An interesting series of reflections on how we have viewed the ancient Indus through the prism of whatever archaeological priorities or worldviews were in fashion then, and how the evidence, slowly, can push against these preconceptions.
So much attention has been focused on seals, that we sometimes forget that sealings was their most prosaic and basic function: making impressions on clay or other humble materials to perform some sort of basic administrative functions.
Etched carnelian beads are a hallmark of the Harappan phase and copies of them in different materials are found during this period illustrating their value to the people of the Indus Valley Civilization. Examples of this bead type have also been found in Mesopotamia, Iran and the Gulf and it is believed now that all of these may have been manufactured in the Indus Valley.
A visit to the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi gave me the opportunity to take close shots of four seals from Mohenjo-daro. They show both the exquisite workmanship of Indus craftsmen and the merciless wear, in different degrees, of four thousand years of history.
What did ancient Indus people eat? What kind of crops did they grow? What did they cook? How might these things differ by city, town and region? To even get close to answering these questions, one needs a "a systematic collation of all primary published macrobotanical data, regardless of their designation as ‘crop’, ‘fully domesticated’ or ‘wild/weedy’ species," writes author Jennifer Bates.
An excellent recent (2019) summary of what we know about ancient Indus foods that were, likely and speculatively, derived from plant resources, and what implications these diverse discoveries over the years have for our understanding of ancient Indus society.
Ancient Indus research is constrained by a shortage of funds. One of the longest lasting, most successful projects has been the Harappa Archaeological Research Project (HARP), run by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Harvard University and New York University since 1986.
On a visit earlier in 2019 to the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi, an iPhone camera was a welcome companion in trying to bring out something of the character of Indus figurines resident within the large glass vitrines.
There are at least 18 examples of a "human and tiger" motif in Indus glyptic art. This short paper by one of the most prolific writers on ancient Indus themes, the late Dr. Gregory Possehl, wonders how we might read this visual artifact.
A judicious review of the evidence for trade between the ancient Indus and Mesopotamia, with a focus on prestige objects like carnelian beads and shell bangles and the implications and questions we may draw from them about the nature of the connections between both civilizations.