Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 231-261

First online:

Material Matters: Representation and Materiality of the Harappan Body

  • Sharri R. ClarkAffiliated withDepartment of Anthropology, Harvard University Email author 

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In the Indus Civilization (ca. 2600–1900 BC), a society with no readable texts and few larger-scale representations, terracotta figurines were the most common representations of the human body. This paper explores the unique construction of the material representations of bodies and other material culture from Harappa, a major Indus site now in Pakistan. Hand-modeling representations of human bodies from dual clay pieces, sometimes decorated with bone pigments, suggests a focus on the process and ideological rather than practical choices in the materialization of the Harappan human body. For the Harappans, material matters as they engage physically with their world and embody themselves and their worldview.


Indus Civilization Harappa Figurines Representation Materiality