In the summer of 2019, one of the warmest ever in Paris, I managed to slip one afternoon into the Musee Guimet, and click away on my iPhone at objects usually not seen in colour. This French national museum which contains one of the best collections of Asian Art in the world (as one collector of Indian art, Gursharan Sidhu once put it, the French taste in objects from India is second to none).
The eminent archaeologist George F. Dales (1927-1992, author of Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan: The Pottery) looks at a "creamy buff soft stone" sculpture, just under 10 centimeters in height, that he was shown and photographed in Afghanistan in the early 1970s.
A learned and detailed look at seals and seal types from the central Asia just north of Afghanistan, Afghanistan and western Iran in relationship to the ancient Indus valley seal types, and how different kinds of seals seem to have predominated at different times and in different places.
"Illegal excavations and looting of archaeological sites in parts of the Indo-Iranian borderlands and regions of South- Eastern Iran and Central Asia have been rampant over several decades. Archaeologists have attempted to minimise the damage caused by the plundering of sites by studying and publishing artefacts abandoned by looters on-site, or those recovered by security forces," write the authors.
"A small showcase of the Zahedan Museum keeps, among other finds, the fragmentary headless torso of a small statuette in a buff-grey limestone, with a strongly weathered surface. Without opening the showcase, I was allowed to take several pictures of the fragment, from various angles," writes the author.
"Correlating ancient textual sources with iconography and archaeological evidence in general is notoriously a controversial exercise, constantly carried out on endemically slippery grounds," writes the author at the very
An amazing catalogue of female figurines from Neolithic times across the world, in places connected and witness to constantly shifting populations. Beautifully illustrated, with focus on Mehrgarh and the Indus Valley pieces which are seen in connection to a long, sophisticated tradition.
"A wide range of Indus artefacts have been found over the past forty years at many coastal and inland sites in the Oman peninsula, including utilitarian and ritual pottery, ornaments, seals, weights and, more recently, terracotta toys for children," write the authors.
Was this disc from Mohenjo-daro at the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi used for counting? The circles with dots in the middle are identical to those found on other ivory objects from Mohenjo-daro thought to have been used as counters.
"What were the limits of the known world to the people that inhabited this region during the long prehistory for which we have evidence? What changes did they and their successors experience? What more can we say about the lure of distant lands?"