A delightful romp through 10 themes in ancient India by a smart and engaging writer who knows her Indus civilization history and all that which followed. These brief essays give some sense of how engaging history can be in the hands of a good writer, not afraid to take risks and push material politically and theoretically while keeping her feet on the ground.
Do the many female figurines at Indus sites justify the belief that the worship of a "mother Goddess" was prevalent then? One of India's most distinguished archaeologists offers a contrary viewpoint in this deeply informed, multi-faceted analysis of these figurines.
There is so much going on in DNA studies – even if pre-figured by linguistic studies – that having a solid guide to stitch it all together, including papers that landed with a giant thud in 2018, would be so very, very nice. Someone who could put it together for the layman or intelligent observer who finds it hard to sort through headlines and the latest pronouncements (and simplifications).
Case Studies from the Near East, Egypt, the Aegean, and South Asia
Finally, the book we have long – decades, in fact – been waiting for, a comprehensive view of seals and sealings in the ancient world, from the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley. This has been essential because, as the authors argue from the very start, seals were social objects.
An exceptional, beautifully illustrated book of over 200 pieces in the Japanese Katolec Corporation collection of pottery and associated art of the pre- and contemporary to ancient Indus Nal and Kulli cultures of the 3rd millennium BCE Balochistan. The photography is excellent, the specimens extraordinary.
Shereen Ratnagar is one of the most important theoreticians of the Indus valley civilization and its archaeological practice. Book reviewer and author, Sudeshna Guha notes in her review of Early State Perspectives, "Through her earlier research, Ratnagar had shown that the political system of statehood possibly provided the Harappan Civilization its distinctive cultural form."
There is a dearth of ancient Indus-based fiction in English; there are even fewer works in Hindi or Urdu. Yakoob Yawar's Dilmun is among the very few exceptions (indeed, it was the second novel ever to be set in the ancient Indus civilization, 50 years after the Hindi Murdon ka Teela by Rangeya Raghava).
Once in a while a book comes along that so radically shifts your perspective and ways of thinking about a complex subject that it can only be called breathtaking. Against the Grain A Deep History of the Earliest States (2017), by Yale Agrarian Studies Professor James C. Scott is one such book.
Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, vol. 86.
Of all the untapped veins to mine in ancient Indus studies, none may be as rich as the thousands of figurines excavated from all sites.
This is a very important book by two scholars who have spent years studying ancient Mesopotamian cultures (Steinkeller, Harvard University) or leading explorations of more recently discovered Gulf Arab cultures (Laursen, Moesgaard Museum Denmark).
Geoffrey Bibby was a Cambridge-educated oil executive, who got caught up, against-all-odds, with the tiny Danish Prehistoric Museum of Aarhus, with barely any resources, that nonetheless has emerged as a powerhouse in ancient Dilmun studies, thanks in part to Bibby's initial efforts.
Robin Coningham (Durham University) and Ruth Young (University of Leicester) offer a critical synthesis of the archaeology of South Asia from the Neolithic period (c.6500 BCE), when domestication began, to the spread of Buddhism accompanying the Mauryan Emperor Asoka's reign (third century BCE).
A Sindhi writer and scholar examines the manifold relationships between Indus artifacts and elements of Sindhi culture that still exist or did so in the near past.
"Unputdownable," according to noted contemporary Pakistani writer Kamila Shamsie, this is a well-written, engaging story that switches back and forth between a modern excavation of Mohenjodaro and a storyline set in 3700 BCE, connected through a bloodstone with supernatural powers that, in the right hands, transcends time.
Over 500 pages of great insight and new data reveals the quiet and powerful role of bioarchaeology in Indus studies. Bioarchaeology is by one of its first practitioners, as "the reconstructions of past people's lives based on a multidisciplinary analysis of archaeological human remains. Bioarchaeology is one of the few fields of inquiry that emphasizes integration of three subdiscipines of anthropology: biological anthropology, archaeology, and sociocultural anthropology."
This volume, dedicated to the archaeologist Dr. Gregory Possehl, has been edited by his former students, and presents a series of case studies that develop and investigate the broad range of ideas and research that "Dr. P" fostered through his research and teaching.
This anthology of thirteen essays by Nayanjot Lahiri combines twenty years of scholarship on various topics related to the historiography of ancient India. Using her training as an archaeologist, and an extensive experience with archival material, Lahiri marshalls a wide and disparate set of materials into an accessible and compelling assemblage that is supported by rigorous research.
An extraordinary book illuminating the rich imagistic life in the subcontinent tens of thousands of years before ancient Indus times by an Austrian pioneer in the field.