Archaeologists in the past have often worked hard to attract media attention. Heinrich Schliemann, Augustus Pitt Rivers, John Evans, Flinders Petrie have all demonstrated the extent to which archaeological finds can be romanticized and glorified through announcements of sensational discoveries. We only need to look at a few back issues of The Illustrated London News, or The National Geographic to see the ways in which such publicity campaigns have been established. For Marshall, the finds of the Indus Civilisaton presented a chance to sensationalise an ‘archaeological discovery’ from India. He was quick to announce that “not often has it been given to archaeologists, as it was given to Schliemann at Tiryans and Mycaenae, or to Stein in the deserts of Turkestan, to light upon the remains of a long forgotten civilisation. It looks however, at this moment, we are on the threshold of such a discovery in the plains of the Indus” (1924, p. 528), and duly withheld the photographs that were taken during the excavations at Harappa and Mohenjodaro in 1921–1922 and 1922–1923 respectively, from the Indian press until his ‘official’ views were published.
Marshall’s ‘First Light on a Long-Forgotten Civilisation: New Discoveries of an Unknown Prehistoric Past in India’, in The Illustrated London News, was followed by an article, ‘New Links Between Indian and Babylonian Civilisations’ in the very next volume of the journal, which was authored by Sydney Smith and Cyril Gadd, then in the Egyptian and Assyrian Department of the British Museum. The latter were the first scholars to propose the possibility of a culture-contact between the inhabitants of the Greater Indus Valley and those of West Asia during the second millennium B.C. What merits notice, and this is discussed in detail elsewhere (Guha forthcoming), is the manner in which Gadd and Smith presented their hypothesis. They did this through photographs, using those that Marshall had published, which afforded them the only means of seeing what was unearthed at Harappa and Mohenjodaro.