Indus Valley Civilization

Pakistan the Land of Beauty

Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300–1700 BCE, flourished 2600–1900 BCE), was discovered in the 1920s as a result of archaeological excavations. The Indus Valley Civilization extended from Balochistan to Gujrat, with an upward reach to Punjab from east of the river Jehlum upper Sutluj. Indus sites have also been discovered in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province Recently. Some archaeologists suggest that the Indus Civilization may have had a population of well over five million.

Another name for this civilization is the Harappan Civilization, after the first of its cities to be excavated, Harappa.

The Early Harappan Ravi Phase, named after the nearby Ravi River, lasted from circa 3300 BCE until 2800 BCE. The earliest examples of the “Indus script” date back around 3000 BCE.

Technologically advanced and sophisticated urban culture is evident in the Indus Valley Civilization. Quality of municipal town planning suggests knowledge and skill of urban planning which kept a high priority on hygiene. This urban plan included the world’s first urban sanitation systems. The ancient systems of sewerage that were developed and used in cities throughout the Indus region were far more advanced and efficient than those in some areas of Pakistan and India today. All the houses had access to water and drainage facilities. This gives the impression of a society with low wealth concentration. Individual and groups of homes obtained water from wells within the city. Streets of the major cities were laid out in perfect grid patterns and houses were protected from noise and odors.

Most of the inhabitants of the city seem to have been artisans or traders who lived with others having the same occupation in well-defined neighborhoods. The people of the Indus Civilization achieved great accuracy in measuring length, mass and time. They were among the first to develop a system of uniform weights and measures. Their measurements were extremely precise. Their smallest division, which is marked on an ivory scale found in Lothal, was approximately 1.704 mm, the smallest division ever recorded on a scale of the Bronze Age. Harappan engineers followed the decimal division of measurement for all practical purposes, including the measurement of mass as revealed by their hexahedron weights.

Unique Harappan inventions include an instrument which was used to measure whole sections of the horizon and the tidal dock. In addition, Harappans evolved new techniques in metallurgy and produced copper, bronze, lead and tin. The engineering skill of the Harappans was remarkable, especially in building docks after a careful study of tides, waves and currents.

Various sculptures, seals, pottery, gold jewelry and anatomically detailed figurines in terracotta, bronze and steatite have been found at the excavation sites. A number of gold, terracotta and stone figurines of girls in dancing poses reveal the presence of some dance form. A harp-like instrument depicted on an Indus seal and two shell objects found at Lothal indicate the use of stringed musical instruments. The Harappans also made various toys and games, among them cubical dices (with one to six holes on the faces) which were found in sites like Mohenjo-Daro.


(Mount of the Death) The premier of the Indus Valley Civilization thrived from 2600 to 1700 BC.

Mohenjo-daro was a city of the Indus Valley Civilization and located in Sindh. This ancient five thousand year old city is widely recognized as one of the largest city of Indus Valley and most important early cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. It was one of the world’s first ancient cities and contemporaneous with ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations.

Archaeologist Sir John Marshal discovered Mohenjo-daro in the 1920 and his car is still in the museum, showing his presence, struggle, and dedication for Mohenjo-daro. Most likely, Mohenjo-daro was the administrative center of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. It was the most developed and advanced city in the region during its peak. The city probably had around 35,000 residents at its height.

Mohenjo-daro has a remarkable construction, based on a grid of streets, which were laid out in perfect patterns. The public buildings also suggest a high degree of social organization. The urban plan included the world’s first urban sanitation systems.

Mohenjo-daro was successively destroyed and rebuilt at least seven times. Each time, the new cities were built directly on top of the old ones. The cause of destruction is thought to be flooding by the Indus River.

Mohenjo-daro and other civilizations vanished without trace from history until discovered in the 1920s by excessive excavation, but no in-depth excavations have been carried out since the 1960s.


The center of Gandhara art and culture bearing history back from 516 BC to 600 AD.

Taxila, containing the ruins of the Gandharan city of â€œTakshashila”, means ‘belonging to the king Taksha’(an ancient Indian king who ruled in a kingdom called Taksha Khanda who founded the city of Takshashila), is an important archaeological site in Pakistan. Lying in Haro River near Islamabad, Taxila is one of the declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Pakistan.

Takshashila was an early center of learning and a place of religious and historical sanctity by Hindus and Buddhists. Some scholars date Takshashila’s existence back to the 6th or 7th century BCE. It became a prominent centre of learning philosophy, art and trade several centuries before Christ, and continued to attract students from as far as China and Greece until the destruction of the city in the 5th century CE.

Relics of the Moghal Gardens along with the ancient Buddhist culture and ruins of Gandhara civilization are found in Taxila.

Present day Taxila is a mix of posh urban and rustic rural environs. Situated just outside the capital Islamabad’s territory, it is spread over an undulating land in the periphery of the Potohar Plateau of the Punjab. People try to relate the present day stone ware craft to the tradition of sculpture making that existed here before the advent of Islam.

Dedicated to the remains of Gandhara civilization, Taxila Museum is also worth visiting.


Gandhara meaning ‘perfumed’ is the name of an ancient kingdom “Mahajanapada” was located in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau (Taxila) and on the northern side of the Kabul River. It was a centre of international commercial activities and an important communication channel with ancient Iran and Central Asia. Evidences of Stone Age human inhabitants of Gandhara, including stone tools and burnt bones, was discovered at Sanghao near Mardan. The artifacts are approximately 15,000 years old.

The Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from the 6th century BCE to the 11th century. It attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century under Buddhist Kushan Kings. Kanishka’s Empire was known as the Kingdom of Gandhara and under his leadership it became the center of civilization. Gandhara civilization peaked during the reign of the great Kushan king Kanishka (128-151). The Kushan period is considered the Golden Period of Gandhara. Peshawar Valley and Taxila. Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta was one of the greatest rulers the world has ever known. Like his grandfather, Ashoka started his career from Gandhara as a governor. He promoted Buddhist religion in his empire and built many stupas in Gandhara. His successors, however, failed to cast such imperial shadows throughout the sub-continent.

By the time Gandhara had been absorbed into the empire of Mahmud Ghaznavi, Buddhist buildings were already in ruins and Gandhara art had been forgetten. The history and art of the Gandhara remained unknown to the inhabitants of the area and the rest of the world until much later.

In the 19th century, British soldiers and administrators started taking interest in the ancient history of the Indian Subcontinent. In the 1830s coins of the post Ashoka period were discovered and in the same period Chinese travelogues were translated. Chinese records provided locations and site plans of Buddhists shrines. Along with the discovery of coins, these records provided necessary clues to piece together the history of Gandhara.

Gandhara sculptures were found in 1848 by Cunningham in north of Peshawar. The site of Taxila was aslo identified by him in the 1860s. From then on a large number of Buddhist statues were being discovered in the Peshawar valley.

From 1912 to 1934 John Marshal performed excavation of Taxila and discovered Greek, Parthian, and Kushan cities and large number of stupas and monasteries. These discoveries helped to piece together much more of the chronology of the history of Gandhara and its art. Ahmad Hassan Dani and the Archaeology Department of Peshawar University made a number of discoveries in Peshawar and Swat Valley after the independence in 1947. Excavations on many sites of the Gandhara Civilization are being done by researchers from many universities around the world.

Baltistan Tours arranges custom made cultural tours of different durations involving different historical and cultural sites and places from the metropolitan city of Karachi in the south to the far-flung valleys of Shigar and Khaplu in the Gilgit-Baltistan.