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Harappa (Pakistan)

Capital of the Indus Civilization


Harappa, Pakistan of the Indus Valley civilization

Harappa, Pakistan of the Indus Valley civilizations: View of brick and rammed earth homes and streets

Atif Gulzar
Harappa is a large city of the Indus Civilization, and one of the best known sites in Pakistan, located on the bank of the Ravi River in Punjab Province.

This early urban archaeological site was occupied between about 3300 and 1500 BC. Harappa includes an area of about 250 acres, and may be about twice that, given that much of the site has been covered by the flooding of the Ravi. Intact structural remains include those of a citadel, a granary, and two cemeteries. The mud adobe bricks of significant architectural remains were robbed in antiquity.

Harappa Industries

The earliest Indus phase occupation at Harappa is called the Ravi phase (ca 3300-2800 BC, and at that time the site included a small occupation, with the first agate bead-making activities on the site. In a part of the site dated to the Kot Diji phase (2800-2500 BC) was found a piece of pottery with a possible early Indus script marking, and a cubical limestone weight that conforms to the Harappan weight system.

During the Harappa phase (2600-1900 BC), a faience and steatite bead production workshop was identified, by several layers of 'faience slag', chert blades, lumps of sawn steatite, bone tools, terracotta cakes and large masses of vitrified faience slag. Also discovered were abundant broken and complete tablets and beads, many with incised scripts.

Archaeology at Harappa

Harappa was discovered in 1826 and first excavated in 1920 and 1921 by the Archaeological Survey of India, led by Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni, as described later by M.S. Vats. Other archaeologists associated with Harappa include Mortimer Wheeler, George Dales, Richard Meadow, and J. Mark Kenoyer.


The best and most detailed information (with lots of photographs) about Harappa comes from the Harappa.com website.

Cork, Edward 2005 Peaceful Harappans? Reviewing the evidence for the absence of warfare in the Indus Civilisation of north-west India and Pakistan (c. 2500-1900 BC). Antiquity 79(304):411-423.

Dar, Rahman S. 2003 Nari: The first Early Indus Valley Site discovered between the Salt Range and the River Jhelum. Journal of Asian Civilization 26(2):1-65.

Kenoyer, Jonathan M. Bead Technologies At Harappa, 3300-1900 BC: A comparative summary. In South Asian Archaeology 2001, C. Jarrige and V. Lefevre, eds. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations.

Meadow, Richard H. and Jonathan M. Kenoyer 2005 Excavations At Harappa 2000-2001: New Insights on Chronology and City Organization. In South Asian Archaeology 2001, C. Jarrige and V. Lefebre, eds. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations.

Possehl, Gregory L. 1997 The transformation of the Indus civilization. Journal of World Prehistory 11(4):425-472.

Reddy, Seetha N. 1997 If the threshing floor could talk: Integration of agriculture and pastorlism during the Late Harappan in Gujarat, India. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 16:162-187.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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