Mysteries

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

Mundigak at the Guimet, Paris

A brand new slide show has just been opened featuring objects from Mundigak, a little-known Bronze Age [c. 4000-2400 BCE] set of mounds in southern Afghanistan. The objects are now at the Guimet, the French National Museum of Asian Art in Paris. Their similarity to objects and motifs in the ancient Indus Valley is remarkable. Examples include the pipal leaf, a rat trap, the humped bull, a bird whistle and classic goblets the Mundigak excavators called "brandy balloons." There is even a stone sculpture which resembles the "priest-king."

This 33 slide section Mundigak @ the Guimet is accompanied

The Mysterious Pillared Hall in Mohenjo-daro

What was this enormous building in Mohenjo-daro used for? "The northern portion of Block 4 (Image 1)," in the L Area wrote the archaeologist John Marshall, "was originally a large hall of the Intermediate Period which appears to have been entirely covered ink the roof being supported by twenty rectangular piers averaging 5 feet by 3 ft. 4 in. in thickness."

Lothal Terracotta Dice and Game Board

"Much valuable information about the various indoor games indulged in by the Harappans is available from the gamesmen, game-boards and dices found at the major Indus cities. A game involving the use of dice was very popular in the Harappan and later times, especially in the time of the Mahabharata war. The Pandava prince is said to have lost everything including his kingdom in a game of dice. An ealrier reference to the games is contained in the Rdveda whcih mentions the use of Vibhitika wood for making dice.

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?

Indus Cylinder Seals

Impression of a Harappan cylinder seal from Kalibangan

"The cylinder seals of Mesopotamia constitute her most original art," wrote the scholar Henri Frankfort, and much the same has been said about the very different square stamp seals used by the ancient Indus civilization. Cylinder seals are "small, barrel-shaped stone object[s] with a hole down the center, rolled on clay when soft to indicate ownership or to authenticate a document . . . used chiefly in Mesopotamia from the late 4th to the 1st millennium BCE." Many of the handful of cylinder seals found at ancient Indus sites or Mesopotamian ones with Indus themes are collected below.

1.

Red Jasper Torso, Harappa

John Marshall could hardly believe his eyes when this red jasper statuette was found by M.S. Vats at Harappa: ". . . it seemed so completely to upset all established ideas about early art. Modelling such as this was unknown to the ancient world up to the Hellenistic age of Greece, and I thought, therefore, that some mistake must surely have been made."

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