The Indus Valley – Planning Overview

Written by Dan

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Are you a teacher looking to explore the wonders of the Indus Valley? Look no further – this blog post is your perfect guide! This Planning Overview will provide helpful tips and ideas on using the vast Indus Valley Civilization in your classroom teaching.

Not only will we take an in-depth look at its fascinating history – from its flourishing settlements under great kings such as King Ashoka and Chandra Gupta Maurya to its eventual decline – but we will also delve into practical ways you can use it in your classes.

From student assignments and writing topics to engaging activities and hands-on projects, start preparing unknown lessons with exciting facts about ancient life along rivers like the Indus or Ganges today!

Related: For more, check out our article on The Mayan Civilisation  here.

The Indus Valley

Introducing The Indus Valley Civilisation

The Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilisation, was one of the earliest and most complex civilisations in ancient history. Flourishing between 2600 BCE and 1900 BCE originated in the fertile Indus River Valley in the northwestern Indian subcontinent.

This civilisation is renowned for its advanced urban planning, sophisticated sanitation and drainage systems, and remarkable craftsmanship in pottery and metalwork.

The inhabitants of the Indus Valley developed a pictographic script that remains undeciphered to this day, which has puzzled archaeologists and linguists for decades.

Despite its eventual decline and disappearance, the Indus Valley Civilization has left its mark on the world as a testament to the ingenuity and innovation of early human societies.

Timeline of the Indus Valley Civilisation

3000 – 1500 BCE: The Indus Valley civilisation is established, with settlements in modern-day India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. This civilisation is considered one of the earliest civilisations in world history, characterised by its sophisticated urban planning, writing system, and advanced craftsmanship.

2500 BCE – 1800 BCE: The Bronze Age marks the peak of the Indus Valley Civilisation’s power and influence; this period sees advances in technology, such as irrigation systems for agriculture, cities with extensive public baths and assembly halls, and a method of trade throughout South Asia as well as export to distant lands.

1750 BCE – 1300 BCE: This period sees a decline in population due to unknown reasons; this decline leads to a decrease in craftsmanship and urban development within the region.

1300 BCE – 1000 BCE: The Iron Age saw an increased militarisation of society as defence systems were implemented to protect against external invaders. Additionally, Vedic religious practices are adopted by some sections of society, particularly those that live near rivers such as the Ganges.

1000 BCE – 500 CE: During this period, there is an overall decline in population; this coincides with Aryan invasions and migrations into parts of northern India which eventually led to their rule over most if not all, areas under the control of the Indus Valley Civilization.

Key People of the Indus Valley Civilization

The Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization, flourished from approximately 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent.

While much about this ancient civilisation remains a mystery, archaeologists have uncovered evidence of several influential people who played critical roles in shaping its society, economy and culture. Here are a few:

  • The Priest-King: An iconic statue discovered in Mohenjo-Daro by archaeologist Ernest Mackay in 1927, the Priest-King is believed to represent a priestly ruler who held both religious and secular authority. Standing nearly 7 inches tall and made of steatite, the statue is one of the most celebrated artefacts of the Indus Valley Civilization.
  • The Great Bath “Engineer”: The Great Bath is a large, well-preserved pool in the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro. The exact purpose of the bath remains unknown, but it is believed to have been a site for ritual cleansing and purification. It is also thought that the person responsible for the design and construction of the Great bath must have been an expert in hydraulic engineering and planning.
  • The Merchant Prince: The Indus Valley Civilization was renowned for its extensive trade network, which helped to spread goods, ideas, and culture throughout the region. It is believed that a class of wealthy merchants played a crucial role in establishing and maintaining this network and that these “merchant princes” had considerable wealth and power.
  • The Mother Goddess: Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of several female figurines worshipped in the Indus Valley Civilization. These figurines, often called “Mother Goddesses,” are believed to have been associated with fertility, childbirth and nurturing and may have played an essential role in religious and cultural practices.
  • The Bearded Man: A seal with the image of a bearded man, possibly a priest or a king, has been found at many Indus Valley Civilization sites. This figure is believed to have played a role in religious ceremonies and may have been associated with the afterlife.
the indus valley

Teaching Opportunities from The Indus Valley Civilisation

  1. Exploring the earliest civilisations in world history
  2. Learning about technology, urban planning, trade and craftsmanship
  3. Gaining a better understanding of culture and society at that time
  4. Exploring the factors that led to the decline of the Indus Valley civilisation
  5. Examining how societies can change over time due to external factors

Lesson Plans

Lesson Plan 1: Exploring the Earliest Civilisations in World History

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will understand the main features and characteristics of the Indus Valley civilisation.
  • Students can compare and contrast this civilisation with other early cultures.

Main Teaching Points:

  • Introduce students to the fundamental characteristics of the Indus Valley civilisation, such as its urban planning, technologies, trade, art and religious practices.
  • Explore how this civilisation can be compared to other early cultures such as Sumerian or Egyptian.


