Introduction of The Harappan Civilization: 3 Phases with Key Details

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Explore the introduction of the Harappan Civilization, including its three phases, with key details. This article encompasses key features, major archaeological sites, and other crucial details of the Harappan Civilization.

Introduction of the Harappan Civilization

  • First urban civilization in South Asia.
  • Existed during the Bronze Age, contemporary with Mesopotamia and Egypt.
  • Largest of the three civilizations, covering 800,000 square kilometers.
  • Initially called the Indus Valley Civilization, it expanded beyond the Indus region.
  • Named after Harappa, the first excavated site.
  • Part of India’s proto-history.
  • More advanced than Chalcolithic settlements despite being older.

Phases of Harappan Civilisation

The Harappan civilization can be classified into three phases:

  • Early/Pre-Harappan phase (c. 3200−2600 BCE)
  • Mature Harappan phase (c. 2600−1900 BCE)
  • Late Harappan phase (c. 1900−1300 BCE)

*Note: The time ranges are approximate, and there is considerable variation in the dates for different phases of the Harappan civilization.

Early Harappan Civilization

  • The formative, proto-urban phase of the Harappan civilization.
  • Also known as the Regionalisation Era.
  • Related to the Hakra phase of settlements.

Key features

  • Fortified settlements.
  • Skilled in specialized crafts (stone-working, bead-making, metalworking).
  • Used wheeled transportation.
  • Had trade networks.
  • Similar raw materials to the mature Harappan phase (except jade).

Differences from the mature Harappan phase

  • Lacked large cities.
  • Less advanced in craft specialization.

Notable archaeological sites

  • Padri (Gujarat)
  • Kalibangan (Rajasthan)
  • Dholavira (Kutch)
  • Harappa (West Punjab)
  • Balakot, Amri, and Bhirrana (Haryana)
  • Kot Diji and Gumla

💢 No early Harappan sites were found in the active Indus Plain.

Mature Harappan Civilization

  • The urban phase of the Harappan civilization.
  • Also known as the Integration Era.
  • Considered a full-fledged civilization.
  • Usually referred to by the unqualified terms “Harappan Culture” or “Harappan Civilization”.

Important points

  • “Harappan Culture” refers to material traits that are not identical to Harappa sites.
  • Shared features include:
  • Red and black pottery.
  • Terracotta figurines.
  • Standardized brick size (1:2:4 ratio).

Late Harappan Civilization

  • The final period of the Harappan civilization.
  • Also known as the Localisation Era.

Defined by

  • Decline of cities.
  • Fragmentation of the “Integration Era” culture.

Comprised of five geographical zones

  • West Punjab Phase (Cemetery-H Culture).
  • East Punjab Phase.
  • Jhukar Phase.
  • Rangpur Phase.
  • Ganga Yamuna Doab Phase.

Key Features

  • Smaller settlements compared to the mature Harappan phase.
  • Gradual decline in material traits (seals, pottery, script, etc.).
  • Increased number of settlements, but smaller and rural.
  • Diverse agricultural base.

Important sites

  • Jhukar Phase: Jhukar, Chanhudaro, Amri.
  • Rangpur Phase: Kutch, Saurashtra, Gujarat.

Source: Poonam Dalal Dahiya Ancient History

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