Periodisation of the Indus Valley Civilisation
Near East (c. 3300–1200 BC)
South Asia (c. 3000– 1200 BC)
Europe (c. 3200–600 BC)
China (c. 2000–700 BC)
The Indus Valley Tradition is a term used to refer to the cultures of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra rivers, stretching from the Neolithic Mehrgarh period down to the Iron Age or Indo-Gangetic Tradition. According to a 2014 report by the Archaeological Survey of India, Bhirrana is the oldest Indus Valley Civilisation site.
The Indus Valley Tradition is divided into four eras, and each era can be divided into various phases. A phase is an archaeological unit possessing traits sufficiently characteristic to distinguish it from all other units similarly conceived. Each phase can be subdivided into interaction systems.
|Date range (BCE)||Phase||Era|
|7570-6200||Bhirrana (aceramic Neolithic)||Early Food Producing Era|
|7000-5500||Mehrgarh I (aceramic Neolithic)|
|5500-3300||Mehrgarh II-VI (ceramic Neolithic)||Regionalisation Era
|3300-2800||Harappan 1 (Ravi Phase)|
|2800-2600||Harappan 2 (Kot Diji Phase, Nausharo I, Mehrgarh VII, Rakhigarhi)|
|2600-1900||Mature Harappan (Indus Valley Civilisation)||Integration Era|
|2600-2450||Harappan 3A (Nausharo II)|
|1900-1300||Late Harappan (Cemetery H); Ochre Coloured Pottery||Localisation Era|
|1300-300||Painted Gray Ware, Northern Black Polished Ware (Iron Age)||Indo-Gangetic Tradition|
Early Food Producing Era
The Early Food Producing Era corresponds to ca. 7000-5500 BCE. It is also called the Neolithic period. The economy of this era was based on food production, and agriculture developed in the Indus Valley. Mehrgarh Period I belongs to this era.
The Regionalisation Era corresponds to 5500-2600 BCE. The Early Harappan phase belongs to this Era. This era was very productive in arts, and new crafts were invented. The Regionalisation Era includes the Balakot, Amri, Hakra and Kot Diji Phases.
|1A/B||Ravi aspect of the Hakra Phase||ca. 3300-2800 BCE|
|2||Early Harappan/Kot Diji Phase||ca. 2800-2600 BCE|
The Integration Era refers to the period of the "Indus Valley Civilisation". It is a period of integration of various smaller cultures.
|3A||Harappan Phase||ca. 2600-2450 BCE|
|3B||Harappan Phase||ca. 2450-2200 BCE|
|3C||Harappan Phase||ca. 2200-1900 BCE|
The Localisation Era (1900-1300 BCE) is the fourth and final period of the Indus Valley Tradition. It refers to the fragmentation of the culture of the Integration Era.
The Localisation Era comprises several phases (Shaffer 1992):
- Punjab Phase (Cemetery H, Late Harappan). The Punjab Phase includes the Cemetery H and other cultures. Punjab Phase sites are found in Harappa and in other places.
- Jhukar Phase (Jhukar and Pirak) The Jhukar Phase refers to Mohenjo-daro and sites in Sindh.
- Rangpur Phase (Late Harappan and Lustrous Red Ware). Rangpur Phase sites are in Kachchh, Saurashtra and mainland Gujarat.
The Pirak Phase is a phase of the Localisation Era of both the Indus Valley Tradition and the Baluchistan Tradition.
|4||Harappan/Late Harappan Transitional||ca. 1900-1700 BCE|
|5||Late Harappan Phase (Cemetery H)||ca. 1700-1300 BCE|
|Formative Phase||e.g., Mehrgarh-IV-V||ca. 4000-3500 BCE|
|Early Phase||e.g., Kalibangan-I||ca. 3500 - 2800 BCE|
|Period of Transition||e.g., Dholavira-III||ca. 2800 - 2600 BCE|
|Mature Phase||e.g., Harappa-III, Kalibangan-II||ca. 2600 - 1900 BCE|
|Late Phase||e.g., Cemetery H, Jhukar||ca. 1900 - 1500 BCE|
|Final Phase||e.g., Dholavira||ca. 1500 - 1400 BCE|
Another older nomenclature classifies the Indus Valley Civilisation into Early, Mature and Late Harappan. According to Erdosy, the Indus Valley Tradition nomenclature "is much more informative than the traditional Early/Mature/Late Harappan classification which should now be discarded." 
- "Haryana's Bhirrana oldest Harappan site, Rakhigarhi Asia's largest: ASI".
- Willey and Phillips 1958, Method and Theory in American Archaeology
- S.P. Gupta. The dawn of civilisation, in G.C. Pande (ed.)(History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, ed., D.P. Chattophadhyaya, vol I Part 1) (New Delhi:Centre for Studies in Civilizations, 1999)
- Erdosy, George (editor) The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia, 1995, p. 4
- S.P. Gupta. The dawn of civilization, in G.C. Pande (ed.)(History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization, ed., D.P. Chattophadhyaya, vol I Part 1) (New Delhi:Centre for Studies in Civilizations, 1999)
- Kenoyer, J.M. 1998 Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. Oxford University Press and American Institute of Pakistan Studies, Karachi.
- Kenoyer, J. M. 1991a The Indus Valley Tradition of Pakistan and Western India. In Journal of World Prehistory 5(4): 331-385.
- Kenoyer, J. M. 1995a Interaction Systems, Specialized Crafts and Culture Change: The Indus Valley Tradition and the Indo-Gangetic Tradition in South Asia. In The Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity, edited by G. Erdosy, pp. 213-257. Berlin, W. DeGruyter.
- Shaffer, J. G. 1992 The Indus Valley, Baluchistan and Helmand Traditions: Neolithic Through Bronze Age. In Chronologies in Old World Archaeology (3rd Edition), edited by R. Ehrich, pp. 441-464. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.