the INDUS VALLEY Civilization

At its height, the bronze-age Indus Valley Civilization maintained extensive trade networks with other ancient civilizations
An overview of part of the sites of Moenjo-daro and Harappa, showing the complexity of their organization
What was once thought to be a "Granary" or a "Great Bath" at Moenjo-daro was perhaps more probably a "Great Hall"-- though real bathing areas definitely existed, with a fine drainage system
What exactly is going on here? And what about the tiger-surrounded figure on the back of this Harappan tablet?
A famous seal from Moenjo-daro showing what might (or might not) be a "sacrifice"
A seal from Moenjo-daro depicting what has been called a "three-faced yogi"-- but on a closer look, that isn't very persuasive
An oddly seated figure surrounded by wild beasts has been called (well over a thousand years too early) a "proto-Shiva"; but there are many problems with this claim
By comparing a number of seals (and avoiding anachronisms), can we begin to glimpse some standard figures in a pan-Indus-Valley mythology?
The most common single animal on Indus Valley seals is the mythical "unicorn." And what is that "ritual stand" under his neck?

But some animal seals are much stranger even than the unicorn

Terra cotta statues of women are extremely common. Many of them are elaborately adorned with jewelry, and some have remarkable headdresses.
But the famous "Dancing Girl" remains a solitary classic. Her elegance is unsurpassed; she looks like a fashion model and has the hauteur to go with it.
He is called the "Priest King," and he certainly looks the part. But of course, we don't know. He might just have been a rich merchant who intimidated the sculptor. And even his indigenousness has been doubted.
The swastika symbol so prominent in later India also occasionally appears-- as it does in early civilizations elsewhere in the world too
Archaeologists point out that modern carts in Sindh look very much like these. On the other hand, how many ways are there to build a simple two-wheeled wooden cart?
In Gujarat, the port of Lothal has been excavated; excavations are now proceeding at the important urban center of Dholavira

What was once an obscure academic subject nowadays often makes headlines, since the "Hindutva" movement has been seeking to give India a religiously-slanted vision of its past. This issue of Frontline (Oct. 13, 2000) contains scholarly replies to some of the many current religiously-motivated attempts to identify the Vedic people with the Indus Valley civilization. And here's a thoughtful overview by the distinguished historian *Romila Thapar*.
And about that Indus Valley "script"-- the latest argument is that it's not a script at all, but a set of symbols like those on airport signs: see *Steve Farmer's download page*. A good place to start is his *overview slide show*.

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