Production, Trade, Organisation and Administration in Harappan Civilisation




Production, Trade, Organisation, and Administration:

  • Agriculture:

Like the civilizations before the Harappans, these ancient people farmed. Harappan people built an agricultural irrigation and fertility system based on the silt-bearing floods. A variety of crops were grown in this area. Indus Valley people grew wheat, barley, melons, oils, dates, field peas, cotton, and possibly rice. A large portion of every crop that farmers grew had to be paid into public granaries.  Walls made of burnt bricks raised for protection show that floods took place annually. The Indus carried far more alluvial silt than the Nile in Egypt and deposited it on the flood plains. Just as the Nile created Egypt and deposited it on the flood plains, so also the Indus created Sindh and fed its people. The Indus people sowed seeds in the flood plains in November when the floodwater receded, they reaped their harvests of wheat and barley in April, before the advent of the next flood. Probably, cereals were received as taxes from peasants and stored in granaries for the payment of wages. This can be said on the analogy of Mesopotamian cities where wages were paid in barley. The Indus people were the earliest people to produce cotton. Because cotton was first produced in this area the Greeks called it sindon, which is derived from Sindh.

  • Domestication of Animals:

Although the Harappans practiced agriculture, animals were kept on a large scale. Oxen, buffaloes, goats, sheep, and pigs were domesticated. The Harappans favoured the humped bulls. From the very beginning, dogs were regarded as pets. Cats were also domesticated, and signs of the feet of both dogs and cats have been noticed. Bones recovered from Indus sites show that many cattle were also killed for meat. They bear butchery marks and are often burnt. It is perhaps worth emphasizing that the weight of meat obtained from a cow or bullock is very much greater than that provided by a sheep or goat.  the additional animals could either be killed for food or used to obtain other foodstuffs, for example, by trading with pastoralists, by giving the animals as gifts to kin in other areas in the expectation of useful return gifts or perhaps by exchanging them for grain stored by those in authority, though the evidence of central storage is limited and dubious. Elephants were well known to the Harappans, who were also acquainted with the rhinoceros. The Harappan people in Gujarat produced rice and domesticated elephants, which was not the case with the people of Mesopotamian cities.

  • Technology and Crafts:

The Harappan culture belongs to the Bronze Age. The people of Harappa used many tools and implements of stone, but they were very well acquainted with the manufacture and use of bronze. People also made copper and bronze vessels. They made small plates and weights of lead, and gold and silver jewelry of considerable sophistication. Long barrel-shaped cornelian beads (up to 10 cm. long) are the finest examples of craftsmanship. Steatite was used for making a variety of objects like seals, beads, bracelets, buttons, vessels, etc. but its use in making faience (a form of glass) is particularly noteworthy. The gold objects found in the form of beads, pendants, amulets, brooches, and other small ornaments in the Harappan civilization. The Harappan gold is of light color indicating high silver content. Mature Harappan pottery represents a blend of the ceramic tradition of the pre-Harappan culture of both west of the Indus region as well as of the Saraswati area. The pottery technology was quite advanced. Most of the pots were wheel-made Big storage jars were also produced. A piece of woven cotton has been recovered from Mohenjo-Daro, and textile impressions found on several objects. Spindle whorls were used for spinning. Weavers wove cloth of wool and cotton. Huge brick structures suggest that bricklaying was an important craft. They also attest to the existence of a class of masons. The Harappans also practiced boat making. Seal making and terracotta manufacture were also important crafts.

  • TRADE:

The internal and distant trade received momentum. Trade with distant places like Mesopotamia became regular. Trade with Mesopotamia had begun during Early Harappan times. The Akkadian empire was founded in 2334 B.C.E. by Emperor Sargon I. During his reign, the Harappan trade with Mesopotamia flourished and the Harappan cities reached their peak. One of the administrative records of emperor Sargon describes trade with distant places. The importance of trade in the life of the Indus people is attested not only by granaries found at Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, and Lothal but also by the presence of numerous seals, uniform script, and regulated weights and measures in a wide area. The Harappans carried on a considerable trade in stone, metal, shell, etc. within the Indus culture zone. Many Harappan seals have been discovered in Mesopotamia, and it seems that the Harappans imitated some cosmetics used by the urban people of Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamian records from about 2350 B.C. onwards refer to trade relations with Meluha, which was the ancient name given to the Indus region. The sea trade had become the preferred mode. ‘Dilmun’, ‘Makan’, and ‘Meluhha’ are mentioned as three important centers on the sea route. Dilmun is identified with Bahrain, Makan with the coastal region of Oman-Iran-Baluchistan, and Meluhha with the region of Harappan civilisation. Copper was available in large amounts in Meluhha. The name Meluhha is supposed to have its origin in the red colour of copper. The commodities exported from Meluhha to Mesopotamia included copper, ivory objects, lapis lazuli, carnelian beads, textiles, timber 7as well as monkeys and peacocks. 

  • The Drainage System:

The drainage system of Mohenjo-Daro was very impressive. In almost all cities every big or small house had its own courtyard and bathroom. In Kalibangan many houses had their own wells. Water flowed from the house to the streets, which had drained. Altogether the quality of the domestic bathrooms and drains is remarkable, and the drainage system of Harappa is almost unique. Perhaps no other Bronze Age civilization gave so much attention to health and cleanliness as the Harappan did.

  • Religious Practices:

  • In Harappa, numerous terracotta figurines of women have been found. In one figurine a plant is shown growing out of the embryo of a woman. Probably the image represents the goddess of earth, and it was intimately connected with the origin and growth of the plant, in the same manner as the Egyptians worshipped the Nile goddess Isis. 
  • The second feature of Harappan religious belief was the worship of male God. In one particular seal, we find a male figure meditating with a headgear adorned with horns of Buffalo being surrounded by animals. This explains to a certain extent the later concept of the master of the animals known as a Pashupatin. The images of bulls or oxen on the Harappan seals also prove the point that they were worshipped of Shiva in an indirect manner.
  • Numerous symbols of the phallus and female sex organs made of stone have been found in Harappa. They were possibly meant for worship.
  • The Rig Veda speaks of the non-Aryan people who were phallus worshipers. The phallus worship, which started in the days of Harappa, came to be recognised as a respectable form of worship in Hindu society.
  • Animal worship was another typical feature of Harappan religious belief. Worship of common animal light elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, and Bulls was quite prevalent. Worship of the naga deity or Serpent worship and Bull worship was the familiar trends. The Bull is usually associated with Lord Shiva. But the absence of cow on the seals is very conspicuous. Most probably the later Hindu tradition of vahanas of Gods and Goddess emerged from Harappan religious belief.
  • But the gods were not placed in temples, a practice which was common in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Nor can we say anything about the religious beliefs of the Harappans without being able to read their script. Amulets have been found in large numbers.
  • Probably the Harappans believed that ghosts and evil forces were capable of harming them and therefore, used amulets against them.
  • The Atharva Veda, which is associated with non-Aryan tradition, contains many charms and spells and recommends amulets for warding off diseases and evil forces.
  • The remains from Kalibagan, lothal, and banwali throw light on the Harappan tradition of fire- worship. a number of fire altars strengthen the idea that they were used to light the holy fire. Again from his symbols of Swastik and Chakra, historians believe that most probably these symbols represent Sun worship in the region.
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