It seems to be an adage around the ancient Indus research that solving one mystery simply surfaces another. This is the case with this paper. It takes on the question of ground – land – transportation in ancient Indus times only to find that larger answers around transport remain fuzzy.
The author brings together a great deal of information to argue that "inscribed stamp-seals were primarily used for enforcing certain rules involving taxation, trade/craft control, commodity control and access control," and in relating stamp seals and tablets, that "such tablets were possibly trade/craft/commodity-specific licenses issued to tax-collectors, traders, and artisans," (p. 1).
Whether or not the ancient Indus civilization was peaceful or not has intrigued a number of scholars and led to books like Jane McIntosh's A Peaceful Realm (2001). The apparent lack of weaponry and depictions of warfare, possibly ideas on the supposed egalitarianism of Indus civilization have led to a preponderance of this hypothesis.
A careful look at one of the least studied forms of Indus writing. "The painting of script on pottery. Painting script requires a specially prepared brush that could have been the same as that used for decorating pottery, but would have been selected to have the appropriate size and shape for the size of the script being painted."
This thoughtful and enlightening paper starts with a clear statement of the writer's point-of-view: "On the other hand, to keep writing that Indus society in the 3rd millennium BC was uniform, acephalous, egalitarian and classless, that it was not a state, that its people rejected violence, elites
A technical paper which rewards the follower with valuable insights and serves, on a platter as it were, some complex puzzles in Indus iconography for further cogitation to the reader.
A comprehensive look at what we know about agricultural strategies during the ancient Indus period, and how truly varied and sophisticated these most likely were, with careful adaptation to local conditions and water availability.
A superb framing of how we might think of the Indus civilization and its evolution as a larger entity in comparison and contrast with other ancient civilizations. How did Indus cities fit into a rural context? Were they ruled by elites? How did they manage to survive so long?
Dr. Guha goes through the epistemology governing each period's research and framing of the Indus Civilization with respect to those civilizations around, and those closer to home.
"In spite of the challenges that face bioarchaeological research in South Asia, the results obtained from the investigations of the past 30 years have revolutionized our understanding of the peoples of the ancient Indus Valley, providing contemporary, scientifically informed interpretations from skeletal collections that were often collected decades ago."