How Indus towns developed

Chalcolithic

Typesite
Mehergarh
6500-6000 BC (Period 1A)
Evidence of the first Indus village appears in this period. The evidence comprises of an irregular scattering of mud brick houses separated by refuse dumps and passageways. These are square and rectangular houses subdivided into four or more units. Some of the units were probably storage areas.

The mud bricks used in these constructions were handmade. Other materials used were wood, branches and grass

There appears to be an absence of an overall site plan or settlement structure.

Early Indus Typesite
  • Mundigak
  • Amri
  • Kot Diji
  • Rehman Dheri
  • Lewan Dar Dariz
  • Tarakai Qila
  • Kalibangan
  • Banawali

Town Structure

3540 BC
Amri
  • Mud brick and stone houses of many rooms
  • Rectangular houses (16x3 metres) with paved floors and doors
  • Bricks of irregular sizes
  • Foundations of stone
  • Presence of multiple cellular compartments (1m2) probably grain stores
  • Storage jars on house floors.
c. 3180 BC
Kot Diji
  • Defence walls (4-5meters high)-lower course is limestone rubble while upper course is of mud brick.
2600-2480 BC
Rehman Dheri
  • Earliest town plan.
  • Size 22 ha.
  • Pop 12000
  • Grid pattern of town with roads running NW-SE
2920-2550 BC
Kalibangan
  • Early version of town planning
  • Planned like a rectangle having straight arms with a little tortuosity in the northwestern corner.
  • Use of dried brick and stone for domestic structures and defence walls
  • Standardisation of bricks 3:2:1
  • Hearths
  • Ovens located on surface as well as below ground level
  • Constructions of latrines, drains and washing areas
  • Introduction of irrigation
  • Use of ponds and oxbow lakes for agriculture, watering herds and fishing.
  • Ploughed field surface with furrow in 2 directions
Banawali
  • Intermediate phase of Indus civilisation
  • Initially lived in mud brick houses in an open settlement.
  • Later enclosed by a wall designed as an apsidal or oval fortification following the existing contours of the dune on which the settlement was perched.
  • Evidence of wholesale demolition of the earlier houses followed by new construction which included a new layout; enlargement of the settlement into a bipartite one with the preceding habitation converted into a citadel with the general town planned around it.
Kunal
  • Earliest evidence of rectilinear houses made of mud bricks in both the pre-Harappan and Harappan standards.

Mature Indus

Harappa
Pop 23,500
Area >150 hectares
  • Earliest city may have been formed during the Kot Diji phase, i.e., 2800-2500 BC
  • Earliest city covered an area of 25 hectares.
  • It became a centre for trade networks extending from Baluchistan and Afghanistan to the west to the seacoast in the south.
  • Towns built over raised mud brick platforms
Town structure consists
  • Citadel mound and lower town surrounded by a massive brick wall.
  • Citadel had square towers and bastions.
  • Large open areas inside the gateway may have been used as a market or checkpoint for taxing goods coming into the city
  • Outside the city walls a cluster of houses may represent temporary rest stops for travellers and caravans
  • No division of the society is reflected in the layout of the city. Since large public buildings, market areas, large and small houses as well as craft workshops have been found in the same neighbourhood.
  • Barrack-like group of single roomed tenements were for the poorer classes
  • Basic house plans ranging from single room tenements to houses with courtyards and up to 12 rooms to great houses with several dozen rooms and several courtyards.
  • Houses had rooms on three sides opening into a central courtyard
  • Nearly all large houses had private wells.
  • Hearths common in rooms;
  • Bathrooms in every house with chutes leading to drainage channels.
  • First floor bathrooms also built.
  • Brick stairways provided access to the upper floors.
  • Houses built with a perimeter wall and adjacent houses were separated by a narrow space of land.
  • Granary with areas for threshing grains.
  • Burnt bricks mainly used for drains, wells and bathrooms.
  • Sun dried bricks used mainly for fillings.
  • Timber used for flat roofs and as frames or lacing for brickwork
Mohenjodaro
Pop. 35,000-41,000
Area >200 hectares
  • Range of shops and craft workshops-potters, dyers, metal workers, shell ornament makers and bead makers shops
  • Great Bath - 12 x 7x 3 metres. This is the earliest public water tank in the ancient world. Two wide staircases in the north and the south lead down into the tank. Small sockets at the edges of the stairs could have held wooden planks or treads. At the foot of the steps is a ledge extending the entire width of the pool
  • The floor of the tank is watertight. A thick layer of bitumen was laid along the sides of the tank and beneath the floor. The floor slopes to the south-western corner where a small outlet leads to a brick drain, which takes the water to the edge of the mound. Rooms are located along the eastern edge of the building. The tank was probably used for special religious functions where water was used to purify and renew the well being of the bathers.
  • Granary (50x40 metres) is built on a massive mud brick foundation. Two rows of six rooms are arranged along a central passageway (7 meters wide and paved with baked bricks). Each room (15.2x6.1 meters) has 3 sleeper walls with airspace between them. A wooden superstructure would have built on the brick foundation with stairs leading to the central passage area. Small triangular openings may have been air ducts to allow the flow of fresh air beneath hollow floors.
  • Great Hall (50x27 meters) is built on the top of a tapered brick platform and has a solid brick foundation. The foundation was divided into 27 square and rectangular blocks by narrow passageways running east west and north south. Some of these blocks have square sockets for holding wooden beams or pillars. A brick lined well was located at the foot of the stairs.
  • Stairs leading into the bath have timber treads set in bitumen.
  • Floor of sawn bricks set on edge in gypsum mortar with a layer of bitumen sealer sandwiched between the inner and outer brick skins.
  • Water supplied by a large well. Set of rooms surround the bath.
Lothal
  • Trading station and dock.
  • Centre of carnelian bead manufacture
  • Dock is a rectangle basin with a spillway and locking device to control the inflow of tidal wave and permit automatic desilting of the channels.
  • Raised platforms with ventilating channels were probably granaries or warehouses.
  • Specialist workshops- copper, gold and beads.
Dholavira
3rd millennium-1500 BC
Area 100 ha
  • Situated on an island in the Rann of Kutch
  • Evidence of city planning from 2500 BC
  • Monumental architecture
  • Houses built of sandstone blocks and mud bricks
  • Water harvesting system
  • Cisterns and reservoirs for collection of seasonal rainwater
  • Funerary structures
  • Stratified account of the rise and fall of the Indus Culture through seven successive stages.
  • (TAKEN OUT)
  • Controlled the movement of goods between the resource areas of Gujarat and the core areas of the Indus plain
  • Manufacture of agate beads, shell working and ceramic production
  • Habitation and craft activity areas in the lower sectors of the city are organised in blocks divided by north-south and east-west streets.

