The so-called 'dancing girl' statuette from Mohenjo-daro, made of bronze, and 10.5cm high. She exudes swagger and confidence. Mortimer Wheeler later reflected that 'there is nothing like her, I think, in the world'.
Why does the Indus civilisation offer no definite evidence of warfare, in the form of defensive fortifications, metal weapons, and warriors? This apparently utopian situation is without parallel in war-addicted ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. Was the Indus religion the origin of Hinduism? Or is the apparent resemblance of some Indus seal iconography and practices to much later Hindu iconography and practices, such as the worship of the god Shiva and the caste system, based on wishful thinking? Does its seeming austerity have any relationship with Buddhism, which features at Mohenjo-daro in the form of a Buddhist stupa from the first millennium AD perched on the ruins of the Indus city?
Is the Indus language that is written in the script (assuming only a single language) related to still-existing Indian languages, such as the Dravidian languages of south India or the Sanskrit language of north India? And why did it leave no trace in the historical record, after its decline around 1900 BC? The characters of the script seem to have become indecipherable almost four millennia ago. They certainly bear no resemblance to the next writing that appeared in India, after an enormous gap of a millennium and a half: the Brahmi and Kharosthi alphabetic scripts that were used to write the rock and pillar inscriptions of Asoka.
The Past | April/May 2021