Case Studies from the Near East, Egypt, the Aegean, and South Asia

Finally, the book we have long – decades, in fact – been waiting for, a comprehensive view of seals and sealings in the ancient world, from the Mediterranean to the Indus Valley. This has been essential because, as the authors argue from the very start, seals were social objects.

An exceptional, beautifully illustrated book of over 200 pieces in the Japanese Katolec Corporation collection of pottery and associated art of the pre- and contemporary to ancient Indus Nal and Kulli cultures of the 3rd millennium BCE Balochistan. The photography is excellent, the specimens extraordinary.

A recent paper by the late Iravatham Mahadevan and his collaborator M.V. Bhaskar looks at signs in the Indus script that can be related to physical features in the landscape, and how this might play out in terms of interpreting them. A number of interpretations seem to fit together nicely.

"Fish remains from archaeological sites have the capacity to offer a tremendous amount of information on social issues in addition to the more traditional goals of subsistence studies related to procurement strategies and seasonality," writes the author.

Iravatham Mahadevan, India's leading expert on the Indus script, and Padmashri award winner (2009), sadly passed away on Monday in Chennai. He was 89. His contributions towards the understanding of early Indian and Tamil scripts were unparalleled; he was also an extremely generous contributor to, one whose scholarship was widely recognized internationally.

Shereen Ratnagar is one of the most important theoreticians of the Indus valley civilization and its archaeological practice. Book reviewer and author, Sudeshna Guha notes in her review of Early State Perspectives, "Through her earlier research, Ratnagar had shown that the political system of statehood possibly provided the Harappan Civilization its distinctive cultural form."

A personal reflection by Richard H. Meadow, Co-Director of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project, on working with Mark Kenoyer for over 30 years.

Although much about Indus seals remains unknown, the steady application of rigorous, detailed analysis of a kind that earlier excavators could hardly dream of is slowly yielding clues and insights into the organization of work and craft in Indus cities.

Another important summary paper by Paolo Biagi reprises all the discoveries made by Italian teams in Sindh and Balochistan that have upended our understanding of pre and neighbouring areas to the Indus civilization.

The Indus civilization is in so many ways a puzzle wrapped in another puzzle. One of the most challenging with respect to seals are the terracotta seals of the adjacent and contemporaneous Ahar Banas culture.


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