In the excellent new book The Story of India's Unicorns (Marg, 2018), which is all about the rhinoceros in the subcontinent, Shibani Bose writes in the section Evidence from Indus Sites that what "needs to be explained is the presence, and in cases like Kalibangan, the profusion of rhinoceros remains at some of the major urban sites of the civilization.

Do the many female figurines at Indus sites justify the belief that the worship of a "mother Goddess" was prevalent then? One of India's most distinguished archaeologists offers a contrary viewpoint in this deeply informed, multi-faceted analysis of these figurines.

There is so much going on in DNA studies – even if pre-figured by linguistic studies – that having a solid guide to stitch it all together, including papers that landed with a giant thud in 2018, would be so very, very nice. Someone who could put it together for the layman or intelligent observer who finds it hard to sort through headlines and the latest pronouncements (and simplifications).

An interesting paper about a recently excavated center of metallurgy in Bijnor, Rajasthan.

Shereen Ratnagar, in her brand new book The Magic in the Image Women in Clay at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa (soon to be reviewed here) offers an interesting conjecture around a set of male figurines found at the two iconic Indus sites.

Science is slowly transforming ancient Indus studies, from DNA analysis of skeletons that point to migration and disease, to isotope analysis that reveals the distant origins of raw materials. One of the cleverest – and potentially rewarding i terms of increasing the number of ancient sites to investigate – must be the use of old maps.

Case Studies from the Near East, Egypt, the Aegean, and South Asia

Finally, the book we have long – decades, in fact – been waiting for, a comprehensive view of seals and sealings in the ancient world, from the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley. This has been essential because, as the authors argue from the very start, seals were social objects.

An exceptional, beautifully illustrated book of over 200 pieces in the Japanese Katolec Corporation collection of pottery and associated art of the pre- and contemporary to ancient Indus Nal and Kulli cultures of the 3rd millennium BCE Balochistan. The photography is excellent, the specimens extraordinary.

A recent paper by the late Iravatham Mahadevan and his collaborator M.V. Bhaskar looks at signs in the Indus script that can be related to physical features in the landscape, and how this might play out in terms of interpreting them. A number of interpretations seem to fit together nicely.

"Fish remains from archaeological sites have the capacity to offer a tremendous amount of information on social issues in addition to the more traditional goals of subsistence studies related to procurement strategies and seasonality," writes the author.


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