Jennifer Bates on the Indus Civilisation

Join us on Wednesday 27 Jan 2021 at 4pm to hear Dr Jennifer Bates, from the University of Pennsylvania, speak on 'Beyond Cereals: exploring agriculture, food and social organisation in the Indus Civilisation'.


Wheat, barley and winter cropping. This is the traditional model of Indus Civilisation agriculture c.3200-1500BC. In this paper, I attempt to move beyond this simplistic model, and suggest that Indus agriculture was based on more complex strategies, tailored to individual peoples needs, choices and perceptions. By exploring how multi-cropping strategies varied from village to village, I will demonstrate that Indus agriculture was nuanced and variable, with kitchen gardens, arboriculture and foraging regular options available to people. I argue that by incorporating these nuances alongside a foodways approach to archaeobotanical data in the Indus, we can move beyond ‘agriculture’ and ‘diet’ to think about why people were exploiting crops, how personal, environmental and social dynamics influenced decisions. Drawing on data from village sites, commonly overlooked in Indus archaeology, I outline there was no single pattern of urban-influenced change, and that local perceptions led to village resilience in the face of social and climatic change.
Dr Jennifer Bates bio picture
Dr Jennifer Bates - Haryana fodder
Dr Jennifer Bates - rice
Dr Jennifer Bates - spikelets

First published: 21 January 2021