Indo-Pak tension is a roadblock for Indus Valley research: US professor
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Indo-Pak tension is a roadblock for Indus Valley research: US professor

Cross-border research is essential for better understanding of the civilisation, said the academic.

kolkata Updated: Dec 23, 2016 09:20 IST
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Snigdhendu Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
Indus Valley Civilisation,Harappa,Mahenjodaro
Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, who is a professor at University of Wisconsin, has devoted more than 30 years in researching Indus Valley Civilisation.(HT Photo)

Political tension between India and Pakistan is a major hindrance for archaeologists involved in exploring the ruins of Indus Valley civilisation as a number of major sites are situated along the border, said Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, an Indus Valley researcher.

“Indo-Pak friendship is crucial for proper and extensive excavation and research on Indus Valley civilisation. I would like to see Indian students researching in Harappa and Pakistani students in Dholavira. Sites identified with the Indus Civilization are situated across an area twice the size of each of Mesopotamia or ancient Egypt. Cross-border research is essential for better understanding of the civilisation,” said Kenoyer, an American citizen who was born in Shillong and brought up in Silchar.

He is unsure whether Indian scholars would be able to attend the seminar on Mahenjodaro and Indus Valley Civilisation on the sites of Mahenjodaro scheduled in February.

A professor of anthropology in University of Wisconsin – Madison, US, Kenoyer is just back from Pakistan after attending the 2nd Harappa International Conference between December 18 and 20.

“There are ample evidences of ornaments, textiles, and pottery and copper items used by the people of that era though no weapon was found. Even their images have no reference of conflict between man and man. Not a single image showing man killing man was found, whereas many images depicting conflict between man and animal were found,” Kenoyer said during his speech at a seminar titled Recent Research on Indus Civilisation – a view from Harappa and other sites. It was organised by the Indian Museum on Thursday.

He has been doing a research on Harappa for three decades. The talk was organised at a time when the museum is in the process of reopening its Harappa gallery that was closed nearly 15 years ago.

He also pointed out that the Indus Valley civilisation comprised about 10 regions integrated by ecosystem and not war. “Every city in Indus Valley civilisation had standardised weight measurement system and rates,” he said, adding that Harappans enjoyed maritime trade with central Asian countries.

“There are evidences of practising the vastu but it was not a rigid form of the practice that later emerged in the shastra. The kitchens are mostly found in the northeast corner of houses, whereas the dumping grounds and cemeteries lay mostly in the south or southwest. This practice, however, was more based experiences of living in nature. Since the wind blew from north, it would have been unwise to have the dumping place or cemeteries to the north, whereas the sun rises in the east. That was how northeast became ‘holy’,” he said.

While the Indus Valley scripts are yet to be deciphered, Kenoyer believes the inscriptions found on pottery vessels, seals and amulets were written in different languages. The scripts, too, changed with time as many signs and symbols of the early era were absent in later era scripts, while new signs and symbols were included.

“I doubt whether we’ll ever be able to find long texts reflecting on their society and whether the Harappan people produced long texts at all,” he said.

First Published: Dec 23, 2016 09:20 IST