A rare article looking in detail at something archaeologists usually do not focus on, but was and is of immense importance in art and human experience. Ancient Balochistan before the Indus period was known for some of the most vibrant colour pottery in South Asia.
The Marshall Albums: Photography and Archaeology by Sudeshna Guha
This volume explores multiple perceptions of Indian history and scholarship produced through archaeological fieldwork and related photography during the colonial period. The focus is on John Marshall, the man who really made the Archaeological Survey of India the formidable player it became in the reconstruction and preservation of Indian history. He announced and fostered the discovery of the ancient Indus civilization, even as the hard work on the ground was done by a handful of Indian archaeologists.
"Geologically speaking," write the authors, "agate is not a particularly uncommon rock . . .. However, good agate – i.e, that which ancient lapidaries would have found suitable for beadmaking – is not widely available. Nodules of the size and quality required to make Harappan-style long-barrel carnelian beads are, in fact, extremely rare" (p. 177).
An exceptionally interesting, data-driven paper that suggests much was unique about the ancient Indus weight system: "To determine how different units of weight emerged in different regions, researchers compared all the weight systems in use between Western Europe and the Indus Valley from 3,000-1,000 BC."
An Indian State Railways brochure advertising Mohenjo-daro from approximately 1935. With the full text of the brochure (figures, captions charts and images): "Until quite recently, India's wonderful and varied history seemed to spring straight out of nothingness—like the warriors that sprang full-armed from the dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus."
"The valleys of Kashmir and Swat in the Western Himalayan-Hindu Kush regions of India and Pakistan are home to an important prehistoric cultural complex beginning at around 5000 BP, loosely grouped as the “Northern Neolithic” (Coningham and Young, 2015), especially characterised by a rich agricultural tradition."
Jean-Francois Jarrige (1940-2014) and his wife Catherine (b. 1942) were two of the most important archaeologists in the South Asian region, whose excavations at Mehrgarh, the site in Balochistan which predates the ancient Indus civilization by thousands of years, helped determine how far back the development of various traditions found in that and other regional civilizations actually reached.
A succinct summary of some of the features and nature of the ancient Indus script by three Indian scholars who have spent a great part of their careers investigating it. Presented at the International Conference on Indus Script at Mohenjo Daro in January 2020, points are listed as clear statements that can help others puzzled by the script, or who wish to attempt or consider other approaches to "deciphering" the script.
A superb chapter from Cambridge Histories Online of the very complicated development of agriculture in the subcontinent, which is really the story of four different developments, in the northwest (including the Indus valley), north (the Gangetic plains), south and east, each with different timelines, crops and animal husbandry to account for.
The ground-breaking Two Rains Project centered at Cambridge University is presenting a 7 event conference across 7 weeks online.