Indus Valley Civilisation mystery

The undeciphered script of the Indus Valley civilisation holds the key to a question with sharp political overtones: were the people of the subcontinent’s earliest recorded civilisation Aryans or Dravidians? Or neither?

In 1946, an India's archaeological survey team was at one of its favourite digs when it stumbled upon 37 skeletons. Two lay on the steps of a well with visible marks of head injury. Five were on the steps of another well room. A few others were hastily buried as if times were so bad that the dead could not be taken to the cemetery.

‘Men, women, children seemed to have been massacred in streets and left dying or, at best, crudely covered without any last rite,’ wrote Mortimer Wheeler, who led the expedition.

Archaeologists were at a site on the west bank of River Indus that is now Pakistan's Sindh province. For veterans of this dig, the area's local name seemed appropriate. The Sindhis called it Moenjo Daro, meaning mound of the dead, but for the University of London-educated Wheeler, it was time to revisit history textbooks.

As an undergraduate, he had learnt by rote a sentence in the Cambridge History of India: The history of India is, in large measure, a struggle between newcomers and earlier inhabitants.

More than 1,500 sites of the Indus Valley civilisation have been discovered since 1924 when Moenjo Daro and Harappa were first excavated. Archaeologists believe the area is roughly a quarter of Europe. Dholavira in Gujarat is the last major site discovered. It was excavated in the 1990s.

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