Late Indus

Chanhudaro
  • Breakdown of planned layout squatter occupation
  • Reuse of earlier bricks
Dholavira
  • Breakdown in town planning
  • Absence of urban grandeur
  • Emergence of smaller nebulous rural settlements

Growth of Cities

The cities developed out of earlier villages that had previously existed in the same region. Beginning with a relatively small population, they grew in size and density to become the largest settlement of the region, surrounded by numerous towns and villages. All settlements were linked by trade and economic activities as well as religious beliefs and social relations. Most villages covered 1 hectares to 10 hectares of area. These villages supported and maintained the larger towns and cities.

Vast agricultural lands, rivers and forests that were inhabited by pastoral communities, fisher folk and hunters and gatherers surrounded each city.

  Early Indus Mature Indus
Grid Minimally differentiated Three tier settlement system
Public Architecture Very Little Present
Social Differentiation Absent Present
Script Absent Present
Weights Absent Present
Cultural Mosaic/Homogeneity Greater sense of disparity and cultural diversity Greater sense of unity and integration

  Typesite Settlement Houses Features Artefacts
Early Indus Mundigak II Compact   Well
Hearths
Handmade pottery; crude stone isc seal
  Mundigak III     Cemetery at the foot of the mound outside the living area Wheel made pottery; increase in copper and bronze; TC figures and stone seals
  Mundigak IV Town   Defence walls; square bastions; use of sun dried bricks  
  Amri IA   No structures Ditches Handmade pottery; copper and bronze
3450 B.C. Amri IB   Mud brick buildings of many rooms; bricks of irregular sizes; footings of stone; storage jars on house floors   Cattle, sheep, goat, donkey and gazelle
3240 B.C. Amri IC   Mud brick and stone houses; rectangular houses (16x3 m) with paved floors and doors. Multiple cellular compartments (1m2) probably grain stores Wheel made pottery; bone tools; TC animal figures
3180-2520 BC Kot Diji   Defence walls (4-5m high)-lower course is limestone rubble while upper course is of mud brick Located in agriculturally productive land
Defence walls probably for floods
Wheel made pottery; copper
2600-2480 BC Rehman Dheri
Size 22 ha. Pop 12000
Earliest town plan Grid pattern of town with roads running nw-se   Beads; wheat and barley grains; cattle, sheep and goats
  Lewan Dar Dariz Factory site availability of raw materials     Specialised stone tools; beads,
  Tarakai Qila       Wheat and barley, lentils, field peas, water buffalo
2920-2550 BC Kalibangan   Use of dried brick and stone for domestic structures and defence walls; standardisation of bricks 3:2:1 Hearths; above and below ground ovens; Ploughed field surface with furrow in 2 directions Shell; beads; copper; steatite
           
  Harappa
Pop 23,500
  Burnt bricks mainly used for drains, wells and bathrooms. Sun dried bricks used mainly for fillings. Size 28 x 14 x 7 cm; 4:2:1. Timber used for flat roofs and as frames or lacing for brickwork.
5 basic house plans ranging from single room tenements to houses with courtyards and up to 12 rooms to great houses with several dozen rooms and several courtyards. Nearly all large houses had private wells. Hearths common in rooms; bathrooms in every house with chutes leading to drainage channels. First floor bathrooms also built. Brick stairways provided access to the upper floors. Houses built with a perimeter wall and adjacent houses were separated by a narrow space of land.
Citadel mound and lower town surrounded by a massive brick wall. Citadel had square towers and bastions. Lower town for the general population. Granary with areas for threshing grains. Barrack like group of single roomed tenements were for the poorer classes.  
  Mohenjodaro
Pop. 35,000-41,000
    Barrack like group of single roomed tenements were for the poorer classes. Range of shops and craft workshops-potters, dyers, metal workers, shell ornament makers and bead makers shops Great Bath - 12 x 7x 3 m. Stairs leading into the bath have timber treads set in bitumen. Floor of sawn bricks set on edge in gypsum mortar with a layer of bitumen sealer sandwiched between the inner and outer brick skins. Water supplied by a large well. Set of rooms surround the bath. Granary  
2100-1900 BC Lothal Trading station and dock. Centre of carnelian bead manufacture   Dock is a rectangle basin with a spillway and locking device to control the inflow of tidal wave and permit automatic desilting of the channels. Raised platforms with ventilating channels were probably granaries or warehouses. Specialist workshops- copper, gold and beads.  
  Chanhudaro Centre of carnelian bead manufacture.      
2200-1700 BC Kalibangan   Separate fortifications for both the citadel and lower town. No public drains but only soakage jars embedded in the streets.    
           
Late Indus          
  Chanhudaro Reuse of earlier bricks Breakdown of planned layout; squatter occupation