Discuss the material characteristics of the Harappan civilization.

The material characteristics here includes town planning, pottery, tools and implements, arts and crafts, scripts and subsistence pattern of Harappan civilization.

Town Planning:

The Archaeologists, Mortimer Wheeler and Stuart Piggot believed that the Harappan towns had a remarkable unity of conception. As each town was divided into two parts, one part for rulers and other part for ruled and poors. The rulers build citadels for their glorious isolation. Towns were located on the plains of rivers, on fringes of deserts or on sea coast.

The poors were in lower city. The citadel and lower city was surrounded by wall street were from north to south in lower city and cut at right angles, a good town planning. They were using baked and unbaked bricks of standard size.

Mohanjodaro was not constructed in homogeneous manner. In Kalibangan mud bricks were used, Lothal was a rectangular settlement with the brick walls, surrounding it. Mohanjodaro showed excellent arrangement for sanitation. The waste water from houses through chutes was connected to public drains on margin of the streets.

Housing Pattern:

Average citizens seems to have lived in the blocks of houses in the lower city. Houses were of single room houses complete with courtyards and having upto twelve rooms were present. Bigger houses were with private wells and toilets. No window faced the street. Exclusive swimming pool (the great bath) was also seen there. Some lived in barracks. Lower city houses contained a large number of workshops also.


Pottery represents the blending of the ceramic tradition of Baluchistan and the cultures east of the Indus system. It was mostly plain. Sometimes with red slip and black painted decoration. Chequers, leaf patterns, birds, fishes and animals were shown on it. Shapes were like pedestal, dishes, goblets, cylindrical and bowls. Some pottery show mark of stamp. This civilization exhibited a uniform pottery tradition.

Tools and Implements:

There also show a uniformity. Tools were made of copper, bronze and stone. Basically, it was flat axe, chisels, knives, spear and arrow heads of copper and bronze. They were also using dagger, knives and flat tangs. The new bronze and copper casting. Stone tools were also used. They usually made long regular blades.

Arts and Crafts:

From Harappan settlements terracotta figurines have been found in large numbers they were used as toys or cult figures. Harappans used beautiful beads with agate, turquoise, carnelian and steatite stones. For this workshop is found in Chanhudaro which shows making of beads from stones. More than 2000 seals have been found which show outstanding contribution of the Indus civilization to ancient craftsmanship. Stone sculptures were rare and undeveloped. Important findings are a bronze nude dancing figure and a bearded man from Mohenjodaro.

The Indus Script:

Seals carried some form of writing. Still it is not read. They used idiograms and wrote from left to right.

Subsistence Pattern:

Harappan Urbanism was based on agricultural production. Sheep, goat, humped cattle’s were domesticated, Boars, buffaloes, elephants and camels were also present. Horse seems to have been unknown to them. Among wild animals present at time are deer, rhinoceros, tortoise, etc. Wheat and barley were frequently found. Dates and peas were also present Mustard and Sesamum were also grown. At Mohenjodaro cotton cloth fragments was found. They were using wooden plough. Lots of crops were grown. This provided good economy to them.

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