Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, northeast Pakistan, about 35 km (22 mi) west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The current village of Harappa is 6 km (4 mi) from the ancient site. Although modern Harappa has a train station left from the British times, it is today just a small (pop. 15,000) crossroads town.The site of the ancient city contains the ruins of a Bronze Age fortified city, which was part of the Cemetery Hculture and the Indus Valley Civilization, centered in Sindh and the Punjab. The city is believed to have had as many as 23,500 residents—considered large for its time.The ancient city of Harappa was greatly destroyed under the British Raj, when bricks from the ruins were used as track ballast in the making of the Lahore-Multan Railroad.In 2005, a controversial amusement park scheme at the site was abandoned when builders unearthed many archaeological artifacts during the early stages of construction work. A plea from the prominent Pakistani archaeologist Ahmed Hasan Dani to the Ministry of Culture resulted in a restoration of the site.
The Indus Valley Civilization (also known as Harappan culture) has its earliest roots in cultures such as that of Mehrgarh, approximately 6000 BCE. The two greatestcities, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, emerged circa 2600BCE along the Indus River valley in Punjab and Sindh. The civilization, with a writing system, urban centers, and diversified social and economic system,was rediscovered in the 1920s after excavations at Mohenjo-daro (which means "mound of the dead") in Sindh near Sukkur, and Harappa, in west Punjab south of Lahore. A number of other sites stretching from the Himalayan foothills in east Punjab, India in the north,to Gujarat in the south and east, and to Balochistan inthe west have also been discovered and studied.Although the archaeological site at Harappa waspartially damaged in 1857 when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad (as part of the Sind and Punjab Railway), used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artifacts has never the less been found.
Culture and economy
Indus Valley civilization was mainly an urban culture sustained by surplus agricultural production and commerce, the latter including trade with Sumer in southern Mesopotamia. Both Mohenjo-daroand Harappa are generally characterized as having "differentiated living quarters, flat-roofed brick houses, and fortified administrative or religious centers." Although such similaritieshave given rise to arguments for the existence of a standardizedsystem of urban layout and planning, the similarities are largely due to the presence of a semi-orthogonal type of civic layout, and a comparison of the layouts of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa shows that they are in fact, arranged in a quite dissimilar fashion. The chert weights and measures of the Indus Valley Civilization, on the other hand, were highly standardized, and conform to a set scale of gradations. Distinctive seals were used, among other applications, perhaps for identification of property and shipment of goods. Although copper and bronze were in use, iron was not yet employed. "Cotton was woven and dyed for clothing; wheat, rice, and a variety of vegetables and fruits were cultivated; and a number of animals,including the humped bull, were domesticated." Wheel-made pottery—some of it adorned with animal and geometric motifs—has been found in profusion at all the major Indus sites. A centralized administration for each city, though not the whole civilization, has been inferred from the revealed cultural uniformity; however, it remain sun certain whether authority lay with a commercial oligarchy. There appears to be a complete lack of priestly "pompor lavish display" that was common in other civilizations.
By far the most exquisite and obscure artefacts unearthed todate are the small, square steatite (soapstone) sealsengraved with human or animal motifs. A large number of seals have been found at such sites as Mohenjo-daro andHarappa. Many bear pictographic inscriptions generallythought to be a form of writing or script. Despite the effortsof philologists from all parts of the world, and despite theuse of modern cryptographic analysis, the signs remainundeciphered. It is also unknown if they reflectproto-Dravidian or other non-Vedic language(s). Theascription of Indus Valley Civilization iconography andepigraphy to historically known cultures is extremelyproblematic, in part due to the rather tenuousarchaeological evidence of such claims, as well as theprojection of modern South Asian political concerns ontothe archaeological record of the area. This is especiallyevident in the radically varying interpretations of Harappanmaterial culture as seen from both Pakistan and India-basedscholars