Hinduism Indus Civilization
by
Asko Parpola
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 February 2022
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399318-0249

Introduction

The Harappan or Indus civilization was the world’s most extensive urban culture when it flourished in Pakistan and western India from 2600 to 1900 BCE. Yet its very existence was unknown until its discovery was announced in 1924. The great sensation enabled large-scale excavations at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. They did not reveal impressive palaces and temples with monumental statues and inscriptions characteristic of the older Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. A different kind of urban culture came into view, one that was more egalitarian and rather invested in civic amenities such as wells and drains. Warfare is less in evidence. The economy was based on agriculture, animal husbandry, and trade. Among the crafts, the bead industry developed effective micro-drilling and produced jewelry much coveted in foreign markets. Cuneiform documents tell about Mesopotamia’s sea trade with the foreign countries Dilmun (Failaka and Bahrain), Magan (Oman), and Meluhha (Indus), and provide the few historical data available. There is also clear archaeological evidence for Harappan presence in Mesopotamia, the Gulf, and the Oman Peninsula. The Harappans were also in contact with Central Asia, including its “Oxus civilization.” Besides standardized weights and measures as instruments of administration, the Indus civilization created its own unique script, preserved in thousands of very short texts. Hard obstacles to decipherment include the absence of bilinguals that usually have provided the key to unknown ancient scripts. This “unsolved mystery” remains one of the main fascinations of the Indus civilization. Due to the lack of such abundant textual sources as are available in Mesopotamia and Egypt, there is no exact information about history, society, language, and religion. The few small-scale sculptures, numerous terracotta figurines, and the iconography of Indus seals and tablets are the principal sources for the study of the Indus religion. A century of archaeological research has clarified the development of the Indus civilization: from the Neolithic (7000–5500 BCE) through the Early Harappan (5500–2600 BCE) and Transition (2600–2500 BCE) phases to the Harappan (2500–1900 BCE) and Late Harappan (1900–1300 BCE) phases. The decline of the Indus civilization had multiple causes, among them climate change and the arrival of immigrants from Central Asia. This involves the controversial “Aryan problem.” According to the now widely accepted view, the Indo-Aryan language of the Vedas is derived from Proto-Indo-European spoken in southeastern Europe, coming via the intervening steppes to India in the second millennium BCE. Against this is the nationalistic and in India politically supported view that Indo-Aryan is of native South Asian origin and that it was the language of the Indus civilization.

Overviews

Possehl 2002 is an excellent summation, based on the author’s lifelong work on the archaeology of the Indus civilization and several extensive publications (see Article Collections; History of Discovery; Chronology; Early Harappan; Excavation Reports of Harappan Sites; Geography, Resources, Environment, and Climate; Religion; Indus Script; Decline of the Indus Civilization and Late/Post-Urban Harappan; Late/Post-Urban Harappan Sites; Bibliographies). McIntosh 2008 is a clear, comprehensive, and easily read account of the Indus civilization by a non-Indus archaeologist. Robinson 2015 offers a concise introduction to the tantalizing civilization by a very experienced science writer. Ratnagar 2006 aims at presenting clearly the salient aspects of the Indus civilization without technicalities. Wright 2010 is a comprehensive and more detailed overview by an Indus archaeologist, focusing on complexities of an agro-pastoral and craft-producing economy. Lal 1997 is the summation of India’s most senior archaeologist, who led the excavations of Kalibangan. Wheeler 1968 is a dated but still valuable summary of the Indus knowledge fifty years ago. Allchin and Allchin 1982, Singh 2008, and Coningham and Young 2015 describe the Indus civilization in the context of South Asian prehistory at large. It is advisable to consult these overviews on any aspect of the Indus civilization besides the specialized studies listed further on; on some topics, for instance religion, the individual authors may offer divergent views, which are worth knowing.

  • Allchin, Bridget, and Raymond Allchin. The Rise of Civilization in India and Pakistan. Cambridge World Archaeology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

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    xiv, 379 pp., ill., index. Indus civilization, its antecedents, legacy, and aftermath on pp. 97–297.

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  • Coningham, Robin, and Ruth Young. The Archaeology of South Asia: From the Indus to Asoka, c. 6500 BCE–200 CE. Cambridge World Archaeology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781139020633Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    xxi, 533 pp., ill., maps, bibl., index. Pages 103–278 deal with the Indus civilization, its predecessors, and its aftermath.

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  • Lal, B. B. The Earliest Civilization of South Asia (Rise, Maturity and Decline). New Delhi: Aryan Books International, 1997.

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    xxi, 308 pp., 56 pl., 75 maps and figs., index. Focus on antecedents, main sites, and economy with arts and crafts.

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  • McIntosh, Jane R. The Ancient Indus Valley: New Perspectives. Understanding Ancient Civilizations. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio, 2008.

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    xv, 441 pp., ill., 5 maps, bibl., index. A very readable, clear and comprehensive description of the Indus civilization. After taking her PhD in 1982 with a thesis on South Indian megaliths, McIntosh has professionally written many archaeological books for the general public—on archaeological practice, on the Indus civilization, on ancient Mesopotamia, and on ancient Europe. Indus archaeologists are critical of the book for inaccuracies of the kind pointed out by J. M. Kenoyer in his review of McIntosh’s earlier book on the Indus civilization, A Peaceful Realm (2002), in Asian Perspectives 42.3 (2003): 376–380.

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  • Possehl, Gregory L. The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press, 2002.

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    xi, 276 pp., ill., maps, index. Readily accessible, well-informed book with good illustrations and maps.

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  • Ratnagar, Shereen. Understanding Harappa Civilization in the Greater Indus Valley. 2d ed. New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2006.

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    x, 165 pp., ill., maps. Short introduction avoiding technicalities and concentrating on main issues.

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  • Robinson, Andrew. The Indus. Lost Civilizations. London: Reaktion Books, 2015.

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    208 pp., 78 ill. Includes a critical assessment of recent hypotheses concerning Indus religion and script. The author has published many books on the early scripts and their decipherment.

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  • Singh, Upinder. A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th century. Delhi: Pearson Longman, 2008.

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    xxvii, 677 pp., more than 350 photos, maps and sketches, bibl., index. A highly readable and well informed university textbook. Indus civilization on pp. 132–181.

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  • Wheeler, Mortimer. The Indus Civilization. Supplementary volume to the Cambridge History of India. 3d ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1968.

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    xi, 144 pp., 34 pl., index. Concise presentation of data, partly still relevant after half a century, partly quite outdated.

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  • Wright, Rita P. The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society. Case studies in early societies. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

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    xix, 396 pp., ill. A fairly recent account of the Indus civilization by an experienced Indus archaeologist. The author gives most attention to her own field of study—the village sites of the Beas River valley and their relation with the city of Harappa, including the socioeconomic questions.

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Visual Overviews

Kenoyer 1998 is a fundamental presentation of the Indus civilization by one of its very best experts, with a good number of illustrations, part of which constitute an exhibition catalogue. Jansen, et al. 1991 contains important essays on various aspects of the Indus civilization combined with well-chosen photographs and other illustrations, including artifacts exhibited in Germany and France. Kondo 2000 is yet another catalogue, of an exhibition held in Japan, with excellent photographs of various artifacts. Aruz 2003 provides a superb up-to-date textual and visual overview of the third millennium world contemporary with the Indus civilization, which is presented in the book by J. M. Kenoyer (pp. 376–413). Though dated, one should not forget Wheeler 1966, which once provided the best visual overview of the Indus civilization.

  • Aruz, Joan, ed. Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B. C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003.

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    xxiv, 540 pp., ill., bibl., index, maps. Uruk. The early city states of Mesopotamia. Syria (Mari and Ebla). The Akkadian Empire. Egypt. The Aegean. Anatolia. North Caucasus. The Gulf. Central Asia (Altyn Depe and Gonur). The Indus civilization.

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  • Jansen, Michael, Máire Mulloy, and Günter Urban, eds. Forgotten Cities on the Indus: Early Civilization in Pakistan from the 8th to the 2nd Millennium B.C. Mainz, Germany: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1991.

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    xii, 259 pp., ill. Twenty-two papers on different aspects of the Indus civilization, with excellent photos.

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  • Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark. Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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    260 pp., ill., bibl., index. Introduction. Origins of urban society. Indus cities, towns and villages. The Indus script and its uses. Rulers and traders of the Indus cities. Religious art and symbols. People and professions. Technology and crafts. Decline and legacy of the Indus cities.

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  • Kondo, Hideo, ed. Indus Civilization Exhibition, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, 5th August – 3rd December, 2000. Tokyo: NHK [Nippon Hoso Kyokai, Japanese Broadcasting Corporation] & NHK Promotions, 2000.

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    216 pp., ill. Three short introductory essays on the Indus civilization (pp. 18–32), comments on the 838 exhibits illustrated in the book (pp. 182–199), list of the exhibits (description, site, material, size, museum, pp. 200–214).

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  • Wheeler, Mortimer. Civilizations of the Indus Valley and Beyond. London: Thames & Hudson, 1966.

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    144 pp., 23 col. pl., 121 bw ill. After the Indus civilization (pp. 11–83) and its aftermath (pp. 84–92), Wheeler deals with the Ganges Basin, the North-West Frontier, and with eastern, central, and southern India of early historical times.

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History of Discovery

Cunningham 1875 reports on the first excavations at the Indus civilization’s type site Harappa, including the discovery of the first known Indus seal with an inscription and the image of a “unicorn” bull. Marshall 1924 is the first public announcement of the discovery of the Indus civilization. Lahiri 2005 relates the full discovery history, from visits to Harappa before Cunningham’s excavations until Marshall’s announcement in 1924 and its immediate aftermath. Possehl 1999 continues the history of recovering the forgotten civilization to the end of the 20th century.

Chronology and Developmental Phases

The subsection Chronology deals with the radiocarbon dates and the periodization of the Indus civilization and the associated archaeological cultures. In the following subsections, the developmental phases will be referred to as Neolithic, Early Harappan, Transition, Harappan (earlier often Mature Harappan) and Late Harappan. Another terminology is also in use: Early Food-Producing Era (= Neolithic), Regionalization Era (= Early Harappan), Integration Era (= Harappan) and Localization Era (= Late Harappan). Initially, Early Harappan was restricted to the Kot Diji culture (2800–2600 BCE), then extended to include the Ravi Phase at Harappa (3500–2800 BCE). Now Early Harappan is understood to comprise all the Chalcolithic and Bronze Age cultures preceding the Harappan period.

Chronology

Shaffer 1992 is basic for the chronology and developmental phases of the Neolithic, Early Harappan, Harappan, and Late Harappan cultures. Possehl 1993 is another authoritative study of the Indus chronology. See also Possehl 2002 (cited under Overviews), pp. 23–88. The most up-to-date discussion of the Indus chronology is Kenoyer 2015.

  • Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark. “The Archaeological Heritage of Pakistan: From the Palaeolithic to the Indus Civilization.” In A History of Pakistan. Edited by Roger D. Long, 1–90. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2015.

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    The most recent comprehensive chronology of the Indus civilization and the cultures preceding it.

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  • Possehl, Gregory L. “The Date of the Indus Urbanisation: A Proposed Chronology for the Pre-Urban and Urban Harappan Phases.” In South Asian Archaeology 1991. Edited by Adalbert J. Gail and Gerd J. R. Mevissen, 231–249. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1993.

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    Six tables of radiocarbon dates for the various cultural phases, arranged according to the relevant sites, and four maps of the sites with their dates.

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  • Shaffer, Jim G. “The Indus Valley, Baluchistan and Helmand Traditions: Neolithic Through Bronze Age.” In Chronologies in Old World Archaeology. 2d ed. Edited by Robert W. Ehrich, 441–464, 425–446. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

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    Overview, map, comparative stratigraphies, radiocarbon dates, references.

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Neolithic and the Site of Mehrgarh

Aceramic Neolithic culture has been found in the Greater Indus Valley only at Mehrgarh. It is possible that the occupation of Kili Ghul Mohammad in the Quetta Valley also starts with aceramic Neolithic, but this is uncertain due to the very small area of excavation. Mehrgarh, occupied continuously from the 8th millennium to 1900 BCE, (Periods I–VIII) has given the backbone for the chronology and periodization of the Greater Indus Valley.

Mehrgarh

Located on the Kachi Plain near the Bolan Pass (leading from the Baluchistan highlands to the plains of the Indus Valley). Periods: I (Kili Ghul Mohammad,) II (Basket marked pottery), III (Togau), IV (Kechi Beg), V–VI (Faiz Mohammad, Nal, Quetta wet ware), VII (Kot Diji), VIII (BMAC/Oxus Civilization.) The sequence is complemented at the nearby site of Nausharo (see Transition), where Period I corresponds to Mehrgarh VII, Period II to Transition, and Period III to Harappan, while the also nearby sites of Sibri and Dauda Damb correspond to Mehrgarh VIII. Size: More than 300 hectares. Jarrige, et al. 1995 and Jarrige, et al. 2013 encompass the excavations in 1974–1985 and 1997–2000, respectively.

  • Jarrige, Catherine, Jean-François Jarrige, Richard H. Meadow, and Gonzague Quivron, eds. Mehrgarh Field Reports 1974–1985: From Neolithic Times to the Indus Civilization. The Reports of Eleven Seasons of Excavations in Kachi District, Balochistan, by the French Archaeological Mission to Pakistan. Karachi: Department of Culture and Tourism, Government of Sindh, Pakistan, 1995.

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    688 pp., 368 figs., bibl. In addition to the seasonal reports and their illustrations, there is a long summarizing introduction (in French and in English) by J.-F. Jarrige (pp. 1–103), and five specialist studies on shell trade and shell working, bone tool industry, functional analysis of flints of different periods, the production technology of the early pottery, and fine ware traditions at Mehrgarh.

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  • Jarrige, Jean-François, Catherine Jarrige, and Gonzague Quivron. Mehrgarh, Pakistan: Neolithic Period—Seasons 1997–2000. With an appendix by Luc Wengler. With the collaboration of David Sarmiento Castillo. Mémoirs des Missions Archéologiques Françaises en Asie Centrale et en Asie Moyenne, tome XV. Série Indus-Balochistan. Paris: Mission Archéologique de l’Indus & Éditions de Boccard, 2013.

