Mysteries and unsolved archaeological puzzles of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.

Mystery at Mound F: The Granary Fantasy

The phantasm by Sir Mortimer Wheeler (Image 1) , a diagram of the structure by John Marshall (Image 2), photographs by Jonathan Mark Kenoyer and Richard H (Image 3 and 4). The basic function of this structure on Mound F - there is also one in Mohenjo-daro - remains unknown. Still, there has been important work carried out in Harappa that chips away at myths like "the granary." See also Mystery at Mound F #2 and Mystery at Mound F #3.

Mysterious Sandstone Objects

Fragments of a grooved red sandstone object or objects were found in the upper disturbed levels at Harappa. Similar fragments were recovered in the excavations by Rai Bahadur Daya Ram Sahni in 1921-22, but so far none of them fit together into a complete object and their original function is unknown.

The Case of the Split Necklace #1

Among the tragedies of partition was the literal breaking apart of one of the finest necklaces from Mohenjo-daro, with half going to India and half to Pakistan. The piece on the left is from Pakistan's share, 6 of 10 of a light-green jade beads, 3 of 4 of the seven pendants of agate-jasper. There is not even a color photograph of the complete necklace. Now an effort by archaeologists is hoping to have the two pieces put back together and exhibited by rotation in India and Pakistan: India-Pakistan Link to Mohenjodaro Necklace See also The Case of the Split Necklace #2

The Case of the Split Necklace #2

John Marshall writes about one of the greatest of Indus finds, "the jewelry illustrated ... was found in the silver vessel illustrated on the right of the plate, which was unearthed by Mr. Dikshit in a long trench that he dug to connect up sections B and C in the DK Area ... As the walling in this Block is of the Late Period and the depth of the find was only 3 feet below the surface, this hoard of jewelry can definitely be dated to that Period.

Mystery at Mound F #3

A perfect unicorn seal found in Trench 49E, Harappa. The craftsmanship and balance of the three fish signs, the arrow and two strokes with the so-called unicorn's head and sacred relic is remarkable. Excavations in 1997 at the southeast corner of the Mound F "granary" area were undertaken to recover a full sequence of pottery, architectural features, and inscribed objects. Here workers have found a seal near the base of the excavations in Trench 41NE that dates only somewhat later than the original "granary" structure.

What Were the Cones?

Decorated terra cotta cones are found at both Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, but no one knows what they may have been used for. Some scholars suggest that they were hung on a string as a plumb-bob for use by masons and carpenters. Others feel that they may have been toys or possibly used for writing. No traces of ink have been found on the tips, but many of the tips are worn smooth or chipped. What do you think they may have been used for?

Ancient Indus Passports?

Photograph courtesy of Toshiki Osada
Seals as urban passports? Mackay wrote "most of the inhabitants of the Indus valley seem to have worn amulets of some kind or another. The so-called seal (Pl. M), of which many examples have been found, must now be regarded as having served also as an amulet, on account of the animals incised upon it. In most cases only the upper part, bearing the inscription was employed as a seal proper . . .. Objects of this type seem to have belonged to everyone, a fact which would necessitate a certain amount of mass production." What would you need to mass produce something to denote identity?