The eminent archaeologist George F. Dales (1927-1992, author of Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan: The Pottery) looks at a "creamy buff soft stone" sculpture, just under 10 centimeters in height, that he was shown and photographed in Afghanistan in the early 1970s.
A learned and detailed look at seals and seal types from the central Asia just north of Afghanistan, Afghanistan and western Iran in relationship to the ancient Indus valley seal types, and how different kinds of seals seem to have predominated at different times and in different places.
"Illegal excavations and looting of archaeological sites in parts of the Indo-Iranian borderlands and regions of South- Eastern Iran and Central Asia have been rampant over several decades. Archaeologists have attempted to minimise the damage caused by the plundering of sites by studying and publishing artefacts abandoned by looters on-site, or those recovered by security forces," write the authors.
"A small showcase of the Zahedan Museum keeps, among other finds, the fragmentary headless torso of a small statuette in a buff-grey limestone, with a strongly weathered surface. Without opening the showcase, I was allowed to take several pictures of the fragment, from various angles," writes the author.
"Correlating ancient textual sources with iconography and archaeological evidence in general is notoriously a controversial exercise, constantly carried out on endemically slippery grounds," writes the author at the very start.
"A wide range of Indus artefacts have been found over the past forty years at many coastal and inland sites in the Oman peninsula, including utilitarian and ritual pottery, ornaments, seals, weights and, more recently, terracotta toys for children," write the authors.
"It has become clear that Balochistan can neither be perceived as a border nor as a frontier; but rather as a core area with its own dynamics and characterised by regionally distinctive styles."
Although not directly concerned with the ancient Indus civilization, this eye-opening article challenges many assumptions one might have about ancient societies being ruled or dominated by men.
A comprehensive overview of the chronology and possible relationships between so-called Helmand and other cultures in the Indo-Iranian region during pre-Indus and ancient Indus times.
"Recent work on Mesopotamian chronology supports the theory, maybe first proposed by Bibby (1970: 355), that long-distance trade between the two partners was initiated from the Indus."
An insightful paper that covers a lot of important ground: a brief history of Indus discoveries and excavations in Gujarat, a look at the core vs. periphery model of cultural expansion that has been used to theorize that Indus people from Sindh moved into Gujarat.
"In the study of the archaeology of early complex societies in archaeology three questions concerning power are of interest: (1) Who had power? (2) Why did they have power? And (3) How was power exercised? "
"The scope of this paper is to update and discuss the available evidence for prehistoric fishing along the Arabian Sea coasts of the Sultanate of Oman, Las Bela and Sindh in Pakistan," write the authors. By prehistoric they mean going back to at least the 7th millennium BCE (7000-6000 BCE).
Although cemeteries and burial analysis of Indus peoples is sparse, the authors write, "however, important insights have been gleaned from available mortuary populations. Previous morphological and strontium isotope studies of skeletal material at the sites of Harappa and Lothal suggest residence change may have been common for certain individuals and that increased mobility facilitated gene flow with hinterland groups."
A comprehensive and important paper that actually takes on the much larger question of Mesopotamian to Indus influence which animated the work of earlier archaeologists. Clark discusses so-called "Harappan courtiers," figurines with tiaras and flower headresses that are thought to have parallels with Mesopotamian artifacts, particularly the royal burial goods of Queen Puabi.
A fascinating summary of the first data from the Rakigarhi cemetery that, in the words of the authors, while "insufficient to provide a complete understanding of Harappan Civilization cemeteries, nevertheless does present new and significant information on the mortuary practices and anthropological features at that time."
An excellent distillation of where we stand to the "Bronze" in the Bronze Age Indus Civilization. "Besides clay," writes the author, "there is no other raw material that Indus craftspeople worked into such a diversity of forms and types of artifacts."
"This research project focuses on the Ghaggar plains, which occupies the north-eastern corner of the Indus society, in order to understand the temporal change of craft production through time from the Indus urban period to the post-urban period in this region. As a part of the project, faience objects have been subjected to a series of scientific analyses to identify their raw materials and production technology" (p. 1) write the authors.
This article, in a volume in honor of the "father" of Central Asian Archaeology, Victor Sarianidi, is a solid recap of the many connections between the ancient Indus civilization and contemporary Central Asian cultures.
An interesting series of reflections on how we have viewed the ancient Indus through the prism of whatever archaeological priorities or worldviews were in fashion then, and how the evidence, slowly, can push against these preconceptions.
So much attention has been focused on seals, that we sometimes forget that sealings was their most prosaic and basic function: making impressions on clay or other humble materials to perform some sort of basic administrative functions.
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.
There are at least 18 examples of a "human and tiger" motif in Indus glyptic art. This short paper by one of the most prolific writers on ancient Indus themes, the late Dr. Gregory Possehl, wonders how we might read this visual artifact.
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.
"When we speak of Harappan material style, we need to include the whole package of raw material, technological know-how as well as shape and pattern," writes Dr. Heidi J. Miller, who goes on to present "a preliminary study of what defines a Harappan phase ceramic assemblage by comparing the assemblages from the sites of Harappa in the Punjab, Mohenjo-daro and the smaller site of Chanhu-daro, both in Sindh, and illustrating what is shared amongst these contemporary occupations."
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 detailed review of the carnelian beads found in Dholavira, among the most striking of all ancient Indus manufactured goods.
The authors take on the complex question of how Harappan or Indus culture made its presence felt in Gujarat from about the middle of the third millennium through the decline of Indus civilization six or seven hundred years later. How did Indus traditions as expressed in material culture and the manufacture of these objects relate to what we see in Indus cities like Mohenjo-daro and Harappa?