Blog posts relating to the evolution of the ancient Indus Valley civilization society and practices.
Whether or not the recent new pushing back ancient Chinese civilization thousands of years is true or not, it is likely that the origins of all ancient civilizations will be pushed back in the years to come. We know very little about possible antecedent cultures, whether in Rakigarhi, Balochistan, southwestern Iran or northern China.
Fully and partially glazed faience tablets and other fired objects could be examined after the fire had cooled and the canister opened during experimental firings at the University of Madison, Wisconsin. The steatite molds were also included in the canister to see how they would be affected by this type of firing. For more on this experiment, see Reconstruction of Tablet Manufacture and Manufacturing Faience Tablets.
It is hard to underestimate the importance of the wheel to ancient Indus civilization. All indications are that it was an indigenous development, pursued in flat agricultural areas, and probably preceded that other great wheel - pardon the pun - of change, the potter's wheel.
The origins of Indus writing can now be traced as far back as the Ravi Phase (c. 3300-2800 BCE) at Harappa. Some inscriptions were made on the bottom of the pottery before firing. Other inscriptions such as this one were made after firing. This inscription (c. 3300 BCE) appears to be three plant symbols arranged to appear almost anthropomorphic. The trident looking projections on these symbols seem to set the foundation for later symbols. See also Dr. Parpola's Deciphering the Indus Script and Iravatham Mahadevan's The Indus Script.
The pre-Indus civilization or so-called Ravi phase around 3000 BCE at Harappa yielded hand-formed mudbricks. Here, we can see the bricks very obviously lack uniformity in size and shape. There is a remarkable difference between these bricks and those from later periods such as those seen in the Mohenjo-daro Well and Platform. Other artifacts from this period include Ravi Phase Jewelry and the Pedestal Vessel.
A clever piece by Soity Banerjee uses the modern era to ask some good questions and interrogate the many layers of evidence for what may have brought down the ancient Indus civilization.
A molded tablet from Mohenjo-daro ca. 2300 BCE, below while above, flat bottomed ferry boats are still used today to help travelers cross the Indus River near Mohenjo-daro. The boat on the seal is part of "a three-sided molded tablet, with boat, gharial and script. One side is a flat-bottomed boat with a central hut that has leafy fronds at the top of two poles. Two birds sit on the deck, and a large double rudder extends from the rear of the boat." (Kenoyer, Ancient Cities, p. 192) See also An Indus Boat Seal and Indus-style Boat.
Farmers in the Indus valley were the first to spin and weave cotton. In 1929 archaeologists recovered fragments of cotton textiles at Mohenjo-Daro, in what is now Pakistan, dating to between 3250 and 2750 BCE.
An audio interview with Dr. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer with Wisconsin Public Radio explores his work and discoveries at Harappa, where stone tools suggest the area was inhabited as early as 10,000 BCE. An fine hour of highlights and key finds around crops, animals and culture and evidence for the earliest curries and writing.
The earliest settlement, during Period 1 (c. 3300-2800 BC), was on the west side of Mound AB and NW corner of Mound E. During Period 2 (c. 2800-2600 BC) all of Mounds AB and E came to be occupied, and by the end of Period 3 (c. 2600-1900 BC), the Harappan Period, most of the area covered by the plan was in use. During Periods 4 and 5 (c. 1900-1300 BC) there was a retraction of settlement to the areas of Mound AB, modern Harappa Town, and the NW corner of Mound E. This plan also shows the location of the 2000/2001 excavation areas.