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.

A recent publication by the South Asia Research Group at Kansai University in Japan that includes detailed essays covering a general picture of Indus research today (by Akinori Uesugi), Indus civilization in the Ghaggar Basin (Vivek Dangi) , Indus archaeology in Gujarat (Rajesh S.V.), steatite style variations between Gujarat and the Ghaggar-Hakra Basin (Gregg Jamison) and Indus copper wares (Takekazu Nagae).

A convincing if speculative attempt to bring together a variety of insights from kinship theory and the peculiar nature of recently discovered material remains in Gujarat to offer a theory of how these so-called ‘Sorath’ and ‘Sindhi’ Harappan settlements were peopled.

"Lazurite - the constituent of lapis lazuli that gives the rock its blue color - is a rare mineral in nature," writes Randall Law, and there is likely to have been only one source in the region during ancient times, the Badakhshan mines in Afghanistan.

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.

"Recent discoveries of Indus and Indus related materials at sites in the interior, and a general reassessment of comparable materials throughout Oman, suggest a more complex model of
interaction. . . these artefacts probably reflect the presence of small groups of Indus merchants and craftspeople integrated into local communities and directly involved with important socioeconomic activities."

A must-read paper. Dennys Frenez classifies and nicely illustrates recent finds in the Oman Peninsula connecting it to the Indus civilization in multiple ways.

"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.

It is really nice in a paper to be able to speak both of what is happening now, at the cutting-edge of bead and shell-making Indus craftsmanship and continuing discoveries, and be able to relate each tradition back to its earliest appearance in the subcontinent and elsewhere.

The least excavated of the five large known ancient Indus cities – Mohenjo-daro and Dholavira, Harappa and Rakigarhi – is Ganweriwala, discovered in the late 1980s by Rafique Mughal. Deep in the desert, far from towns and close to the Indian border, it is hardly written about.


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