Cosmos ,Sanatan Dharma.Ancient Hinduism science.
A perfectly cut unicorn seal with a sign right above the horn. The seal was found in ancient Kish, Iraq, during excavations between 1922 and 1933 by the Oxford-Field Museum (Chicago) Expedition. The year is given at approximately 2000 BCE, when craftsmanship in seal manufacture could have been at its height.
A cubical die with 1 to 6 dots was found in rubble during excavations at Harappa. Many such dice were also found at Mohenjo-daro. John Marshall writes: “That di…cing was a common game at Mohenjo-daro is proved by the number of pieces that have been found. In all cases they are made of pottery and are usually cubical, ranging in size from 1.2 by 1.2 by 1.2 inches to 1.5 by 1.5 by 15 inches. . .. The dice of Mohenjo-daro are not marked in the same way as to-day, i.e. so that the sum of the points on any two opposite sides amounts to seven. Instead of that, 1 is opposite 2, 3 opposite 4, and 5 opposite 6. All the examples found are exceedingly well made with well-defined edges; the points are shallow holes averaging 0.1 inch in diameter. The clay of which they are made is light red in color, well baked, and sometimes coated with a red wash. These dice must have been thrown on a soft surface, such as a piece of cloth, or on dusty ground, for their edges show little sign of wear. It is not yet known whether these objects were used in pairs, but two specimens found in the Dk Area [of Mohenjo-daro], not far from each other, are exactly the same size.” (Marshall, Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization, pp. 551-2)
More on the neglect of Mohejo-daro,now in Pakistan could be destroyed by neglecyt with an illustrated essay just appeared on the BBC website http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31984489
Impression of an Indus-style cylinder seal of unknown Near Eastern origin in the Musee du Louvre, Paris. All indications are that the Bronze age was built on a robust international trade system. Massimo Vidale’s article Growing in a Foreign World: For a History of the “Meluha Villages” in Mesopotamia in the 3rd Millenium BCE gathers together all facts about Indus settlements and trading with ancient Mesopotamia around 2500 BCE. Conjectures and implications by an Italian archaeologist who is a pioneer in multidisciplinary analysis. The connections between these ancient Bronze age civilizations could one day help answer a lot of questions. People moved around a lot more than we think, and interactions between cultures just as rich as they are today. http://a.harappa.com/…/growing-foreign-world-history-meluha…
Workers digging a deep pit during the 1935-36 excavations in Chanhu-daro, Sindh. Chanhu-daro was the only American run pre-partition Indus excavations, by the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and led by Ernest J.H. Mackay. They revealed a highly-advanced ancient Indus manufacturing site. An illustrated 1937 article by Dorothy Mackay describing the finds is available at
Ancient Indus males of stature seem to have had their hair tied in close buns, with a headband. This is true of the priest king, shown here in a painted color replica, in the original, and in profile soon after being found in the 1920s. The figure below, with the same hair hair arrangement and headband, was found at Mohenjo-daro. Mark Kenoyer writes of this bust ” “Finely braided or wavy combed hair is tied into a double bun on the back of the head, and a plain fillet or headband with two hanging ribbons falls down the back. The upper lip is shaved and a closely cropped and combed beard lines the pronounced lower jaw. The stylized almond shaped eyes are framed by long eyebrows. The wide mouth is very similar to that on the “Priest-King” sculpture.”
A far reaching and deeply interesting paper by Dennys Frenez and Massimo Vidale on composite ancient Indus creatures, often based on the goat, and their meaning in a way that reaches into ancient Greek texts: Harappa Chimaeras as ‘Symbolic Hypertexts’. Some Thoughts on Plato, Chimaera and the Indus Civilization at http://a.harappa.com/content/harappan-chimaeras
The splash of the new: pictures of mysterious seals from Harappa had appeared in specialized journals, but no fuller picture of multiple seals had been offered to the public until September 24, 1924 with this set of seals from the Illustrated London News. From the very beginning, the face of the unicorn was the face of the Indus civilization, and that is probably how its rulers had intended it to be.
