Production and Consumption of Copper-Base Metals in the Indus Civilization

Abstract

We review the existing data sets for the production and consumption of copper-base objects at Indus sites, outline a working typology for metal objects, and provide new data from ongoing analytical work on the copper assemblage from Harappa. The role of metals in the economic and social networks of the Indus tradition is examined in terms of patterns of use and technological style. We note that Indus metalsmiths relied more on procurement of metal ingots or scrap, rather than primary ingot production through smelting, which affected other aspects of Indus metallurgy. Object production did not involve elaborate forms, but may have involved complex alloying. Finally, we conclude that there is no evidence for elite control of metal production, and that access to metals was relatively widespread.

Keywords

Technological style Metal typology Harappan Lead isotope analysis 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Richard Meadow and Mark Kenoyer, co-directors of the Harappa Archaeological Research Project (HARP), and several Director Generals of the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan, have graciously aided our study of materials from Harappa during the long period of our research. HARP provided funding for much of this research, particularly the analytical work. For access, analysis, and interpretation of the LIA samples, Hoffman thanks Samuel Mukasa and his research group at the University of Michigan, Department of Geological Sciences; James Burton of the Laboratory for Archaeological Chemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, headed by T. Douglas Price; Randall Law and David Meiggs of the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Kishore Raghubans, formerly of M.S. University Baroda. Randall Law was also of great help with the preparation of the images in this paper. We much appreciate the very helpful editorial comments provided by Chris Thornton, Ben Roberts, and Vince Pigott.

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Anthropology DepartmentUniversity of TorontoMississaugaCanada

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