Another look at the "Mother Goddess" interpretation of female figurines from the ancient Indus Valley, in this case those remarkable ones with various elaborate headdresses. Once again, an author, this time in Australia, comes away unimpressed by this simplistic equation.
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.
The authors write that "the discovery of a knapped stone assemblage with microlithic backed tools and geometrics represents a groundbreaking point for the prehistory of Punjab. It opens new research perspectives in a promising territory that had never been explored before, where surveys are undoubtedly to be continued in the future because of its great potential."
"Lazurite - the constituent of lapis lazuli that gives the rock its blue color - is a rare mineral in nature," writes Randall Law, and there is likely to have been only one source in the region during ancient times, the Badakhshan mines in Afghanistan.
The relationship between ancient Indus centers - which we know best and consider a hallmark of the civilization - and the vast rural "hinterland" that surrounded them is the subject of this lucid paper.
"Recent discoveries of Indus and Indus related materials at sites in the interior, and a general reassessment of comparable materials throughout Oman, suggest a more complex model of
interaction. . . these artefacts probably reflect the presence of small groups of Indus merchants and craftspeople integrated into local communities and directly involved with important socioeconomic activities."
A must-read paper. Dennys Frenez classifies and nicely illustrates recent finds in the Oman Peninsula connecting it to the Indus civilization in multiple ways.
"The recognition of variation and diversity [in the ancient Indus civilization] has encouraged a gradual, though not universally accepted, shift toward the interpretation that certain categories of Indus material acted as ‘a veneer… overlying diverse local and regional cultural expressions'," write the authors.
It is really nice in a paper to be able to speak both of what is happening now, at the cutting-edge of bead and shell-making Indus craftsmanship and continuing discoveries, and be able to relate each tradition back to its earliest appearance in the subcontinent and elsewhere.
This paper reviews the work done since the early 1970s east of Karachi along the Makran coast, containing what were once extensive mangrove areas (where salt and fresh water meet to create unique habitats).
This deeply investigative article published in Walking with the Unicorn (2018) takes on some of the most unusual facts about ancient Indus seals to surmise about their function in the Indus polity as a whole.
"For archaeologists," write the authors, "pottery is one of the most significant sources of data, not only for the durability and abundance of ceramic artefacts in the archaeological record, but also for the vast range of information on ancient societies that can be inferred from its study."
"Urban society is a highly complex system in terms of its institutions, hierarchy, integration, etc." writes the author. "A vast region is incorporated into one social system which is based on cities."
An interesting article in which the author discusses the existence of Indus-type seals in the Gulf and Mesopotamian regions, their relationship to trade and other civilizations in the area, including the Central Asian Bronze Age civilization now better known as the BMAC (Bactrio-Margiana Archaeological Complex). After carefully reviewing the evidence for Indus settlers in ancient Mesopotamia, and their use Indus-type seals whose signs are ordered in ways not found within the Indus region proper, she discusses the relationships they may still have had with Indus peoples back home and the role of different kinds of writing in this relationship.
The second article of a pair with Mapping Archaeology While Mapping an Empire: Using Historical Maps to Reconstruct Ancient Settlement Landscapes in Modern India and Pakistan. This uses the theoretical techniques developed there with a real world example, the devastating Indus flood of 1909 that led
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.
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.
A personal reflection by Richard H. Meadow, Co-Director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project, on working with Mark Kenoyer for over 30 years.
Although much about Indus seals remains unknown, the steady application of rigorous, detailed analysis of a kind that earlier excavators could hardly dream of is slowly yielding clues and insights into the organization of work and craft in Indus cities.
Another important summary paper by Paolo Biagi reprises all the discoveries made by Italian teams in Sindh and Balochistan that have upended our understanding of pre and neighbouring areas to the Indus civilization.
The Indus civilization is in so many ways a puzzle wrapped in another puzzle. One of the most challenging with respect to seals are the terracotta seals of the adjacent and contemporaneous Ahar Banas culture.
The Mesolithic Settlement of Sindh (Pakistan): New Evidence from the Khadeji River Course, an article by Paolo Biagi is another piece of the puzzle of habitation in the Indus delta long before the ancient Indus civilization.
An insightful article that focusses on the clues in a seal and set of sixteen tablets found together at Harappa in 1997 to proffer that they may have been economic tokens.
A very important recent exposition of one of the most important underlying elements – used to make fire, crucial items like weights and much else – of ancient Indus civilization and its connection to, in particular the Rohri Hills.
A clever paper looking at how far we have drifted from some of the better ancient Indus ways of living.
An important paper that shows how strontium isotope analysis can help reveal the interactions between and migrations of people in ancient times. The authors write: "Human tooth enamel from Harappa and Ur was analyzed for strontium, oxygen, and carbon isotopes.
A complex meta-analysis of data in a corner of northwestern India for what it can tell us about settlement patterns during the ancient Indus period and just after, when a host of factors, including possibly climate change, seem to have contributed to a re-allocation of populations between types of settlements.
An insufficient number of archaeological surveys has been carried out to date on Harappan Civilization cemeteries. One case in point is the necropolis at Rakhigarhi site (Haryana, India), one of the largest cities of the Harappan Civilization, where most burials within the cemetery remained uninvestigated.