Sir John Marshall, who published the findings wrote “The animal most often …represented on the seals is the apparently single-horned beast . . .. There is a possibility, I think, that the artist intended to represent one horn behind the other. In other animals, however, the two horns are shown quite distinctly. In some respects the body of this beast, which is always a male, resembles that of an antelope of heavy build, such as the eland or oryx, and in others that of an ox. The long tuffed tail may belong to either class. The horn is sometimes smooth . . . sometimes it has transverse ridges. In the latter case, the possibility of the creature being an ox is ruled out. The long pointed ears are also characteristic of the antelope. Perhaps we have here a fabulous animal which is a composite of the ox and antelope. And yet to the casual eye there is nothing fantastic about it, as about some of the other animals represented on seals; nor does it in any way resemble the unicorn of heraldry, which is made up of different parts of a number of animals, though it must be noted that the traditional unicorn was supposed to have originated in India” [Mohenjodaro and The Indus Civilization, Vol. II., p. 382].
It is often said that the ancient Indus people invented latrines, as these examples from Harappa and Mohenjo-daro suggest. Mark Kenoyer writes “Many urban dwellers may have walked outside the city wall to the nearby fields to relive themselves, as is commonly done today throughout much of Asia. But many houses had latrines that were distinct from the bathing areas. The earlry excavators at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro did not pay mch attention to this essential feature of the Ind…us cities, but current excavations at Harappa are finding what appear to be latrines in almost every house. The commodes were made of large jars or sump pot sunk into the floor, and many of them contained a small jar similar to the modern jar or lota used throughout Pakistan and India for washing after using the toilet. Sometimes these sump pots were connected to a drain to let sewage flow out, and most had a tiny hole at the bottom to let water seep into the ground. Clean sand was scattered on the floor of the latrine and periodically an entire new floor was installed. These sump pots were probably cleaned out quite regularly by a special class of laborers who also would have periodically cleaned out the large garbage bins and sewage drains in the city streets.” (Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, p. 60)
Video: Masters of the River is a well-made 52 minute program produced for French TV. It includes CGI recreations of Dholavira and its complex water management system http://a.harappa.com/…/indus-valley-civilization-masters-ri…
Planoconvex molded tablet from Harappa showing a diety battlong two tigers. “The thick jungles of the Indus Valley were full of tigers and leopards, so it is not surprising that the image of a ferocious feline is a recurring motif in ritual narratives on seals as well as molded tablets. . .. The figure strangling the two tigers may represent a female, as a pronounced breast can be seen in profile. Earlier discoveries of this motif on seals from Mohenjo-daro definitely show a …male figure, and most scholars have assumed some connection with the carved seals from Mesopotamia that illustrate episodes from the famous Gilgamesh epic. The Mesopotamian epics show lions being strangled by a hero, whereas the Indus narratives render tigers being strangled by a figure, sometimes clearly males, sometimes ambiguous or possibly female. This motif of a hero or heroine grappling with two wild animals could have been created independently for similar events that may have occurred in Mesopotamia as well as the Indus valley.” (Mark Kenoyer, Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, p. 114) Click for a large view.
Material: terra cotta
Dimensions: 3.91 length, 1.5 to 1.62 cm width
Harappa, Lot 4651-01
Harappa Museum, H95-2486
Meadow and Kenoyer 1997
One side of a planoconvex molded tablet found in 1995 in Mound ET at Harappa. Mark Kenoyer writes about his narrative scene depicting the killing of a water buffalo: “A person, possibly a man, with hair tied in a bun on the back of the head, impales a water buffalo with a barbed spear. The hunter’s foot presses down on the water buffalo’s head as he thrusts the spear into its shoulder. In Later Hindu rituals, the water buffalo sacrifice is associated with the worship of the g…oddess Durga, but on this seal the sacrifice takes place in the presence of a priest or diety seated in yogic position. The seated figure wears bangles and a horned and plumed headdress. Above the head of the hunter is a gharial, a small species of crocodile with a narrow snout that was once common in the Ravi and Indus rivers, but is now almost extinct. Similar scenes of an individual spearing a water buffalo have been found on other terracotta tablets from both Harappa and Mohenjo-daro . . .. (Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, pp. 114-5). Click to see in large format. Thursday: the other side of this tablet.
