Inspiration, Place & Materials

an ever evolving look at architecture

The Harappan Civilization

In what is now Pakistan and Western India between 2600 BC to 1900 BC a civilization called the Indus or Harappan civilization existed in an area the size of Western Europe.

It was the largest of the four ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India and China. The Indus civilization is known to have comprised two large cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, and more than 100 towns and villages. The two cities were each perhaps originally about one mile square with populations of about 35,000.

It was between 2600-1900 B.C. Harappa it reached its height of economic expansion and urban growth. For the first time in the history of the region, there was evidence for many people of different classes and occupations living together.

Harappa (from Wikipedia)

Harappa was a thriving economic center with several large markets. The city was laid out in a grid with the streets and buildings orientated according to the cardinal directions. The city had many drinking water wells, and a highly sophisticated system of waste removal. All Harappan houses were equipped with latrines, bathing houses, and sewage drains which emptied into larger mains and eventually deposited the fertile sludge on surrounding agricultural fields.

The city of Harappa’s culture dominated the region. Non-violence, even in the form of self-defense, was a part of Indus religion, thus all invasions or migrations were not resisted, nor were there any clashes amongst tribes. The gates of the city were not constructed to counter any kind of military attack, nor were the walls made for self-defense. Walls surrounding mounds with in the city just demarcated different areas. An imminent threat of war was not even an idea or a thought in the Indus valley. A uniform culture propagated peace. The city catered specifically to the smooth running of trade, and business, another integral of Indus religion.

The city of Mohenjo-daro was older than Harappa. Built further down the Hidus River Mohenjo-daro was built on a slope to help resist the frequent floods. It was built in the same planned way with the grid patterned streets. Ultimately, the floods kept the city from flourishing the way Harappa did.


Mohenjo-daro was in all probability named “Mound of the dead”, because it was a city that was perpetually flooding, causing reoccurring destruction and reconstruction. There was a point where the population thought it wiser to move in the end, instead of reconstructing.

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