It seems to be an adage around the ancient Indus research that solving one mystery simply surfaces another. This is the case with this paper. It takes on the question of ground – land – transportation in ancient Indus times only to find that larger answers around transport remain fuzzy.
This highly technical and scientific paper brings together all the recent evidence from Dharamjali Cave in the Himalayas over a 230 year period around 2000 BCE, when the ancient Indus civilization was in decline, to show "that repeated intensely dry periods spanned multiple generations. The record highlights the deficits in winter and summer rainfall during the urban phase of the Indus Civilization, which prompted adaptation through flexible, self- reliant, and drought-resistant agricultural strategies."
A comprehensive look at what we know about agricultural strategies during the ancient Indus period, and how truly varied and sophisticated these most likely were, with careful adaptation to local conditions and water availability.
A superb framing of how we might think of the Indus civilization and its evolution as a larger entity in comparison and contrast with other ancient civilizations. How did Indus cities fit into a rural context? Were they ruled by elites? How did they manage to survive so long?
"The discovery of the rotational capabilities of the wheel was one of the most significant human inventions, and wheel-enhanced rotation is now pervasive in the tools and machines that we use in our everyday lives. Importantly, the wheel was a major contributor to a range of developments in craft production technology, perhaps most visibly in the various forms of potter’s rotational devices and wheels."
A superb chapter from Cambridge Histories Online of the very complicated development of agriculture in the subcontinent, which is really the story of four different developments, in the northwest (including the Indus valley), north (the Gangetic plains), south and east, each with different timelines, crops and animal husbandry to account for.
An exciting new study that looks at food residues ancient Indus pots found in sites around Rakigarhi to decode the foodstuffs that once were in those pots. By examining the lipids or fatty acids that can be extracted from pots and pottery fragments, investigators were able to determine some of the foodstuffs in the pots.
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.
"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.
"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."