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.
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.
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."
"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."
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.
This article is a great example of the investigative work that is required when archaeological evidence and its analysis face mysterious disappearances.
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.
In this article, Heather Miller explains how looking at craft production location with respect to civic organization provides insights into possible associations between crafts, as well as general Indus attitudes toward the placement of manufacturing within city centers.
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
In this article, the authors report on skeletal evidence from 2000 BCE at the site of Balathal, in Rajasthan, India, in an attempt to document the oldest evidence for leprosy.
Balithal has two phases of occupation - a small occupation in the Early Historic period (cal.
The analysis of beads from different periods and areas of Harappa have made it possible to define specific trade networks and the organization of production as well as changing patterns of interaction over the history of a site.
In this article Erwin Neumayer studies the rock paintings from sites in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to investigate the role and types of the chariot.
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.
Asko Parpola presents a wide-ranging investigation of the evidence of crocodiles in the Indus Civilization and later traditions.
A detailed look at the unicorn icon on Indus objects, incorporating the latest findings, even incomplete ones like the unicorn figurines shown from Ganweriwala.
This article focuses on subsistence changes by reconstructing the role of fishing during the Indus Valley Tradition (ca. 6500 to 1300 BC), located in the area of modern Pakistan and western India.
This article undertakes to identify methods of fishing in the the Harappan Phase of the Indus Civilization. Given the perishable nature of fishing nets in the archaeological record, the author uses four sets of data to infer the presence of netting as a fishing technology.
This paper studies the formation of craft activity areas in Mohenjodaro. Since 1981, one of the key lines of research carried out by German and Italian archaeologists at Moenjodaro has been the surface evaluation of the craft activity areas of the archaeological complex.
"The discovery of Indus seals manufactured with non-Indus raw materials, but with tools and techniques associated with Indus productions, further supports the idea that merchants and craftsmen from the greater Indus Valley were living and working at interior settlements in the Oman peninsula."
The archaeologist George F. Dales, who excavated at Mohenjo-daro in 1964, and hydrologist Robert L. Raikes propose a theory around the decline of the Indus civilization which involves large flooding and a back-up of the Indus for perhaps a century in ancient times.
This article examines the social implications associated with historical architecture. The presence of centralized "palaces" suggests a social stratification including an elite class.
The Convocation Address of February 26, 2015 at the Dravidian University in Kuppam reflects on similarities between the Indus script and later Dravidian culture. With a number of illustrations and discussions of recent finds in south India.
The Power of a Lost Ritual. An exceptional and controversial recent find in a private collection is analyzed by a leading Italian archaeologist in this fully illustrated complete online volume with many potential implications for understanding ancient Indus culture.
A Mesopotamian cylinder seal referring to the personal translator of the ancient Indus or Meluhan language, Shu-ilishu, who lived around 2020 BCE during the late Akkadian period.
The full story of excavations at Lothal, including the 2008-2009 revisitation project which included satellite imagery and magnetic surveys indicating the presence of interesting structures for a future excavation project.