Indus Valley Civilization-Pottery, Seals, Religion, Burial Practices Trade & Commerce


  • Though most of the Harappan pottery is plain, yet a substantial part is treated with a red slip and black painted decoration. They are uniformly sturdy and well baked.

  • They are chiefly wheel made pottery and out of plain and painted ware, the plain variety is more common.

  • The painted decorations consist of horizontal lines of varied thickness, leaf patterns, scales, chequers, and latticework, palm and pipal trees. Birds, fishes and animals are also shown.

  • The pottery included pedestals, dishes, goblets, cylindrical vessels perforated all over and various varieties of bowls. Pottery was glazed, polychrome, incised, perforated and knobbed.


  • They were mainly made up of jiteatite, which is a soft stone.

  • A unique invention of the Harappa’s was the cutting and polishing of these seals with white luster.

  • Most of the seals have animals engraved on them and Unicorn is the most frequently represented animal.

  • The square and the rectangular type seals were the most common.


  • The chief male deity was the Pasupati Shiva and the chief female deity was the Mother Goddess. Pasupati is found sirring in Yogic posture on a low throne and having three faces and two horns. He was shown to be surrounded by four animals: elephant, tiger, rhino and buffalo. Phallic worship was in prevalence. Symbols of female and male sex organs have been found.

  • They also used to worship Gods in the form of trees (e.g. papal tree) and animals (unicorn etc.)

  • These people also used to believe in evil forces and ghosts and used amulets as protection against them.

Burial Practices

  • The general practice of burial was extended inhumation. The body used to lie on its back with head generally to the north.

  • Three forms of burials have been found at Mahenjodaro including complete burials, fractional burials of some bones after exposure of the body to the wild beast and post cremation burials.

Trade & Commerce

  • Inter-regional trade persisted within India both with the North as well as the South India.

  • Foreign trade was conducted with Mesopotamia and Bahrain.

  • Trade was carried on by both the overland and the overseas transport.

  • Bullock carts and pack-ox used to be employed for land transport.

  • Dilmun (Bahrain) and Makan (Makran coast) were identified as intermediate stations between the Indus region and the Sumerians.


  • Mortimer Wheeler and Stuart Piggot have attributed the Aryan invasion as the main cause for the decline of the Harappan culture.

  • MR Sahani says that a sudden local uplift of part of the flood plain of the Indus causing flood was responsible for the decay of the civilization.

  • Walter A. Fairservis attributes over utilization of resources as the main cause of the decline of Harappan culture.

  • H. T Lambrick has recently proposed that the continuous alteration of the course of the Indus above Mahenjodaro may have driven population from the city and thereby weakened it, making it an easy prey to the barbarians.

  • Robert L. Raikes reveals the tectonic movements including faulting on a large scale might have destroyed die civilization.