  • Have students consider what the similarities and differences between these civilisations tell us about early human societies. Adaptions:
  • Provide opportunities for students to research one particular aspect in more depth and make a presentation about it.

Key Questions:

  • What were some of the main characteristics of the Indus Valley civilisation?
  • How does this civilisation compare to other early cultures?

Lesson Plan 2: Learning about Technology, Urban Planning, Trade and Craftsmanship

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will understand various technology systems used by the Indus Valley civilisation.
  • Students will explore how this civilisation used urban planning.

Main Teaching Points:

  • Introduce students to how technological systems such as irrigation works or weights used in commerce were developed by this society.
  • Discuss how urban planning influenced many aspects of this society, including sanitation and communication networks.


– Ask students to consider what modern-day lessons can be learned from studying these ancient technologies and urban plans.


– Provide opportunities for students to design innovative city plans using old technologies.

Essential Questions:

– What are some examples of technology developed by the Indus Valley civilisation?

– How did urban planning shape this society?

Lesson Plan 3: Gaining a Better Understanding of Culture and Society at That Time

Learning Objectives:

– Students will understand different aspects of culture, religion and beliefs held by people during that period in history, for example, practices related to divinity or burial rituals.

Main Teaching Points:

– Introduce different aspects of culture and religion held during that time, such as goddess worship or the use of symbols.


– Ask students to consider how their beliefs compare with those studied here or how they think they would have responded if they had lived during that civilisation’s peak period.


– Encourage students to research ancient cultures in general – beyond just those associated with The Indus Valley Civilisation – and explain similarities/differences between them all.

Key Questions:

– What cultural/religious practices were common among people living during The Indus Valley Civilization’s peak period?

– How do our current beliefs differ from those observed by people who lived during The Indus Valley Civilization’s peak period?

The Region and Geography Of Indus Valley

The Indus Valley, located in what is now modern-day Pakistan and India, is a region rich in diversity and history. It sits along the banks of the Indus River, the longest river on the Indian subcontinent, and boasts a landscape that varies from arid desert to fertile floodplains.

The region is bounded by the Himalayan and Hindu Kush mountain ranges, which provide a natural border between the Indus Valley and the surrounding areas.

The area’s distinct geography has significantly impacted the region’s development, fostering early settlements and civilisations that relied on the river for agriculture, transportation, and trade. The Indus Valley remains a fascinating and essential study area for historians and geographers alike.

Urban Planning and Layout Of Major Cities In The Indus Valley

The cities in the Indus Valley are often cited as some of the earliest known examples of urban planning in history. These cities, such as Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, were meticulously planned and designed with grids of streets, drainage systems, and even public baths.

The layout of these cities suggests a high level of social and political organisation, as well as a strong understanding of engineering and architecture.

The buildings within these cities were made from fired bricks and were often multi-story, potentially housing thousands of people. Incredibly, such advanced urban planning methods were already practised thousands of years ago.

Engineering and Technology In Indus Cities

The engineering and technological advancements of the Indus cities continue to astound historians and researchers alike. With their impressive urban planning, sewage and drainage systems, and intricate brickwork, the cities of the Indus Valley Civilization were ahead of their time.

Their efficient and sophisticated plumbing systems indicate a high level of engineering expertise, and their use of weights and measures suggests a deep understanding of mathematics.

Additionally, their usage of kilns for pottery making, rudimentary cotton processing techniques, and carefully crafted seals suggest a thriving economy bolstered by industrial innovation.

Overall, the impact of engineering and technology on the Indus cities cannot be overstated, as these advancements allowed for a higher quality of life and sustainable growth.

Trade, Culture, and Government

The Indus Civilisation was shaped by three crucial factors: trade, culture, and government. Advances in trade facilitated the development of a sophisticated urban society.

At the same time, cultural exchange with neighbouring populations gave rise to a distinct art style, advanced systems of writing, and innovative technologies.

Similarly, the complex governance structures of the Indus Civilization were influenced by interactions with other city-states, resulting in a system of checks and balances that mitigated the concentration of power in the hands of a few.

As a result, the Indus Civilization thrived for centuries, leaving behind a rich legacy that continues to captivate scholars and historians today.

The Decline Of The Indus Civilisation

The Indus civilisation, once a flourishing society in the Indian subcontinent, mysteriously declined around 1900 BCE.

While the reasons for its collapse are still debated by archaeologists and historians today, there is no doubt that the study of this ancient civilisation continues to intrigue and fascinate people worldwide.

From uncovering new artefacts to analysing ancient texts, researchers are dedicated to piecing together the story of this lost civilisation. By studying the past, we can gain a greater understanding of the present and learn from the mistakes of our ancestors.

The decline of the Indus civilisation serves as a reminder of the fragility of cultures and the importance of preserving our cultural heritage for future generations.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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