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.
A recent, 95 scientist, massive DNA study that shows how migrants into India from the west and north contributed to local DNA and which aligns with recent analyses on Indo-European languages coming into the subcontinent from the northwest as well.
An exploration of the prevalence and manufacture of a distinctive ornament which persists both in South Asian culture today, and throughout the larger West Asian and Middle Eastern world as well.
The beauty of this paper is that it sets out very clearly the procedure needed to document bead types, the careful measurement and classification steps to start understanding a specific bead tradition.
Preliminary results from recent surveys along the little explored coast of Sindh and Balochistan, where the evidence of ancient human habitation along a one-time mangrove coast keeps growing.
A proof of the upcoming survey article by the Dean of Indus script scholarship, Asko Parpola, is now available on Academia.edu; it will be published in the highly anticipated Seals and Sealing in the Ancient World (Cambridge, 2018).
A fascinating article that shows how old excavation records together with recent computer modeling techniques can be used to show how a constructed space changed over time, and how that evidence can speak to larger issues in a society.
An exceptionally interesting paper that traces the path of ivory carving from the ancient Indus civilization up north to Gonur Depe in southern Turkmenistan, north of Afghanistan.
The research carried out in Sindh during the last forty years, and the study of the chipped stone assemblages stored in Karachi University collections, show that Late (Upper) Palaeolithic [50,000-10,000 years ago] complexes are known from at least five regions of Sindh. Most sites are located close to good quality raw material outcrops and freshwater sources.
Wikipedia defines a paleo-channel as "a remnant of an inactive river or stream channel that has been filled or buried by younger sediment.
This paper illustrates the different types of technology that was used for firing pottery and terracotta objects in the greater Indus region in the third milliennium B.C.E. Using excavation data from the Kachi Plain (Mehrgarh, Lal Shah and Naushoro), Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, Miller develops a classification for the range of firing structures and technologies.
Perhaps some of the best clues to deciphering Indus seals may lie in the Arabian Gulf, where inscribed seals seem to have arrived and taken root just as they disappeared in Indus cities around 2000 BCE. "The Harappan sealing tradition, however, continued in Dilmun long after it had vanished from the Indian subcontinent and lived a vibrant life of its own," writes Steffen Laursen.
A very interesting and informative article that starts bringing the adjacent ancient state of Dilmun on the Arabian Gulf (many of the finds have been in present day Bahrain) to light, and what must have been a very rich trade and cultural relationship with ancient Indus cities.
As part of his 1935-36 excavation report on Chanhudaro, Ernest Mackay has a section on "Paste Plaques and Cylinders," two types of objects that were made of the same material, and were found in large quantities and occurring together across the excavated area of Mound II. The material was "...white, porous...with a texture like a fine pumice but sufficiently friable to be scraped away easily with the finger nail."
Another sign of the growing importance of archaeobotanical datasets and the way in which qualitative and quantitative analysis can be used to paint a richer picture of something as complex as agriculture and nutrition in ancient Indus times.
Recently published research describes how engravings on Harappan stamp seals allow the identification of particular artisans in the past. He explains how 3D optical microscopy can be used on these engravings to reconstruct how past production events were undertaken by different individual carvers.