"A small showcase of the Zahedan Museum keeps, among other finds, the fragmentary headless torso of a small statuette in a buff-grey limestone, with a strongly weathered surface. Without opening the showcase, I was allowed to take several pictures of the fragment, from various angles," writes the author.
Articles on the evolution, growth and decline of urbanity and fluctuations or changes in over time within the ancient Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization and its antecedents.
"Correlating ancient textual sources with iconography and archaeological evidence in general is notoriously a controversial exercise, constantly carried out on endemically slippery grounds," writes the author at the very start.
"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 apparently sudden appearance of Indus-type seals, pottery and other implements around 2000 BCE in the Arabian Gulf, just before the Indus cities and culture seems to have gone into decline, is a great mystery.
"In the study of the archaeology of early complex societies in archaeology three questions concerning power are of interest: (1) Who had power? (2) Why did they have power? And (3) How was power exercised? "
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.
The authors take on the complex question of how Harappan or Indus culture made its presence felt in Gujarat from about the middle of the third millennium through the decline of Indus civilization six or seven hundred years later. How did Indus traditions as expressed in material culture and the manufacture of these objects relate to what we see in Indus cities like Mohenjo-daro and Harappa?
The relationship between ancient Indus centers - which we know best and consider a hallmark of the civilization - and the vast rural "hinterland" that surrounded them is the subject of this lucid paper.
"The recognition of variation and diversity [in the ancient Indus civilization] has encouraged a gradual, though not universally accepted, shift toward the interpretation that certain categories of Indus material acted as ‘a veneer… overlying diverse local and regional cultural expressions'," write the authors.