Blog posts relating to the evolution of the ancient Indus Valley civilization society and practices.

Mohenjo-daro Stupa Mound: Before and After Excavations

The color photograph is a slightly expanded view of the same area from the same angle. The stupa is to the right outside the frame of John Marshall’s original photograph from the 1920's. The new photograph was taken by Mark Kenoyer on Dec. 8, 2013, when Sindh had a Culture Day celebration, and thousands of people were visiting Mohenjo-daro to express their cultural pride in their Sindhi heritage. They were carrying flags and wearing Sindhi ajraks and dancing and singing all over the campus, the museum and the site.

Harappa Mounds Today #2

A collection of photographs of the Harappan Mounds in March 2013. Image A: A circular grey limestone slab found at Harappa and possibly dated to the post Harappan period. It has been identified by local communities as the gem from the finger ring of Baba Noor Shah who is buried in the nearby tomb. It is said to have turned to stone and became very large when someone tried to rob it from his tomb. Visitors toss coins and currency notes as well as rice grains as offerings to the saint. More than 15,000 people live in the modern town of Harappa which is situated on part of the ancient mound.

Night of the Indigo

The Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray's book of short stories The Unicorn Expedition, the title story of which concerns Mohenjo-daro, includes another brilliant story which may also have connections to the ancient Indus civilization. It is called Night of the Indigo and begins with "My name is Aniruddha Bose. I am twenty-nine and a bachelor. For the last eight years I've been working in an advertising agency in Calcutta. . . .. The last few months I haven't written at all, but I have read a lot about indigo plantations in Bengal and Bihar in the nineteenth century.

Carts: Then and Now

Early morning mist at Mohenjo-daro with the Buddhist stupa perched on top of the "citadel" mound.
The modern road winds through the low-lying area between the "citadel" and "lower town." On the left is an ox or water buffalo-drawn cart and driver from Harappa, possibly a toy, but clearly representative of what was used many thousands of years ago. Several styles of carts as well as wheels made of terracotta have been found at Indus sites. These were probably originally held together by wooden components that have not preserved. These terracotta carts are very similar to carts in South Asia today. See also Jonathan Mark Kenoyer's article Wheeled Vehicles of the Indus Valley Civilization.

The Buffalo Sacrifice

Asko Parpola writes: "Early Harappan cultures started moving toward the east and south in about 3000 BCE, and later waves of influence in these same directions came from the Indus civilization. That the Harappan water-buffalo cult had reached penninsular India by the late Harappan on Chalcolithic times is suggested by the large bronze sculpture of water buffalo discovered in 1974 in a hoard at Daimabad, the southernmost Indus site in Maharashtra.

Interaction Networks of the Harappan Phase

Major Sites and Interaction Networks of the Indus Tradition, Harappan Phase, 2600-1900 BCE, courtesy of J. M. Kenoyer. Six large Indus cities have been discovered. In Pakistan, Harappa was excavated extensively in the 1920-30s', 1960's, and from 1986-2010. Mohenjo Daro was excavated extensively in the 1920-30's, with smaller projects in the 1940's and 1960's. Ganweriwala was discovered in the 1970's and has not been excavated. Lakhanjo Daro was discovered in 1986 but only recent excavations in 2009-2014 have shown that it is probably as big as Mohenjo Daro.

The Politics of Mohenjo-daro

"I stood on a mound of Mohenjo-daro in the Indus valley in the northwest of India," wrote Jawaharlal Nehru in The Discovery of India (1946), "and all around me lay the houses and streets of this ancient city that is said to have existed over five thousand years ago . . ."