The Harappa site was first briefly excavated by Alexander Cunningham in 1872-73, two decades after brick robbers carried off the visible remains of the city. He found an Indus seal of unknown origin.
Years after that, first extensive excavations at Harappa were started by Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni in 1920 by by the Archaeological Survey of India, led by Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni. Over 25 field seasons have occurred since the first excavations.
In 1924, John Marshall, Director-General of the ASI, announced the discovery of a new civilisation in the Indus valley to the world.
It is located in Punjab Province, Pakistan, on an old bank / bed of the River Ravi. Its location along old course of Ravi provided access to trade networks, aquatic food and water for drinking and cultivation.
Due to this, Harappa remained occupied for a long time. Further, Harappa was also a meeting point of trade routes coming from east.
The important material findings at Harappa include pottery, chert blades, copper or bronze implements, terracotta figurines, seals and sealing, weights, etc.
This apart, the two rows of granaries with brick platforms, a citadel on elevated platform, a supposed workmen’s quarter, vanity case, furnaces, crucibles for bronze smelting etc. have also been found.
Harappa also is the only site which yields the evidence of coffin burial. A copper bullock cart is another notable finding.
As the three of the world’s civilizations developed along the river banks (Egyptian on Nile, Mesopotamian on Tigris–Euphrates, Chinese on the Yangtse), the Indus valley civilization developed on bank of Indus and several other nearby rivers such as Ghaggar– Hakra, the now dried up Saraswati and the Drasadvati.
The term “Indus Valley Civilization” was used by John Marshall for the first time.
Archaeologists have divided Harappa in five different phases of which oldest is Ravi aspect / Hakra (3300-2800BC), followed by Kot Dijian or Early Harappa (2800-2600BC) followed by Mature (2600-1900BC), Transitional (1900-1800BC) and Late Harappa (1800-1300BC) phases.