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    490 pp., 364 figs., 35 pl. The resumption of the excavations at Mehrgarh (pp. 14–21). Reports of the four last seasons (pp. 22–105). The Early Neolithic period: An overview (pp. 106–159). Illustrations (pp. 160–454). Appendix: Étude de l’environnement sédimentologique et géologique du nord de la plaine de Kachi (pp. 456–490).

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Early Harappan

Mughal 1970 pointed out that many of the characteristic features of the Indus civilization were already present in the Kot Diji culture that preceded it in the Indus Valley and northern Baluchistan. There is hence a clear cultural continuity from an “Early Harappan” culture to the Indus civilization or “(Mature) Harappan” culture. In the case of such a clear continuity, Mughal’s term “Early Harappan” is preferable to the earlier widely used term “Pre-Harappan,” which merely indicates chronological precedence, but may also be misinterpreted to indicate discontinuity. While “Early Harappan” originally was restricted to the Kot Diji culture, it was at first extended to comprise cultures of the Greater Indus Valley dated to c. 3500–2600 BCE. These can be divided into several regional varieties: Kech-Makran in the coastal region of Baluchistan, Damb Sadaat around the Quetta Valley in Baluchistan, Nal-Amri in Baluchistan and lower Sindh, and Kutch, Kot Diji in the Indus Valley, Cholistan, northern Baluchistan and the Swat Valley, and western Punjab, and Sothi-Siswal in the eastern Punjab and Rajasthan. Eventually the term “Early Harappan” was extended to comprise all the post-Neolithic early farming cultures of the Greater Indus Valley of the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age preceding the Indus civilization, corresponding to Mehrgarh Periods II–VII. Possehl 1999 is an excellent summation of these developmental phases, including detailed comprehensive distribution maps with names of the settlements, site sizes, radiocarbon dates, and references. Possehl 2002 (cited under Overviews) gives a summary on pp. 23–54. Khan, et al. 2010 (under Sheri Khan Tarakai), pp. 7–28, also gives an excellent more recent overview of the early village cultures, written with the historical perspective of progressing research.

  • Mughal, Mohammad Rafique. “The Early Harappan period in the Greater Indus Valley and Northern Baluchistan (c. 3000–2400 B.C.).” PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1970.

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    xlii, 383 pp., 17 figs., 14 tables. Harappan-like features already present in the Kot Diji culture include towns built along rivers, a wall around the town, the grid pattern of streets, standardized brick size (usually 10 x 20 x 30 cm), bullock carts (in terracotta models), stamp seals, human and animal figurines, triangular terracotta “cakes,” mass-produced plain pottery, and the “fish scales” and “intersecting circles” in painted pottery.

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  • Possehl, Gregory L. Indus Age: The Beginnings. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

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    xxxvi, 1063 pp., 380 figs., 97 tables, 197 pl. Introduction. History of discovery (pp. 11–154). Cultural geography: animals, plants, minerals, rivers, environment, subregions (pp. 155–392). The beginnings of the Indus Age—A very detailed description of the early farming cultures (pp. 393–725). Gazetteer of Sites of the Indus Age (pp. 727–835). Mineral localities (pp. 836–845). Bibliography (pp. 847–1025). Detailed table of contents (pp. 1027–1042), Index (pp. 1043–1063).

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Kot Diji

This small settlement in Sind is the type site of the Early Harappan Kot Diji culture. Periods: Kot Diji, Harappan. Size: 2.2 hectares. The 1957–1958 excavations are reported in Khan 1965.

Rehman Dheri

In the Gomal Valley, NW Pakistan. Periods: Kot Diji, Late Kot Diji. Size: 19 hectares. Excavations are reported in Durrani 1988; Durrani, et al. 1991; and Ali 1994–1995.

Lewan

In the Bannu Basin, NW Pakistan. Periods: Kechi Beg, Kot Diji, Late Kot Diji. Size: 14.6 hectares. Excavation reported in Allchin, et al. 1986.

  • Allchin, F. R., B. Allchin, F. A. Durrani, and M. F. Khan, eds. Lewan and the Bannu Basin: Excavation and Survey of Sites and Environments in North West Pakistan. BAR International Series 310. Oxford: Archaeopress, 1986.

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    7, ii, 284 pp., 57 figs., 20 sheets of pottery drawings (pp. 209–253). Geology and geomorphology of the Bannu Basin. Environment and subsistence in the Bannu Basin. The site of Lewan. The excavations. Archaeological sites in the Bannu Basin. Conclusion. Appendices 1–3.

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Sheri Khan Tarakai

In Bannu Basin, NW Pakistan. Periods: Togau and Hakra Ware (3800–2900 BCE). Size: 21 hectares. Excavations 1986–1990 at Sheri Khan Tarakai and some neighboring sites reported in Khan, et al. 2010.

  • Khan, F., J. R. Knox, K. D. Thomas, C. A. Petrie, and J. C. Morris. Sheri Khan Tarakai and Early Village Life in the Borderlands of North-West Pakistan. With contributions by C. R. Cartwright and L. Joyner. Edited by C. A. Petrie. Bannu Archaeological Project, Surveys and Excavations 1985–2001. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2010.

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    xxxi, 464 pp., 280 figs., 89 tables, bibl. Early village life on the NW borderlands and in the hills and on the plains of western South Asia. Physical and human geography of the Bannu Basin. The site of Sheri Khan Tarakai. Ceramics, lithics, small finds. Biological remains. Chronology. Other early village sites in the Bannu Basin and the Gomal plain. Petrographic and pigment analysis of pottery from NW Pakistan and other appendices.

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Harappa

In the western Punjab, Pakistan. Periods: Hakra/Ravi, Kot Diji, Transition, Harappan, Late Harappan/Cemetery H. Size: 100 hectares. The Ravi phase is described in Kenoyer and Meadow 2000.

  • Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark, and Richard H. Meadow. “The Ravi Phase: A New Cultural Manifestation at Harappa.” In South Asian Archaeology 1997. Vol. 1. Serie Orientale Roma 90.1. Edited by Maurizio Taddei and Giuseppe De Marco, 55–76. Rome: Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente, 2000.

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    The Early Harappan period at Harappa consists of the Ravi Phase (Period IA and 1B), 3300–2800 [now dated 3700–2800] BCE, and of the Kot Diji Phase (Period 2), 2800–2600 BCE. Both phases have been found on mounds E and AB. The paper describes the occupations, pottery and craft traditions, and the appearance of button seals with geometric motifs and incised graffiti marks resembling Indus script.

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Transition

A relatively short Transition period (c. 2600–2500 BCE) is attested between the Early Harappan and Harappan periods at some half a dozen sites (Amri, Ghazi Shah, Nausharo, Kunal, Banawali, Surkotada, Dholavira and Harappa). Several Early Harappan settlements have been destroyed by fire (Amri, Kot Diji, Gumla, Nausharo, Surkotada), while a Harappan town has been built anew at the same site. (See pp. 47–50 in Possehl 2002, cited under Overviews).

Amri

Site in lower Sindh. Periods: Nal-Amri, Transition, Harappan, Jhukar, Jhangar, Muslim. Size: 8 hectares. Casal 1964 reports his excavations at Amri in 1959–1962. Casal was the first archaeologist to note a Transition period between the Early Harappan and Harappan periods.

Nausharo

In Kachi Plain, Baluchistan, near Mehrgarh, Pirak and Nindowari. Periods: Late Quetta/Damb Sadaat III, Transition, Harappan, Pirak III. Size: 1.8 hectares. The excavations have been reported in Jarrige 1986–1988 and Jarrige 1989–1990.

Nindowari

Site in Pakistani Baluchistan. Periods: Kulli, Harappan. Size: 50 hectares. The Transition period coincides with the beginning of the Harappan maritime contact with the Gulf and Mesopotamia, and with the influence of the Kulli culture iconography upon the Harappan iconography: the motif of a bull tethered to a tree or to a stand in the Kulli pottery of the 26th century is the model of the Harappan painted pottery in Nausharo ID and of the “unicorn with a stand in front of it” in the Harappan seals. Jarrige, et al. 2011 is the principal publication on the Kulli culture, based on the so far unpublished records of the excavations at Nindowari.

  • Jarrige, Jean-François, Gonzague Quivron, and Catherine Jarrige. Nindowari, Pakistan: La culture de Kulli, ses origines et ses relations avec la civilisation de l’ Indus/The Kulli culture: Its origins and its relations with the Indus Civilization. Paris: Ginkgo Éditeur, 2011.

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    308 pp., ill. Bilingual (French and English translation) publication of J.-M. Casal’s 1962–1965 excavations at Nindowari, together with the publication and analysis of painted scenes on complete Kulli pots coming from several hundred graves looted in 1990–2010. The material is analyzed in penetrating essays.

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Harappa

In the western Punjab, Pakistan. Periods: Hakra/Ravi, Kot Diji, Transition, Harappan, Late Harappan/Cemetery H. Size: 100 hectares. The transition phase at Harappa is discussed in Kenoyer and Meadow 2016.

  • Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark, and Richard H. Meadow. “Excavations at Harappa, 1986–2010: New Insights on the Indus Civilization and Harappan Burial traditions.” In The Companion to South Asia in the Past. Blackwell Companions to Anthropology 31. Edited by Gwen Robbins Schug and Subhash R. Walimbe, 145–168. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2016.

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    This is the most recent discussion of the transition phase at Harappa.

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Excavation Reports of Harappan Sites

According to Shinde, et al. 2012–2013 (cited under Rakhigarhi), more than two thousand settlements of the Indus civilization have been identified so far. Only relatively few have been more or less thoroughly excavated. The reports of these excavations form the backbone of our sources concerning the Harappan culture. Harappa in the Punjab, Mohenjo-daro in Sindh, Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Kalibangan in Rajasthan, Ganweriwala in Cholistan, Dholavira in Kutch (Gujarat) and Lothal in Kathiawar (Gujarat) are the largest and/or most important so far identified. Excavation reports of some important Neolithic, Early and Late Harappan sites are cited under Neolithic and the site of Mehrgarh, Early Harappan, Transition, and Late/Post-Urban Harappan Sites. Possehl 1999 gives an extensive list of sites of all periods known by 1999.

  • Possehl, Gregory L. “Gazetteer of Sites of the Indus Age.” In Indus Age: The Beginnings. Edited by Gregory L. Possehl, 727–835. New Delhi: Oxford & IBH Publishing, 1999.

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    Arranged alphabetically after the site names, giving for each the following information: district, coordinates, occupation periods, bibliography, and size of the site in hectares.

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Principal Sites

This section comprises Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Chanhu-daro, Lothal, Kalibangan, Dholavira, Rakhigarhi, Ganweriwala, and Banawali. Some of these sites are not so large, but well known and important. For each site, its periods and size in hectares are mentioned first on the basis of Possehl 1999 (cited under Excavation Reports of Harappan Sites).

Harappa

On the River Ravi in the Punjab. Periods: Hakra/Ravi (3700–2800 BCE), Kot Diji (2800–2600 BCE), Harappan (Phase A 2600–2450 BCE, Phase B 2450–2200 BCE, Phase C 2200–1900 BCE), Late Harappan (1900–1300? BCE). Size: 100 hectares. Cunningham 1875 (cited under History of Discovery) describes the first excavation of any site of the Indus civilization, therefore Harappa is the type site of this culture and has given the alternative name “Harappan civilization.” Vats 1940 reports on the 1920–1934 excavations at Harappa. Wheeler 1947 details Wheeler’s 1946 excavations at Harappa. Meadow 1992 is so far the only published volume of the yearly reports of the important excavations of HARP (the Harappa Archaeological Research Project), carried out from 1986 to 2007. Besides these reports, the members of the HARP team have published a number of articles and books on the results of these excavations, including Kenoyer and Meadow 2010.

  • Kenoyer, J. Mark, and Richard H. Meadow. “Inscribed Objects from Harappa Excavations 1986–2001.” In Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions. Vol. 3.1. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Humaniora 359. Edited by Asko Parpola, et al., xliv–lviii. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 2010.

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    General site chronology and highlights of the excavations. Seal carving—chronological changes in technology and style.

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  • Meadow, Richard H., ed. Harappa Excavations 1986–1990: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Third Millennium Urbanism. Monographs in World Archaeology 3. Madison, WI: Prehistory Press, 1992.

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    x, 262 pp., 236 figs., 37 tables. Ten research papers, and summaries of five seasons of research, 1986–1990. G. L. Possehl (pp. 5–11) details the history of archaeological research at Harappa.

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  • Vats, Madho Sarup. Excavations at Harappā, Being an Account of Archaeological Excavations at Harappā Carried out between the Years 1920–21 and 1933–34. 2 vols. Delhi: Manager of Publications, 1940.

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    Vol. I: Text. xxii, 468 pp. Vol. II: Plates. vii pp., 139 pl. Reprinted, Archaeological Survey of India, 1999. Country, climate, excavations. Foundations, drains, wells, an upper-class house, circular platforms, the great granary. Mound F, Mound AB, Area J, Area G, Area H = cemetery. Pottery. Human & animal figurines. Stone & faience vessels & unguent vases. Seals & sealings. Household objects, tools & implements. Metals & metal objects. Beads. Personal ornaments. Toys & games. Ivory, shell, faience. Furnaces. Nearby sites Chak Pūrbāne Syāl & Koṭla Nihang Khān.

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  • Wheeler, Mortimer. “Harappa 1946: The Defences and Cemetery R 37.” Ancient India 3 (1947): 58–130 and pl. XV–LX.

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    The defenses. Sociological aspects of the Harappan civilization. The circular working platforms at Harappa. Harappan chronology and the Ṛigveda. The cemeteries. The pottery. Other finds.

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Mohenjo-daro

On the Indus River in Sindh. Periods: Harappan, Jhukar. Size: 100 hectares. Marshall 1931 and Mackay 1937–1938 are well-illustrated and thorough accounts of the large-scale excavations at Mohenjo-daro in 1922–1931, which exposed about one-tenth of this rich site. Wheeler 1950 is the preliminary report on Wheeler’s 1950 excavations on the citadel of Mohenjo-daro, revealing the “Grand Granary”; a final report did not appear. Dales and Kenoyer 1986 is the only published final report (two more volumes were planned) of Dales’s 1964–1965 excavations at Mohenjo-daro, an important source on Harappan pottery. Jansen and Urban 1984 and Jansen and Urban 1987 report on the surface fieldwork at Mohenjo-daro in 1982–1984 by a German-Italian team.

