NCERT Textbook - Bricks, Beads and Bones Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

NCERT Textbooks (Class 6 to Class 12)

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Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Bricks, Beads and Bones Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

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1
Bricks, Beads and Bones
The Harappan Civilisation
THEME
ONE
The Harappan seal (Fig.1.1) is possibly the most
distinctive artefact of the Harappan or Indus valley
civilisation. Made of a stone called steatite, seals
like this one often contain animal motifs and signs
from a script that remains undeciphered. Yet we
know a great deal about the lives of the people who
lived in the region from what they left behind –
their houses, pots, ornaments, tools and seals – in
other words, from archaeological evidence. Let us
see what we know about the Harappan civilisation,
and how we know about it. We will explore how
archaeological material is interpreted and how
interpretations sometimes change. Of course, there
are some aspects of the civilisation that are as yet
unknown and may even remain so.
Terms, places, times
The Indus valley civilisation is also called the Harappan culture.
Archaeologists use the term “culture” for a group of objects,
distinctive in style, that are usually found together within a specific
geographical area and period of time. In the case of the Harappan
culture, these distinctive objects include seals, beads, weights, stone
blades (Fig. 1.2) and even baked bricks. These objects were found
from areas as far apart as Afghanistan, Jammu, Baluchistan
(Pakistan) and Gujarat (Map 1).
Named after Harappa, the first site where this unique culture
was discovered (p. 6), the civilisation is dated between c. 2600 and
1900 BCE. There were earlier and later cultures, often called Early
Harappan and Late Harappan, in the same area. The Harappan
civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to
distinguish it from these cultures.
Fig. 1.1
A Harappan seal
Fig. 1.2
Beads, weights, blades
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


1
Bricks, Beads and Bones
The Harappan Civilisation
THEME
ONE
The Harappan seal (Fig.1.1) is possibly the most
distinctive artefact of the Harappan or Indus valley
civilisation. Made of a stone called steatite, seals
like this one often contain animal motifs and signs
from a script that remains undeciphered. Yet we
know a great deal about the lives of the people who
lived in the region from what they left behind –
their houses, pots, ornaments, tools and seals – in
other words, from archaeological evidence. Let us
see what we know about the Harappan civilisation,
and how we know about it. We will explore how
archaeological material is interpreted and how
interpretations sometimes change. Of course, there
are some aspects of the civilisation that are as yet
unknown and may even remain so.
Terms, places, times
The Indus valley civilisation is also called the Harappan culture.
Archaeologists use the term “culture” for a group of objects,
distinctive in style, that are usually found together within a specific
geographical area and period of time. In the case of the Harappan
culture, these distinctive objects include seals, beads, weights, stone
blades (Fig. 1.2) and even baked bricks. These objects were found
from areas as far apart as Afghanistan, Jammu, Baluchistan
(Pakistan) and Gujarat (Map 1).
Named after Harappa, the first site where this unique culture
was discovered (p. 6), the civilisation is dated between c. 2600 and
1900 BCE. There were earlier and later cultures, often called Early
Harappan and Late Harappan, in the same area. The Harappan
civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan culture to
distinguish it from these cultures.
Fig. 1.1
A Harappan seal
Fig. 1.2
Beads, weights, blades
© NCERT
not to be republished
 THEMES IN INDIAN HISTORY 2
Map 1
Some important
Mature Harappan sites
Sketch map not to scale
Manda
Harappa
Banawali
Rakhigarhi
Mitathal
Ganweriwala
Kot Diji
Chanhudaro
Amri
Balakot
Mohenjodaro
Sutkagendor
Dholavira
Lothal
Nageshwar Rangpur
Kalibangan
Jhelum
Chenab
Ravi
Indus
Yamuna
Ganga
Chambal
Sabarmati
Arabian Sea
Mahi
Narmada
Sutlej
1. Beginnings
There were several archaeological cultures in the
region prior to the Mature Harappan. These cultures
were associated with distinctive pottery, evidence of
agriculture and pastoralism, and some crafts.
Settlements were generally small, and there were
virtually no large buildings. It appears that there
was a break between the Early Harappan and the
Harappan civilisation, evident from large-scale
burning at some sites, as well as the abandonment
of certain settlements.
2. Subsistence Strategies
If you look at Maps 1 and 2 you will notice that the
Mature Harappan culture developed in some of the
areas occupied by the Early Harappan cultures.
These cultures also shared certain common elements
including subsistence strategies. The Harappans ate
a wide range of plant and animal products, including
fish. Archaeologists have been able to reconstruct
dietary practices from finds of charred grains and
seeds. These are studied by archaeo-botanists,  who
are specialists in ancient plant remains. Grains
Early and Mature
Harappan cultures
Look at these figures for the
number of settlements in Sind
and Cholistan (the desert area
of Pakistan bordering the Thar
Desert).
SIND CHOLISTAN
Total number 106 239
of sites
Early Harappan 52 37
sites
Mature 65 136
Harappan sites
Mature Harappan 43 132
settlements on
new sites
Early Harappan 29 33
sites abandoned
You will find certain
abbreviations, related to
dates, in this book.
BP stands for Before
Present
BCE stands for Before
Common Era
CE stands for the Common
Era. The present year is
2009 according to this
dating system.
c. stands for the Latin
word circa and means
“approximate.”
© NCERT
not to be republished
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