LARKANA: Archaeologists from the Unites States, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Japan and Italy attending the three-day ‘International Conference on Moenjodaro and Indus Valley Civilisation’ at the ancient site read out their research papers on the second day on Friday.
The papers focused on technical aspects dealing with the discoveries made and research carried out hitherto, measures undertaken so far to protect and preserve the site for posterity, mid-term plans for the site’s preservation, promotion of tourism, the Indus script discovered so far, seals’ carving techniques etc.
Dr Ayumu Konasukawa, an archaeologist from Japan, presented his paper on ‘Chronological change and continuity of seal carving techniques from the early Harappan to the Harappan periods in the Ghaggar basin’. According to his research, the data for analyses comprises fired steatite seals discovered at Kunal, Banawali and Farmana. Through scanning electron microscope and 3D analysis, it has become evident that the seals found in the basin during the said periods are characterised in various carving techniques. Although the seals have a lot of difference in terms of manufacturing technique and design, such as the motif of the surface, they also have commonality as regards a part of carving techniques.
Another Japanese scholar, Dr Atsushi Noguchi, read out his paper on ‘Development of lithic technological system and socio-economic integration through the early Harappan period: the key role of northern Sindh and Moenjodaro’. With decades of research, it is revealed that the first agricultural society in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent has emerged and developed in the hilly sequence of Balochistan and its adjacent area, but not in the Indus Valley. A few settlement sites are recognised in the plain of the lower Indus Valley, except Amri [ruins], as the earliest settlement in the region at the eastern foot of the Khirthar range, according to him.
Dr Rita Patricia Wright from the United States, in her research paper on ‘Enigmatic polities and the Indus civilisation’ said: “The enigmatic label, unknowable and mysterious civilisation has plagued Indus scholarship. Two propositions are addressed; one that almost since its discovery, scientists have sought explanations for the relatively rapid (compared to Mesopotamia and Egypt) development and subsequent decline of the Indus civilisation. And second that its regional environmental diversity is thought to have impacted cultural differences. While these differences are apparent in the agro-ecologies employed by Indus centres, their political strategies are becoming especially evident in the Harappans’ selection of landscapes, urban development, and the spatial practices that shaped the political economy and its integration.”
French scholar Sophia Merry, who is currently Director of the French Archaeological Mission in the UAE, could not make it but her research paper on ‘Beyond the trade: the potters of Meluhha (Pakistan) as vectors of the diffusion to Magan (Eastern Arabia) of a technological and material culture during the Indus period’ was read out by Dr Ahmed Hassan.
Her paper suggested that new results and hypotheses regarding the presence of Indus potters in Oman during the second part of the third millennium BC would be exposed. Her research is based on the combination of a typological, technological and petrographical (thin-section analysis) approach of the pottery vessels. A synthesis of the Indus pottery analyses in Pakistan, India, Oman and the UAE would be exposed, she said.
The researchers expressed the hope that the recommendations made by the conference would be implemented with strong commitment and determination.
In her presidential address at one of the sessions, Senator Sassui Palijo, who is a former provincial culture minister, said that the federal government did not pay due attention to the archaeological sites in Sindh but now, when the subject had been devolved to provincial government under the 18th constitutional amendment, the Sindh government would be taking concrete measures to protect and preserve the world heritage sites.
She mentioned several projects and initiatives launched by the provincial government to protect the sites from the onslaught of floods, water-logging and salinity.
During a technical session, Dr Nelofar Shaikh, Dr Kaleemullah Lashari, Fayyaz Amar, Ishtiaque Ansari and others deliberated upon the studies done so far on the Indus civilisation and future plans.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2017