  • Dales, George F., and Jonathan Mark Kenoyer. Excavations at Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan: The Pottery. With an account of the pottery from the 1950 excavations of Sir Mortimer Wheeler. University Museum Monograph 53. Philadelphia: The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, 1986.

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    xxi, 586 pp., 46 pl., 115 figs., 11 tables, numerous drawings, appendices, index. Pp. 8–9 and 13–17 briefly describe George Dales’s 1964–1965 excavations at Mohenjo-daro.

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  • Jansen, M., and G. Urban, eds. Interim Reports, Vol. 1. Reports on Field Work Carried Out at Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan, 1982–83 by the IsMEO–Aachen–University Mission. Aachen, Germany: German Research Project Mohenjo-Daro, RWTH, 1984.

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    207 pp., ill. The volume consists of ten papers, inter alia on craft activities, kilns, bangles and coated vessels, shell industries, inscribed objects, stone sculptures, “calendar stones,” close-range aerial photogrammetry in archaeology, geophysical investigations, Harappan linear measurement.

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  • Jansen, Michael, and Günter Urban, eds. Interim Reports, Vol. 2. Reports on Field Work Carried Out at Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan, 1983–84 by the IsMEO–Aachen–University Mission. Aachen, Germany: German Research Project Mohenjo-Daro, RWTH, 1987.

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    185 pp., ill. The volume consists of fourteen papers, inter alia on the forma urbis, architecture in the Moneer area, axis system and orientation, the stūpa of Mohenjo-daro, stoneware bangles, lapidary craft, the name Mohenjo-daro, the Mohannas living on the Indus River.

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  • Mackay, Ernest J. H. Further Excavations at Mohenjo-daro, Being an Official Account of Archaeological Excavations at Mohenjo-daro Carried out by the Government of India between the Years 1927 and 1931. With chapters by A. S. Hemmy, B. S. Guha, and P. C. Basu. 2 vols. Delhi: Manager of Publications, Government of India, 1937–1938.

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    Vol. I: Text, 1938. xvi, 718 pp., index. Vol. II: Plates, 1937. 146 b/w pl. Reprinted, Archaeological Survey of India, 2000. The city & its environs, duration & date. Streets, buildings & finds of SD area & DK area (G section). Architecture & masonry. Pottery. Statues & figurines. Faience, stone & ivory vessels. Seals, clay amulets & copper tablets. Household objects, tools & implements. Metal objects. Personal ornaments. Games & toys. Ivory, shell, faience. System of weights. Human remains. General survey.

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  • Marshall, John, ed. Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization, Being An Official Account of Archaeological Excavations at Mohenjo-daro Carried out by the Government of India between the Years 1922 and 1927. 3 vols. London: Arthur Probsthain, 1931.

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    li, 716 pp., 164 pl., 41 figs., 2 folded maps. Reprinted, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, 1996, 2004.

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  • Wheeler, Mortimer. “Newly Found at Mohenjo-daro: A Huge 4000-year-old Granary.” Illustrated London News, 20 May 1950: 782–783 (3 figs.).

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    Wheeler’s excavations of the granary at Mohenjo-daro reported in the ILN are briefly described in Wheeler 1968 (cited under Overviews), pp. 44–45 with figs. 8–9, and illustrated in Wheeler 1966 (under Visual Overviews). Leslie Alcock’s report on the pottery excavated is included in Dales and Kenoyer 1986. His reports continue in “New Light on the Indus Civilisation: The Mohenjo-daro Granary,” Illustrated London News, 27 May 1950: 813–816 (8 figs.); and in “Man in 4000-Year-Old Mohenjo-daro: Grotesque and Savage Human Figurines,” Illustrated London News, 3 June 1950: 854–855 (8 figs.).

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Chanhu-daro

In Sindh. Periods: Harappan, Jhukar, Trihni, Jhangar. Size: 4.7 hectares. Mackay 1943 reports on the author’s one season excavations in 1935–1936, in which the site was found to have two periods, I: Harappan, and II: Late Harappan Jhukar culture. Notable discoveries were workshops for bead and stamp seal manufacture and metal working. Didier, et al. 2017 and Didier 2017 recount the principal results of the new 2015–2017 excavations at Chanhu-daro.

  • Didier, Aurore. “Nouvelles recherches sur les débuts de la Civilisation de l’Indus (2500–1900 av. n. è) au Pakistan: Les fouilles de Chanhu-daro (Sindh).” Comptes-rendus de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 2 (2017): 947–980.

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    Important new data on the rarely attested first phase (2600/2500–2300 BCE) of the Harappan period.

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  • Didier, Aurore, David Sarmiento-Castillo, Pascal Mongne, and Syed Shakir Ali Shah. “Resuming Excavations at Chanhu-daro, Sindh: First Results of the 2015–2017 Field-Seasons.” Pakistan Archaeology 30 (2017): 69–121.

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    Important new data on the rarely attested first phase (2600/2500–2300 BCE) of the Harappan period.

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  • Mackay, Ernest J. H. Chanhu-daro excavations, 1935–36. American Oriental Series 20. New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1943.

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    xv, 338 pp., 96 pl., index. Two reprints, New York: Kraus Reprint Corporation, 1967; Varanasi: Bharatiya Publishing House, 1976. Stratigraphy and structures of Mounds I & II. Pottery. Seals & seal impressions. Figurines. Toys and games. Copper & bronze objects. Personal ornaments. Miscellaneous objects and objects of scientific interest.

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Lothal

In Kathiawar (Gujarat). Periods: Harappan, Late Sorath Harappan. Size: 4.8 hectares. Rao 1979–1985 reports the results of the 1955–1962 excavations. Frenez 2020 analyzes the clay tags with seal impressions once attached to goods, found on the floor of the burnt-down warehouse of Lothal.

  • Frenez, Dennys. “Mirrored Signs: Administrative and Scriptorial Information in the Indus Civilization Clay Sealings.” In Studies on Indus Script: Conference on Indus Script, Mohenjodaro 2020. Edited by Kaleemullah Lashari, 21–38. Karachi: Culture, Tourism & Antiquities Department, Government of Sindh, 2020.

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    A large number of clay tags with seal impressions on the obverse and impressions of the goods sealed on the reverse, found baked hard in the burnt-down warehouse of Lothal. Two of the tags had been stamped with seals excavated at Lothal. The tags give insight into the Harappan administration system.

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  • Rao, S. R. Lothal, a Harappan Port Town (1955–62). 2 vols. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 78. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 1979–1985.

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    I: xii, 268 pp., 127 pl. II: xvi, 269–711 pp., 129–304 pl. The discovery of a “Dilmun type” seal coming from the Gulf at Lothal proved that it was involved in the Harappan sea trade with West Asia. A large water tank interpreted as a dock lies next to a warehouse.

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Kalibangan

In Rajasthan. Periods: Sothi-Siswal, Harappan. Size: 11.5 hectares. Lal, et al. 2003 describes the Early Harappan period at Kalibangan, Lal, et al. 2015–2020 the Harappan period.

  • Lal, B. B., Jagat Pati Joshi, A. K. Sharma, Madhu Bala, and K. S. Ramachandran. Excavations at Kalibangan: The Harappans (1960–69). Part I–II. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 110. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 2015–2020.

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    Part I: xx, 722 pp., with 248 color pl., 135 bw figs., 1 map & 77 diagrams. Stratigraphy and structures. Pottery. Inscribed material—including the seals, sealings and graffiti—is published in fine color photos. Crafts. Part II: xxiv, 723–1574 pp., 398 figs. Lithic tools, metal objects, ivory and bone objects, kitchen equipment, baubles, beads, measuring instruments, shell objects, terracotta objects, cemetery.

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  • Lal, B. B., Jagat Pati Joshi, B. K. Thapar, and Madhu Bala. Excavations at Kalibangan: The Early Harappans (1960–1969). Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 98. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 2003.

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    xiii, 340 pp., 72 pl., 75 figs., 1 map. The setting. Discovery and previous work. Summary of results. The Early Harappan settlement of Kalibangan: chronology and wider setting. Stratigraphy. Structures. The agricultural field. The end of the Early Harappan settlement at Kalibangan. Pottery. Minor antiquities. Graffiti. Technical reports including identification of animal remains and plants and seeds.

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Dholavira

Periods: Amri-Nal, Harappan. Size: 60 hectares. Bisht 2015 is the preliminary version of the report on the 1989–2005 excavations at Dholavira. Bisht 2000 discusses the city’s urban planning and Bisht 2005 its water engineering. Dholavira is a most interesting site, with several and large water tanks, stone architecture, hundreds of Indus seals and sealings, and the only monumental Indus inscription so far known, a sign board at the gate of the Citadel.

  • Bisht, R. S. “Urban Planning at Dholavira, a Harappan City.” In Ancient Cities, Sacred Skies: Cosmic Geometries and City Planning in Ancient India. Edited by J. M. Malville and L. M. Gujral, 11–23. New Delhi: Aryan Books International, 2000.

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    Dholavira’s unique rectangular town plan has three major sections: Lower Town, Middle Town, and Citadel, the latter divided into “Castle” and “Bailey,” and separated from the Middle Town by a ceremonial ground. Close to the castle are major water reservoirs. The city’s massive walls and monumental gateways are impressive.

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  • Bisht, R. S. “The Water Structures and Engineering of the Harappans at Dholavira (India).” In South Asian Archaeology 2001. Edited by Catherine Jarrige and Vincent Lefèvre, 11–26. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 2005.

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    In the arid landscape of Kutch, with no permanent rivers on the Khadir island, brackish ground water, and unreliable rainfall, effective water engineering was vital for the survival of Dholavira. About 20 percent of the city area was used for water storage, including two large reservoirs, one rock-cut. The citadel had also a network of drains to collect storm rain.

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  • Bisht, R. S. Excavations at Dholavira (1989–90 to 2004–2005). New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 2015.

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    xvi, 922 pp., ill., bibl. This report was temporarily made available on the Internet, but then withdrawn, the final version pending. Introduction. The site. Dholavira: Ancient remains and environs. Excavation strategy and cuttings. Summary of results: Stratigraphy and chronology. Excavated remains. Pottery. Antiquities (inscriptions, weights, beads, chert & chalcedonic blades, copper & lead objects, luxury items: gold & silver objects, pendants; figurines, stone & terracotta objects, stoneware bangles). Cemetery. Trade & outside contacts. Scientific analysis. Authors of the Harappan/Indus civilization. Conclusion.

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Rakhigarhi

In Haryana. Periods: Hakra, Sothi-Siswal, Harappan. Size: 40 (Nath) up to 400 (Shinde) hectares. Nath 2015 is a preliminary report of its 1997–2000 excavations. Shinde, et al. 2012–2013 is a preliminary report on the excavations started in 2012 at Rakhigarhi by Shinde.

  • Nath, Amarendra. Excavations at Rakhigarhi (1997–98 to 1999–2000). New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 2015.

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    396 pp., ill. This report was temporarily made available on the Internet, but then withdrawn, the final version pending. Introduction. Environment. Site catchment analysis. Cuttings & stratigraphy. Structural remains. Burials. Ceramic assemblage. Graffiti. Terracotta objects. Copper objects. Harappan bead industry. Shell objects. Bone & ivory objects. Stone tools & implements. Explorations around Rakhigarhi. Defining the economical space of Harappan Rakhigarhi. Initial geologic provenience studies of stone and metal artifacts from Rakhigarhi.

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  • Shinde, Vasant, Adam Green, Narender Parmar, and P. D. Sable. “Rakhigarhi and Harappan Civilization: Recent Work and New Challenges, 2012–2013.” Bulletin of the Deccan College Research Institute 72–73 (2012–2013): 43–53.

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    Here the size of Rakhigarhi is estimated to be up to 400 hectares, making it the largest Harappan site.

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Ganweriwala

In Cholistan, Pakistan. Periods: Harappan. Size: 81.5 hectares. So far only surface surveys have been carried out at Ganweriwala. Mughal 1997 reports its discovery, and Masih 2018 provides a surface survey carried out in 2007.

  • Masih, Farzand. “Ganweriwala—A New Perspective.” In Walking with the Unicorn: Social Organization and Material Culture in Ancient South Asia. Edited by Dennys Frenez, et al., 377–383. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2018.

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    Includes photos and line drawings of a bifacial clay tablet with Indus script, a copper seal, and four unicorn figurines found during the 2007 surface survey.

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  • Mughal, M. Rafique. Ancient Cholistan: Archaeology and Architecture. Rawalpindi, Pakistan: Ferozsons (Pvt.) Ltd, 1997.

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    170 pp., with 24 figs. and 136 pl., bibl., index. Reports on the 1974–1978 survey of the dried-up course of the ancient Sarasvati (present Ghaggar-Hakra) River, in the course of which Mughal discovered 414 sites (settlements, industrial sites, camp sites) of many periods, including Ganweriwala (p. 47 no. 325), “a large urban centre of the Indus Civilization located midway between Mohenjodaro and Harappa . . . which dominated the Hakra plains” (p. 50).

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Banawali

In Haryana. Periods: Sothi-Siswal, Transition, Harappan, Late Harappan. Size: 16 hectares. The final excavation report has not been published, but Bisht has published preliminary reports, especially Bisht 1982 and Bisht 1992.

  • Bisht, R. S. “Excavations at Banawali.” In Indian Archaeology 1987–88—A Review. Edited by M. C. Joshi, 21–27. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 1992.

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    3 figs. Description of the phases of the sequence, which is now as follows. Period I (Pre-Harappan/Kalibangan culture): IA, Pre-defense phase. IB, Defense phase. IC, Transitional phase (Proto-Harappan). Period II (Mature Harappan culture). Period III (Post-Harappan Banawali-Bara culture).

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  • Bisht, R. S. “Excavations at Banawali, 1974–77.” In Harappan Civilization: A Recent Perspective. 2d rev. ed. Edited by Gregory L. Possehl, 113–124. New Delhi: American Institute of Indian Studies, 1993.

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    Introduction. The site. Period I: Pre-Indus/Kalibangan culture. Period II: Mature Harappan culture. Period III: Post-Indus Banawali-Bara culture. Bibliography.

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Minor sites

This section contains only a small selection of other Harappan sites.

Surkotada

In Kutch, Gujarat. Periods: Kot Diji, Transition, Harappan. Size: 1.4 hectares. Reported in Joshi 1990.

  • Joshi, Jagat Pati. Excavation at Surkotada 1971–72 and Exploration in Kutch. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 87. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 1990.

