A richly illustrated slide journey through seals and sealings, how and why they were used in other ancient civilizations, and primarily what we might know and deduce about their use in ancient Indus cities. Dennys Frenez has been studying a large group of accidentally fired Lothal sealings for many years, and is joined by other distinguished archaeologists in what was originally a symposium on bead and seal technologies at the University of Padua, Italy, in 2019.
A provocative paper which claims that "the Indus civilization reveals that a ruling class is not a prerequisite for social complexity" (p. 1). The author, who is at Cambridge University where he has long been involved with the groundbreaking Two Rains project, starts with John Marshall and other
Italian archaeologists have been critical to unearthing the distant human past in Sindh and Balochistan for many years.
"The contexts of script and changes in the writing over time indicate that the Indus script was versatile and that it was probably used to communicate complex ideas as well as multiple languages.
"There was a frequent use of new, artificial materials during the Indus Integration Era, or Mature Harappan period (ca. 2600-1900 B.C.E.)," writes Heather Miller. "Looking more broadly, this seems a characteristic not only of the Indus, but of many of the Western Asian civilizations of the third and second millennia."
This comprehensive look at the development of the Indus script makes a clear and cogent case that its origins likely can be traced to the pre and post-firing graffiti marks found on pottery throughout the region.
"This chapter [in the forthcoming book Pratnamani: Felicitation Volume for Professor Vasant Shinde, 2020] explores previously reported variation in the mortuary practices of two Indus cities—Rakhigarhi and Harappa—to describe the typical range of variation for Indus cemeteries."
"The theme of this volume has forced us to consider and grapple with what activities occur at night and how that can be applicable to the archaeological record of the Indus civilization. In doing so we have focused on water and sewage system maintenance, a traditional nighttime activity of the modern world, to demonstrate how the common spaces and activities of maintenance would have constructed a shared sense of belonging for participants and/or imposed shared identities upon them by outside viewers," write the authors.
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.
On his ninth death anniversary, a tribute to the American archaeologist Gregory M. Possehl, one of the most prolific writers on the ancient Indus civilization – no less than eight books by Possehl are listed on this site, many of them massive tomes, covering all aspects of Indus civilization.
"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.
"What were the limits of the known world to the people that inhabited this region during the long prehistory for which we have evidence? What changes did they and their successors experience? What more can we say about the lure of distant lands?"
"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."
The apparently sudden appearance of Indus-type seals, pottery and other implements around 2000 BCE in the Arabian Gulf, just before the Indus cities and culture seems to have gone into decline, is a great mystery.
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.