Material: terra cotta
Dimensions: 3.91 length, 1.5 to 1.62 cm width
Harappa, Lot 4651-01
Harappa Museum, H95-2486
Meadow and Kenoyer 1997
Bathing in Mohenjo-daro some 4,500 years ago was as sophisticated as had ever been the case in human history. Almost every home in the city had a bathing platform with a water-tight brick floor and drainage system. The Great Bath was only the epitome of a well-executed urban system, not improved upon in the region until modern times. As these captions explain, even the drains were carefully thought out. More at http://www.mohenjodaro.net/indusbathingdrain85.html
Unfired steatite seal and sealing of a boat found at Mohenjo-daro, with a close and insightful reading by Ernest J.H. Mackay: “Seal 30 . . . was found in two pieces. It is rectangular in shape and incomplete motif on the back consists of roughly scratched lines that cross one another. . .. The face is nearly complete and it clearly bears a representation of a ship, the first of its kind to be found one a seal from Mohenjo-daro. . .. Why representations of boats and ships are so rare it is difficult to explain, as it is more than probable that the river Indus was largely used for traffic of all kinds, and river craft should have been perfectly familiar to the inhabitants of Mohenjo-daro.
The vessel portrayed on this seal is boldly but roughly cut, apparently with a triangular burin, and is apparently not the work of an experienced seal cutter; hence its interest, because, probably as a consequence of inexperience, the motif is not a stereotypical one. The boat has a sharply upturned prow and stern, a feature which is present in nearly all archaic representations of boats; for example, the same boat appears in early Minoan seals, on the Predynastic pottery of Egypt, and on the cylinder seals of Sumer. In the last mentioned country, this type of boat was used down to Assyrian times. On the ivory knife-handle of Gebel-el-‘Arak in the Louvre are depicted ships which bear a very close resemblance to the one on our seal; these and the other scenes on this handle are, indeed, explained by Petrie as not Egyptian, but the product of an Oriental people inspired by Elam and the Tigris region.
It will be noticed that this boat is shown as lashed together at both bow and stern, indicating perhaps that it was made of reeds like the primitive boats of Egypt and the craft that were used in the swamps of southern Babylonia. The hut or shrine in its centre also appears to be made of reeds and fastened at each end of it is a standard bearing an emblem comparable, though not in actual shape, with the ensigns on the Gebel-el-‘Ark handle. At one end of the boat on the seal from Mohenjo-daro a steersman whose head is unfortunately missing is seated at a rudder or steering-oar. The seal-cutter here was not at all sure of his figure and placed it well above the seal.
The absence of a mast suggests that this boat was used only for river work, as are some of the wooden boats on the Indus at the present day; though the modern boats have a less acutely upturned prow and stern, they usually have a similar cabin-like erection in the middle, sometimes constructed of wood and sometimes of reeds. The boats of today are chiefly used for fishing and are either rowed or punted against the stream.
This seal is invaluable in indicating a type of vessel that was in use in ancient Sindh. Its owner was perhaps connected with shipping of some kind for in in engraving it most careful attention had been paid to detail. (E.J.H. Mackay, Further Excavations at Mohenjo-daro, 1938, p. 340-1).
Still, why do there seem to be so few depictions of boats in the ancient Indus tradition?
This seal from Mohenjo-daro contains, perhaps more compactly than any other, what we can tell of ancient Indus beliefs and traditions. It shows a deity with horned headdress and bangles on both arms, standing in a pipal (sacred fig) tree and looking down on a kneeling worshiper. A human head rests on a small stool. A giant ram and seven figures in procession complete the narrative. The figures wear a single plumed headdress, bangles on both arms and long skirts. Parpola writ…es of these: “The Pleiades hold a prominent place as the mothers or wet nurses of the newborn infant in one of the most ancient and central Hindu myths, that of the birth of the war-god Rudra/Skanda, who evidently represents, among other things, the victorious rising sun (and as vernal sun the new year). The Pleiades are said to have been the wives of the seven sages, who are identified with the seven stars of the Great Bear.” More of his interpretation at http://www.harappa.com/script/parpola12.html
The four corners and steps of the Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro. Click to open descriptive slides. More at http://www.mohenjodaro.net/greatbathgranary23.html
What about the platforms? Another perplexing Indus mystery concerns the so-called workingmen’s platforms at Harappa, next to the “granary” whose purpose also eludes us. Photographs from the excavations by the Harappa Archaeological Research Project following M.S. Vats work in the 1920s and 1930s led to at least one interesting clue. Additionally, the direction of the bricks suggests water was used here. What do you think? http://www.harappa.com/indus4/353.html
