Harappan Site Details

Below you will find detailed information about various Harappan sites including Bhirrana, Dholavira, Farmana, Harappa and more. Please feel free to discuss further in the comments section below.


Bhirrana is a small village located in Fatehabad District in the Indian state of Haryana. It has revealed a 4.5 m cultural sequence of evolution of material culture from the beginning of the Hakra ware phase to a full-fledged Harappan settlement. The earliest period, of the Hakra Ware culture, consisted of sub-terranean circular pit dwellings cut into the natural soil. These pit dwelling are noticed to the north of the Harappan town, and below the Early Harappan structures of the town. The Mature Harappan town consisted of a fortified settlement with two major divisions. The cultural remains consists of pottery repertoire of different kinds, antiquities of copper, faience, steatite, shell, semi-precious stones like agate, carnelian, chalcedony, jasper, lapis lazuli, and terracotta.


Dholavira situated in taluka Bhachau, district Kachchh in state Gujarat, lies in the island of Khadir which, it turn, is surrounded by the salt waste of the Great Rann of Kachchh. It is one the five largest Harappan cities in the subcontinent. The ancient settlement is embraced by two monsoon channels, namely, the Manhar and Mansar. The ruins, including the cemetery covers an area of about 100 hectares half of which is appropriated by the articulately fortified settlement of the Harappans alone. The salient components of the full-grown cityscape consisted of a bipartite ‘citadel’, a ‘middle town’ and a ‘lower town’, two ‘stadia’, an ‘annexe’, a series of reservoirs all set within an enormous fortification running on all four sides. Interestingly, inside the city, too, there was an intricate system of fortifications. The city was, perhaps, configured like a large parallelogram boldly outlined by massive walls with their longer axis being from the east to west. On the bases of their relative location, planning, defences and architecture, the three principal divisions are designed tentatively as ‘citadel’, ‘middle town’, and ‘lower town’. The site is known for its massive reservoirs and gives evidences of advanced hydraulic engineering developed by the Harappans for conservation, harvesting and storage of water.


Farmana is the second largest Harappan site in Haryana spread over an area of 18 ha. The central area of the site, which is relatively intact, has an Early Harappan (Regional Hakra Culture Tradition) and Mature Harappan deposit whereas the flattened portion along the periphery has more Early Harappan material. The Early Harappan (Period-1) deposit at the site is intact
without any destruction or disturbances. The Mature Harappan is represented by three sub-phases- Period- IIA (Early Mature), IIB (middle Mature) and IIC (late Mature). Remains from the Regional Hakra culture were recovered in Farmana consisted of ceramics and pit-dwellings. The plan of the Mature Harappan settlement at Farmana appears to have been established during Period-IIA. The settlement consisted of a main street, small streets and lanes, and massive structural complexes neatly arranged along their margins. The town was laid out along a grid oriented in the NW/ SW direction. Each structural complex consisted of numerous rooms of different shapes and sizes. The artefacts and features found in these rooms indicate that they were used for dwelling, storage and cooking purposes. structures found at Farmana in Periods
IIA-IIB were made of mud-bricks. Occasionally burnt bricks were also added to structures, but their use was mainly restricted to the construction of building foundations or strengthening walls. The dimensions of all the bricks used at the site conform to the traditional Harappan ratio of 1:2:4. On the basis of formal and technical features, the pottery from the settlement area of Farmana can be classified into the following three stylistic groups, Group 1 Harappan pottery; Group 2 Non-Harappan pottery; Group 3 Historical pottery. Among the Harappan potter y, different forms that are included consist of Pot, Jar,Bowl, Bowl-on-Stand, Dish and Dish-on-Stand. Another significant result is the excavations of a number of burials in the Cemetery Area. They are clearly dated to the Harappan period and it reflects a complexity of burial customs during the Harappan period.


Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, eastern Pakistan, about 24 km (15 mi) west of Sahiwal. The site was first briefly excavated by Sir Alexander Cunninghum in 1872-73, two decades after the brick robbers carried off the visible remains of the city. He found a Indus seal of unknown origin. The first extensive excavations at Harappa were started by Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni in 1920. The site of the ancient city contains the ruins of a Bronze Age fortified city, which was part of the Cemetery H culture and the Indus Valle Civilization, centered in Sindh and the Punjab. The high mound at Harappa (Mound AB) is surrounded by a massive mud brick city wall with large square ramparts. The “granary” of Harappa is found on Mound F. It is a brick structure that was built on a massive brick foundation over 45 meters north-south and 45 meters east-west. Two rows of six rooms that appear to be foundations are arranged along a central passageway that is about 7 meters wide and partly paved with baked bricks. A large public well and public bathing platforms were found in the southern part of Mound AB at Harappa. These public bathing areas may also have been used for washing clothes as is common in many traditional cities in Pakistan and India today. Inside the city is an area that has been identified as a crafts quarter. Large quantities of manufacturing debris have been found in this area indicating the presence of workshops for making stone beads, shell ornaments, glazed faience ornaments, stone tools and possibly even gold working.


Kalibangan lies along the left bank of the dried-up bed of river Ghaggar (ancient Sarasvati). The excavations brought to light grid layout of a Harappan metropolis, perhaps truly ‘the first city’ of the Indian culture heritage. The significant part of the evidence, however, relates to the discovery of a early-Harappan settlement, immediately underlying the occupational remains of the Harappan citadel. The pre-Harappan settlement was a fortified parallelogram, the fortification wall being made of mud-bricks. The houses within the walled area were also made of mud-bricks. The distinctive trait of this period was the pottery which was significantly different from that of the succeeding Harappans. An outstanding discovery was a ploughed field, showing a cross-grid of furrows, the southeast of the settlement outside the town-wall. This is perhaps the earliest plouged field excavated so far. During the Harappan period, the structural pattern of the settlement was changed. There were now two distinct parts: the citadel on the west and the lower city on the east. The houses were built of mud-bricks, baked bricks being confined to drains, wells, sills, etc. Of the finds obtained from this excavation, a cylindrical seal and an incised terracotta cake are quite significant. The cemetery of the Harappans was located to the west-southwest of the citadel. Three types of burials were attested: extended inhumation in rectangular or oval grave-pits; pot-burials in a circular pit; and rectangular or oval grave-pits containing only pottery and other funerary objects.


Khirsara, 85 km from Bhuj town, Gujarat is a prominent Mature Harappan site. The excavation reveals systematic town planning, a citadel complex where the ruling elite lived, a factory complex, habitation annexes, a warehouse, drainage system, and massive fortification walls. All the structures were built of sandstone blocks set in mud mortar. The site yielded 11 bar, circular and square seals, standardised bricks in the ratio of 1:2:4 and a staggering variety of pottery including reserve slip ware. While the bar seals have only the Harappan script, others have carvings of unicorn and hump-less bulls with the Harappan signs. A major industrial hub” that belonged to the mature Harappan period has also been identified. Its “factory” manufactured enormous quantities of beads from cornelian, agate, jasper, lapis lazuli, steatite and chalcedony; bangles and inlays from conch shells; copper artefacts such as bangles, rings, beads, knives, needles, fish-hooks, arrowheads and weights; and terracotta rattles, toy-carts and gamesmen. One trench alone threw up 25,000 exquisite beads made of steatite. One of the pots contained 26 disc-shaped beads, micro beads and a ring, all made in gold, and steatite beads. The evidences point that Khirsara was an important trading outpost in western Kutch in Gujarat on the way to Sind in present-day Pakistan.