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    xiii, 435 pp., 124 pl., 103 figs. Situated in the northeast of the Kutch peninsula, Surkotada is on the land route from Khadir Island, housing the important site of Dholavira. Surkotada is one of the rare sites burnt down at the transition period. The explorations in Kutch were carried out in 1964–1965 and 1968 and produced 120 new sites.

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Bagasra

In northern Kathiawar, Gujarat. Periods: Anarta & (Sindhu) Harappan, Late Urban Sorath Harappan (Rangpur II AB), Post-Urban Sorath Harappan (Rangpur IIC). Size: 160 x 120 m. Reported in Sonawane, et al. 2003.

  • Sonawane, V. H., P. Ajithprasad, K. K. Bhan, et al. “Excavations at Bagasra—1996–2003: A Preliminary Report.” Man and Environment 28.2 (2003): 21–50.

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    Location of the site. Excavation. Stratigraphy and cultural sequence. Structural remains. Plan and layout of the settlement. Retaining walls/ramparts. Ceramic assemblage. Industrial craft production. Kiln remains. Copper tools and implements. Steatite seals and terracotta sealings. Lithic tools and implements. Terracotta objects. Weights. Biological remains. Chronology and conclusion.

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Farmana

In Haryana. Periods: Hakra, Transition, Harappan. Size: 18 hectares. Reported in Shinde, et al. 2011.

  • Shinde, Vasant, Toshiki Osada, and Manmohan Kumar, eds. Excavations at Farmana, District Rohtak, Haryana, India, 2006–2008. Kyoto: Indus Project, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, 2011.

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    5, v, 840 pp., ill. An important part of the excavation was that of the cemetery with ninety graves.

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Nageswar

In Gujarat. Periods: Harappan. Size: 1.40 hectares. Reported in Hegde, et al. 1990.

  • Hegde, K. T. M., K. K. Bhan, V. H. Sonawane, K. Krishnan, and D. R. Shah. Excavation at Nageswar, Gujarat: A Harappan Shell-Working Site on the Gulf of Kutch. Maharaja Sayajirao University Archaeology Series 18. Baroda, India: Department of Archaeology & Ancient History, M. S. University of Baroda, 1990.

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    xii, 273 pp., 19 graphs, 18 charts, 46 figs, 54 pl. Nageswar was site for collecting (by diving from boats to the seabed) raw material to be sent to centers for making ladles and bangles from the Turbinella shells, one of the major Harappan craft industries.

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Kanmer

In Kutch. Periods: Anarta, Harappan, Late-Urban Harappan, Iron Age, Medieval. Size: 1 hectare. Reported in Kharakwal, et al. 2012.

  • Kharakwal, J. S., Y. S. Rawat, and Toshiki Osada, eds. Excavation at Kanmer 2005–06 — 2008–09. Kanmer Archaeological Research Project: An Indo-Japanese Collaboration. Kyoto: Indus Project, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, 2012.

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    2, x, 844 pp. This small site has very thick walls. Kanmer was a center of agate procurement and stone bead manufacture. Navigable, it mediated the trade between Kutch and Rajasthan. Environment. Cultural sequence. Fortification and residential structures. Mapping by GIS technology & archaeomagnetic study. Pottery. Minor objects made of shell, bone, faience, and metal. Inscribed material including graffiti. Scientific analysis of the metals. Flora & fauna. Chronology. Summary.

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Shortughai

In northeastern Afghanistan. Periods: Harappan; Post-Urban eastern BMAC. Size: 2.5 hectares. Reported in Francfort 1989.

  • Francfort, Henri-Paul. Fouilles de Shortughaï: Recherches sur l’Asie centrale protohistorique. With contributions by Ch. Boisset, L. Buchet, J. Desse, J. Echallier, A. Kermorvant, and G. Willcox. 2 vols. Mémoires de la Mission Archéologique Française en Asie centrale 2. Paris: Diffusion de Boccard, 1989.

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    517 pp., 115 tables, 43 figs., bibl., index; 105 pl. of line drawings, XLII pl. of photos. Shortughai was a Harappan colony near Badakshan, the most important source of lapis lazuli, which was a most important item in the West Asian trade with the East. On lapis lazuli, see also Law 2014 in Geography, Resources, Environment, and Climate.

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Town Planning, Civil Engineering, and Architecture

In town planning and civil engineering, the Harappans were real pioneers. Joshi 2008 offers a fairly comprehensive survey of all aspects of Harappan architecture and civil engineering. Eltsov 2008 analyzes the layout of twelve Harappan cities and towns, revealing how the authority is expressed indirectly, with the monumentality of elevated platforms and internal walls creating segregation. Jansen 1993 focuses on the amenities that the Harappan authorities were offering to their citizens instead of palatial and other monuments glorifying the rulers, as in West Asia and Egypt.

  • Eltsov, Piotr Andreevich. From Harappa to Hastinapura: A Study of the Earliest South Asian City and Civilization. American School of Prehistoric Research Monograph Series. Boston and Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008.

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    xxxi, 240 pp., 73 figs. (mostly city layouts), 36 tables, bibl., index. Uses Sanskrit and Pali texts as sources of abstract ideas concerning the city for the analysis of archaeological data: (1) the idea of the city in the Ganges civilization (13 cities analyzed); (2) the idea of the city in the Indus civilization (12 cities or towns analyzed). Eltsov singles out a number of elements in the Harappan towns and cities that emphasize authority.

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  • Jansen, Michael. Mohenjo-Daro: Stadt der Brunnen und Kanäle: Wasserluxus vor 4500 Jahren/Mohenjo-Daro: City of Wells and Drains: Water Splendour 4500 Years Ago. Schriftenreihe der Frontinus-Gesellschaft, Supplementband 2. Bergisch Gladbach, Germany: Frontinus-Gesellschaft, 1993.

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    144 pp., 150 figs. “This book concentrates on the most impressive feature of the ancient city’s infrastructure—the facilities designed to cater to its inhabitants liberal use of water on a luxurious scale otherwise unknown within a built-up urban area at this early period. Hundreds of wells and dense labyrinths of street drains still survive as fascinating witnesses to the skill of the municipal engineers.”

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  • Joshi, Jagat Pati. Harappan Architecture and Civil Engineering. Foreword by Gregory L. Possehl. New Delhi: Rupa & Co, 2008.

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    xxxv, 218 pp., 122 figs., index. Principal Harappan settlement types (19 sites). Town planning (citadel & township; fortification & gateways, streets, drains, platforms, houses, granaries). Hydraulic engineering (wells, dams, dockyard, Great Bath, drains). Religious architecture (Edith Shahr, Great Bath & bathing platforms, altars). Burial architecture. Building technology (geometry, tools, & materials).

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Economy

The economy of the Indus civilization is considered under four headings: Geography, Resources, Environment, and Climate; Agriculture and Animal Husbandry; Crafts, Technology, and Traffic; and Trade and Cultural Relations, Foreign and Inter-Indian.

Geography, Resources, Environment, and Climate

Possehl 1999 is a fundamental and well-illustrated treatment of the cultural geography of the Indus civilization. Law 2011 charts the provenience of the rocks and minerals excavated at Harappa based on extensive field work that covers the entire Greater Indus Valley; Law 2014 narrows Badakshan as the only possible source for lapis lazuli in ancient South Asia. Dixit, et al. 2014 reports proof for abrupt weakening of the summer monsoon in northwestern India c. 2100 BCE. Madella and Fuller 2006 and, more comprehensively, Petrie, et al. 2017 discuss the effects of climate change and environmental diversity on Harappan agriculture. Gaur and Vora 1999 is one of the studies suggesting that in Harappan times the sea-level was two to six meters higher than the present.

  • Dixit, Yama, David A. Hodell, and Cameron A. Petrie. “Abrupt Weakening of the Summer Monsoon in Northwest India ~4100 Yr Ago.” Geology 42.4 (24 February 2014).

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    Oxygen isotope record of gastropod aragonite from Holocene sediments of paleolake Kotla Dahar (Haryana, India), which is adjacent to Indus settlements and documents Indian summer monsoon variability for the past 6.5 ky. A 4 promille increase in gastropod aragonite occurred at c. 4.1 ka, marking a peak in the evaporation/precipitation ratio in the lake catchment related to weakening of the Indian summer monsoon.

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  • Gaur, A. S., and K. H. Vora. “Ancient Shorelines of Gujarat, India, during the Indus Civilization (Late Mid-Holocene): A Study Based on Archaeological Evidences.” Current Science 77.1 (1999): 180–185.

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    Several studies have suggested a sea level during mid-Holocene between two and six meters higher than the present. The study attempts to trace the ancient coastline of Gujarat by means of Harappan sites that were probably used as ports. For instance, Lothal is now 23 km away from the shoreline. If Dholavira can be established as a port, it would mean that the Great Rann of Kutch was navigable in the Harappan period, and its subsequent siltation may have even triggered the Harappan decline in the area.

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  • Law, Randall William. Inter-regional Interaction and Urbanism in the Ancient Indus Valley: A Geologic Provenience study of Harappa’s Rock and Mineral Assemblage. Linguistics, Archaeology and the Human Past, Occasional Paper 11. Kyoto: Indus Project, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, 2011.

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    16, xi, 800 pp., ill., maps. Reprinted in 2 parts (Current Studies of the Indus Civilization, vol. 8), New Delhi: Manohar, 2011. Discusses also the trade routes and illustrates the results with excellent maps.

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  • Law, Randall. “Evaluating Potential Lapis Lazuli Sources for Ancient South Asia Using Sulphur Isotope Analysis.” In “My Life Is Like the Summer Rose,” Maurizio Tosi e l’archeologia come modo di vivere: Papers in honour of Maurizio Tosi for his 70th birthday. BAR International Series 2690. Edited by C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky and B. Genito, 419–429. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2014.

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    Lapis lazuli was a most important item of trade for ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, and it is widely found also at Harappan sites, as Law documents. In his comprehensive analysis, Law comes to the conclusion that Badakshan is the only possible source in ancient South Asia.

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  • Madella, Marco, and Dorian Q. Fuller. “Palaeoecology and the Harappan Civilisation of South Asia: A Reconsideration.” Quaternary Science Reviews 25 (2006): 1283–1301.

    DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2005.10.012Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Harappan urbanism emerged on the face of a prolonged trend toward declining rainfall. Strategic local shifts in agriculture that may have begun in response to prolonged droughts at c. 2200 BCE may have contributed to the de-urbanization process and the restructuring of human communities over the following 200–300 years.

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  • Petrie, Cameron A., Ravindra N. Singh, Jennifer Bates, et al. “Adaptation to Variable Environments, Resilience to Climate Change: Investigating Land, Water and Settlement in Indus Northwest India.” Current Anthropology 58.1 (2017): 1–30

    DOI: 10.1086/690112Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Multidisciplinary research carried out in 2007–2014 has combined data on environmental diversity, ancient hydrology and climate, new archaeological evidence relating to geomorphology, settlement dynamics, use of material culture, and subsistence practices. Effects of climate change on Harappan agricultural practices. Harappan adaptation to different environments included the introduction of rice, millets, and tropical pulses, at Masudpur I and VII near Rakhigarhi already before the Late Harappan period.

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  • Possehl, Gregory L. “The Cultural Geography of the Indus Age.” In The Indus Age: The Beginnings. Edited by Gregory L. Possehl, 155–392. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

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    238 pp., 146 figs., 73 pl., 41 tables. The diversity of lifeways and peoples. Sources. Routes. Animals (domesticated mammals, wild mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, fishes, shells). Mineral resources (metals, stones, salt). Domesticated plants. Seasons and seasonality. The question of climatic change and the Harappan civilization. Environmental reconstruction. Seven cultural regions (Central, Gedrosia, Southern, Northwestern, Northern, Eastern, Hakra), whose geography (including rivers and their changes) is discussed in detail.

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Agriculture and Animal Husbandry

Fuller 2006 provides a synthesis of archaebotanics in South Asia. Fuller and Madella 2002 review Harappan archaeobotany. Weber 1991 focuses on the plants of the Late Harappan site of Rojdi in Gujarat. Meadow 1991 is a conveniently compact overview with its tables. Joglekar and Goyal 2015 gives a good survey of animal husbandry in the Indus civilization and its predecessors.

  • Fuller, Dorian Q. “Agricultural Origins and Frontiers in South Asia: A Working Synthesis.” Journal of World Prehistory 20.1 (2006): 1–86.

    DOI: 10.1007/s10963-006-9006-8Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Wild progenitors and the geography of domestication. Palaeoenvironmental context. Animal domestications in Southwest Asia and northwestern South Asia. Mehrgarh in chronological and regional context. From the Northwest to Inner India: Evidence from fauna. Additional livestock: Water buffalo and chicken. Southwest Asian crops beyond the Indus. The Northern Neolithic. The case for a Gujarati center of origin. A Gangetic center of origin? Eastern India: Problems and prospects. Southern Deccan: Indigenous millets and pulses.

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  • Fuller, Dorian Q., and Marco Madella. “Issues in Harappan Archaeobotany: Retrospect and Prospect.” In Protohistory: Archaeology of the Harappan Civilization. Indian Archaeology in Retrospect 2. Edited by S. Settar, and Ravi Korisettar, 317–390. New Delhi: Indian Council of Historical Research & Manohar, 2002.

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    Introduction. The hard evidence for crops. South-west Asian cereals. South-west Asian pulses. Tropical pulses. Millets. Rice. Fibres/oilseeds. Melons, cucumber, squashes. Arboriculture. The Harappan role in the diffusion of African crops: A reconsideration. Non-crop seeds. Issues of irrigation. Seasonality and intensity of agriculture. The changing environment and changing society. Discussion: Agricultural conservatism and change.

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  • Joglekar, P. P., and Pankaj Goyal. Animal Husbandry and Allied Technologies in Ancient India, from Prehistorical to Early Historical Times. Indus-Infinity Foundation Series. New Delhi: Pentagon Press, 2015.

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    xxxiv, 256 pp., 94 figs., bibl., index. Geological and archaeological chronologies. Dynamics of animal domestication. A short history of domestic animals. The early hunter-gatherers. Early farming cultures. Animals in the Indus civilization. Iron Age and early historical period.

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  • Meadow, Richard H. “The Domestication and Exploitation of Plants and Animals in the Greater Indus Valley, 7th–2nd Millennium B.C.” In Forgotten Cities on the Indus: Early Civilization in Pakistan from the 8th to the 2nd Millennium B.C. Edited by Michael Jansen, Máire Mulloy, and Günter Urban, 51–58. Mainz, Germany: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1991.

