Discovery and Excavation
The ruins of Harappa were first described in 1842 by Charles Masson in his
Narrative of Various Journeys in Baluchistan, Afghanistan and the Panjab, where
locals talked of an ancient city extending "thirteen cosses" (about 25 miles),
but no archaeological interest would attach to this for nearly a century.
In 1856, British engineers John and William Brunton were laying the East Indian Railway Company line connecting Karachi and Lahore. John wrote: "I was much exercised in my mind how we were to get ballast for the line of the railway." They were told of an ancient ruined city near the lines, called Brahminabad. Visiting the city, he found it full of hard well-burnt bricks; and "convinced that there was a grand quarry for the ballast I wanted", the city of Brahminabad was reduced to ballast.. A few months later, further north, John's brother William Brunton's "section of the line ran near another ruined city, bricks from which had already been used by villagers in the nearby village of Harappa at the same site. These bricks now provided ballast along 93 miles of the railroad track running from Karachi to Lahore."
It was more than half a century later, in 1912, that Harappan seals-with the then unknown symbols-were discovered by J. Fleet, prompting an excavation campaign under Sir John Hubert Marshall in 1921/22, and resulting in the discovery of the hitherto unknown civilization at Harappa by Sir John Marshall, Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni and Madho Sarup Vats, and at Mohenjo-daro by Rakhal Das Banerjee, E. J. H. MacKay, and Sir John Marshall. By 1931, much of Mohenjo-Daro had been excavated, but excavations continued, such as that led by Sir Mortimer Wheeler, director of the Archaeological Survey of India in 1944. Among other archaeologists who worked on IVC sites before the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 were Ahmad Hasan Dani, Brij Basi Lal, Nani Gopal Majumdar, and Aurel Stein.
Following the partition of British India, the area of the IVC was divided between Pakistan and India, and excavations from this time include those led by Sir Mortimer Wheeler in 1949, archaeological adviser to the Government of Pakistan. Outposts of the Indus Valley civilization were excavated as far west as Sutkagan Dor in Baluchistan, as far north as the Oxus river in current Afghanistan