Over 500 pages of great insight and new data reveals the quiet and powerful role of bioarchaeology in Indus studies. Bioarchaeology is by one of its first practitioners, as "the reconstructions of past people's lives based on a multidisciplinary analysis of archaeological human remains. Bioarchaeology is one of the few fields of inquiry that emphasizes integration of three subdiscipines of anthropology: biological anthropology, archaeology, and sociocultural anthropology."
There are almost no concise, up-to-date accounts of the ancient Indus civilization, locating the latest facts and opinions within a larger intellectual context. Has the Indus script been deciphered? What can we say about the relationship of ancient Indus traditions and modern Hinduism? How did Indus society compare to contemporary Bronze Age Egypt and Mesopotamia? Why do so many questions remain open and so contentious?
Illustrated with color photos on every nearly page, the book is accessible to a general audience while discussing the latest scholarly research.
Do the many female figurines at Indus sites justify the belief that the worship of a "mother Goddess" was prevalent then? One of India's most distinguished archaeologists offers a contrary viewpoint in this deeply informed, multi-faceted analysis of these figurines.
There is so much going on in DNA studies – even if pre-figured by linguistic studies – that having a solid guide to stitch it all together, including papers that landed with a giant thud in 2018, would be so very, very nice. Someone who could put it together for the layman or intelligent observer who finds it hard to sort through headlines and the latest pronouncements (and simplifications).
Case Studies from the Near East, Egypt, the Aegean, and South Asia
Finally, the book we have long – decades, in fact – been waiting for, a comprehensive view of seals and sealings in the ancient world, from the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley. This has been essential because, as the authors argue from the very start, seals were social objects.
Shereen Ratnagar is one of the most important theoreticians of the Indus valley civilization and its archaeological practice. Book reviewer and author, Sudeshna Guha notes in her review of Early State Perspectives, "Through her earlier research, Ratnagar had shown that the political system of statehood possibly provided the Harappan Civilization its distinctive cultural form."
There is a dearth of ancient Indus-based fiction in English; there are even fewer works in Hindi or Urdu. Yakoob Yawar's Dilmun is among the very few exceptions (indeed, it was the second novel ever to be set in the ancient Indus civilization, 50 years after the Hindi Murdon ka Teela by Rangeya Raghava).
Once in a while a book comes along that so radically shifts your perspective and ways of thinking about a complex subject that it can only be called breathtaking. Against the Grain A Deep History of the Earliest States (2017), by Yale Agrarian Studies Professor James C. Scott is one such book.