Associations and Ideologies in the Locations of Urban Craft Production at Harappa, Pakistan (Indus Civilization)

Bridging crafts - faience

In this article, Heather Miller explains how looking at craft production location with respect to civic organization provides insights into possible associations between crafts, as well as general Indus attitudes toward the placement of manufacturing within city centers.

She asserts that "There are several possible interpretations for these locational patterns, but all interpretations illustrate that craft production distribution sheds light on more than just control of production. Craft production location informs on the technical development of and links between various crafts, the structure of Harappan Phase cities in general, and the social relations of people within them." Based on evidence from Harappa excavations, we learn that during the Harappan Phase (2600–1900 calibrated B.C.), "the distribution and association of various crafts is related to the similarities between their manufacturing processes, particularly extractive-reductive versus pyrotechnologically transformative crafts. At Harappa, working areas for reductive crafts such as lithic- and shell-working were usually located together, while those for pyrotechnological crafts such as metals and pottery production were typically isolated from other crafts. Production areas for bridging crafts like talc/steatite and faience production, which have both reductive and high heating stages, were located both in isolated working areas and in association with reductive crafts."

Her conclusion, pending substantiation from other sites, is that: "There is no evidence that these patterns are based on control of organization by nonproducer elites...other factors seem much more important in determining Harappan Phase craft production locations...such factors include the requirements of the production process, the relations among the producers, and the value of the goods and hence the likely consumer."