A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture is evident in the
Indus Valley Civilization. The quality of municipal town planning suggests
knowledge of urban planning and efficient municipal governments which placed a
high priority on hygiene. The streets of major cities such as Mohenjo-daro or
Harappa were laid out in perfect grid patterns.
As seen in Harappa, Mohenjo-daro and the recently discovered Rakhigarhi, this urban plan included the world's first urban sanitation systems. Within the city, individual homes or groups of homes obtained water from wells. From a room that appears to have been set aside for bathing, waste water was directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets. Houses opened only to inner courtyards and smaller lanes. The house-building in some villages in the region still resembles in some respects the house-building of the Harappans.
The ancient Indus systems of sewerage and drainage that were developed and used in cities throughout the Indus region were far more advanced than any found in contemporary urban sites in the Middle East and even more efficient than those in some areas of Pakistan and India today. The advanced architecture of the Harappans is shown by their impressive dockyards, granaries, warehouses, brick platforms and protective walls. The massive citadels of Indus cities, which protected the Harappans from floods and attackers, were larger than most Mesopotamian ziggurats.
The purpose of the citadel remains debated. In sharp contrast to this civilization's contemporaries, Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, no large monumental structures were built. There is no conclusive evidence of palaces or temples - or of kings, armies, or priests. Some structures are thought to have been granaries. Found at one city is an enormous well-built bath, which may have been a public bath. Although the citadels were walled, it is far from clear that these structures were defensive. They may have been built to divert flood waters.
Most city dwellers appear to have been traders or artisans, who lived with others pursuing the same occupation in well-defined neighborhoods. Materials from distant regions were used in the cities for constructing seals, beads and other objects. Among the artifacts discovered were beautiful beads of glazed stone called faience. The seals have images of animals, gods and other types of inscriptions. Some of the seals were used to stamp clay on trade goods and most probably had other uses.
Although some houses were larger than others, Indus Civilization cities were remarkable for their apparent egalitarianism. All the houses had access to water and drainage facilities. This gives the impression of a society with low wealth concentration.