Bronze Age State, Tribes and Archaeology Bronze Age State, Tribes and Archaeology: Insights from Indus Valley Civilization

By Shereen Ratnagar

In this lecture, Shereen Ratnagar discusses how from a prolonged agrarian base that includes the history of migration of tribes, crops, animals and so on, the Bronze Age state/early state in south Asia emerged. The Mehrgarh region, in present-day Pakistan, was at the centre of beginning of settled agrarian life in this part of the globe and the seasonal movement of the tribes was one of the precursors of this development. Slowly, large numbers of settlements sprung up in and around the Indus basin. Ratnagar brings out the enduring and complex nature of the Bronze state in South Asia, known as the Indus Valley Civilization by focusing on some of their material cultural remains like seals, steatite beads, lapis lazuli, city life and monuments etc. Unlike the Bronze Age states of Egypt or Mesopotamia, a clear line of succession of ruling houses is not evident in South Asia. But the overwhelming presence of the unicorn in majority of seals of this civilization points out the possibility of the existence of an overwhelming lineage; development of settlements in islands like Dholavira and Shortughai brings out the complexities and potentials for the existence of centralized control and hierarchies of power relations. Interesting insights about the use of possible weapons, and exploitation of war slaves add significantly to that understanding. Tribes supplying lapis lazuli to the elites of these early states is one of the focal points of the lecture.