Mysteries and unsolved archaeological puzzles of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.
Sir Mortimer Wheeler's famous trench at Harappa in 1946 and today, when it has been filled in once again. Wheeler writes of the incision he orchestrated: "The monsoon-cutting was filled with mud-bricks, which were carried up in bricks and mud to form an anti-flood 'bolster'' or bund, spreading protectively beyond the outer foot of a great defensive wall 45 feet wide at the base and tapering upwards. The main bulk of the wall was of mud-brick but there was an external revetment of baked brick four feet wide as preserved.
However incredible this may seem, there now seems to be good genetic and material evidence that sailors from India arrived in Australia from either Sindh or South India at the height of the ancient Indus civilization. They brought with them some technologies and a type of dog that forever changed Aborigine culture. As principal scientist Irina Pulgach at the Max Planck Institute writes, "Their findings suggest substantial gene flow from India to Australia 4,230 years ago. i.e. during the Holocene and well before European contact.
John Marshall writes of what he called First Street, "The northern part of this street, 145 feet in length, had been dug by Mr. Hargreaves in 1925-6, the rest of the street, some 300 feet in length, was completely exposed by me down to the Intermediate level, the work involving the removal from the street itself of a 10 ft. thick layer of closely packed debris ... The width of the street averages 30 feet and it is the only street so far excavated at Mohenjo-daro that could have been used for wheeled traffic, if wheeled traffic was permitted inside the town.
Was this an ancient Mohenjo-daro restaurant? Sir Mortimer Wheeler writes "Of another kind is a building fronting upon one of the main streets, 'First Street', in VR Area [Mohenjo-daro]. Its outside dimensions are 87 by 64.5 feet, but within that considerable framework are included not only residential quarters around the courtyard but also, towards the street, industrial or commercial premises of some note: in particular, three rooms neatly paved with bricks on edge, one room with five conical pits or holes sunk in the floor and lined with wedge-shaped bricks, apparently to hold the pointed
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."
The first Indus women surfaced in the Illustrated London News on September 20, 1924. John Marshall was announcing the discovery of a civilization in India far earlier than Western archaeologists had surmised and these Harappan figurines were earlier than any others. Similar figurines from more recent discoveries at Harappa are also shown below, with captions. These are typical of female figurines from Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. Why do you think there might be so many more female than male figurines? See also Embodying Indus Life: Terra Cotta Figurines of Harappa.
Why was this shell bangle workshop suddenly abandoned in Gola Dhoro, Gujarat? Great wealth was left behind. Archaeologist Kuldeep Bhan writes: "One of the most important craft activities pursued with great vigor at the site was the production of shell bangles from Turbinella pyrum. One of the fascinating discoveries associated with this craft was the recovery of a rectangular mud brick structure measuring approximately 5.60 x 3.20m with an adjoining chamber, situated on the northwestern periphery inside the fortification.
"Between the Buddhist stupa, with its surrounding monastic buildings, and the Great Bath, a considerable stretch of ground which sloped upwards to the east presented interesting possibilities . . ."
What about the platforms? Another perplexing Indus mystery concerns the so-called workingmen's platforms at Harappa, next to the "granary" whose purpose also eludes us. Photographs from the excavations by the Harappa Archaeological Research Project following M.S. Vats work in the 1920's and 1930's led to at least one interesting clue. Additionally, the direction of the bricks suggests water was used here. What do you think? See also Mystery at Mound F.
What was the large pillared hall at Mohenjo-daro used for? The hall was approximately 27.5 meters square (90 feet square) with twenty square brick pillars arranged in four rows, only two of which are still preserved. Strips of paved floors sloped from south to north and each strip of flooring had row of bricks set on edge along both sides. The cross wall in the foreground was built later and divided the hall into smaller rooms. Its purpose remains an enigma.