Administration & Economy of Indus Valley Civilization

Administration in Indus Valley Civilization

Cities are the symbols of the Indus Valley civilization characterized by the density of population, close integration between economic and social processes, tech-economic developments, careful planning for expansion and promotion of trade and commerce, providing opportunities and scope of work to artisans and craftsmen etc. This was a sort of urban revolution, which could not have been possible without the strong central authority, specialized economic organization and socio-cultural unity. The size and architectural complexity of all large Harappancities mean something in terms of a socio-cultural development. The lay-out of the streets, the presence of a large-scale drainage system with its requirement for constant tending, the monumental citadels, all can be taken as an indication of tendencies toward a strong central government.

Another feature of Harappan urbanization was the elaborate craft specialization and the contacts with other reasonably distant parts of asia. But the greatest challenge to the archaeologists is their failure to get any idea of the Harappan urban institutions. For example, we almost know nothing about the form of the state and the economic institutions.

Maritime commerce with Mesopotamia was a part to their life, but the knowledge of inner working of these complex Harappan urban economic institutions completely eludes us.

Economy in Indus Valley Civilization

The economy of Indus Valley Civilization was based upon agriculture as well as trade. Commerce was important and there were links from overseas places.

Agriculture in Indus Valley Civilization

The agriculture was in flourishing condition which was due to timely and good rains. They sowed many crops including the rice, wheat, cotton, barley etc. Other crops were dates, melon, pea etc. Predominantly Rainfed Crops as Irrigation was based upon the rainwater but also the sources of irrigations were available. Wheat and barley were the most important Harappan Crops. In Harappa, 3 principle varieties of Wheat were sown; three varieties of barleys were also sown. The cultivation of lentils, mustard, linseed, Sesamum has been found. The Finger millet, Ragi, Bajra, Jawar were cultivated and it seems that they diffused from Africa.

Animal Husbandry in Indus Valley Civilization

The humped bull was domesticated animal, other were buffalo, pigs, elephants, donkeys, goats and sheep’s. Only Surkotada has given an evidence of domestication of Horse. Generally Horse is absent in the civilization.

The goats, cows and Sheep were commonly domesticated in the mature harappan phase but the evidences of Buffalo have not been found in that much quantity.

Transportation in Indus Valley Civilization

The carts and chariots were means of transport. For sea trade big boats were there to serve the purpose.

Foreign Affairs in Indus Valley Civilization

It has been established that this civilization had relationships with Mesopotamia civilization. In various cities of Mesopotamia, the harappan seals have been found which prove these relationships. The description of Meluha in the Mesopotamian literature refers to India. The Mesopotamian records mention the word Meluha for Indus region. The ancient name of the river Indus was Meluha. Sindhu is Sanskrit name, given by Hindus (Aryans), who invaded India. 

Consumer Affairs in Indus Valley Civilization

The weights and measurements were calibrated to a considerable extent. The measures were standardized and perhaps there is binary system in use. A scale made up of Elephant tusk has been found at Mohenjo-Daro and Lothal.

Finance, Business and Industry in Indus Valley Civilization

There was use of many kinds of metals including Gold, Silver, Copper, Lapis Lazuli , Turquoise, Amethyst, Alabaster, jade etc. It has been guessed that among the precious stones in the Harappan civilization; Jade came from Central Asia, Turquoise came from Iran , Amethyst came from Maharashtra and Lapis lazuli came from Afghanistan.

A Jewellery hoard has been found at Allahdino, an Indus valley Site near congregation of Indus river and Arabian sea. It has a necklace of 36 carnelian beads, Bronze spacer beads and a coper bead covered with Gold foil and 20 Gold lumps.

The trade was multifaceted. It was operated on intraregional as well as interregional basis and had a guild system coupled with nomadic trade. There are no evidences of monetary exchange.

Well developed stoneware industry. The manufacturing of the stone bangles was most prevalent in Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. Harappan civilization had an Economic Zone. This economic zone was along the bank of the Sirhind river.

Metallurgy in Indus Valley Civilization

These people were aware of Gold, Silver, Copper, Brass, Bronze and Tin but did not know much about Iron.

Copper was the most widely used metal.

Ganeshwar in Sikar District of Rajasthan is supposed to be the supplier of Copper to the cities of Indus Valley; however, the largest hoard of Copper came from Gungeria.


A large variety of pottery, both plain and decorated, has been found. Harappanwares were shaped on a potter’s wheel. The potters wheels, being made of wood, have not survived.

The kilns in which the pots were baked have been unearthed. The heating was skilfully controlled as most of the pottery was carefully fired. Once the vessel was shaped on the wheels, the ochre was painted over it. Then the designs were painted on this red surface with a brush in black.

The black colour was derived from magniferous haematite.

The designs include a series of intersecting circles (a pattern exclusively found in Indus culture), tree placed in metopes, motif resembling a large comb, chessboard pattern, triangles, solar device, etc. figures of animals, birds, snake or fish occur rarely. Animals are shown with grass and birds on trees. No human figure is depicted on the pottery from Mohenjodaro but a few pottery pieces discovered from Harappa portray a man and a child.

At lothal a vase a painting probably depicting the folk tale the thirsty crow and on another jar from the same site he has identified the depiction of the folk tale the cunning fox.

Seals in Indus Valley Civilization

The seals were used throughout the length and breadth of this civilization. Made of steatite, these seals range in size from 1cm to 5cm. two main types are seen

  • First, square with a carved animal and inscription
  • Second, rectangular with an inscription only.

The square seals have a small perforated boss at the back while the rectangular ones have a hole on the back of the seal itself.

The seals were very popular; more than 1200 seals have been found at Mohenjodaro alone. The most remarkable one is the Pashupati seal depicting shiva seated on a stool flanked by an elephant, tiger, Rhinoceros and buffalo. Below the stool are two antelopes or goats.

On one seal a goddess stands nude between the branches of a pipal tree, before which kneels a worshipper. Behind the worshipper stands a human faced goat and below are seven devotees engaged in a dance.

A scene very often repeated on seals shows a man holding back two roaring tigers with his out-stretched arms. This is similar to the Sumerian Gilgamesh and his lions.

The animal most frequently encountered on Indus seals is a humpless bull, shown in profile with its horns superimposed on each other and pointing forward. For this feature it has generally been called a unicorn.

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  • Tierra

    what was the indus valley like. How did they live