A meditation on the nature of technological progress

Artisans living in these cities developed elegant objects out of bronze, gold and silver, terracotta, glazed ceramic and semiprecious stones. Many of the most exquisite objects are extremely small and were often made from raw materiels that were transformed through complex techniques of manufacture. Their craftsmanship demonstrates a total control of the medium and the ability to capture the essence of a symbol or figure with a few delicate strokes.

Even today, in the modern cities and villages of Pakistan and India, we see the legacy of the Indus cities reflected in traditional arts and crafts, as well as in the layouts of homes and settlements. Given the availability of similar natural resources and raw materials, modern potters and glazermakers use many of the same production processes and firing techniques. The goldsmiths and agate beadmakers who make ornaments for modern city dwellers still use many techniques that were first discovered by the ancient Indus jewellers. Bronzeworkers who make utensils and sculptures have preserved many ancient techniques. Bone carvers of today have replaced the ivory workers of the past, but they continue to produce similar ornaments, gaming pieces, and inlay. These remnants of the past do not represent a stagnation of culture but rather highlight the optimal choices made by the Indus people.

– Exerpted from the book ‘Ancient cities of the Indus Valley civilization’ by Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, Oxford University Press, 1998, p17-19

A large, glazed, red-blown pot with geometric flower patterns on it.
Ceremonia vessel; Southern Pakistan, Indus Valley Civilization, Harappan, circa 2600-2450 B.C. Photo released into the Public Domain by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art http://www.lacma.org
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