Shell Industries at Moenjodaro, Pakistan

Complete raw shell Turbinella pyrum (right and left) and a pile of unfinished shell bangles (center)

For many years, archaeologists studying the Indus Civi­lization have concentrated on the major features of pottery, architecture and the enigmatic Indus script, giving only passing attention to the numerous varieties of "minor" artifacts. Among the most common of these "mi­nor" artifacts are fragments of marine shell ornaments, utensils and manufacturing wasters. The deemphasis of shell artifacts is entirely unjustifiable in view of the fact that, after terra cotta and stone, shell is one of the most durable materials found in the archaeological context. Because of their durability, shell artifacts are among the few objects that have survived to help us reconstruct the ancient trade networks within the Indus valley, as well as between the Indus valley and adjacent regions.