Indus Trade


Seals found from the remains of Indus civilization show that the towns were in contact with one another. It is assumed that these seals were used during business and commercial transactions. Models of carts give us an idea of their use for transportation of goods from one place to another. About the trade policies of the Indus people we cannot elaborate except that they had adopted different modes of trade. The exchange varied from villages to villages. Trade in perishable items was also common but only at local scale. Rice grown at Lothal was supplied to other cities. Although agriculture was the base of Indus civilization, trade was equally in vogue.

When Mesopotamia was passing through the stage of decline, Indus civilization was flourishing and the two civilizations were in state of communication with each other. Mesopotamian script was found on Indus pottery and seals and an official translator of Indus language was employed in the court of Mesopotamia. Concept of baked bricks was borrowed from Mesopotamia and Mesopotamian designs were also used for decoration on Indus artifacts whereas on the graves in Mesopotamia, Indus pottery was found. Square seals commonly used in Indus and the cylindrical ones in Mesopotamia, both have been found in each other’s land. All these show that the two civilizations had established trade relations with each other via sea as well as land routes, i.e. from Iraq to Iran. In Mesopotamian language, the words of Meluha, Dilmun and Makan were used for Indus, Bahrain and Makran (coast) respectively. Moreover button-like seals, which were typical of neither Indus nor Mesopotamia, have been found. It shows that they had wide trade contacts with others also. Physical evidence has been duly found in Afghanistan, Persia, Ur, Kish, Lagash, Akkad and other important cities of Mesopotamia.

The imports were gold from South India, silver from the borders of Afghanistan and Rajisthan, precious stones like Turquoise (firoza) from Persia, Lapis Lazuli from Afghanistan and Jade from Burma side. The major exports included, cotton, ivory, wood, spices, monkeys and tusks of elephants.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 03, 2005