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

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?

Possible Indus Crown

Not yet absolutely clear that this is an ancient Indus-style crown, but the chances are pretty good with find first reported in August. Reports on follow-up excavations in December by A.K. Pandey of the Archaeological Survey of India suggest it really could be from ancient Indus times, though final stratigraphy is awaited. The fact that the crown includes faience and carnelian, two typical ancient Indus precious materials, is promising.

The August story can be found at Archaeology News Network.

Read also the December report 4,000-Year-Old Copper Crown in India and a seal example of a similar

Unicorn Amulet Seal

Only a few specimens of this unicorn amulet-type seal have been found. One was during Marshall's excavations at Mohenjo-daro in the 1920s (top), another at Dholavira a few years ago (bottom). It appears to have been worn around the neck, and have had room for something to be put inside.

Although Marshall himself did not favor the amulet theory, he wrote of one of these seals: "The amulet theory finds some support, however, in the shape of ... [a] seal [which] measures 0.77 in. square and 0.3 in. thick, excluding its boss.

Dyers' Workshop

Room with brick floor and dyeing troughs.
A small drain leads from the well and finely fitted brick floor of the dyer's workshop to a covered drain at the edge of the street.
Small well and platform in VS area, with HR Area in the background and VS dyer's shop across the street to the right.

"This room in VS area was made with bricks set on edge to create a watertight floor. A small well was located in the southeast corner (top right) and circular brick depressions were set into the floor, presumably to hold pottery vessels. The early excavators suggested that the room might have been a dyer's workshop" (Mark Kenoyer).

Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the early excavator, wrote: "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

Buddhist Stupa at Mohenjo-daro

Image niche and stairway to left ascending to platform of stupa at Mohenjo-daro, modern shot and Bison Seal (ca. 2500 BCE). "This image niche is 7 feet deep by 4 ft. 6 inches wide, and occupies a particularly prominent position, being directly opposite to, though slightly above, the approaching stairway. In it Mr. Banerji found some remains of a statue of Buddah, seated cross-legged, probably on a lotus throne. The core of the image, he says, was of brick covered with a coating of mud, which had originally been painted or gilt." (John Marshall, Mohenjo-daro, I, p.

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.

Mystery at Mound F #2

Possible granary in Harappa

Although there is no evidence to suggest that Mound F at Harappa or the "granary" at Mohenjo-daro (illustrated above) actually were granaries, this theory by archaeologists like Sir Mortimer Wheeler has taken hold in the public imagination. One can see how this happened in the compelling descriptions offered. Wheeler writes that "the granary stood on the steep verge of the citadel at Mohenjo-daro and at the western end of its north side was a recessed unloading bay.

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.

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.

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


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