Indus Valley Civilization

3000-1700 BC

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Indus Valley Cultures

A map of the major archeological sites of the Indus Valley. Map from

The Indus civilization was predated by the first farming cultures in south Asia, which emerged in the hills of what is now called Balochistan, to the west of the Indus Valley. The best-known site of this culture is Mehrgarh, established around 6500 BCE. These early farmers domesticated wheat and a variety of animals, including cattle. Pottery was in use by around 5500 BCE. The Indus civilization grew out of this culture's technological base, as well as its geographic expansion into the alluvial plains of what are now the provinces of Sindh and Punjab in contemporary Pakistan and Northern India.
By 4000 BCE, a distinctive, regional culture, called pre-Harappan, had emerged in this area. (It is called pre-Harappan because remains of this widespread culture are found in the early strata of Indus civilization cities.) Trade networks linked this culture with related regional cultures and distant sources of raw materials, including lapis lazuli and other materials for bead-making. Villagers had, by this time, domesticated numerous crops, including peas, sesame seeds, dates, and cotton, as well as a wide range of domestic animals, including the water buffalo, an animal that remains essential to intensive agricultural production throughout Asia today.
The Indus civilization is still poorly understood. It seems to have died out around 1900 BC without leaving an archeological trace. Its undeciphered writing system vanished until Ashoka's introduction of a new, unrelated style of writing Pakrit (2nd cent BC).
Among the Indus civilization's mysteries are fundamental questions, including its means of subsistence and the causes for its sudden disappearance beginning around 1900 BC (Vedic incursions?). We do not know what language the people spoke. We do not know what they called themselves.

Mehrgarh, 7000BC - 2600BC

Mehrgarh is a neolithic site now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization (3000 - 1600 BC).

Early farming village in Mehrgarh, c. 7000 BC, with houses built of mud bricks.

Archaeologists divide the occupation at the site into several periods. Mehrgarh Period I 7000 BC–5500 BC,was Neolithic and aceramic (i.e., without the use of pottery). The earliest farming in the area was developed by semi-nomadic people using plants such as wheat and barley and animals such as sheep,goats and cattle. The settlement was established with simple mud buildings with four internal subdivisions. Numerous burials have been found, many with elaborate goods such as baskets, stone and bone tools, beads,bangles,pendants and occasionally animal sacrifices,with more goods left with burials of males.
Mehrgarh Period II 5500 BC–4800 BC and Merhgarh Period III 4800 BC–3500 BC were ceramic Neolithic (i.e. pottery was now in use) and later chalcolithic.Much evidence of manufacturing activity has been found and more advanced techniques were used. Glazed faience beads were produced and terracotta figurines became more detailed. Figurines of females were decorated with paint and had diverse hairstyles and ornaments.

Clay figurines from Mehrgarh (3000 BC)
Photo from

Somewhere between 2600 BC and 2000 BC, the city seems to have been largely abandoned, which is when the Indus Valley Civilisation was in its middle stages of development. It has been surmised that the inhabitants of Mehrgarh migrated to the fertile Indus valley as Balochistan became more arid due to climatic changes.
Text and photos (except where noted) from Wikipedia

Nausharo 3000 - 1900 BC

Nausharo may be the bridge between Mehrgarh and the Indus Valley culture. If the dates given in Wikipedia are correct Nausharo is not contemporary with early Mehrgarh.

Female figurines are plentiful but around 2700 BC appear also male clay figurines,
the reason is not entirely clear.

Harappa 3300-1600 BC

The ancient city is believed to have had as many as 40,000 residents, ??considered large for its time. Although the Harappa Culture extended well beyond the bounds of present day Pakistan, its centres were in Sindh and the Punjab.

Excavated area at Harappa

A large number of seals were found in Harappa probabely with Sumerian influence. This complex seal depicts a deity with horned headdress and bangles on both arms, standing in a pipal (sacred fig) tree and looking down on a kneeling worshiper. A human head rests on a small stool. A giant ram and seven figures in procession complete the narrative. The figures wear a single plumed headdress, bangles on both arms and long skirts.

Another collection of Harappa seals with examples of the Indus Valley script.

In Harappa large numbers of small terracotta figurines have been found recently (1991). Some may have been votive figures other were apparently children's toys!

Collection of burial pottery. Possible date 2500 BC.
Photos and text from

Mohenjo Daro 2600-1700 BC

Mohenjo-daro (Mound of the dead) was a city of the Indus Valley Civilization built around 2600 BC and is located in the Sindh Province of Pakistan. This ancient five thousand year old city is the largest of the Indus Valley and is widely recognized as one of the most important early cities of South Asia and the Indus Valley Civilization. Mohenjo Daro was one of the world's(?) first cities and contemporaneous with ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. It is sometimes referred to as "The Ancient Indus Valley Metropolis".

This view shows the high western mound made up of a massive mud brick platform and brick houses of the Harappan period ( 2600 to 1900 B. C.). On top of the Harappan structures is a Buddhist period stupa made of mud brick that dates to the first century A.D.

"Great Bath," Mohenjo-daro.

The great bath is without doubt the earliest public water tank in the ancient world. Most scholars agree that this tank would have been used for special religious functions where water was used to purify and renew the well being of the bathers.
Photos from

The socalled "Priest King",
one of few sculptures found in Mohenjodaro. Height of figure: 17 cm.
Photo from

Lothal 2400 BC - 1900 BC

Reconstruction of the former sea harbor.
Photo nalanda

Lothal was one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus valley civilization. Located in the modern state of Gujarat and dating from 2400 BCE, it is one of India's most important archaeological sites that dates from that era. Discovered in 1954, Lothal was excavated from 1955 to 1960 by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The excavated dock at Lothal visible in GE.
The dockyard could hold 30 ships of 60 tons each.
This would be comparable to the modern docks at Vishakapatnam.

Lothal was connected to an ancient course of the Sabarmati river on the trade route between the Harappan cities in the Sindh and the peninsula of Saurashtra when the surrounding Kutch desert of today was part of the Arabian Sea. It was a vital and thriving trade centre in ancient times, with its trade of beads, gems and valuable ornaments reaching the far corners of West Asia and Africa.

Lothal's people were responsible for the earliest-known portrayals of realism in art and sculpture, telling some of the most well-known fables of today. Its scientists used a shell compass and divided the horizon and sky into 8x??12 whole parts, possibly pioneering the study of stars and advanced navigation ??2000 years before the Greeks. The techniques and tools they pioneered for bead-making and in metallurgy have stood the test of time for over 4000 years.
For a detailed article on the latest excavations see Wikipedia.

Surkotada 2100 BC — 1700 BC

Excavation map of citadel

The chronology of the occupation of the site at Surkotada is not the same as other Harappan / Indus Valley Civilization sites. The dates from Surkotada are later than most Harappan sites but conform well with the occupational dates from Lothal and Kalibangan. In other words, the Harappans did not establish a settlement in Surkotada in the earliest phase of Harappan maturity but did so almost towards the end. The site of Surkotada was occupied for a period of 400 years with no breaks or desertions. Archaeologists have divided the history of settlement in Surkotada into three cultural phases:
Reference: wikimapia