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    Includes tabulation of spring-harvested crops and fall-harvested crops identified from sites in the Greater Indus Valley correlated with Mehrgarh I–VII, Sibri & Pirak. Another tabulation shows wild and domesticated ungulates represented by faunal remains at sites in the Greater Indus Valley.

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  • Weber, Steven A. Plants and Harappan Subsistence: An Example of Stability and Change from Rojdi. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1991.

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    xii, 200 pp. Focusing on the Sorath Harappan site Rojdi in Saurashtra, Gujarat, inhabited during the Harappan and Late Harappan periods. Weber documents the inhabitants’ use of cultivated and wild plants. Weber also discusses the Harappan culture-wide uniformities and regional diversity in subsistence strategies.

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Crafts, Technology, and Traffic

Agrawal 2009 gives a fairly comprehensive overview of Harappan technology. Ratnagar 2007 correlates the Neolithic, Early Harappan, and Harappan technologies with those still in use in South Asia. Kenoyer 2009 reviews the evidence for the main vehicle of land transport in the Indus civilization, the bullock-cart. Barthélemy de Saizieu 2003, Barthélemy de Saizieu 2021, and Kenoyer 2005 document the bead industry in the Indus Valley from 7000 to 1700 BCE. Kenoyer 1984 summarizes the author’s 1983 PhD dissertation on shell working, an important industry of the Indus civilization. Biagi and Starnini describe the Harappan lithic industry, knapping flint blades in the Rohri Hills.

  • Agrawal, D. P. Harappan Technology and Its Legacy. New Delhi: Rupa & Co, 2009.

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    xxxv, 332 pp., 95 figs., 4 tables, 6 boxes, bibl., index. Ecology, technology and society. Architecture and hydraulics. Arts, crafts and transport. Ceramics, faience and pyrotechnology. Metallurgy. Animal husbandry and agriculture. Legacy and transformation.

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  • Barthélemy de Saizieu, Blanche. Les parures de Mehrgarh: Perles et pendentifs du Néoliithique précéramique à la période pré-Indus. Fouilles 1974–1985. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 2003.

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    213 pp. This comprehensive and systematic study of the beads and pendants from Mehrgarh I–VIII is extremely useful for understanding the development of the bead industry in the ancient Indus Valley 7000–1700 BCE. Cf. the review of J. M. Kenoyer in Paléorient 32.1 (2006): 159–160.

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  • Barthélemy de Saizieu, Blanche. Parures de l’Indus: Nausharo, Balouchistan, IIIe millénaire av. J.-C. Entre faire et dire, être et paraître. Travaux de la Maison René-Ginouvès, 27. Paris: Éditions De Boccard, 2021.

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    350 pp. A comprehensive and systematic study of the beads from the site of Nausharo in Baluchistan with Early Harappan (Kot Diji), Transition & Harappan periods.

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  • Biagi, Paolo, and Elisabetta Starnini. “Technological Choices and Lithic Production in the Indus Period: Case Studies from Sindh (Pakistan).” Iranian Archaeology 2 (2011): 21–33.

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    Chipped stone technology and flint artifacts production were important aspects of the Harappan economy. Thousands of flint mines in the Rohri Hills, Upper Sindh, were exploited for a mass production of blades as well as bladelets, which in the city workshops were transformed into sophisticated micro-drill points used in making beads of semiprecious stones. The paper is based on years of research in the Rohri Hills, where a good number of flint knapping workshops were excavated.

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  • Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark. “Shell Working Industries of the Indus Civilization—A Summary.” Paléorient 10.1 (1984): 49–63.

    DOI: 10.3406/paleo.1984.4349Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    This is as summary of Kenoyer’s unpublished PhD dissertation (University of California at Berkeley, 1983), titled “Shell Working Industries of the Indus Civilization: An Archaeological and Ethnographic Perspective” (478 pp.).

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  • Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark. “Bead Technologies at Harappa, 3300–1900 BC: A Comparative Summary.” In South Asian Archaeology 2001. Vol. I, Prehistory. Edited by Catherine Jarrige and Vincent Lefèvre, 157–180. Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations, 2005.

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    Organization of bead technology. Terracotta bead production. Faience bead production.Soft stone bead production. Hard stone beads. Shell bead production. Metal beads. Organic beads. Ravi Phase bead making. Kot Diji period. Harappan period. Late Harappan period. Conclusion.

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  • Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark. “Carts and Wheeled Vehicles of the Indus Civilization: New Evidence from Harappa, Pakistan.” In Linguistics, Archaeology and the Human Past: Occasional Paper 9. Edited by Toshiki Osada and Akinori Uesugi, 1–34. Kyoto: Indus Project, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, 2009.

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    This is an updated English version of a paper published in German in 2004, “Die Karren der Induskultur Pakistans und Indiens,” pp. 87–106 in Mamoun Fansa and Stefan Burmeister (eds), Rad und Wagen: Der Ursprung einer Innovation. Wagen im Vorderen Orient und Europa (Archäologische Mitteilungen aus Nordwestdeutschland, Beiheft 40), Mainz am Rhein, Germany: Verlag Philipp von Zabern.

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  • Ratnagar, Shereen. Makers and Shapers: Early Indian Technology in the Home, Village and Urban Workshop. New Delhi: Tulika Books, 2007.

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    xxiii, 336 pp., 128 figs., bibl., index. Ratnagar follows the various technologies as they evolve from Neolithic Mehrgarh 7000 BCE to the Iron Age in tandem with the technologies of today’s villagers in South Asia.

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Trade and Cultural Relations, Foreign and Inter-Indian

Ratnagar 2004 is an important and rather comprehensive study of the trade relations prevailing among the foreign cultures with which the Indus civilization was in contact. An excellent complement is Lahiri 1992, which mostly deals with the internal South Asian trade of the Neolithic, Early Harappan, and Harappan cultures and their contemporary Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures of South Asia. Olijdam and Spoor 2008, and Osada and Witzel 2011 are significant collections of articles on this theme, while Beaujard 2019 offers a comprehensive history of the Indian Ocean trade in antiquity. Laursen 2010 is an important paper on the “Gulf type seals” and their formation under Harappan influence. Laursen and Steinkeller 2017 is a welcome new study combining the evidence of the cuneiform texts with archaeology to clarify the Mesopotamian (Babylonian) trade and other relations with the countries called Tilmun/Dilmun (Kuwait, eastern Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain), Magan/Makkan (UAE and the Sultanate of Oman), Marhaši (Kerman, particularly the Jiroft civilization) and Meluhha (the Indus Valley and Gujarat of the Harappan period). Cleuziou and Tosi (eds) 2018 and Cattani, et al. 2019 address the presence of Harappans in Oman. Lyonnet and Dubova 2020 is a recent many-sided presentation of the Oxus civilization (BMAC, Bactria and Margiana Archaeological Complex), including its relations with the Indus civilization.

  • Beaujard, Philippe. The Worlds of the Indian Ocean: A Global History. 2 vols. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2019.

    DOI: 10.1017/9781108341004Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    xvi, 855 pp. A revised and updated translation of the celebrated Les mondes de l’Océanindien (2012). Beaujard presents a comprehensive and accurately documented history of globalization, taking the Indian Ocean as the starting point. Vol. I: From the Fourth Millennium BCE to the Sixth Century CE.

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  • Cattani, Maurizio, Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, Dennys Frenez, Randall W. Law, and Sophie Méry. “New Excavations at the Umm an-Nar site Ras al-Hadd HD-1, Sultanate of Oman (Seasons 2016–2018): Insights on Cultural Interaction and Long-Distance Trade.” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 49 (2019): 69–84.

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    Summary. Indus trading in the Oman peninsula: A reassessment. Ras al-Hadd site HD-1: Trade and cultural interaction. The Italian-American “Joint Hadd project” at Ras al-Hadd. Pottery analysis and sourcing. Bead and ornament analysis and sourcing. Lithic analysis and experimental replication. Copper tools and technology. Fibre analysis. Conclusions.

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  • Cleuziou, Serge, and Maurizio Tosi, eds. In the Shadow of the Ancestors: The Prehistoric Foundations of the Early Arabian Civilization in Oman. 2d expanded ed. Edited by Dennys Frenez and Roman Garba. Muscat: Ministry of Heritage and Culture of the Sultanate of Oman, 2018.

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    International edition: Oxford: Archaeopress, 2020. xxxi 553 pp., ill., maps, bibl. (1st ed. Muscat, 2007.) A number of papers on the Harappan trade & presence in Oman, copper mining, pottery, beads, boats & seafaring.

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  • Lahiri, Nayanjot. Archaeology of Indian Trade Routes up to c. 200 BC: Resource Use, Resource Access and Lines of Communication. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1992.

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    xvi, 461 pp., 46 maps, 58 charts, bibl., index. The focus of the book is on the inter-India trade routes and commodities without neglecting the external trade. Besides the Pre- and Early Harappan cultures (pp. 12–66) and the Indus civilization (pp. 67–144), the book deals with the Neolithic and Chalcolithic cultures outside the Harappan orbit (pp. 145–267) and the period 1000–200 BCE (pp. 268–399).

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  • Laursen, Steffen Terp. “The Westward Transmission of Indus Valley Sealing Technology: Origin and Development of the ‘Gulf Type’ Seal and Other Administrative Technologies in Early Dilmun, c. 2100–2000 BC.” Arabian Archaeology and Epigraphy 21 (2010): 96–134.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0471.2010.00329.xSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Catalogues the known “Gulf type seals” and discusses their origin.

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  • Laursen, Steffen, and Piotr Steinkeller. Babylonia, the Gulf Region, and the Indus: Archaeological and Textual Evidence for Contact in the Third and Early Second Millennia B.C. Mesopotamian Civilizations, 21. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2017.

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    x, 141 pp., 14 figs., bibl., index. Prehistoric foundation (c. 6000–2650 BCE). The Pre-Sargonic Period (c. 2650–2350 BCE). The Sargonic Period (c. 2350–2200 BCE). Makkan and Tilmun c. 2200–2100 BCE. The Ur III Period (c. 2100–2000 BCE). The Post-Ur III Period (2000–1800 BCE). Five essays on specific themes.

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  • Lyonnet, Bertille, and Nadezhda A. Dubova, eds. The World of the Oxus Civilization. London and New York: Routledge, 2020.

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    xxxi, 932 pp., 299 figs., 44 tables, radiocarbon dates, index. A recent many-sided presentation of the Oxus civilization by leading experts in twenty-nine papers, including an overview by the editors and one by B. Mutin & C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky on the relations with the Indo-Iranian borderlands (pp. 551–589) and one where Shereen Ratnagar addresses the interaction with South Asia (pp. 590–606).

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  • Olijdam, Eric, and Richard H. Spoor, eds. Intercultural Relations between South and Southwest Asia: Studies in Commemoration of E. C. L. During Caspers (1934–1996). BAR International series 1826; Society for Arabian Studies Monographs 7. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2008.

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    3, iii, 382 pp., ill., no index. Forty-one papers, almost all of which are relevant to the external trade of the Indus civilization.

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  • Osada, Toshiki, and Michael Witzel, eds. Cultural Relations between the Indus and the Iranian Plateau during the Third Millennium BCE. Indus Project, Research Institute for Humanities and Nature, June 7–8, 2008. Harvard Oriental Series, Opera Minora 7. Cambridge, MA: Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies, Harvard University, 2011.

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    328 pp., ill. Chalcolithic cultural patterns & the Early Harappan interaction in Gujarat. Between East & West: Kech-Makran (Pakistan) during Protohistory. Regional cultures of the Greater Indus Valley. Jiroft tablets & the origin of the Linear Elamite writing system. Dilmun, Magan and Meluhha in early Mesopotamian history: 2500–1600 BC. Motifs of early Iranian, Mesopotamian and Harappan art (and script) reflecting contacts and ideology. Development of the inter-regional interaction system in the Indus Valley and beyond.

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  • Ratnagar, Shereen. Trading Encounters: From the Euphrates to the Indus in the Bronze Age. Rev. 2d ed. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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    xvii, 408 pp., 24 figs., 11 tables, bibl., 2 maps, index. The book first discusses a dozen or so cultures (including Mesopotamia and the Indus civilization) and their contacts c. 4000–1800 BCE, then the individual items of trade (textiles, etc.), then the trade mechanisms (sea and river transport, pack animals and carts, containers and packages, weights, seals and sealings). The second major part of the book is devoted to a fresh interpretation of these data.

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Population and Social Structure

Pending representative ancient DNA samples from Harappan individuals, Reich 2018 presents the current understanding of archaeo-genetics as to the origin of the Harappan population: the principal source was the diffusion of Iranian farmers to the Greater Indus Valley with a possible mixture of local hunter-gatherers. Ratnagar 1991 and Ratnagar 2016 discuss the contentious issue of Harappan political organization.

  • Ratnagar, Shereen. Enquiries into the Political Organization of Harappan Society. Pune, India: Ravish Publishers, 1991.

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    x, 211 pp., 34 figs., bibl., index. The problem. Urbanism. Unity and heterogeneity. Rulers and palaces. Political implications of the Early Harappan to Harappan Transition. The grid pattern settlement. Infrastructure. Mobilization of surplus. The unicorn: Lineage organization and the mode of political expansion. Does literacy imply a bureaucracy? One state or several? Problem of ideological unification.

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  • Ratnagar, Shereen. Harappan Archaeology: Early State Perspectives. Delhi: Primus Books, 2016.

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    x, 326 pp., ill., maps. Ratnagar carries further the propositions made in Ratnagar 1991 and deconstructs the models of scholars who have denied the possibility of Harappan state(s).

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  • Reich, David. “The Collision That Formed India.” In Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past. Edited by David Reich, 122–153. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018.

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    The descent of the Harappan population from Iranian farmers awaits confirmation from an expected genomic study of a representative number of Harappan individuals.

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Art and Religion

The principal sources for the study of the Harappan art and Harappan religion are largely the same.

Religion

The religion of the Indus civilization has been much debated since Marshall 1931, the first and classic essay on the topic. Possehl 2009 reviews the principal hypotheses proposed on this theme. Doniger 2009 is cited as an example of many books on Hinduism and its history, which often have a chapter on the Indus civilization. Parpola 2012a and Parpola 2012b study the cultural dimensions of two animals important in the Harappan religion. Parpola 2015 makes a number of novel suggestions concerning Harappan religion and its relation to Mesopotamian and later Indian religion. On the Harappan burial practices, see Prabhakar 2012 (cited under Late/Post-Urban Harappan Sites: Sanauli).

