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The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society (Case Studies in Early Societies) Hardcover – December 31, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0521572194 ISBN-10: 0521572193 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: Case Studies in Early Societies (Book 10)
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (December 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521572193
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521572194
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,995,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 definitely an important contribution to the field because it presents a wide range of new data collected by the author in the larger context of the field of Indus studies." -Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, Journal of Anthropological Research

"...an important benchmark in the study of the ancient Indus." -Gethin Rees, Archaeological Review from Cambridge

"The Ancient Indus, like other books in the Case Studies in Early Societies series, gives an excellent introduction to all important exemplar of the archaic state. Wright's accessible account of this civilization forms and history ensures the volume's suit ability for graduate and undergraduate courses dealing with South Asian culture history, comparative analyses of ancient states, and the varied methods employed in their study" -Ed Schortman, American Anthropologist

Book Description

In this volume, Rita P. Wright uses both Mesopotamian texts and the results of archaeological excavations and surveys to draw a rich account of the Indus civilization's well-planned cities, its sophisticated alterations to the landscape, and the complexities of its agrarian and craft-producing economy.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Even the specialist in cross-cultural studies of early cultural complexity can learn a great deal from this book.
Jeff144
Even pitched to that audience, the prose is accessible enough that a careful reading by an "informed amateur" yields a wealth of information about a remarkable world.
Frank Ranlett
I was hoping to use it for my undergraduate students, but I don't think they will be able to handle it, which is a pity.
S. Johnston

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. Johnston on February 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a very useful review of the current evidence for prehistory in Indian and Pakistan. This is a highly neglected area in terms of popular knowledge, and this book certainly provides ample archaeological information and references to follow up for more. I highly recommend it for professionals in the field who want to add to their knowledge. However, it is most definitely not for a popular audience. The prose is a bit dense, and there is considerable jargon. I was hoping to use it for my undergraduate students, but I don't think they will be able to handle it, which is a pity. There needs to be a book with the wealth of up-to-date information that Wright provides, but written in the style of Possehl's The Indus Civilization. Still, this is a very useful book for professional archaeologists who are seeking to know more about this extremely interesting cultural area.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Frank Ranlett on March 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Disclosure: a family member has taken classes from and has worked with Professor Wright at New York University.

Material on the great Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations of the ancient world is readily available, and their achievements are widely celebrated, but a no less complex and technologically sophisticated society centered in Pakistan and India gets little in the way of attention from science popularizers. Professor Wright is not that; she presents a picture of an archaeologist at work, giving her peers a report on the status of the investigations by her and others in the region. Even pitched to that audience, the prose is accessible enough that a careful reading by an "informed amateur" yields a wealth of information about a remarkable world. Portrayed is a group of city-states built on a "theme", or principle, of transforming (harmonically - as opposed to controlling and imposing change) their natural surroundings ("landscapes"). They built on a massive scale, traded with and administered vast geographic areas, produced artworks of a high order - and all apparently without a command structure headed by a king, pharaoh, or high priest. To the list of the great cities of ancient world - such as Thebes, Abydos and Ur - should be added the names Mehrgarh, Mohenjo-daro, Dholavira and especially Harappa.

What has been achieved by Professor Wright and her colleagues and peers in painting this portrait is all the more remarkable because it relies almost entirely on a careful parsing of the physical evidence: as yet, there is no Rosetta Stone to translate the Indus writing, which would make the task of interpretation much easier. As such, the physical archaeology is all that is available, and Professor Wright, while careful not to stretch the evidence into the realm of speculation, makes a solid scientific case that pushes hard on the boundaries of knowledge of this vanished civilization.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jeff144 on February 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an exceptionally detailed summary of the rise and decline of the ancient Indus civilization. As the author notes, ancient Indus cultures are less-well known than those of Egypt and Mesopotamia, for example, because the Indus script still cannot be read, and also because no elaborate tombs, full of massive and expensive grave goods have yet been found in ancient Indus settlements. This book, nonetheless, makes an excellent case that the Indus cultures not only belongs in the group of "great ancient civilizations," but offers exceptional comparative data for cross-cultural studies. Ancient Indus communities may not have had pyramids or ziggurats, but some of these cities included huge platforms made by transporting millions of cubic meters of sand and gravel--an investment of labor comparable to the monumental architecture of Mesopotamia and Egypt, given that the "urbanization" phase was much shorter in the Indus region. Even the specialist in cross-cultural studies of early cultural complexity can learn a great deal from this book. It includes the most recent data on many subjects, ranging from physical anthropological analyses of human remains to the numerous--largely unsuccesful--attempts to reconstruct the ancient national religion (assuming that there was one).
This book is written in straight-forward unadorned prose. There are some editorial and production errors, but these are out-weighed by the accuracy and detail provided about this massive and diverse material culture. The author discusses her theoretical orientation, and it resembles the "holistic" approach taken by Bruce Trigger and many others. Prof.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Larry N. Stout on January 27, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I assumed that this would be a first-rate book, being published by Cambridge University Press. I won't make such assumption again. Some very interesting information is collated here, but it is so smothered in drab, circumlocutory, repetitive, unnecessarily abstract, pedantic, vacant verbosity that it is hard and painful work to find something worth knowing. If the text were properly distilled by a skilled editor, it might well be a booklet, instead of a book. Even the section headings are exasperatingly verbose. We have here conspicuous ungrammatical expression, misspelled words, bad punctuation. The illustrations are scant and poor. Very poorly indexed. The typography is inelegant. I surmise that the typescript was published by Cambridge as received from the author. What a pity that this recent attempt to comprehend the fascinating Indus Civilization was not conceived, written, edited, and produced to higher standards.
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The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society (Case Studies in Early Societies)
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