A visit to the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi gave me the opportunity to take close shots of four seals from Mohenjo-daro. They show both the exquisite workmanship of Indus craftsmen and the merciless wear, in different degrees, of four thousand years of history.
What did ancient Indus people eat? What kind of crops did they grow? What did they cook? How might these things differ by city, town and region? To even get close to answering these questions, one needs a "a systematic collation of all primary published macrobotanical data, regardless of their designation as ‘crop’, ‘fully domesticated’ or ‘wild/weedy’ species," writes author Jennifer Bates.
An excellent recent (2019) summary of what we know about ancient Indus foods that were, likely and speculatively, derived from plant resources, and what implications these diverse discoveries over the years have for our understanding of ancient Indus society.
Ancient Indus research is constrained by a shortage of funds. One of the longest lasting, most successful projects has been the Harappa Archaeological Research Project (HARP), run by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Harvard University and New York University since 1986.
On a visit earlier in 2019 to the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi, an iPhone camera was a welcome companion in trying to bring out something of the character of Indus figurines resident within the large glass vitrines.
A judicious review of the evidence for trade between the ancient Indus and Mesopotamia, with a focus on prestige objects like carnelian beads and shell bangles and the implications and questions we may draw from them about the nature of the connections between both civilizations.
Rita P. Wright, an archaeologist with long experience understanding the Indus areas around Harappa (see the Beas Settlement and Land Survey) looks at the complex evidence surrounding the decline of Indus civilization at the end of the third and beginning of the second millennium (around 2000 BCE and afterwards).
It has really only been since the 1980s that a more comprehensive picture of the wide and deep roots of Indus civilization in the larger Sindh and Balochistan region have become apparent. Mehrgarh did not spring out of nowhere but was embedded in a region where fishing, shell collecting, flint mining and other crafts were present and flourishing at different times.
A recent publication by the South Asia Research Group at Kansai University in Japan that includes detailed essays covering a general picture of Indus research today (by Akinori Uesugi), Indus civilization in the Ghaggar Basin (Vivek Dangi) , Indus archaeology in Gujarat (Rajesh S.V.), steatite style variations between Gujarat and the Ghaggar-Hakra Basin (Gregg Jamison) and Indus copper wares (Takekazu Nagae).
A convincing if speculative attempt to bring together a variety of insights from kinship theory and the peculiar nature of recently discovered material remains in Gujarat to offer a theory of how these so-called ‘Sorath’ and ‘Sindhi’ Harappan settlements were peopled.