The Streets of Mohenjo-daro. John Marshall writes of what he called First Street, “The northern part of this street, 145 feet in length, had been dug by Mr. Hargreaves in 1925-6, the rest of the street, some 300 feet in length, was completely exposed by me down to the Intermediate level, the work involving the removal from the street itself of a 10 ft. thick layer of closely packed debris. . .. The width of the street averages 30 feet and it is the only street so far excavate…d at Mohenjo-daro that could have been used for wheeled traffic, if wheeled traffic was permitted inside the town. No actual traces of wheeled vehicles have so far been found at Mohenjo-daro, but that they were used in this period is patent from several terra-cotta wheels of toy carts brought to light at this site as well as from a tiny model bronze cart found at Harappa. The street is not paved with bricks or concrete anywhere. . .. The exact purpose of a small brick circle in the middle of the street . . . is not apparent . …” (Marshall, Mohenjo-daro, pp. 187-
The first seal, found at Harappa before 1872. Included in The British Museum’s A History of the World in 100 Objects, a nice podcast of the chapter on this black stone unicorn seal is available for free at http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/ahow/all (Episode 16, Indus seal). Sir Alexander Cunningham, who led the first excavations there in 1872-73 and published news of the seal, wrote 50 years before we understood that the Indus civilization had existed: “The most curious ob…ject discovered at Harappa is a seal, . . .. The seal is a smooth black stone without polish. On it is engraved very deeply a bull, without a hump, looking to the right, with two stars under the neck. Above the bull there is an inscription in six characters, which are quite unknown to me. They are certainly not Indian letters; and as the bull which accompanies them is without a hump, I conclude that the seal is foreign to India.” How wrong Cunningham was about the seal! Thanks to The British Museum for the image.
Ancient Indus food, drink and cooking vessels would likely not be out of place in South Asia today, so familiar are the designs and materials A copper/bronze plate from Mohenjo-daro, terra cotta cooking pots from Nausharo (2200-2300 BCE), a stone (fuchsite) drinking vessel from Mohenjo-daro, and a copper/bronze cooking pot from Harappa.
Whether or not the recent new pushing back ancient Chinese civilization thousands of years is true or not http://www.newhistorian.com/chinese-civilisation-older-t…/…/, it is likely that the origins of all ancient civilizations will be pushed back in the years to come. We know very little about possible antecedent cultures, whether in Rakigarhi, Balochistan, southwestern Iran or northern China.
Even the Indus chronology itself is only slowly coming together, with more at http://www.harappa.com/indus3/e2.html. Single chart with the comparative chronologies of major ancient civilizations courtesy JM Kenoyer.
Decorated terra cotta cones are found at both Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, but no one knows what they may have been used for. Some scholars suggest that they were hung on a string as a plumb-bob for use by masons and carpenters. Others feel that they may have been toys or possibly used for writing. No traces of ink have been found on the tips, but many of the tips are worn smooth or chipped. What do you think they may have been used for?
An unicorn seal from the collection of the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford found at Harappa. Note the figure carrying something across his shoulders at the top right.
What was an ancient Indus house like? John Marshall writes of House 8, an “average upper class house” in the HR section of Mohenjo-daro: “To the right of the porter’s lodge  a short passage led to the central courtyard of the house (18), which was open to the sky and provided light and air to the rooms grouped about it on both the ground and upper floors. And here, let me say parenthetically, that the principle of the open courtyard encompassed by chambers was just as fund…amental to house-planning at Mohenjo-daro as it was throughout the rest of the prehistoric and historic Asia, and as it has continued to be in India until the present day. In House VIII the courtyard measures approximately 32 feet square, but the square is not a true one. Like other open courtyards, it was paved with brick and provided with a covered drain. . . . What purpose Room 18a , on the north side of the court, served, is doubtful, but it is not unlikely that it was the kitchen, since there must have been a kitchen on the ground floor, and this is the only room that would have been suitable. The other remaining apartment on the ground floor (No. 17), with a curious passage on two sides, would have made a convenient guest-chamber, since, while it was more or less isolated from the rest of the house, there was ready access to it from the entrance hall. The ceiling of this room, which was unusually low (less than 7 feet above the floor), was carried on rafters of deodar (Cedrus deodara) and dalbergia sissoo, the charred ends of whcih were still found embedeed in the walls.” (John Marshall, Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization, pp. 18-19).