  • Doniger, Wendy. The Hindus: An Alternative History. New York: Penguin Press, 2009.

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    xviii, 780 pp. Chapter 3: “Civilization in the Indus Valley.” One of the best reviews of the evidence for Harappan religion in the many textbooks and histories of Hinduism.

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  • Marshall, John. “Religion.” In Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization. Vol. 1. Edited by John Marshall, 48–78. London: Arthur Probstain, 1931.

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    Classic but much criticized discussion of the Harappan religion.

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  • Parpola, Asko. “Crocodile in the Indus Civilization and Later South Asian traditions.” In Current Studies on the Indus Civilization, Vol. 9. Edited by Toshiki Osada and Hitoshi Endo, 1–58. New Delhi: Manohar, 2012a.

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    The zoological background. South Asian vernacular names of crocodiles. South Asian crocodile cults and conceptions. Crocodile in the Indus civilization. Survival of Harappan crocodile cult (depicted in a painted pot from Amri) in present-day tribal villages of Saurashtra, Gujarat.

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  • Parpola, Asko. “The Harappan Unicorn in Eurasian and South Asian Perspectives.” In Current Studies on the Indus Civilization, Vol. 9. Edited by Toshiki Osada and Hitoshi Endo, 125–188. New Delhi: Manohar, 2012b.

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    The unicorn myth of medieval European bestiaries. The unicorn of Ctesias and Megasthenes. The Iranian Bundahishn. A later Indian “unicorn”: The Ṛṣyaśṛṅga legend. The Gilgamesh epic of Mesopotamia. The single horn in Indian mythology. The Harappan “unicorn” as the auroch bull. The lion-bull combat and the “sacred marriage” in Western Asia and in ancient South Asia. The Bull of Heaven and astral symbols and myths. Identification of the Harappan “unicorn” as the nilgai antelope. See also Parpola’s chapter “Unicorn Bull and Victory Parade,” pp. 435–444, in Frenez, et al. 2018 (cited under Article Collections).

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  • Parpola, Asko. The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015.

    DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190226909.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    xvi, 363 pp., 190 figs., bibl., index. Novel suggestions about the Harappan religion based on comparison with West Asian and later South Asian religion, study of iconography and the Indus script. Survival of the Harappan folk religion (crocodile cult) among present-day tribal people of South Gujarat. Adoption of West Asian royal cult of the Goddess of War and Victory, and the worship of planets and stars as aspects of divinities. Creation and later adjustment of the nakṣatra calendar.

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  • Possehl, Gregory L. “The Indus Civilization.” In The Penguin Handbook of Ancient Religions. Edited by John R. Hinnells, 418–489. London: Penguin Books, 2009.

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    A useful overview of hypotheses concerning the Harappan religion.

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Seals and Tablets

The Indus seals and tablets contain both iconography (an important source of Harappan art and religion) as well as texts in the Indus script, so Joshi and Parpola 1987; Shah and Parpola 1991; Parpola, et al. 2010; and Parpola, et al. 2019 are very relevant also to the Indus Script section. Franke-Vogt 1991 is an important study of the seals, sealings, and tablets from Mohenjo-daro, which among other things classifies their iconographic motifs recording also proposed interpretations. Ameri, et al. 2018 contains five papers related to the Indus civilization and gives an opportunity to acquaint oneself with the sealing traditions of some other cultures, of which those of the ancient Near East were in contact with the Harappans.

  • Ameri, Marta, Sarah Kielt Costello, Gregg Jamison, and Sarah Jarmer Scott, eds. Seals and Sealing in the Ancient World: Case Studies from the Near East, Egypt, the Aegean, and South Asia. Cambridge, UK, and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018.

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    xxix, 468 pp., 111 figs, 25 pl., 13 tables, bibl., index. Five essays related to Indus seals and glyptic studies: an overview by A. Parpola; an image-based interpretation of the iconographic motifs by M. Ameri; two studies of seal carving traditions, by G. M. Jamison, and by A. S. Green; and on the post-Harappan life of the Indus sealing tradition in the seals of the Dilmun culture of the Gulf, by S. T. Laursen.

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  • Franke-Vogt, Ute. Die Glyptik aus Mohenjo-Daro. Uniformität und Variabilität in der Induskultur: Untersuchungen zur Typologie, Ikonographie und räumlichen Verteilung. 2 vols. Baghdader Forschungen 13. Mainz, Germany: Verlag Philipp von Zabern, 1991.

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    I: Text und Tabellen. xlix, 227 pp., with 121 tables; II: Appendices und Tafeln. iv, 229–569 pp., 57 plates. An important study of the Indus seals, sealings, and tablets from Mohenjo-daro. The objects are carefully catalogued using unpublished archival sources; the distribution of their find spots is analyzed in regard to various criteria. Franke-Vogt classifies the objects into different types, and their iconography into different motifs, illustrated in excellent drawings; and interpretations proposed for many motifs are recorded.

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  • Joshi, Jagat Pati, and Asko Parpola, eds. Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions. Vol. 1, Collections in India. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Series B, 239; Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 86. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1987.

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    xxxii, 392 pp. Nearly 3,900 photos documenting 1,537 objects belonging to museum collections in India.

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  • Parpola, Asko, B. M. Pande, and Petteri Koskikallio, eds. Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions. Vol. 3, New Material, Untraced Objects, and Collections outside India and Pakistan. Part 1: Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. In collaboration with Richard H. Meadow and J. Mark Kenoyer. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Humaniora 359; Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 96. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 2010.

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    lx, 443 pp. In addition to the photographs of objects from Mohenjo-daro and Harappa not included in Vols. 1–2 and a listing of their basic data, contains preface and three introductory essays: on the Oxus civilization and two compartmented seals from Mohenjo-daro, by Ute Franke; on the inscribed objects from the Harappa excavations 1986–2007 by J. M. Kenoyer and R. M. Meadow; and on “Major Clark,” the owner of the first published Indus seal, by A. Parpola.

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  • Parpola, Asko, B. M. Pande, and Petteri Koskikallio, eds. Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions. Vol. 3, New Material, Untraced Objects, and Collections outside India and Pakistan. Part 2: Shahr-i Sokhta; Mundigak; Mehrgarh, Nausharo, Sibri, Dauda-damb; Chanhu-daro; Ahar, Balathal, Gilund; Kalibangan; Rojdi. Edited in collaboration with Massimo Vidale and Alessandra Lazzari; Catherine and Jean-François Jarrige, Gonzague Quivron and Hélène Tromparent; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and Gregory L. Possehl. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Humaniora 384; Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 116. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 2019.

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    xxxvi, 394 pp. In addition to the photographs of objects, a listing of their basic data and preface, contains four introductory essays: on the seals and seal impressions from Shahr-i Sokhta by M. Vidale & A. Lazzari; on the seals and seal impressions from Mehrgarh, Nausharo, Sibri, and Dauda-damb and from Mundigak by H. Tromparent; on the incised and painted marks on the pottery of Mehrgarh and Nausharo by G. Quivron; and on the seals and sealings of the Ahar-Banas culture by M. Ameri.

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  • Shah, Sayid Ghulam Mustafa, and Asko Parpola, eds. Corpus of Indus Seals and Inscriptions. Vol. 2, Collections in Pakistan. Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae, Series B, 240, Memoirs of the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan 5. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia, 1991.

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    xxxii, 448 pp. 5,453 photos of 2,138 objects belonging to museum collections in Pakistan.

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Sculptures

Stone sculptures are rare in the Indus civilization—almost all are from the late levels of Mohenjo-daro. These have been published in Ardeleanu-Jansen 1984. Parpola 1985 is a monograph on the best known of them, the “Priest-King.”

  • Ardeleanu-Jansen, Alexandra. “Stone Sculptures from Mohenjo-daro.” In Interim Reports Vol. 1: Reports on Field Work Carried Out at Mohenjo-daro Pakistan 1982–83 by the IsMEO—Aachen-University Mission. Edited by M. Jansen and G. Urban, 139–157. Aachen, Germany: RWTH Aachen, 1984.

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    Discusses and illustrates five human heads of limestone (which may have belonged to demolished statues), three of them with the “double bun” hairdo at the nape of the neck; the broken steatite bust of the “Priest-King” (see Parpola 1985, cited under Sculptures); and six sculptures of squatting human persons, (two of alabaster, four of limestone).

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  • Parpola, Asko. The Sky-Garment: A Study of the Harappan Religion and Its Relation to the Mesopotamian and Later Indian Religions. Studia Orientalia 57. Helsinki: The Finnish Oriental Society, 1985.

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    216 pp., 35 figs. In Mesopotamia and Elam, images of gods and kings wear a “sky-garment,” a cloth decorated with symbols of stars, while the trefoil motif of the Harappan “Priest-King’s” cloak in Mesopotamia decorates images of the “Bull of Heaven.” The “sky garment” seems to have been inherited from the Harappans by Vedic people, whose king dons a tārpya garment decorated with dhiṣṇya images: Sanskrit dhiṣṇya denotes “fireplace of sacrificial priests,” but also “star”: the stars are explained in Vedic texts to be fireplaces of pious sacrificers elevated to the sky.

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Terracotta Figurines

The terracotta figurines form a major category of Harappan objects connected with religion. Ardeleanu-Jansen 1993, Clark 2016 and Ratnagar 2018 are their most important analyses.

  • Ardeleanu-Jansen, Alexandra. Die Terrakotten in Mohenjo-Daro: Eine Untersuchung zur keramischen Kleinplastik in Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan (ca. 2300–1900 v. Chr.). Aachen University Mission Occasional Papers. Aachen, Germany: Forschungsprojekt Mohenjo-Daro, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, 1993.

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    xi, 365 pp., 45 pl., 19 plans of areas in Mohenjo-daro, 6 tables, bibl., index. The unpublished field registers of the Mohenjo-daro excavations 1922–1931 with their more than 38,000 entries locate the original find contexts of the terracotta figurines. Criticism of the “mother goddess” interpretation of the female figurines. Overview of the figurines excavated at Pre-, Early Harappan, and Harappan sites. The technique of making the figurines and the organization of production. Various types of human and animal figurines. Annotated catalogue recording the objects according to their excavation numbers with all available details (pp. 190–277).

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  • Clark, Sharri Ruth. The Social Lives of Figurines: Recontextualizing the Third-Millennium-BC Terracotta Figurines from Harappa (Pakistan). Papers of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Vol. 86. Cambridge, MA: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, in association with the American School of Prehistoric Research, Harvard University, 2016.

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    xv, 346 pp., many col. ill., bibl., database on CD. Clark’s is a many-sided and methodical study, which among other things reconstructs the original temporal, spatial, and social contexts of the entire large figurine corpus from Harappa; analyzes the manufacturing and style of the figurines, gender marking, dress and ornaments. In the chapter “The Figurines and Religion in the Indus Civilization,” Clark compares the material with earlier and later South Asian terracotta figurine traditions.

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  • Ratnagar, Shereen. The Magic in the Image: Women in Clay at Mohenjo-daro and Harappa. New Delhi: Manohar, 2018.

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    444 pp., 50 col. ill., bibl., index. Do the many female figurines at Indus sites justify the belief that the worship of a “Mother Goddess” was prevalent then? Ratnagar offers a contrary viewpoint in her multifaceted analysis of these figurines. The final part of the book (more than 200 pp.) is a catalogue of female figurines from Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, and Chanhu-daro in Indian museums, all re-photographed.

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Painted Pottery

The motifs of painted pottery form an important basis for the study of religion and ideology of the Indus civilization. Quivron 2000 charts the chronological evolution of Harappan painted pottery motifs. Satyawadi 1994 is a basic collection and study of the Harappan painted pottery motifs. See also Dales and Kenoyer 1986 (cited under Principal Sites: Mohenjo-daro). Franke and Cortesi 2015 and Uesugi 2017 describe painted pottery (Uesugi also looks at human and animal figurines) from clandestine excavations in Baluchistan, with excellent essays. Didier 2013 describes the Early Bronze Age pottery of Pakistani Makran, mainly on the basis of recent excavations at Shahi Tump and Miri Qalat.

  • Didier, Aurore. La production céramique du Makran (Pakistan) à l’Âge du Bronze Ancien (2800-2500 a. J.-C.): Contribution à l’étude des peuplements des régions indo-iraniens. Mémoires des Missions archéologiques françaises en Asie centrale et en Asie moyenne 14. Série Indus-Balochistan. Paris: De Boccard, 2013.

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    371 pp., 231 col. & b/w figs. (including maps), bibl. Evolution of pottery on the coastal Makran region of Pakistan (especially at the sites of Shahi Tump and Miri Qalat) in Early Bronze Age. The study is highly important for research of cultural and material relations of the area with neighboring regions, central and eastern Baluchistan, the Indus Valley, southeastern Iran, Afghanistan, and the Oman Peninsula.

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  • Franke, Ute, and Elisa Cortesi, eds. Lost and Found: Prehistoric Pottery Treasures from Baluchistan. Berlin: Museum für Islamische Kunst, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, 2015.

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    iv, 394 pp., many hundreds of color photos. Catalogue of looted 765 prehistoric painted pots from Baluchistan, confiscated by customs and exhibited at the National Museum of Pakistan, described along with the natural landscape, population and economy of Baluchistan and archaeological research in Baluchistan by foremost experts. Kili Ghul Mohammad, Togau, Kechi Beg, Nal, Faiz Mohammad, Kech-Makran (Dasht/Emir), Kulli, and Londo wares.

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  • Quivron, Gonzague. “Evolution of the Mature Indus Pottery Style in the Light of the Excavations at Nausharo, Pakistan.” East and West, n.s., 50.1–4 (2000): 147–190.

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    A most important study of Harappan painted pottery motifs establishing their evolution and chronology.

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  • Satyawadi, Sudha. Proto-Historic Pottery of Indus Valley Civilization: Study of Painted Motifs. Foreword by B. B. Lal. Perspectives in Indian Art & Archaeology 2. New Delhi: D. K. Printworld, 1994.

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    324 pp., 652 b/w figs., 10 two-page comparative charts, 138 col. photos, glossary, bibl., index. Collection of painted pottery motifs (as known in 1994) and a very useful study of this material.

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  • Uesugi, Akinori. Ceramics and Terracotta Figurines from Balochistan of the Katolec Collection. Tokyo: Katolec Corporation, 2017.

