Indus Valley sculpture
The Indus Valley civilisation left no temples or tombs like the Pyramids of Egypt, and no great statues of kings or gods. Indus Valley people made small figures of people and animals using metal and clay.
Only a few small statues survive. One is the Priest-King, with his beard, and his patterned robe.
Another figure is a 'dancing girl' in bronze, only 11 cm high. This shows that Indus Valley people liked to dance. The dancing girl wears very little, but has lots of bangles on her arms. Her hair is in a plait.
Small clay figures were thrown into rubbish pits. Perhaps they were good luck charms, or used in once and then thrown away?
Most Indus Valley pots are plain, but some pots were decorated, usually in red and black. Potters added bands, patterns of leaves and flowers, and shapes like fish scales. A few pots were coloured blue, red, green and yellow.
Clay pots were shaped on a potter's wheel. The potter put a lump of wet clay on a wooden disc (the wheel), and made the wheel spin. As the clay spun on the wheel, the potter shaped the pot by hand. The finished pot went into a hot oven to 'fire'or harden it. A cheap pot might be left in the hot sun to dry.
At Harappa, archaeologists found the grave of a man, who was buried wearing a necklace of more than 300 soapstone beads. People also liked bangles made from conch shells. Shell bangles are still made in India today.
Red beads were made by heating carnelian stones in an oven. The heat turned the stone from brown to red. After it had cooled, the stone was chipped to shape the bead. Using a stone drill, the bead-maker drilled a hole for the string. Finally, the bead was polished smooth and shiny.
Indus Valley writing
Writing was done using a pointed stick in soft clay, or with a sharp tool to scratch marks on stone or metal. It is likely that only a few people could read and write, like scribes. But perhaps traders could read enough to tell what was written on seals.
Most Indus Valley writing was probably to do with trade, government or religion. People wrote the first line from right to left, the second line from left to right, and so on.
In modern English, we start each new line on the left. Can you find any other modern writing that is done differently?
What does Indus Valley writing tell us?
Not very much. Indus Valley writing used at least 400 picture-signs (they were not letters, as in our alphabet). But the longest bit of writing found has only 26 characters. No one knows what language the Indus people spoke, and no one has yet been able to read their writing. There are no Indus Valley books, no laws carved in stone, no stories about kings and battles.
It seems that Indus writing changed little over hundreds of years. Unlike English. English writing has changed so much that it's not easy to read something that was written in 1066!
Some experts think the Indus language may have been similar to Tamil, which is spoken today by people in southern India and Sri Lanka.