The dyer’s workshop? “This room in VS area was made with bricks set on edge to create a watertight floor. A small well was located in the southeast corner (top right) and circular brick depressions were set into the floor, presumably to hold pottery vessels. The early excavators suggested that the room might have been a dyer’s workshop” (Mark Kenoyer). Sir Mortimer Wheeler, the early excavator. wrote: “Of another kind is a building fronting upon one of the main streets, ‘Firs…t Street’, in VR Area [Mohenjo-daro]. Its outside dimensions are 87 by 64.5 feet, but within that considerable framework are
included not only residential quarters around the courtyard but also, towards the street, industrial or commercial premises of some note: in particular, three rooms neatly paved with bricks on edge, one room with five conical pits or holes sunk in the floor and lined with wedge-shaped bricks, apparently
to hold the pointed bases of large jars. In a corner of the room is a well, and nearby is the usual brick staircase. The premises may have been a public restaurant, but it is alternatively possible that the implied jars were, rather, dyeing vats.” (The Indus Civilization, p. 51)
The first images of the announcement of the discovery of the ancient Indus Valley civilization in the Illustrated London News, on September 20, 1924. “The remarkable discoveries here illustrated put back by several centuries the date of the earliest known remains of Indian civilization. In his deeply interesting article describing them (on page 528) Sir John Marshall compares them to the work of Schliemann at Tiryns and Mycenae, where likewise it fell to the archaeologist to …break new ground and reveal the relics of a long forgotten past. “It looks at this moment,” writes Sir John, “as if we were on the threshold of such a discovery on the plains of the Indus. Up to the present our knowledge of Indian antiquities has carried us back hardly further than the third century before Christ .
How and why did the ancient Indus civilization come to an end? Four scholars, Jane Mcintosh, Rita Wright, Richard Meadow and Shereen Ratnagar give their summary answers at http://a.harappa.com/…/what-your-considered-opinion-how-and… What do you think?
Image: Brick buildings in the HR area in Mohenjo-daro showing numerous building levels.
Ringstones are among the most fascinating of ancient Indus objects, particularly after recent research has shown some of those at Harappa to have originally been manufactured near Dholavira and then transported some 1,000 kilometers north. We think they might have been used to support wooden pillars. Here a newly re-discovered ringstone from Harappa is being transported to the Harappa Museum.The impressions of a pipal leaf found in the upper clay levels of a drain in Harappa, shown here with a modern pipal leaf, indicate that what many think was a sacred tree even at that time was growing in the ancient city of Harappa. A well at Mohenjo-daro, a sealing from the city and the pipal motif on a unicorn seal are other examples of this critical leaf in Indus culture
Ancient Pots. 1. A hand-built pot from about 3100 BCE, during the pre-Indus Ravi phase, is one of the earliest examples of the intersecting circle motif in the Indus region. 2. The second pot, found next to the first one, has a net and bird motif that did not continue into later main Indus phases. 3. A Ravi Phase cooking pot. 4. Ledge shouldered cooking pots with low neck and flaring rim from Nausharo in Balochistan
New from Dholavira: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/…/articlesh…/44638220.cms
AHMEDABAD: A 5,000-year-old stepwell has been found in one of the largest Harappan cities, Dholavira, in Kutch, which is three times bigger than the Great Bath at Mohenjo Daro.
Located in the eastern reservoir of Dholavira by experts from the Archaeological Survey of India working with IIT-Gandhinagar, the site represents the largest, grandest, and the best furnished ancient reservoir discovered so far in the country.
Ancient Indus Passports? Three unusual round pendants of baked clay discovered in Kanmer, Gujarat, near Dholavira by a Japanese team. Each has a hole in its center and the impression of an animal resembling a unicorn. The reverse sides have different Indus script signs on them. Because the same animal seal was pressed into each of them, Prof. Toshiki Osada speculates that “they may have served as a passport for those traveling between different regions.” More at http://asia.nikkei.com/…/Japanese-researchers-help-unravel-… and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanmer. (photo courtesy of Toshiki Osada)
Square seal from Mohenjo-daro, depicting a nude male deity with three faces, seated in yogic position on a throne, wearing bangles on both arms and an elaborate headdress. We have also crossed 50,000 likes on this page after nearly 6 years and hundreds of posts. As usual, we publish some of the stats showing who you are, where you are coming from, and the popularity of very recent posts. It seems as if shots of Mohenjo-daro do best, with the performance of other posts hard to gauge, varying between 800 and 2,000 likes a piece. What else would you like to see more of on this page?
