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Essay On Drainage System Of Harappan Civilization For Middle School

The most striking feature of this Harappan civilization (Indus Valley Civilization) is that the Indus Valley people had constructed their drainage system on very scientific lines.

The drainage system of Mohen-jo-daro is so elaborate that “the like of which has not yet been found anywhere in the world in any other city of the same antiquity.”

House drains emptied themselves into the main drains which ran under the main streets and below many lanes. The Harappan people well knew that such drains were not to be left open.

The drainage system and drains were covered with bricks or stones and were provided with inspection traps and main holes at regular intervals for inspection. Every care was taken that the house-wives did not throw refuse or dirt in the drains. Every house had its own soak-pit which collected all the sediments and allowed only the water to flow into the street drain. The elaborate drainage system of the Harappan people shows that they had developed a high sense of health and sanitation.

Category: History of Ancient IndiaTagged With: Indus Valley Civilization

Children are often fascinated by the pyramids of Egypt and many know and relish all kinds of information and facts about that era.  The remains from the Indus Valley Civilization are from roughly the same period.  The Indus Valley people  lived from 3500 to 1700 BCE in the Indus Valley in modern day Pakistan and India and other countries of the region. The people of this region developed a sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture.  There is archaeological evidence of urban planning, a system of uniform weights and measures, city wide drainage systems in the settlements and knowledge of metallurgy.

Devised by Judith Evans at Rosebery School in Loughborough.


In the village of Harappa (in modern day Pakistan) there was a very old ruined castle built on a hill. Nobody knew who had lived there but local legend said that it had been the home of an evil Rajah (a kind of king), who had been punished by the gods for the bad things he did, by a huge fire that burned down his castle. The ruins had stood for hundreds of years and children used to play on them.  Whenever visitors came they were shown the ruins.  In 1826 an English visitor called Charles Masson saw the ruins.  Some years later another visitor, an archaeologist named Sir Alexander Cunningham, visited Harappa, but the ruins had been knocked down and all that was left was a huge mound of stones and rubble.  Four hundred miles away from Harappa was a large area of ruined brick mounds.  The people who lived nearby thought that it was a very old burial site, and called it Mohenjo-Daro or 'Mound of the Dead'.  Historians used to think that the oldest cities in India and Pakistan were built in 500BCE.

Charles Masson was an English traveler who visited North West India in 1823. He wrote about the things he saw: 'In Harappa a ruined brick castle with very high walls and towers, built on a hill'.   In 1853 Sir Alexander Cunningham went to study the ruins in Harappa. The buildings had been completely knocked down, but he looked very carefully through everything he could see. He found some small square stones that were very polished.  They had engravings of animals and designs that no-one in India had found before.  In the 1920s R D Banerji found polished stone seals just like the ones at Harappa. He was excavating at Mohenjo-Daro, which was miles away near the Indus River. He found these seals in the remains of a large city and it was at least 3500 years old.

Since these early excavations more and more archaeological work has been done in the Indus valley area. Thousands of settlements and some cities have been found. They all have the stone seals and artifacts just like the ones at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro.

When the British ruled India they built railways to make their lives easier. An engineer called Robert Brunton ordered workers to knock down some old walls and empty buildings. They laid the railway tracks on the stones.  In 1921 the Indian government paid an archaeologist named Daya Ram Sahni, to find out more about Harappa.  A trench was dug along the top of a mound. In the bottom were lots more of the stone seals like the ones Sir Alexander had found.  Mr. Sahni dug further down and found seven or eight layers of houses, one on top of the other. It was an enormous city.  It was also a very old city, from about 2500 BCE.  This meant that it was as old as the pyramids in Egypt.  The cities at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro had streets, baths and storage for grain.  In the houses archaeologists found gold and silver objects, toys made from stone and jewelry made from precious stones. Nobody knows much about the people who lived in  the Indus valley 4500 years ago, but we do know they were some of the first people on earth to live in cities.


What is a civilization? Some questions and talking points.


How can we learn about the geographic features, government, agriculture, trade, architecture, music, arts, religion, roles of men, women and children in the sites of the Indus Valley?

How do you interpret archaeological evidence when there is no written record?

Think like a scholar as you compare maps, timelines, primary and secondary sources of data and multiple cause and effect criteria to explain historical events.

Look at some pictures in the slide show about toys, clothes, jewelry, seals, drains, wells and buildings, figurines and pictures of the ‘priest king’.. (Choose slides from the index http://www.harappa.com/indus3/slideindex.html ) Look at the details of buildings, clothes, coins, toys and talk about them.  Listen to your child's answers and questions.

For young children:

  • What do you think their toys were like? Are they like your toys?  What were they made of?  Why?

  • Are their houses like ours?

For 2-5 graders:

  • Where is the Indus Valley?

  • How long ago did these cities exist?

  • What can we learn from the artifacts found there?  e.g. the seals tell us that they had a written language.

  • What did they do with the seals?

Grades 6 and Up:

  • Encourage the older child to read the essay http://www.harappa.com/indus3/e1.html

  • What can we infer about the people and their way of life from the buildings, city planning and absence of weapons?

  • What can we infer about trade and their contact with the rest of the world from the seals and weights and measures found?


Updated March 2012

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