Ancient Indus Valley Civilization Articles

227 peer-reviewed articles from leading journals about the latest discoveries by ancient Indus archaeologists and scholars.

Symbols of Dilmun’s royal house – a primitive system of communication adopted from the late Indus world?

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.

The paste plaques and cylinders of Chanhudaro: A descriptive report

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."

Deciphering the Indus Script

Coningham's article from an anthology of research on the archaeology of the Harappan Civilisation presents an overview of the complex nature of the origin and decipherment of the Indus script.

Adaptation to Variable Environments, Resilience to Climate Change

An important contribution synthesizing many fields of research. The authors write: "This paper will explore the nature and dynamics of adaptation and resilience in the face of a diverse and varied environmental and ecological context using the case study of South Asia’s Indus Civilization (ca. 3000–1300 BC), and although it will consider the Indus region as a whole, it will focus primarily on the plains of northwest India."

The Harappan Unicorn in Eurasian and South Asian perspectives

"My conclusion," writes the Indus script scholar Asko Parpola, "is that the Indian Rsyasrnga legend goes back to the Harappan religion, where the unicorn bull depicted on thousands of seals has a real local animal, the nilgai antelope, called rsya in Sanskrit. His single horn, the length of which is exaggerated, has a phallic connotation and emphasizes the importance of this animal as a symbol of fertility."

First Evidence of Cotton at Neolithic Mehrgarh, Pakistan

Mehrgarh is the gift that keeps on giving to archaeologists, this time as the location with the oldest known cotton in the Indian subcontinent. Pushing back the origin of major crops, like rice recently, or silk previously, suggests that while some agricultural practices may have spread east to the Indus valley, others, like rice and perhaps cotton and crops that could rotate with other crops may have spread westwards from the Indus region.

Cracking the Indus Script

In this concise article in the journal Nature from October 2015, Andrew Robinson reflects on the history of attempts to decipher the Harappan script. More than 500 distinct Indus symbols have so far been identified, and it is now generally believed that the script was read from right to left.

Etched (carnelian) beads from northeast and southeast Arabia

Beads from Harappa

The authors look at the evidence of approximately 70 etched/bleached carnelian beads found from sites along the Arabian shores of the Persian Gulf (in Bahrain, Oman and the UAE) and hypothesize that these beads were imported from workshops on the Indian subcontinent, whether through direct or

Women in Ancient Sindh: Bronze Age Figurines of the Indus Valley Civilization

In this 2004 article from the quarterly publication Sindh Watch, Paolo Biagi synthesizes the evidence of female clay figurines from Bronze Age sites in the Indus Valley to highlight the social and cultural roles of women in that society. He draws on earlier evidence from the neolithic site of Mehrgarh, in Balochistan, as well as that from mature Harappan sites like Mohenjodaro and Harappa. Based on this analysis he offers the insights into the role of women as depicted in the figurines.

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