Ancient Harappa as it may have appeared in late Period 3B/early Period 3C, around 2200 BCE, based on the archaeological evidence. The granary and working platforms of Mound F are in the northwestern corner of the city (upper left). Drawing by Mark Kenoyer, 2001.
The earliest known Indus writing finds from excavations at Harappa. The first inscription, dating to around 3300 BCE or the Ravi phase, is contemporaneous with early writing in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. These early signs show great similarity with later signs on Indus seals, suggesting a continuous development of the script. Besides the 5 images here, more also at http://www.harappa.com/indus2/124.html
The Case of the Split Necklace #2: John Marshall writes about one of the greatest of Indus finds, “The jewelry illustrated . . . was found in the silver vessel illustrated on the right of the plate, which was unearthed by Mr. Dikshit in a long trench that he dug to connect up sections B and C in the DK Area. . . .. As the walling in this Block is of the Late Period and the depth of the find was only 3 feet below the surface, this hoard of jewelry can definitely be dated to th…at Period. The large necklace is made up of barrel-shaped beads of a translucent, light-green jade, measuring 0.9 inch long by 0.45 inch in diameter in the middle and 0.25 inch at the ends. The beads are all not accurately graded, but in this respect nevertheless they compare well with other specimens of ancient jewelry. Each jade bead is separated from its neighbours on either side by five disc-shaped gold beads, 0.4 inch in diameter and 0.2 inch wide, made by soldering two cap-like pieces together. The join is very fine and can only just be detected in some of the beads.” (John Marshall, Mohenjo-daro, p. 519). As discussed and shown in the earlier post on Tuesday, the large necklace was split at partition between India and Pakistan.
Boating now and then: a moulded tablet from Mohenjo-daro ca. 2300 BCE, below while above, flat bottomed ferry boats are still used today to help travelers cross the Indus River near Mohenjo-daro. The boat on the seal is part of “a three-sided molded tablet, with boat, gharial and script. One side is a flat-bottomed boat with a central hut that has leafy fronds at the top of two poles. Two birds sit on the deck, and a large double rudder extends from the rear of the boat.” (Kenoyer, Ancient Cities, p. 192)
Mohenjo-daro, the “city of wells.” Mark Kenoyer writes: “On the basis of the number of wells found in the excavated areas, Michael Jansen has calculated that the city may have had over 700 wells. In contrast Harappa may have had as few as 30, since only 8 wells have been discovered in the areas excavated so far. The difference between these two cities may be that Mohenjo-daro had less winter rain and may have been situated far away from the Indus river. At Harappa a large dep…ression in the center of the city may represent a large tank or reservoir accessible to the inhabitants from all the different neighborhoods. The site of Dholavira has only a few wells, but most water for the city was collected during the rainy season in large stone cisterns. The drains for collecting rain water were built separately from drains used to take away dirty sewage water.” (Kenoyer, Ancient Cities, p. 59)
Burials at Harappa. The body may have been wrapped in a shroud, and was then placed inside a wooden coffin, which was entombed in a rectangular pit surrounded with burial offerings in pottery vessels. The man was buried wearing a long necklace of 340 graduated steatite beads and three separate pendant beads made of natural stone and three gold beads. A single copper bead was also found at his waist.
