Discovery & Extent of Indus Valley Civilization

“A long march preceded our arrival at Haripah, through jangal of the closest description…. When I joined the camp I found it in front of the village and ruinous brick castle. Behind us was a large circular mound, or eminence, and to the west was an irregular rocky height, crowned with the remains of buildings, in fragments of walls, with niches, after the eastern manner…. Tradition affirms the existence here of a city, so considerable that it extended to Chicha Watni, thirteen cosses distant, and that it was destroyed by a particular visitation of Providence, brought down by the lust and crimes of the sovereign”

This was the first narration of the Harappa Civilization by an Englishman Charles Masson in 1842. The coss is around 2 miles and it has been used as a unit of length in India since Vedic Times.

However, the discovery of Charles Masson could not attract any archeological interest for many years.

  • In 1872, Sir Alexander Cunningham published the first Harappan seal.

About half a century later in 1912 more Harappan seals were discovered by J Fleet. Later an excavation campaign was carried out under Sir John Hubert Marshall and this culminated in the discovery of a Civilization at Harappa by Sir John Marshall, Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni and Madho Sarup Vats, and at Mohenjo-Daro by Rakhal Das Banerjee, E. J. H. MacKay, and Sir John Marshall.

Extent of the Indus Valley Civilization

The centre of the civilization was in Sind and Punjab in undivided India, from this centre, the civilization spread towards all direction. In West the last extent is seaboard of South Baluchistan at the Suktagendor which can be called its western border. In east Alamagirpur in Uttar Pradesh (District Meerut) can be called its Eastern Border. In North it extended up to Manda in Jammu & Kashmir and in south it extended up to Bhagvatrav in Narmada Estuary of Gujarat. However, later at Diamabad (District Ahamed Nagar Maharashtra) was the site where four figurines of Bronze on the bank of Pravara River found. This pushed the civilization’s extension in further south. Indus civilization remnants have been discovered from as far south as Mumbai in Maharashtra State.


  • Most settlements in Indus Valley Civilization are on banks of rivers.
  • As far as extension is concerned, the Indus civilization was largest of the four ancient urban civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, South Asia and China
  • It covered an area of around 13 Lakh square kilometers.
  • This area is triangular in shape and no other ancient civilization was extended to such a large area.
  • Remains of the site first found at Harappa so it is also called Harappan Civilization.
  • Modern dating methods keep the civilization to be ranging from 2900 to 2000BC.
  • The people of this civilization were definitely in touch with the other civilizations most prominently being the Mesopotamian civilization.

The difference between names of Harappan Civilization and Indus Valley Civilization

Both the names are coterminous. Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, Pakistan and this was the first site where the remains of the civilization were first found. That is why it is called Harappan Civilization.
Since it started in the river valley of the Indus River and largest concentration of the settlements has been found along the course of this river, it was called Indus Valley Civilization.

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  • Rahul

    Best site for preparing civil service examination.

  • Roopa

    May I know which books you referred in providing this material? Is it NCERT?

    • DrHiren

      Yes ncert & bipin chandra’s books for indian history.