A richly illustrated slide journey through seals and sealings, how and why they were used in other ancient civilizations, and primarily what we might know and deduce about their use in ancient Indus cities. Dennys Frenez has been studying a large group of accidentally fired Lothal sealings for many years, and is joined by other distinguished archaeologists in what was originally a symposium on bead and seal technologies at the University of Padua, Italy, in 2019.
A provocative paper which claims that "the Indus civilization reveals that a ruling class is not a prerequisite for social complexity" (p. 1). The author, who is at Cambridge University where he has long been involved with the groundbreaking Two Rains project, starts with John Marshall and other
"The contexts of script and changes in the writing over time indicate that the Indus script was versatile and that it was probably used to communicate complex ideas as well as multiple languages.
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.
"This chapter [in the forthcoming book Pratnamani: Felicitation Volume for Professor Vasant Shinde, 2020] explores previously reported variation in the mortuary practices of two Indus cities—Rakhigarhi and Harappa—to describe the typical range of variation for Indus cemeteries," writes the author.
"The theme of this volume has forced us to consider and grapple with what activities occur at night and how that can be applicable to the archaeological record of the Indus civilization. In doing so we have focused on water and sewage system maintenance, a traditional nighttime activity of the modern world, to demonstrate how the common spaces and activities of maintenance would have constructed a shared sense of belonging for participants and/or imposed shared identities upon them by outside viewers," write the authors.
Although cemeteries and burial analysis of Indus peoples is sparse, the authors write, "however, important insights have been gleaned from available mortuary populations. Previous morphological and strontium isotope studies of skeletal material at the sites of Harappa and Lothal suggest residence change may have been common for certain individuals and that increased mobility facilitated gene flow with hinterland groups."
A comprehensive and important paper that actually takes on the much larger question of Mesopotamian to Indus influence which animated the work of earlier archaeologists. Clark discusses so-called "Harappan courtiers," figurines with tiaras and flower headresses that are thought to have parallels with Mesopotamian artifacts, particularly the royal burial goods of Queen Puabi.
An excellent distillation of where we stand to the "Bronze" in the Bronze Age Indus Civilization. "Besides clay," writes the author, "there is no other raw material that Indus craftspeople worked into such a diversity of forms and types of artifacts."