Note that the entire book describing these discoveries, Harappa Excavations 1986-1990: A Multidisciplinary Approach edited by Richard H. Meadow is available for free at http://a.harappa.com/c…/harappa-excavation-reports-1986-1990, with each chapter a single PDF download. These are basically the most comprehensive, scientific publications about a single ancient Indus excavation site yet
Women of Harappa B: At the peak of the Indus Civilization (Period 3, 2600-1900 BCE), the most common dress for female figurines was the belt and/or short skirt usually situated at the same point on the hips as the figurine’s hands, shown in these two terra cotta figurines found at Harappa
Green stone (fuchsite) drinking glass with finely polished exterior surface and sparkling internal crystal facets. Mark Kenoyer writes: “One famous stone vessel found at Mohenjo-daro is a tall glass with concave sides that is similar in shape to ritual columns found in Balochistan and Afghanistan. This green stone, called fuchsite, is rare, but it can occur with quartzite which is common throughout Balochistan and Afghanistan. When this fuchsite vessel was first examined by a… geologist in the 1930s, the only know source was Mysore State, over 1600 km south of the Indus Valley. Early scholars suggested that the stone was brought to the Indus cities from the south along with gold and ivory, but both of these important raw materials were actually available from nearby sources. Herds of elephants lived in the thick forest of Gujarat or the easter Punjab, so ovory could have been obtained by Indus hunters themselves or traded from tribal communities living on the edge of the Indus plain. Gold was easily obtained from the sands of the upper Indus where it is still panned by itinerant miners. Another source of gold was along the Oxus river valley in northern Afghanistan where a trading colony of the Indus cities has been discovered at Shortughai. Situated far from the Indus Valley itself, this settlement may have been established to obtain gold, copper, tin and lapis lazuli, as well as other exotic goods from Central Asia” (Ancient Cities, p. 96).
A composite tubular gold bead found on Mound AB at Harappa in 2000. Greenish corroded copper-alloy from an interior wire covers part of the gold bead. “Gold was easily obtained from the sands of the upper Indus river where it is still panned by itinerant miners. Another source of gold was along the Oxus river in northern Afghanistan where a trading colony of the Indus cities has been discovered at Shortughai. Situated far from the Indus Valley itself, this settlement may have been established to obtain gold, copper, tin and lapis lazuli, as well as other exotic goods from Central Asia,” (J.M. Kenoyer, Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, p. 96).
A painted dish of a pedestaled vessel from Harappa found in 1993. The painted design includes two peacocks and a sacred tree. Mark Kenoyer writes: “Painted dish portion from a dish-on-stand. The black-on-red painted decoration is arranged in panels that are divided into four sections. Two peacocks are depicted on one side, and a many-branched tree with short leaves is painted on the opposite panel section. Between these two motifs are multiple lines of loops with circle-and-d…ot designs and hatching which totally fill all of the empty space. In the center of the dish is a geometric design with a single circle-and-dot motif on one side and a double circle-and-dot motif on the opposite side. All of the decorations on this dish undoubtedly had specific ritual and symbolic meaning, possibly relating to fertility, good health and good fortune. Originally part of a dish on stand, this elaborately painted dish may have been removed from the broken base and reused. It was found in the room of a house on the recently excavated Mound ET” (Ancient Cities, p. 324).
Today an unusual and spectacular exhibition opens at the National Museum of Oriental Art (MNAO) ‘Giuseppe Tucci’ in Rome, Italy. Living Symbols presents a group of painted protohistoric objects from the 4th and 3rd millennium BCE, illegally excavated in Balochistan and seized in 2005 by the Italian police. Although much about their provenance is lost, they are apparently from the little know Nal Buthi and Kulli cultures that preceded (Nal) and accompanied (Kulli) the height …of Indus culture. They use of the zebu bull, pipal tree, tiger and other major motifs familiar to us from Harappa and Mohenjo-daro.
These are among the most splendid objects ever found from the area, and show how vibrant the use of color was. They convey the sophistication of symbolism and art in the 4th and 3rd millenniums (4000-2000 BCE). The exhibition, organized by MNAO in collaboration with the Pakistan Embassy and with the support of Eural Gnutti s.p.a., represents a precious opportunity for a first encounter with the cultures that succeeded in Pakistan. Curated by Giovanni Lombardo (MNAO) and Harappa.com contributor Massimo Vidale (University of Padua, Italy). More at http://www.simbolivivi.beniculturali.it/english.html, and more about the cultures referenced at http://www.harappa.com/baluch/index.html
One of the most detailed reconstructions of an ancient Indus gateway, this one on Mound E at Harappa. The reconstruction was drawn by Chris Sloan, based on the work done by the Harappa Archaeological Research Project. J.M. Kenoyer writes: “A series of side rooms were also excavated along the eastern edge of the gateway in 1995. The latest phase of construction also included a large east-west oriented doorway leading through the eastern edge of the gateway. This doorway appears to have constructed with wooden beams with a threshold embedded in the baked brick structure
Iravatham Mahadevan’s Indus Script “Dictionary.” None of the many proposed decipherments of the ancient Indus script by many different scholars since the late 1920s is widely accepted. But there are good ideas, and many of them are from Iravatham Mahadevan in Chennai, India’s most important scholar of the Indus script. Here he proposes readings of some the most common Indus signs, including the three “functionaries,” part of a set of signs, one of which combines the terminal… “jar” sign, the most frequent Indus sign, for which Mahadevan also proposes a reading. Mahadevan has been studying the Indus script since he put together the first concordance of Indian seals in 1970. Known too for his breakthrough decipherments of the earliest Tamil Brahmi writing, Asko Parpola calls Mahadevan his most valuable critic. Despite sharing a belief in Dravidian language elements in Indus signs, the two friends often disagree on specific interpretations.
