The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society

The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society

Paperback Case Studies in Early Societies

By (author) Rita P. Wright


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Hardback $104.99
  • Format: Paperback | 416 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 230mm x 20mm | 581g
  • Publication date: 1 November 2009
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 0521576520
  • ISBN 13: 9780521576529
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: 55 b/w illus. 11 maps
  • Sales rank: 520,197

Product description

This early civilisation was erased from human memory until 1924, when it was rediscovered. Our understanding of the Indus has been partially advanced by textual sources from Mesopotamia that contain references to Meluhha, a land identified by cuneiform specialists as the Indus, with which the ancient Mesopotamians traded and engaged in battles. In this volume, Rita P. Wright uses both Mesopotamian texts but principally the results of archaeological excavations and surveys to draw a rich account of the Indus civilisation's well-planned cities, its sophisticated alterations to the landscape, and the complexities of its agrarian and craft-producing economy. She focuses principally on the social networks established between city and rural communities; farmers, pastoralists, and craft producers; and Indus merchants and traders and the symbolic imagery that the civilisation shared with contemporary cultures in Iran, Mesopotamia, Central Asia, and the Persian Gulf region. Her study emphasises the interconnected nature of early societies.

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Author information

Rita P. Wright is Associate Professor of Anthropology at New York University. A John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow, she has conducted archaeological field research in Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. She is the editor of Gender and Archaeology and co-editor, with Cathy L. Costin, of Craft and Social Identity.

Review quote

'Wright provides a comprehensive and compelling account of the Indus civilization of ancient Pakistan and India. Although she does not neglect material culture, her focus is on the interconnections among climate, geography, agriculture, pastoralism, craft specialization, political economy, internal exchange, trade, urbanism, and ideology that characterize the Indus civilization and help explain its origins, maturation, and decline. Highly recommended.' Choice '[This] book is a welcome addition to scholarship on the Indus civilization as it is deals with a broad range of sources and chronological periods in a well-structured and rigorous manner. It should not only be on reading lists for courses on South Asian archaeology but for all courses on early states as it provides an excellent summary of the current state of Indus research in terms of data, debates and theory.' Archaeological Review from Cambridge 'The Ancient Indus, like other books in the Case Studies in Early Societies series, gives an excellent introduction to an important exemplar of the archaic state. Wright's accessible account of this civilization's forms and history ensures the volume's suitability for graduate and undergraduate courses dealing with South Asian culture history, comparative analyses of ancient states, and the varied methods employed in their study.' American Anthropologist

Table of contents

1. A long forgotten civilization; 2. Geographical and environmental settings; 3. From foraging to farming and pastoralism; 4. An expanded world of peer polities; 5. Urbanism and states: cities, regions and edge zones; 6. Agrarian and craft producing economies - intensification and specialization; 7. Agrarian and craft producing economies - diversification, organization of production, and exchange; 8. The lure of distant lands; 9. Landscapes of order and difference - the cultural construction of space, place and material access; 10. The final days of urbanism and the Indus civilization: decline, transition and transformation.