The Earliest Cities


You have read that agriculture is the main occupation in a village. But many other occupations are followed by people in a city. Some of the possible occupations which may have existed in these cities are as follows:


pottery from harappa

Fig: Pottery REF: Wikipedia

  • Clay, copper and bronze was used for making pots. Tools, weapons and seals were made from copper and bronze. Seals were also made from clay. Some large pots have also been found. They were probably used for storing grains.
  • Jewelries were made of gold, beads, wood and clay. Precious stones; like cannelian, jasper, crystal, etc. were used to make beads.
  • Clay and wood was used for making toys. A cart-shaped toy has been found in very good condition. This shows that animal-driven carts were used at that time.
  • Ornate carvings can be seen on toys, pots and jewelry. This speaks about the fine craftsmanship of people of the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • Some spindles have also been found. They were used for making threads. People knew how to make cotton thread.
priest king of mohen jo daro

Fig: Priest King REF: Wikipedia


Trade was the main occupation of people of Harappa. Copper came from Rajasthan and from Oman. Some of the seals from Harappa have been found in Mesopotamia. This shows that trade link existed between Harappa and Mesopotamia.

A dockyard has been discovered in Lothal in Gujarat. This shows that trade through sea route existed at that time. Different types of seals show that proper systems of business transactions were followed.


Remains of charred grains have been found. This shows that wheat, barley, pulses, pea, rice, sesame, linseed and mustard were grown in the villages of the Harappa Civilization.

A toy model of plough has been found from the ruins. This shows that plough was used for tilling the land. Presence of large granaries and huge utensils shows that there was surplus food production at that time.

Bones of many domesticated animals have been found from the excavation site. This shows that people of Harappa domesticated cattle, sheep, goat, buffalo and pig.

Some Other Aspects of Life:
  • Historians guess that the city of the Indus Valley Civilization was having some form of administration. There is a possibility of a committee of people to look after the administration.
  • People used some form of entertainment. This is evident from toys and statues found from the site.
  • Seals from the Harappa site show scripts on them. This shows that people of the city knew how to write. Historians are yet to decipher the script of the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • People worshipped gods and goddesses. Many statues have been found. A male figure; surrounded by animals; has brought special attention of the archaeologists. This figure is similar to the Hindu god Lord Shiva. We know that Lord Shiva is also known as Pashupatinath.

Mystery over Decline of Harappan Civilization

The Harappa Civilization suddenly declined around 3900 years ago. Broken roads and clogged drains indicate towards a decline in infrastructure. Excavations from later period do not show remains of materials from distant places. This shows that the trade from the outside world had stopped. Houses were no longer as good as during the earlier period. People of the city were no longer prosperous.

Historians have not yet identified the proper cause of the decline of the Indus Valley Civilization. Some guesses have been made which are as follows:

  • There is a possibility that the rivers dried up. It forced people to move to some other places.
  • There were too many brick kilns and furnaces. It may have damaged the environment. This would have led to deforestation. Lack of green cover may have forced people to move to some other places.
  • Overgrazing by cattle and sheep may also have resulted in loss of forests. This would have led to desertification, i.e. formation of desert.
  • There is also a possibility of large scale epidemic or natural calamity. It could have wiped off a major portion of the population.

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