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The Indus Valley Civilisation- Social and Economic Life

The social life of the Indus Valley people was quite systematic and rich. The people of this civilization were peace-loving. The society was predominantly matriarchal. There were strong family organisations among the people. Social amusements included hunting wild animals, bullfighting, fishing, and clay modelling. The children of artisans inherited their skills in crafting from their parents.

The organised and rich life of Indus Valley Civilization as observed from excavations and remains are discussed in what follows through some principal aspects.


Food was mainly supplied from cities, and rice was probably grown in the Indus valley. Vegetables such as peas, sesamoids and fruits like date palms were part of the main food of the civilization. Other important foods consumed were wheat, barley, rice, milk, and others. Non-veg food items such as beef, mutton, pork, poultry, fish etc., were also consumed by the people of the Indus Valley Civilization. Agriculture was the main occupation of these people.


Pottery or metals like copper and bronze were used in most household articles. The art of pottery was well known and learned by the people of the civilization, and it attained excellence at Mohenjo-Daro. 

Utensils and Tools

They used earth and stone materials to make kitchen utensils, including vessels, dishes etc. There was a lack of defensive weapons like swords. They decorated their rooms using articles like chairs and tools, which made the rooms both pretty and comfortable. 


The most common material used was cotton fabric, but wool was also used. The dresses of the people of the Indus valley were simple. Males wore shawls and modern dhoti, and women wore traditional dhoti kurta or sarees.

Economic Life

Agriculture was the basic economy of the people. Facilitated by the river, cultivation was on an extensive scale. Wheat, barley, peas, and sesamum were the principal food grains. Cotton was also grown. The general diet of people consisted of fruits, vegetables, and animal food, including beef, mutton, pork and poultry.

There is very clear evidence of a highly developed system of craft production and distribution. There were groups of specialised potters and copper and bronze workers in the Indus Valley Civilization. The merchants of the Indus Valley carried their trade far beyond the frontiers of the empire and established contacts with other people of other civilizations.


The people of Indus Valley Civilization were very fond of ornaments. Males and females of all classes wore necklaces, armlets, finger rings, and bangles. Nose studs, earrings, and anklets were used by women only. There was a great variety in the shape and design of these ornaments. Rich people made ornaments of gold, silver, and ivory. People were well versed in the art of cosmetics. Indus valley people knew the use of gold, silver, copper, tin, lead, and bronze.

Education and literacy

The people were well educated, and the dominant population of the Indus people are assumed to be literate. People were well versed in literature, art and music. The drainage system of the civilization speaks of its cleanliness and public hygiene. 


A lot about the social life of the people of Indus Valley Civilization is told by the ruins and pieces of evidence found in Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro. The people of the civilization were divided into four classes: the learned class, the warriors, traders and artisans, and manual labourers or the working class. Women were treated well in society. Agriculture was the main occupation of the people. Cattle were domesticated. People were generally peace-loving.


Frequently Asked Questions

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Explain the domestication of animals in the Indus Valley Civilization?

Answer: The people of the Indus Valley Civilization had domesticated animals such as bulls, buffalo, sheep, pigs,...Read full

What were the weapons of war in the Indus Valley Civilization?

Answer: The people of the Indus Valley Civilization were peaceful. During excavation, no deadly weapons or defens...Read full

What was the procedure of disposal of the dead in the Indus Valley Civilization?

Answer: Cremation was the common method used to dispose dead bodies. It was found that some dead bodies were buri...Read full

What was the position of women in the Indus Valley Civilization?

Answer: In the Indus valley society, women were treated with respect. Indus people worshipped the mother god...Read full