the Indian subcontinent.
There they pushed the local inhabitants into the forests
and towards the south.
Of course, today many have concluded that it wasn't an invasion
at all in the typical sense as there are no traces of any mass killings (put forward by Sir
Mortimer Wheeler on the basis of skeletons found). Hence it is assumed that
the Aryan tribes migrated in small numbers and gradually mingled
with the local inhabitants. This version is known as the Aryan migration
Out of India
However these theories are contrasted by another, one which is known
as the 'Out
of India' theory.
It suggests that the Indus region was in
fact the cradle of civilisation for the Aryan or Vedic civilisation,
whereas the Dravidians were mainly people who dominated the
southern parts of India. It was from the Indus region that Aryans
further branched out, into Bactria, Central Asia, Iran (and from there
onwards to Mesopotamia), Europe, etc.
The main concentration of Aryans was around the River Saraswati. After the river dried
up, the Aryans who remained in India began to migrate southwards. Many settled in
the Gangetic basin, while some proceeded towards the east and the
south. In the south they came into contact with the Dravidians who
already occupied the region.
the early proponents of the Out of India theory were Voltaire, the French writer
philosopher, German philosopher Immanuel Kant, German poet Karl Wilheim
Friedrich Schlegel, and theosophists such as Colonel Olcott,
the retired American army officer and first president of the
A third theory proposes that the
Aryans had coexisted and intermingled with the other inhabitants of the
Indus Civilisation and were one of its active contributors.
The religion of the Indus people was probably one of the earliest
forms of modern Hinduism. 
the Indus Civilisation
The discovery of seals and statuettes lead
us to believe that the people of the Indus worshipped a (Trimukha)
three-faced god identified as Pashupati, the god of cattle (a
figurine depicting the image of a god seated in the lotus position and
surrounded by animals was discovered during excavations).
Similarities have been drawn between Pashupati and gods
such as Shiva and Rudra. Objects looking very similar to the linga or the
phallic symbol of Shiva were also discovered, which leads one to
believe that the inhabitants belonged to the Shiva/Shaivite cult.
 Present day Hinduism is
considered to be an amalgamation of basic Vedic concepts, with
additions from the non-Vedic religions like that of the
The worship of female energy took place here (Shakti),
the yoni (womb) in the form of the mother goddess, and the worship of
the sun god was also prevalent, characterised by the swastika symbols
found in the dig. There were also the Naga (serpent) worshippers,
evident by a figurine with a snake wrapped over the head. Animals
such as the bull, one resembling a unicorn, birds such as the dove and
vegetation such as the Pipal tree was also venerated in the Indus.
Both men and women wore two-piece clothing. They
kept their hair long. The women folk used necklaces, armlets, rings, bangles,
hairpins, earrings, and anklets made of gold, silver, copper, and
semi-precious stones according to their status.
The Indus Valley culture was focussed on its many cities, the
first of which appeared in the fourth millennium BC
Indus Valley toy figurines
The people buried their dead.  However in the
later period, cremation took over as the most popular form of
service for the dead - probably due
to latter Vedic influence. The ashes were placed in urns which were
in turn buried in tombs.
Diet and trade
The Indus people enjoyed a fulfilling diet
of wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, fruits, milk, fish and meat
(including beef, mutton, pork, etc).
Indus men were
mainly traders and agriculturists. They were also well versed in
crafts such as carpentry, pottery, weaving, medicine, etc. They were aware of
measurement systems and possessed advanced medical practices including
dentistry. Foreign trade existed with Central Asia, the Middle East
(Mesopotamia, etc) and the Mediterranean coast (Egypt). The favoured
mode of travel was the bullock-hauled cart
(open or covered).
The end of the Indus Civilisation
The Indus civilisation gradually came
to an end, possibly due to famine, flood and perhaps invasion. However
there is no conclusive evidence pointing towards an invasion as such.
The prevailing view has of course been the Aryan Invasion theory, but
this has been challenged by other theories that claim flood or climatic
changes as the more likely reason. The inhabitants may then have migrated
 Cremation on a funeral pyre
was an Aryan practice.
Dravidians in the south had long since displaced the
proto-Australoids and gained hegemony in India. The term Dravidian
however is a western term for the word Dravida, which refers to the
people of southern India. So it is assumed that this group came to be
known as Dravida after they moved south. The name Dravida as such has
been derived from the word 'Drava' or water, probably symbolising
people living near the sea.
Sumerian texts have mentioned the people living around
the Indus (read Dravida), calling them the Meluha. Some scholars categorise
them as non-Vedic people, those who did not believe in the Vedas but rather had their own
customs and rituals. As already pointed out, as per the
Aryan Invasion theory (which is of course contentious), when the
Vedic people/Aryans arrived on the scene, they came into
contact with the Dravidians and pushed them southwards.
However, a Dravidian group, which has been identified from its language, still
exists in the north in the form of the Brahui tribe in Balochistan (in
present day Pakistan).
The proponents of the Aryan Invasion
theory maintain that this
group may be remnants of the Dravidians that were driven out, while
the Out of India theory proponents maintain that a small Dravidian
group probably migrated from the south and made a home in the fertile
Indus Valley, coexisting with the Aryan population.
modern Dravidian stock is mainly found in the south, as places such
as Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra, Kerala, Lakshadweep (and to some
extent the west, east Kurukh in Bangladesh, and central parts of India).
Mohenjo-Daro was laid out around 2600 BC
According to the the Aryan Invasion
theory, the Dravidians themselves intermingled with the inhabitants of
southern India, the proto-Australoids, and the Negroids. 
The Dravidians probably had their own script,
their own laws and customs and were a very evolved lot compared to
most of their contemporaries. They were acquainted with agriculture, spinning, weaving, dyeing, pottery, etc. They played games
such as dice. Both men and women wore two-piece clothing and at
times a headdress. They were adept at making boats and sailing. In
war they used weapons including spears, swords, maces, axes, bows, arrows, etc.
They had their Gods and built temples for them.
 There are still tribes in the
Andaman Nicobar Islands and certain parts of southern India that
belong to the same genetic pool as the Negroids and other
aborigines which they had displaced earlier from the north.
Majumdar, R C - Ancient India, Motilal
Banarsidass Publishers Ltd, 1987
Prasad, L - Studies in Indian History,
Cosmos Bookhive, Gurgaon, 2000
Thapar, Romila - Penguin History of India,
Volume 1, Penguin Books, London, 1990