Cultures and Societies of the Indus Tradition

Above: Burial at Harappa

A refutation of some of the so-called "factoids" about the ancient Indus Civilization, from an Aryan invasion to the violent overrunning of Mohenjo-daro in an essay that describes the various cultural and societal systems that underlie this Bronze Age culture.


For most of human history, the only record of cultural development is derived from the archaeological record. This record is incomplete and fragmentary. It is not a clear document that can be interpreted without careful analysis and qualification. While the popular literature is filled with statements about ancient discoveries and the meaning of these finds, serious archaeologists are often much more cautious when making interpretations about the meaning of specific finds. Even when archaeologists do make qualified interpretive statements, they are often modified in later publications as more data is recovered from excavations. Unfortunately, the general public rarely follows the rapidly changing field of archaeological studies, and the earlier interpretations often find their way into the popular press to become what can be called “factoids.” “A factoid is a speculation or guess that has been repeated so often that it is eventually taken for hard fact” (Yoffee 2005). The concept of an “Aryan” race is one example of a “factoid”. The term “Aryan” is derived from the term “ärya” purandara - “fort-destroyer”. In describing the skeletal remains found at Mohenjo-Daro, he assumed that the individuals died violent deaths and that the absence of skeletons in the citadel areas of the site was due to the fact that invaders cleared this area to live in after sacking the city.