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The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective

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ISBN-13: 978-8178292915
ISBN-10: 8178292912
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Editorial Reviews

Review

This volume offers the best description and analysis of the nature of [Indus] civilization. Illustrated with an abundance of line drawings, charts, and maps, the volume richly illuminates architecture, material culture, and arts and crafts....Offering thebest available presentation of the Indus civilization, this volume successfully fulfills the needs of both general readers and specialists...Essential...[f]or all those interested in ancient civilizationssss (C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Harvard University CHOICE, June 2003)

Possehl's book is more detailed, and in particular highlights his ability to synthesize information into a coherent whole. In addition he offers a number of hypotheses that will serve as catalysts for academic debate. (London Times Higher Education Supplement)

This book by a well-known anthropologist puts together all that is known about this fascinating culture. He examines the economic, agricultural, religious and artistic aspects of this ancient civilisation and draws some startling conclusions...[The] explosive observations of the author, who...has done extensive research on the Indus civilisation, make this volume valuable for scholars, students and lay readers alike...he makes the riddle of the Indus Age all the more enigmatic. (Jaswant Singh The Sunday Tribune- Spectrum)

...makes an important contribution to the archaeology of South Asia by bringing together a large body of information from an area that has generally been ignored and misunderstood by nonspecialists. (Michael P. Neeley, Montana State University American Antiquity, Vol. 69, No. 1, 2004)

An accessible volume for the nonspecialist...There is a great need for such a book...the work is refreshing: Possehl takes strong stands on a variety of issues, but he presents his perspective clearly and in ways that can contribute to productive classroom discussions...this book will make a valuable launching point for undergraduate and graduate courses on South Asian archaeology or comparative courses on early states and civilizations. (Carla M. Sinopoli, University of Michigan Journal of Anthropological Research, Vol. 60, 2004)

A succinct but thorough and comprehensive textbook, readable, clearly arranged and invitingly designed, The Indus is a most welcome guide to a topic widely known of but not easy, until now, to learn more about. (Antiquity)

The Indus civilization was one of the most important complex societies in the pre-industrial world. But despite significant archaeological attention over the years, it remains one of the most enigmatic civilizations to both scholars and the general public alike. Professor Possehl's engagingly written and well-illustrated book sheds useful new light on the Indus Age and makes recent scholarly advances readily accessible to a broad range of readers, especially students of the ancient world. (Jeremy A. Sabloff, University of Pennsylvania Museum)

This volume offers the best description and analysis of the nature of [Indus] civilization. Illustrated with an abundance of line drawings, charts, and maps, the volume richly illuminates architecture, material culture, and arts and crafts....Offering the best available presentation of the Indus civilization, this volume successfully fulfills the needs of both general readers and specialists...Essential...[f]or all those interested in ancient civilizations (C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, Harvard University CHOICE, June 2003)

About the Author

GREGORY L. POSSEHL is a professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and Curator of the Asian Collections at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He has been engaged in archaeological research in Indian and Pakistan since 1964, from Iron Age megaliths to Mesolithic encampments, including directing excavations at Rojdi in Gujarat and Gilund in southern Rajasthan. Possehl has written and edited a number of important books on the Indus Civilization and related topics.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press (October 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8178292912
  • ISBN-13: 978-8178292915
  • ASIN: 0759101728
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.7 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #526,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By John David Ebert on July 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
Possehl's book on the Indus Civlization is by no means the bad book which the prior reviewer represents it as being. In fact, it is a very useful overview of the main points of the archaeology that has been conducted on the Harappan Civilization for the past twenty or so years. And far from being a "tedious" read, the book is actually quite enjoyable. For an academic.

The chapters are organized like the spokes of a wheel, approaching this complex and mysterious civilization from a number of different angles, such as religion, architecture, grave burials, writing, etc. There is even an entire chapter devoted to Mohenjo-daro. This reader found Possehl's book to be unusually balanced in its presentations of the various theories of scholars regarding for example the interpretation of the famous Proto Shiva seal or the problem of decipherment of the Indus script.

While it is true that some of the author's dates are out of date--his dates on the Neolithic, for instance, need to be pushed back by about a thousand years--most of the information is quite current, giving detailed descriptions of the excavations of recent sites like Dholavira, Rakhigarhi and Rodji. Certain of the author's preconceptions are debatable, for example he argues that this civilization was not an archaic state with a centralist core of rulers surrounded by a periphery of townsmen--he argues that it was more communal than that--but ultimately this is unconvincing. The Harappan Civilization, as the author himself states, emerged rather mysteriously around 2600 b.c. with a series of sites founded on virgin soil with pre-planned cities that seem to have been designed all at once. There is absolutely no way to do this without a centralized and hierarchical authority.
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By skk on December 25, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very detailed information about Mohenjo-daro. Was very helpful for my reference to my course research paper. Provided detailed images.
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37 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 28, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gregory Possehl has planned a series of voluminous books to illuminate the Indus Valley Civilization. Some volumes have appeared, and others are in preparation. This particular book purports to be a summary of the volumes that have appeared and are going to appear. It is a sort of a preview of the entire series.
The book turned out to be a big disappointment, given the excellence of the large volumes by Possehl. While it claims to be a 'contemporary' perspective, many of the theories are hackneyed, and do not go a step beyond the 'received wisdon' of old colonial understanding and framework of Indian past, which is being propagaged with great aplomb by certain Eurocentric Vedicists even today and which seems to have been accepted without hesitation by Possehl.
The book often makes a tedious reading, and compares infavorably with its competing titles, such as Jane McIntosh's 'Indus- A Peaceful Realm' (2002), or even Jonathan Mark Kenoyer's beautifully illustrated 'Ancient Cities of the Indus Civilization' (1998).
There is no doubt that Possehl has given a short shrift to many new ideas and views that are being advocated by Indian archaeologists these days, and in certain cases (e.g. the knowledge of horse in IVC), he seems to be a 'believer' of certain dogmatic scholars who have doggedly refused to come to terms with evidence that runs counter to their long cherished notions.
His dating of the Vedic literature is too late, which would be considered with askance by even eurocentric Vedicists. One wonders who he consulted for his statements to this effect.
It appears that the book was actually written several years ago, but is being published quickly for some unknown reason.
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3 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Martha Dasenbrock on February 23, 2006
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This book is a must have for anyone interested in Bronze Age River Civilizations such as Egypt or Mesopotamis.
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