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    v, 288 pp., ill., bibl. Excellent photographs, drawings and studies (with maps) of 182 Nal-style painted pots, 22 Kulli-syle painted pots, 6 Zhob-style human figurines and two Kulli-style figurines of humped bulls. Detailed catalogue of the objects, and references to other similar published collections in Japan.

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Indus Script

Kenoyer 2020 addresses the question of the origin and development of the Indus script on the basis of archaeological evidence, especially from Harappa. Mahadevan 1977 is dated but still very useful computer-created edition and concordance of the Indus texts. Mahadevan 1988 is one of the author’s many papers on the decipherment of the Indus script. Possehl 1996 relates the history of Indus script studies and the most prominent attempts to decipher the Indus script until the early 1990s. Parpola 1994 presents a total revision and enlargement of the “first announcement” of a partial decipherment published in 1969 and its continuation, reviewed positively and negatively (see Possehl 1996, pp. 122–128). Wells 2015 is a major result of new computerized studies of the Indus script. Lashari 2020 contains papers by most of the principal scholars presently studying the Indus script. Farmer, et al. 2004 claims that the so-called Indus script is not a writing system based on spoken language, but nonlinguistic symbols.

  • Farmer, Steve, Richard Sproat, and Michael Witzel. “The Collapse of the Indus-Script Thesis: The Myth of a Literate Harappan Civilization.” Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies 11.2 (2004): 19–57.

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    This paper has provoked a number of articles (not cited here) deconstructing the claim of Farmer, et al., namely that the script is not a writing system.

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  • Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark. “Origin and Development of the Indus Script: Insights from Harappa and Other Sites.” In Studies on Indus Script: Conference on Indus Script, Mohenjodaro 2020. Edited by Kaleemullah Lashari, 1–20. Karachi: Culture, Tourism & Antiquities Department, Government of Sindh, 2020.

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    The potter’s marks, used since 4000 BCE, continue in the Harappan period besides thescript as a separate medium. In the Early Harappan Kot Diji phase 2800–2600 there can be more than one mark on a pot, and some of the marks are definitely identical with signs of the Indus script, which comes into being in the transition period 2600–2500 BCE.

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  • Lashari, Kaleemullah, ed. Studies on Indus Script: Conference on Indus Script, Mohenjodaro 2020. Karachi: Culture, Tourism & Antiquities Department, Government of Sindh, 2020.

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    xvi, 280 pp., ill. 15 papers representing the current situation in the study of the Indus script.

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  • Mahadevan, Iravatham. The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 77. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 1977.

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    viii, 829 pp. In addition to computer-drawn edition of the Indus texts available in the 1970s and a concordance to their sign sequences, contains nine tables with useful statistics (pp. 715–782), a sign list with variants (pp. 785–792), a classified inventory of the iconographic motifs (“field symbols”) with statistics (pp. 793–798) and illustrations (pp. 799–813), as well as a list of the sources for the texts (pp. 814–829).

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  • Mahadevan, Iravatham. What Do We Know about the Indus Script? Neti Neti (“Not This nor That”). Presidential address, Section V: Historical archaeology, epigraphy and numismatics, Indian History Congress, Fortyninth session, Dharwar, 2–4 November 1988. Madras: The Author, 1988.

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    29 pp. Iravatham Mahadevan was master of the Old Tamil Brahmi inscriptions. Besides the most valuable concordance to the Indus inscriptions he published numerous articles on their decipherment (available online). Along with his interpretations (on which see C. Jyothibabu, “Iravatham Mahadevan’s Reading of the Indus Script—A Critical Review,” Studia Orientalia Electronica 9.1 [2021]), he has contributed important observations, notably in his 1988 paper.

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  • Parpola, Asko. Deciphering the Indus Script. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

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    xxii, 374 pp., 226 figs., 11 tables, bibl., index. Indus civilization and its historical context. Early writing systems. Deciphering an unknown script. Internal evidence for the type of script and for the structure of the Indus language. External clues to the Indus script. In search of the Indus language. Dravidian languages and the Harappan culture. Interpretations of Indus pictograms: The “fish” signs. The astronomical and astrological background. The trefoil motif: further evidence for astral religion. Evidence for Harappan worship of the god Muruku and of the Goddess.

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  • Possehl, Gregory L. Indus Age: The Writing System. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.

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    xvi, 244 pp., 76 figs., 16 pl., 14 tables, bibl., glossary, detailed contents, index. The Indus civilization and its writing system. Seals and writing in the discovery of the Indus Age. Some descriptive features of the Indus script. The survival of the Indus script. Decipherments and other research on the Indus script. The state of research on the Indus script.

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  • Wells, Brian K. The Archaeology and Epigraphy of Indus Writing. With technical appendices of Andreas Fuls. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2015.

    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctvr43jmfSave Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    x, 143 pp., figs., bibl. Development of Wells’s PhD thesis (2006) published in 2011 with the title “Epigraphic Approaches to Indus Writing.” The Indus Valley script. The Indus sign list. Patterns of sign use and the syntactic structure of Indus texts. Tablets, pots and the volumetric system of Harappa. Numerals in the Indus script and their uses. Proto-Dravidian and the Indus script. Appendices I–III by Andreas Fuls: Automated segmentation of Indus texts. Positional analysis of Indus signs. Classifying undeciphered writing systems.

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Decline of the Indus Civilization and Late/Post-Urban Harappan

Lahiri 2000 collects thirty papers that have pondered the causes for the decline and fall of the Indus civilization. Ratnagar 2000 rationally considers the causes for the end of the Indus civilization c. 2000–1900 BCE. Dikshit 2011 offers a sitewise overview of the decline in the Late Harappan period. Giosan, et al. 2012 addresses the effect of climate change on the rivers and Harappan settlements. Green and Petrie 2018 notes the change in the settlement pattern from the Harappan to Late Harappan period. Late Harappan cultures are distinguished by the disappearance of the Indus script and Indus seals (with animal motifs and script), cubic weights, walled cities, and other changes in the Harappan traditions. Four major varieties are distinguished: Cemetery H culture at Harappa and in the Punjab (c. 1900–1300 BCE), discussed in Kenoyer 2005; the Jhukar culture in Sindh (c. 2000–1700? BCE), discussed in Mughal 1992 and Miller 2008; the Rangpur IIB–III culture in Gujarat (c. 1850–1500 BCE), and the Bara culture in eastern Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh (c. 2000–1300 BCE), discussed in Uesugi and Dangi 2017. Possehl 1980 is a monograph on the Indus civilization in Saurashtra, urban and post-urban. Possehl and Raval 1989 (cited under Rojdi) reports on excavations at Rojdi, a “Sorath Harappan” site in the middle of the Saurashtra Peninsula, Gujarat. The two first periods are contemporary with the Indus civilization, but differ materially from it. This is because the “Sorath Harappans” have come to Gujarat before the formation of the Indus civilization, while Lothal belongs to the “Sindhi Harappans” of Gujarat derived from the Indus civilization.

  • Dikshit, K. N. “The Decline of Harappan Civilization.” Ancient India, n.s., 1 (2011): 125–177.

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    Reviews the cultural decline at twenty-nine Harappan sites in India.

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  • Giosan, Liviu, Peter D. Clift, Mark G. Macklin, et al. “Fluvial Landscapes of the Harappan Civilization.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109.26 (2012): E1688–E1694.

    DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1112743109Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Only monsoonal-fed rivers were active in the Indus-Ganges interfluve during the Holocene. As the monsoon weakened, monsoonal rivers gradually dried or became seasonal. Hydroclimatic stress increased thevulnerability of agricultural production supporting Harappan urbanism, leading to settlement downsizing, diversification of crops, and drastic increase in settlements in the moister monsoon regions of the upper Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.

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  • Green, Adam S., and Cameron A. Petrie. “Landscapes of Urbanization and De-Urbanization: A Large-Scale Approach to Investigating the Indus Civilization’s Settlement Distributions in Northwest India.” Journal of Field Archaeology 43.4 (2018): 284–299.

    DOI: 10.1080/00934690.2018.1464332Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    The distributions of Harappan settlements in northwest India shift from numerous small-scale settlements and a small number of larger urban centers to a de-nucleated pattern of settlement after c. 1900 BCE, with an increased number of settlements in the Late Harappan period.

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  • Kenoyer, J. M. “Culture Change during the Late Harappan Period at Harappa: New Insights on Vedic Aryan Issues.” In The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History. Edited by Edwin F. Bryant and Laurie L. Patton, 21–49. Abingdon, UK, and New York: Routledge, 2005.

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    Introduction. Chronological framework. The Late Harappan period. Cemetery H occupation extent. Cemetery H architecture. Cemetery H domestic space. Trade and technology through bead analysis. Pottery production. Late Harappan (Cemetery H) phase kiln. Summary and conclusion.

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  • Lahiri, Nayanjot, ed. The Decline and Fall of the Indus Civilization. Delhi: Permanent Black, 2000.

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    xii, 410 pp., ill., bibl., no index. Thirty papers arranged in three groups of ten each: I. Indus cities and the Aryans. II. Environment and collapse. III. From a city civilization to a phase of devolution.

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  • Miller, Heidi J. “Foreign-Style Objects and the Jhukar Culture at Chanhu-daro.” In Intercultural Relations between South and Southwest Asia: Studies in Commemoration of E. C. L. During Caspers (1934–1996). Edited by Eric Olijdam and Richard H. Spoor, 288–297. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2008.

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    The Jhukar at Chanhu-daro. Cultural phases at Chanhu-daro. The Jhukar small finds from Chanhu-daro. Discussion: Is there a distinct Jhukar small finds assemblage and is it foreign? Conclusions.

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  • Mughal, M. Rafique. “Jhukar and the Late Harappan Cultural Mosaic of the Greater Indus Valley.” In South Asian Archaeology 1989. Monographs in World Archaeology 14. Edited by Catherine Jarrige, 213–221. Madison, WI: Prehistory Press, 1992.

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    The site of Jhukar. Stratigraphic evidence. Jhukar pottery. Late Harappan in Sindh. Late Harappan in Gujarat. Late Harappan in the Punjab. Late Harappan in Baluchistan. Conclusions.

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  • Possehl, Gregory L. Indus Civilization in Saurashtra. Delhi: B. R. Publishing Corporation, 1980.

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    xix, 264 pp., 41 figs, 10 tables, bibl., index. The emergence of the Post-Urban Harappan phase and the Harappan tradition. Gujarat: An overview of the natural variables. The archaeological data. Urban and Post-Urban Harappan settlement patterns in Gujarat. Conclusions. Harappan sites in Gujarat. The archaeological sites of the Ghelo and Kalubhar Valleys.

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  • Ratnagar, Shereen. The End of the Great Harappan Tradition. New Delhi: Manohar, 2000.

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    163 pp., 18 figs., 21 pl., 3 maps, bibl., no index. Environment and ecology. What was it that came to an end? Harappan settlements: Terminal occupations and abandonments. Migrations. The problem of legacy and survivals. Enabling factors and “structural faults.” The impact of the end of long-distance trade. External events that triggered a collapse? The aftermath. Conclusion.

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  • Uesugi, Akinori, and Vivek Dangi. “A Study on the Developments of the Bara Pottery in the Ghaggar Plains.” In Essays in Prehistory, Protohistory and Historical Archaeology: Festschrift to Shri K. N. Dikshit. Edited by Kailashnath Hetu, 176–197. New Delhi: New Bharatiya Book Corporation, 2017.

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    Introduction. Diachronic changes of the Harappan pottery and the Bara pottery based on the evidence from Farmana, Mitathal and Bedwa-2. The emergence and developments of Bara pottery. Summary.

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Late/Post-Urban Harappan Sites

Three Late/Post-Urban Harappan sites are singled out, Rojdi, Daimabad, and Sanauli.

Rojdi

In the middle of the Saurashta Peninsula, Gujarat. Periods: Sorath Harappa, Late Sorath Harappan, Red Polished Ware, Medieval. Size: 7.5 hectares. Described in Possehl and Raval 1989.

  • Possehl, Gregory L., and M. H. Raval. Harappan Civilization and Rojdi. With contributions from Y. M. Chitalwala, Charles Frank Herman, Victoria Stack Kane, Vishnu-Mittre, Steven A. Weber. New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Publishing Co. and American Institute of Indian Studies, 1989.

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    xv, 197 pp., 85 figs., 46 pl., 38 tables, bibl. Introduction. Rojdi material culture: The Sorath Harappan ceramics, by C. F. Herman. The small finds, by Y. M. Chitalwada. Rojdi chronology. Settlement and subsistence at Rojdi. Palaeobotanical research at Rojdi, by S. A. Weber and Vishnu-Mitre. Animal remains from Rojdi, by V. S. Kane. Summary and conclusion.

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Daimabad

In Maharashtra. Periods: Savalda, Late Harappan, Daimabad, Malwa, Jorwe. Size: 50 hectares. The Late Harappan layers have yielded inter alia a stamp seal of stone engraved with the most frequently occurring sign of the Indus script, but here uniquely alone; and four copper sculptures on wheels (buffalo, rhinoceros, elephant, bull-cart with driver), weighing together 60 kg. Sali 1986 reports on the 1976–1979 excavations.

  • Sali, S. A. Daimabad 1976–1979. Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India 83. New Delhi: Archaeological Survey of India, 1986.

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    xiii, 745 pp., 181 pl., 140 figs. Introductory. Site and its environs. Sequence of cultures and the characteristics of each culture. The cuttings. The structures. The burials. Chronology. The pottery. Other finds. Contributions and conclusions. Appendices I–VII. Annexure I.

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Sanauli

A Bara culture site in Uttar Pradesh near Delhi. Graveyard of 1.5 hectares with 116 burials, described in Prabhakar 2012. Nearby Royal graveyard described in Manjul and Manjul 2018. Parpola 2020 discusses the vehicle burials of Sanauli’s Royal graveyard connecting them with the copper sculpture of a bull-cart driver from Daimabad, and suggesting that the buried royals were immigrants from the Oxus Civilization (BMAC, Bactria and Margiana Archaeological Complex).

  • Manjul, Sanjay Kumar, and Arvin Manjul. “Recent Excavation at Sanauli, District Bagpat, UP: A Landmark in Indian Archaeology.” Purātattva 48 (2018): 220–225, and pl. 1–12.

