Harappa is an advanced planning on a vast scale. More than 4,000 years ago, a merchant people built great cities of brick at Harappa and elsewhere in a valley of what is now Pakistan. They developed a written language that remains an enigma, and left an indelible mark on Indian culture.
In 1856 two British engineers the brothers john and Robert Brunton, where contracted to build a railway link between Lahore and Multan in what is now in Pakistan. They were immediately faced with a problem. The alluvial soil of the Indus Valley through which the proposed railway was to run was rich landscape for cultivation crops, but almost completely lacking in stone to act as ballast for the railway tracks. The Bruntons solved this problem in a way that must have impressed their employers, but which created an archaeological disaster. Near the village of Harappa in the north, they had discovered huge deposits of ancient, baked mud bricks. These would make perfect ballast for their building project, the Bruntons decided, and they laid 160 kilometers of track on the ancient bricks.
After the brothers plunder, Britain’s then director general of archaeology in India, Sir Alexander Cunningham, carried out a small excavation at Harappa. He concluded that little was left, but he did publish details of an inscribed seal found earlier at the site which bore a picture of a bull and sic strange symbols. More than half a century elapsed before this enigmatic clue to India’s early history was pursued.
In 1921, under a newly appointed director general, Sir John Marshall, detailed excavations began at Harappa. Marshall’s team uncovered the scant remains of a large city- a find that turned out to be the first of a series of epoch making discoveries proving the existence of a hitherto unknown culture, the Indus Valley civilization, which flourished more than 2000 years before the birth of Christ.
A year later, excavations began on a second city near the railway at Mohenjo-daro, the ‘Hill of the Dead’, and 640 km to the south. The discoveries here shed light on the mysteries of Harappa. Further investigations uncovered the remains of smaller settlement over the vast area, from present day Karachi to the mouth of the Narmada River, and eastwards as far as modern Delhi.
The earliest settlers in the Indus valley arrived in the 4th millennium BC. Between 2700 and 2600 BC, uniformly planned towns and cities emerged and the entire Indus region became culturally unified. The massive city walls of Harappa were constructed during this time of transformation. Since the discovery of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, other ancient Indus cities have been found, such as Dholavira in Gujarat and Ganweriwala in Cholistan, giving archaeologists further insight onto the urban lifestyle of the Indus civilization.