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."
The second article of a pair with Mapping Archaeology While Mapping an Empire: Using Historical Maps to Reconstruct Ancient Settlement Landscapes in Modern India and Pakistan. This uses the theoretical techniques developed there with a real world example, the devastating Indus flood of 1909 that led
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 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.