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    Reports the first discovery of a Bronze Age vehicle burial in India, dated c. 1900 BCE, in the royal graveyard of Sanauli, associated with OCP type pottery and antennae-hilted swords typical of the Copper Hoards.

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  • Parpola, Asko. “Royal ‘Chariot’ Burials of Sanauli near Delhi and Archaeological Correlates of Prehistoric Indo-Iranian Languages.” Studia Orientalia Electronica 8.1 (2020): 175–198.

    DOI: 10.23993/store.98032Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Besides discussing the vehicle burials of Sanauli, revises the archaeological correlation of the Indo-Iranian languages presented in Parpola 2015 (cited under Religion).

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  • Prabhakar, V. N. “Burial Practices of the Harappans: Sanauli Excavation—A Case Study.” PhD diss., Department of Ancient Indian History, Culture and Archaeology, Kurukshetra University, 2012.

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    xxviii, 677 pp., ill. Introduction. Survey of disposal of dead since prehistoric times from archaeological record. Harappan civilization and burial repertoire. Survey of burial remains from Harappan sites. Burial practices as revealed from Sanauli excavations. References from historic literature on burial practices. Discussion and summary.

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The “Aryan Problem”

Some scholars, including archaeologists (see Shaffer and Lichtenstein 2005), challenge the traditional view that Indo-Aryan speakers immigrated to South Asia in the second millennium BCE, bringing with them the domesticated horse and the horse-drawn chariot, which are mentioned many times in the Rigveda, the earliest Vedic text. This “Indo-Aryan migration debate,” with important political implications, is examined in detail in Bryant 2001. The Indo-Aryan languages form a branch of the Indo-Iranian languages, which in turn descend from the Indo-European proto-language. Mallory 1989 traced the homeland of Proto-Indo-European in its last phase to the Yamnaya (Pit Grave) cultures of pastoralists inhabiting the Pontic-Caspian steppes of southeastern Europe c. 3500–3000 BCE. Allentoft, et al. 2015 analyzed the genomes of ancient humans across Bronze Age Eurasia and confirmed a migration of people from the Yamnaya culture to northern Europe and Central Asia, including the Sintashta culture of southern Trans-Urals. The horse-drawn chariot emerged c. 2000 BCE in the Sintashta culture, around the same time as it emerged in eastern Europe—see Grigoriev 2021. The Indo-Aryan speakers of the Vedic culture are likely to have arrived to the Swat region around 1600–1400 BCE, according to the earliest evidence of the domestic horse in South Asia in immigrant cultures in Swat, as reported in Stacul 1987. The horse is absent from the osteological and iconographic evidence connected with the Indus civilization. The genomic study by Narasimhan, et al. 2019 indicates that one of the two main ancestral populations of South Asia results from the mixture of Harappan people with pastoralists coming from the east European steppes. See also Kenoyer 2005 (cited under Decline of the Indus Civilization and Late/Post-Urban Harappan).

  • Allentoft, Morten E., Martin Sikora, Karl-Göran Sjögren, et al. “Population Genomics of Bronze Age Eurasia.” Nature 522 (2015): 167–172.

    DOI: 10.1038/nature14507Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    “Our genomic evidence for the spread of Yamnaya people from the Pontic-Caspian steppe to both northern Europe and Central Asia during the Early Bronze Age . . . corresponds well with the hypothesized expansion of the Indo-European languages” (p. 170).

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  • Bryant, Edwin. The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

    DOI: 10.1093/0195137779.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    xi, 387 pp. The “Indo-Aryan migration debate,” has become a major political issue in India. The traditional view is that the Vedic texts were created by Indo-Aryan speakers coming to South Asia with horse-drawn chariots in the second millennium BCE. This has been challenged especially by Indian scholars and politicians, who deny the said immigration and claim that the Harappans spoke Indo-Aryan. Bryant’s doctoral thesis examines the history of the debate and the arguments of both sides.

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  • Grigoriev, Stanislav. “The Evolution of Antler and Bone Cheekpieces from the Balkan-Carpathian Region to Central Kazakhstan: Chronology of the “Chariot” Cultures and Mycenaean Greece.” Journal of Ancient History and Archaeology 8.2 (2021): 148–189.

    DOI: 10.14795/j.v8i2Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    Grigoriev provides the most recent well-informed discussion on the emergence and spread of the horse-drawn chariot with two spoked wheels, around 2000 BCE, in the Sintashta culture of the steppes of southern Trans-Urals, and in the Carpatho-Balkan area. The paper has abundant bibliography on earlier studies.

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  • Mallory, J. P. In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth. London: Thames and Hudson, 1989.

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    288 pp., 175 ill. A fundamental study correlating the formation of the Indo-European language family with the evolution of archaeological cultures. Mallory identifies the Yamnaya (Pit-Grave) culture of the Pontic-Caspian steppes (c. 3500–3000 BCE) as the last Proto-Indo-European homeland.

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  • Narasimhan, Vagheesh M., Nick Patterson, Priya Moorjani, et al. “The Formation of Human Populations in South and Central Asia.” Science 365.6457 (2019): eaat7487.

    DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7487Save Citation »Export Citation » Share Citation »

    After the decline of the Indus civilization, its people mixed with individuals in the southeast to form one of the two main ancestral populations of South Asia, whose direct descendants live in southern India. Simultaneously, they mixed with descendants ofSteppe pastoralists who, starting around 4,000 years ago, spread via Central Asia to form the other main ancestral population. The Steppe ancestry in South Asia has the same profile as that in Bronze Age Eastern Europe.

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  • Shaffer, J. G., and D. A. Lichtenstein. “South Asian Archaeology and the Myth of Indo-Aryan Invasions.” In The Indo-Aryan Controversy: Evidence and Inference in Indian History. Edited by Edwin F. Bryant and Laurie L. Patton, 75–104. London and New York: Routledge, 2005.

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    Disregarding linguistic arguments and denying an intrusion of Indo-Aryans to South Asia from the outside, the archaeologist authors explain the Late/Post-Harappan “indigenous discontinuity” with a regional population shift from the Indus Valley to the Gangetic Valley. The book, edited by Bryant and Patton, contains a wide range of papers on the Indo-Aryan controversy.

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  • Stacul, Giorgio. Prehistoric and Protohistoric Swāt, Pakistan (c. 3000–1400 B.C.). Foreword by Karl Jettmar. Contributions by Bruno Compagnoni and Lorenzo Costantini. Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, Reports and Memoirs, 20. Rome: IsMEO, 1987.

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    xix, 237 pp., with 51 pl. A basic exposition of the pre- and protohistoric cultures of Swat, documenting the earliest evidence for the domestic horse from South Asia, dated to c. 1600–1400 BCE.

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Bibliographies

Practically all books and articles cited in the present bibliography have their own bibliographies for consultation. Such a consultation is also necessary, because the bibliographies mentioned here were all published before 2000. Brunswig 1973 and Dandekar 1987 are thematically arranged, while Possehl 1979 and Possehl 1999 are alphabetical by author.

  • Brunswig, Robert H., Jr. “A Comprehensive Bibliography of the Indus Civilization and Related Subjects and Areas.” Asian Perspectives 16.1 (1973): 75–111.

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    The bibliography is arranged in alphabetical order under thirteen headings.

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  • Dandekar, R. N. Harappan Bibliography. Government Oriental Series, Class B, 15. Poona, India: Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute, 1987.

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    xi, 495 pp. This annotated bibliography combines the sections on the Indus civilization previously published in the three first volumes of Dandekar’s Vedic Bibliography (Bombay 1946, Poona 1961, 1973), complemented with more recent items. The material is presented under nine headings, among them “Script, language, seals” and “Religion.” Contains an index of authors.

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  • Possehl, Gregory L. “An Extensive Bibliography of the Indus Civilization including References Cited in the Text.” In Ancient Cities of the Indus. Edited by Gregory L. Possehl, 363–422. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1979.

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    Contains Editor’s Introduction (p. 363), Abbreviations (pp. 364–367), Bibliography [with 1607 items] (pp. 368–420), and Subject index for bibliography (pp. 421–422).

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  • Possehl, Gregory L. “Bibliography.” In Indus Age: The Beginnings. Edited by Gregory L. Possehl, 847–1025. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999.

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    Complements Possehl’s earlier bibliography.

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Article Collections

The five article collections cited here present a wide range of studies that cover most aspects of the Indus civilization. Though many of these studies are dated, it does not necessarily mean that they have become invalid. Possehl 1979 reprints many “classical” articles that have been turning points in research. Lal and Gupta 1984 contains papers by leading scholars of the time, but many of them were submitted already ten years before their publication. Possehl 1993 mostly consists of papers presented at an international conference held in Kashmir in 1979 and first published in 1982. Settar and Ravisettar 2002 differs from the other works cited here in that it was planned to form a coherent whole covering all essential aspects of the Indus civilization. Frenez, et al. 2018 is one of the most recent contributions to the study of the Indus script by prominent scholars.

  • Frenez, Dennys, Gregg M. Jamison, Randall Law, Massimo Vidale, and Richard Meadow, eds. Walking with the Unicorn: Social Organization and Material Culture in Ancient South Asia: Jonathan Mark Kenoyer Felicitation Volume. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2018.

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    xix, 640 pp., ill. Forty contributions on different aspects of the Indus civilization by prominent scholars: including Joan Aruz, “Reflections on Fantastic Beasts of the Harappan World: A View from the West”; William R. Belcher, “Fish Symbolism and Fish Remains in Ancient South Asia”; Brad Chase, “Family Matters in Harappan Gujarat”; Brett C. Hoffman, “Indus Copper and Bronze: Traditional Perspectives and New Interpretations”; Gregg M. Jamison, “The Organization of Indus Unicorn Seal Production: A Multi-faceted Investigation of Technology, Skill, and Style”; Cameron A. Petrie, Danika Parikh, Adam S. Green, and Jennifer Bates, “Looking beneath the Veneer: Thoughts about Environmental and Cultural Diversity in the Indus Civilization.”

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  • Lal, B. B., and S. P. Gupta, eds. Frontiers of the Indus Civilization: Sir Mortimer Wheeler Commemoration Volume. New Delhi: Books and Books, 1984.

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    xv, 546 pp., figs. and maps, 222 bw pl., no index. Fifty-five papers by practically all the principal researchers of the Indus civilization of the time, with diverse contributions, including F. R. Allchin, “The Northern Limits of the Harappan Cultural Zone”; George F. Dales, “Sex and Stone at Mohenjo-Daro”; R. H. Meadow, “A Camel Skeleton from Mohenjo-daro”; V. B. Mainkar, “Metrology in the Indus Civilization”; Giorgio Stacul, “Harappan Post-Urban Evidence in the Swat Valley”; Walter A. Fairservis, “Archaeology in Baluchistan and the Harappan Problem”; K. A. R. Kennedy, “Trauma and Disease in the Ancient Harappans.”

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  • Possehl, Gregory L., ed. Ancient Cities of the Indus. New Delhi: Vikas Publishing House, 1979.

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    xv, 422 pp. Forty-three articles divided into ten groups, each introduced by the editor. A number of papers that opened new vistas are included: John Marshall, “First Light on a Long-Forgotten Civilization” (1924); C. J. Gadd, “Seals of Ancient Indian Style Found at Ur” (1932); A. Leo Oppenheim, “The Seafaring Merchants of Ur” (1954); S. R. Rao, “A ‘Persian Gulf’ Seal from Lothal” (1963).

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  • Possehl, Gregory L., ed. Harappan Civilization: A Recent Perspective. 2d rev. ed. New Delhi: American Institute of Indian Studies, 1993.

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    xix, 595 pp., many bw pl., index. Forty-four papers divided into seven sections, most of them already published in 1982 in the first edition. Some original papers were omitted and replaced by two new sections: “Harappan Archaeology and the Gulf,” and “Results of Recent Excavations.”

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  • Settar, S., and Ravi Korisettar, eds. Protohistory: Archaeology of the Harappan Civilization. Indian Archaeology in Retrospect 2. New Delhi: Indian Council of Historical Research and Manohar, 2002.

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    xix, 497 pp., ill., bibl., index. Sixteen contributions on different aspects of the Indus Civilization., including R. A. E Coningham, “Deciphering the Indus Script”; Michael Jansen, “Settlement Networks of the Indus Civilization”; M. K. Dhavalikar, “Harappan Social Organization”; K. K. Bhan, M. Vidale, and J. M. Kenoyer, “Some Important Aspects of the Harappan Technological Tradition”; Dorian Q. Fuller and Marco Madella, “Issues in Harappan Archaeobotany”; Richard H. Meadow and Ajita K. Patel, “From Mehrgarh to Harappa and Dholavira: Prehistoric Pastoralism in North-Western South Asia through the Harappan Period.”

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Serial Publications and Journals

South Asian Archaeology (SAA) and its successors—South Asian Archaeology and Art (SAAA) and the proceedings of the European Association for South Asian Archaeology and Art (EASAA)—publish the proceedings of biennial international conferences on South Asian archaeology and art held at various cities of Europe since 1971 (published in 1973). This has been the principal forum where archaeologists (from Europe, South Asia and elsewhere) and other researchers working on the Indus civilization have published their progress reports, so it is a very important resource. Among other serial publications, Current Studies on the Indus Civilization and its complements may be singled out as the most important; it includes excavation reports, an important monograph on the mineral sources of the Indus civilization (Law), article collections, and symposia proceedings. Among the journals, Indian Archaeology — A Review (IAR) is a yearly publication of the Archaeological Survey of India, containing short reports (illustrated or not) on the results of the archaeological excavations and explorations carried out in India during the year mentioned in the title. Important source as the final reports are often delayed or not published. IAR continues after a considerable time gap the Annual Report of the Archaeological Survey of India. Ancient India contains articles on all aspects of South Asian archaeology, including some relevant to the Indus civilization, contains among other things Wheeler’s report on his excavations at Harappa (in Vol. 3), and papers by Stuart Piggott relevant to the study of the Indus civilization. Purātattva and Man and Environment have both published numerous papers on the Indus civilization. Pakistan Archaeology (PA) and Ancient Pakistan (AP) cover the whole field of their titles, but both contain important papers on the Indus civilization: progress reports on excavations of Indus sites by French Archaeologists in PA, and excavation reports on Gumla and Rahman Dheri in AP.

Websites

Harappa.com is an excellent website for the Indus civilization, with photographs, articles, and book presentations, supported by the Harappa Excavation Project directed by Richard Meadow and J. M. Kenoyer.

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