An Indus city house
An Indus Valley house was cool inside. Thick walls kept people cool in the heat of summer. Some houses had just one room. Big houses had lots of rooms arranged around a central courtyard.
There were no windows onto the main street. This kept out dust and noise. Side windows let in light and air. From a model house found at Harappa, we can see that windows may have had wooden shutters with grilles (barred openings) to let in air and light.
All that are left today are the ground floors of houses that once had two or three floors. Stairs led to the upper floors and roof. Walls were covered with mud plaster. It is not clear if people painted the walls.
Clothes and hairstyles
Many workmen probably just wore a loincloth, which looked a bit like baggy shorts. Rich men wore tunics. Women wore dresses that probably covered much of the body though some might have been topless.
Both men and women wore jewellery, especially beads and arm-bangles. Some women had elegant hairstyles, with braids and beads. Some arranged their hair in headdresses shaped like fans.
Why did homes have courtyards?
Most people living in an Indus city had small homes which were also used as workshops. There was not much space to relax.
For richer families, the courtyard was a pleasant, airy space, open to the sky. Children could play there, with toys and with pets such as monkeys, dogs and birds. People could tend plants in pots, and enjoy the air. In the courtyard, a rich family had its own private well, for water. The very rich lived in grand houses with more than one courtyard, and 30 to 40 rooms.
Up on the roof
Indus houses had flat roofs. The roof was made from wooden beams, filled in with reed mats covered with wet mud-plaster. When the plaster dried hard, the roof was firm enough to walk on.
Families used the roof as an extra room. It was a cool place to sleep on a hot night. People could sit out, chatting with friends and gazing up at the stars. By day, children could climb the stairs to the roof,and play happily, calling across the rooftops to their friends.
The roof was a handy place to store things, like a loft in a modern house. People could work there too, or just be alone.
Cooking and keeping clean
Indus people cooked food on a fire made from wood, charcoal or dried animal dung. They baked bread on hot stones or in ovens.
In the bathroom, people stood on a brick 'shower tray' and tipped water over themselves from a jar. The clean water came from a well. Dirty water drained through a pipe out through the wall into the drain in the street.
Toilets had brick seats. The toilet was flushed with water from jars. The waste flowed out through clay pipes into a drain in the street. Waste was carried away along the drains to 'soak pits' (cesspits), Cleaners dug out the pit and took the waste away. They also took away rubbish from bins on the side of houses.
Rich and poor
Most people were poor, and had to work hard, either farming, fishing or making things. The richest people in an Indus city were probably people who owned a lot of land, or traders who controlled the buying and selling of luxury goods, such as rugs, jewels, minerals and metals.
Poor traders went to market to sell fish, fruit (such as melons) or a few clay pots. Rich traders loaded their goods on ships sailing off across the sea. They wore fine clothes, and lived in big houses with servants and perhaps slaves.
Indus people did not use money. It's likely that wealth was measured by how much land a person had - or how many cattle, or how many sacks of grain.