Michael D. Petraglia and Nicole Boivin
Genetic and archaeological evidence indicates that South Asia was one of the world's most densely populated geographic regions in the Late Pleistocene. Genetic coalescence ages point to the colonization of the region by Homo sapiens between 70,000 and 50,000 years ago, corresponding with the Middle Palaeolithic stone tool industry. Middle Palaeolithic occupations occur prior to the Toba volcanic super-eruption of 74,000 years ago, suggesting Homo sapiens may have reached South Asia earlier. Populations emerging from Africa may have used coasts and transcontinental routes to disperse across the Indian Ocean rim. Indigenous South Asian hunter-gatherers survived the Toba super-eruption, and adapted to environmental changes across the Late Pleistocene. About 35,000-30,000 years ago, new cultural innovations appear that correspond with environmental deterioration, habitat fragmentation, and demographic increase. Lifestyles of foraging populations became increasingly heterogeneous during the Holocene. During the Middle and Late Holocene, foraging populations coexisted alongside complex urbanized state-level societies
Sharri R. Clark and Jonathan Mark Kenoyer
Figurines of the Indus Civilization (c.2600–1900 BC) provide unique insights into technological, social, and ideological aspects of this early urban society. The Indus script has not yet been deciphered, so figurines provide one of the most direct means to understand social diversity through ornament and dress styles, gender depictions, and various ritual traditions. This chapter focuses on figurines from the site of Harappa, Pakistan, with comparative examples from other sites excavated in both India and Pakistan. Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic terracotta figurines, and special forms with moveable components or representing composite or fantastic creatures, are found at most sites of the Indus Civilization, with rare examples of figurines made of bronze, stone, faience, or shell. The raw materials and technologies used to make figurines are discussed, along with the archaeological contexts in which they have been discovered. These figurines provide an important line of evidence regarding Indus society and religion.