Thursday, February 4, 2010

Indus Seal - World History in Objects

Didn't I just ask for more podcasts on the Indus Valley Civilization? (History of India - the search goes on; towards the end of the post) Here was yet another one. In the series A History of the World in 100 Objects (BBC) in the subsection about the first cities and states (4000-2000 BCE) there was an item from the Indus Valley: Indus Seal.

Add this to the few other references we have in podcast (see below) and the information is about as scarce and far apart as the data in the Indus Valley Civ itself. Nevertheless I am immensely fascinated by the Indus Valley and it appears I am not the only one. I guess any mystery civilization is mesmerizing, whether it is probably fictional like Atlantis, or whether it disappeared and its traces were discovered only now as with the Indus Valley Civ. Besides, when you know so little, all the more your imagination can add.

And here, I find, everybody who is fascinated appears to project into IVC what occupies him most. How factual is the assumption the IVC collapsed of climate change; or is that rather projection? How factual is the assumption that IVC was very rational and egalitarian? And when we make assumptions where the IVC people went, apart from factual, this may be very political. Does India have roots in IVC? Does Hinduism? Or do the Dravidians of South-India? Eventually all these projections tend to become political.

The IVC cities appear to have been vast and sophisticated. Their system of measures quite universal and accurate. The area they covered vast and this means probably a lot is still to be found. Among others, the script is in need of deciphering. We know the script from captions and seals, which offer little to go on. And although the script has been found as far as Mesopotamia, there is no Rosetta Stone, that is, no bilingual artifact. And so we are still left to conjecture and thus to our dreams, projections and wishful thinking.

More Indus Valley Civ:
The Story of India BBC,
History of India UCLA,
Engines of our Ingenuity,
David Kalivas World History.

More A World History in 100 Objects (in short: AHOW):
First AHOW Review.