Mahadevan continues to work on the Indus script, and we plan to highlight more of his work in the coming months, including a radical interpretation of the function about the Great Bath (June). More on Mahadevan’s views at http://www.harappa.com/script/maha0.html. A complete interview at his Chennai residence is at http://www.harappa.com/script/mahadevantext.html
An exceptional and controversial recent find in a private collection is analyzed by a leading Italian archaeologist in a fully illustrated complete online volume with possible implications for understanding ancient Indus culture. Massimo Vidale writes: “In Autumn 2009, I was invited by a private collector to see an artefact that was mentioned as unique and very complex, and reportedly belonged to the cultural sphere of the Indus civilization. I do not have professional links with the antique market and the world of private collectors, but the descriptions I had of the find were so puzzling that for once I accepted the invitation to examine the new find.” More at: http://a.harappa.com/content/lady-spiked-throne
Scanning electron microscope photograph of jute textile feature found on a ceramic at Harappa. Very few fibers remain on artifacts from over 4,000 years ago, and this is the first evidence for jute as early as 2200-1900 BCE at Harappa. By Rita P. Wright, David L. Lentz and Harriet F. Beaulieu, the paper discusses how this evidence was extracted and its implications: http://a.harappa.com/…/new-evidence-jute-corchorus-capsular…
‘”Pendant or medallion [from Mohenjo-daro] pictures the unicorn combined with many sacred symbols of the Indus religion. The body of the figure has a womb-shaped symbol in its belly, the same motif is elaborated to form the frame for the pendant, which is also a common design for shell inlay. Two leaf shapes of the sacred pipal tree are depicted at the animals shoulders and rump. A ritual offering stand is placed in front of the image. The deeply incised frame and the symbols on the unicorn would have been set with inlay.” (J.M. Kenoyer, Indus Civilization, p. 188)
The site belongs to the mature Harappan phase from 2600 BCE to 2000 BCE
The dancing girl of Mohenjo-daro in three views. John Marshall writes “the arms and legs . . . are adorned with armlets, bangles, and anklets. These ornaments may sometimes have been made of metal, but in all probability the majority of them were shell. The custom of wearing so many shell bracelets as almost to conceal the whole of the forearm is very common in India at the present day.” (Mohenjo-daro and the Indus Civilization, 1931, p. 339).
Two gold beads originally part of the same ornament found in Harappa in 2000. Thin gold foil was placed over the outside of a sandy core around a copper tube.
Among the dangerous wild animals represented in the ancient Indus figurine corpus found at Harappa are large wild felines. One feline figurine with punctuate designs on the face (possibly representing spots) and an open mouth showing teeth is a relatively naturalistic representation of a large wild cat, possibly representing a leopard or a cheetah.
One of the mysterious “workingmen’s platforms” at Harappa. The white is salt seeping up from the ground. No one has yet figured out their use. A possible clue is that bricks on their sides are often used in connection with water in South Asia, yesterday and today.
Cubical weights in graduated sizes. These weights conform to the standard Harappan binary weight system that was used in all of the settlements. The smallest weight in this series is 0.856 grams and the most common weight is approximately 13.7 grams, which is in the 16th ratio. In the large weights, the largest weight is 100 times the weight of the 16th ratio in the binary system. These weights were found at Harappa and may have been used for controlling trade and possibly for collecting taxes.
A rhinoceros seal from Mohenjo-daro.
Square seal with multiple headed animal depicting three important totemic animals: the bull, the unicorn, and the antelope. All three animals are seen individually on other seals along with script, but this seal has no script.
More on the subject of violence in the ancient Indus Valley – http://news.nationalgeographic.com/…/130425-indus-civiliza…/