Lothal, literally “Mound of the Dead”, is the most extensively excavated site of Harappan culture in India, and therefore allows the most insight into the story of the Indus Valley Civilization. It was a flourishing centre of trade and industry, famous for its expertly constructed system of underground sanitary drainage, and an astonishing precision of standarized weights and measures. Unlike many other doorways into Harappan culture, Lothal passed through all the phases of the society, from earliest development to most mature. The dominant sight at Lothal is the massive dockyard which has helped make this place so important to international archaeology. Spanning an area 37 meters from east to west and nearly 22 meters from north to south, the dock is said by some to be the greatest work of maritime architecture before the birth of Christ. To be sure, not all archaeologists are convinced that the structure was used as a dockyard and some prefer to refer to it as a large tank that may have been a reservoir. The dockyard was connected to the main warehouse by a long wharf. Near the warehouse, also on a high plinth, is the upper town or acropolis which spans 128 by 61 meters and has extensive drainage systems. From the plinth of the acropolis, it is a short distance to the lower town. The lower town contains a commercial and residential area. The arterial streets running from north to south were flanked by shops, merchant dwellings and artisan’s workshops. Streets running from east to west led to the residential areas with lanes allowing access to individual dwellings.


Mitathal, is located in District Bhiwani, Haryana, India and lies about 120km northwest of Delhi. This site belongs to Indus Valley Civilization. The pottery assemblage consists of classical Harappan pottery along with local chalcolithic types. The classical Harappan forms include ledged pots, perforated jars, beakers goblets and dish-on-stand. The chalcolithic forms comprise those of jars and bowls. Structural phases have been recovered with wall and floor levels. The brick size confer to typical Harappan ratio. Large numbers of blue-green faience bangle fragments are reported from the site. Ash pits and kilns of considerable size were observed on the northwestern and eastern peripheries of the site. One among these was a feature that is suspected to be a series of faience kilns. Other common surface finds were non-diagnostic bits of copper and identifiable copper-alloy objects such as bangle fragments. One of the significant find from the site is a broken steatite seal. Two clearly visible glyphs on the broken seal constitute the (partial) inscription. It is believed that the entire inscription connotes the repertoire of the artisan: casting metal workshop with smithy (forge) and fire-altar (furnace). The beginning of the Harappan period in Mitathal is around 2200 BCE.


Mohenjo- Daro is an archeological site in the province of Sindh, Pakistan and is considered as one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization. The city is well known for their impressive, organized and regular layout. The high western mound of Mohenjo-Daro is made up of a massive mud brick platform and brick houses of the Harappan period. The “great bath” is the earliest public water tank. The tank measures approximately 12 meters north-south and 7 meters wide, with a maximum depth of 2.4 meters. Two staircases lead down into the tank from the north and south and small sockets at the edges of the stairs are thought to have held wooden planks or treads. At the foot of the stairs is a small ledge with a brick edging that extends the entire width of the pool. At Mohenjo-Daro narrow streets and alleyways are off of the major streets, leading into more private neighborhoods. Many of the brick houses were two stories high, with thick walls and high ceilings to keep the rooms cool in the hot summer months. Private wells were rebuilt over many generations for large households and neighborhoods.


Rakhigarhi in Hisar district, Haryana, is one of the five known biggest townships of Harappan civilization on Indian sub-continent. Five interconnected mounds spread in a huge area form the Rakhigarhi’s unique site. Two mounds, out of five, were thickly populated. Two additional mounds were discovered by the research team from Deccan College, Pune in January 2014 . With these two additional mounds now the size of Rakhigarhi will be 350 hectare, thus bigger than Mohenjodaro which is 300 hectare. The excavation in mound four has yielded a cornucopia of artefacts, including a seal and a potsherd, both inscribed with the Harappan script; potsherds painted with concentric circles, fish-net designs, wavy patterns, floral designs and geometric designs; terracotta animal figurines, cakes, hopscotches, toy cart frame and wheel of terracotta, beads of semiprecious stones, terracotta, shell and copper objects and shell bangles. It also revealed mature Harappan phase represented by planned township having mud-brick as well as burnt-brick houses with proper drainage system. Animal sacrificial pit lined with mud brick and triangular and circular fire alters on the mud floor have also been excavated that signifies the ritual system of Harappans. A cylindrical seal with five Harappan characters on one side and a symbol of an alligator on the other is an important find from this site.