A rare article looking in detail at something archaeologists usually do not focus on, but was and is of immense importance in art and human experience. Ancient Balochistan before the Indus period was known for some of the most vibrant colour pottery in South Asia.
This comprehensive look at the development of the Indus script makes a clear and cogent case that its origins likely can be traced to the pre and post-firing graffiti marks found on pottery throughout the region.
"Illegal excavations and looting of archaeological sites in parts of the Indo-Iranian borderlands and regions of South- Eastern Iran and Central Asia have been rampant over several decades. Archaeologists have attempted to minimise the damage caused by the plundering of sites by studying and publishing artefacts abandoned by looters on-site, or those recovered by security forces," write the authors.
"What were the limits of the known world to the people that inhabited this region during the long prehistory for which we have evidence? What changes did they and their successors experience? What more can we say about the lure of distant lands?"
"It has become clear that Balochistan can neither be perceived as a border nor as a frontier; but rather as a core area with its own dynamics and characterised by regionally distinctive styles."
"The scope of this paper is to update and discuss the available evidence for prehistoric fishing along the Arabian Sea coasts of the Sultanate of Oman, Las Bela and Sindh in Pakistan," write the authors. By prehistoric they mean going back to at least the 7th millennium BCE (7000-6000 BCE).
It has really only been since the 1980s that a more comprehensive picture of the wide and deep roots of Indus civilization in the larger Sindh and Balochistan region have become apparent. Mehrgarh did not spring out of nowhere but was embedded in a region where fishing, shell collecting, flint mining and other crafts were present and flourishing at different times.
"Lazurite - the constituent of lapis lazuli that gives the rock its blue color - is a rare mineral in nature," writes Randall Law, and there is likely to have been only one source in the region during ancient times, the Badakhshan mines in Afghanistan.
Another important summary paper by Paolo Biagi reprises all the discoveries made by Italian teams in Sindh and Balochistan that have upended our understanding of pre and neighbouring areas to the Indus civilization.