The identity of Kalibangan as a pre-historic site was discovered by Luigi Pio Tessitori, an Italian Indologist (1887–1919). He was doing some research in ancient Indian texts. He was surprised by the character of ruins in that area, and he sought help from Sir John Marshall of the Archaeological Survey of India. At that time ASI had some excavations done on Harappa, but they never had any idea about the character of the ruins. In fact, Tessitori is the first person to recognize that the ruins are ‘Prehistoric’ and pre-Mauryan. Luigi Pio Tessitori also pointed out the nature of the culture, but at that time it was not possible to guess that Indus Valley Civilisation lay in the ruins of Kalibangan, and he died five years before Harappan culture was duly recognized.
After India’s independence, both the major Harappan cities together with the Indus became a part of Pakistan and Indian archaeologists were compelled to intensify the search for Harappan sites in India. Amlānand Ghosh (Ex. Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, or ASI) was the first person to recognise this site as Harappan and marked it out for excavations. Under the leadership of B. B. Lal (then Director General, ASI), Balkrishna (B.K.) Thapar, M. D. Khare, K. M. Shrivastava and S. P. Jain carried out excavations for 9 years (1960-9) in 9 successive excavation sessions. Two ancient mounds were excavated, spread over half kilometre (area quarter square kilometre). On western side is the smaller mound (KLB1), 9 meters high and known as citadel. Eastern mound is higher (12 meters) and bigger, known as lower city (KLB2).
The excavation unexpectedly brought to light a twofold sequence of cultures, of which the upper one (Kalibangan I) belongs to the Harappan, showing the characteristic grid layout of a metropolis and the lower one (Kalibangan II) was formerly called pre-Harappan but now it is called “Early Harappan or antecedent Harappan”. Other nearby sites belonging to IVC include Balu, Haryana, Kunal, Haryana, Banawali etc.