Collection Description

Tradition Name

Early Indus

Tradition Description

The Early Indus Tradition is found in Pakistan and northwestern India, from 7500-4600 BP (5500-2600 BC). Subsistence was based on agriculture and animal husbandry. People lived in urban regional centers, villages, or camp sites; the only monumental architecture was large, brick perimeter walls. Regional cultural variation increased along with growth in inter-regional and long distance trade. Elites appeared at a time of increasing craft specialization and the first use of cubical limestone weights, seals, graffiti or potter’s marks, and writing.


Select the Tradition Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --South Asia




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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF Archaeology collection and are referenced by author, date of publication, and title where necessary.

The Early Indus Tradition is found in Pakistan, and in the Indian states of Gujarat, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh. It occurred from 7500-4600 BP (5500-2600 BC). A later terminal date, 4500 BP, is seen in various documents, especially those written in earlier periods of investigation. The reader will also find the subtraditions vary in time and place, as they are mostly defined by pottery style.

C. Jarrige et al. [1995], provides an overview of the tradition as seen from Balochistan, concentrating on the site of Mehrgarh but also discussing the sites of Nausharo, Lal Shah, and Sibri. Kenoyer [1995] analyzed the shell artifacts from Mehrgarh, while bone tools are covered by Russell [1995], and ceramics by Vandiver [1995] and by Wright [1995]. A sample of the tenth field season’s lithic tools was examined for use-wear by Vaughan [1995]. Another overview, Mughal (1990), describes different areas of the greater Indus Valley (Bannu Basin, Gomal Valley, the Punjab, Taxila Valley), and the Indus Valley proper.

Mughal (1997) conducted field survey in Cholistan, providing a much clearer idea of settlement patterns for the Early Indus to the Vedic traditions, and how they changed over time.

Excavation or field reports are found in: Flam (1993) for Ghazi Shah; Durrani (1988) and Durrani et al. (1991) for Rehman Dheri; and J.-F. Jarrige (1989) for Nausharo, near Mehrgarh. Excavations and analyses for the site of Harappa can be found in Dales (1991), Dales et al. (1991), Possehl (1991), Amundson and Pendall (1991), Kenoyer (1991), Kenoyer and Meadow (1991), Wright (1991), Meadow (1991), Hemphill et al. (1991), and Dales et al. (1991)

Durrani et al. (1995) discuss settlement patterns and the role of the outlying areas of the Indus Valley during the rise of social complexity in this area of the world. J.-F. Jarrige (1991) examines the role Mehrgarh played in the development of the Indus civilization

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Sarah Berry

City walls – for construction, description – use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344) – for location, distribution – use SETTLEMENT PATTERNS (361)

Perimeter Walls – use PUBLIC STRUCTURES (344)

Seals – for general aspects – use MNEMONIC DEVICES (211) – for marking of property – use PROPERTY IN MOVABLES (422) – for presence of script – use WRITING (212)

Indexing Notes by

Sarah Berry

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