Thomas R.


The Role of shell in Mesopotamia : evidence for trade exchange with Oman and the Indus Valley
In: Paléorient. 1984, Vol. 10 N°1. pp. 65-73.

Abstract Shell artifacts from major Mesopotamian sites of the 4th and 3rd millennia B.C. are critically reexamined in terms of their role in Mesopotamian contexts and their value as indicators of external trade/exchange contacts. Different shell species used in the manufacture of specific objects are identified along with their possible source areas. The Gulf of Oman and the Indus coast can be identified as source areas on the basis of certain indicator species. The importance of shell as a trade commodity is discussed in terms of Mesopotamian maritime trade with Oman and the Indus Valley Civilization. Résumé Les objets en coquille provenant de grands sites mésopotamiens des 4e et 3e millénaires font l'objet d'un réexamen critique en fonction de leur rôle dans différents contextes mésopotamiens et de leur signification comme indices d'échange et/ou de commerce. Les différentes espèces de coquillages utilisés dans la fabrication d'objets spécifiques sont identifiés ainsi que l'est leur origine possible, le Golfe d'Oman et la côte près de l'embouchure de l'indus. Enfin est discutée l'importance des coquillages dans le commerce maritime entre la Mésopotamie, Oman et la Vallée de l'indus.

Citer ce document / Cite this document : Gensheimer Thomas R. The Role of shell in Mesopotamia : evidence for trade exchange with Oman and the Indus Valley. In: Paléorient. 1984, Vol. 10 N°1. pp. 65-73. doi : 10.3406/paleo.1984.4350

The most important of these species are described below.C. and the central columella has 2 or 3 distinctive ridges or folds. with different techniques for processing the various species. molluscs were an important resource exploited throughout the world. — Les objets en coquille provenant de grands sites mésopotamiens des 4" et 3e millénaires font l'objet d'un réexamen critique en fonction de leur rôle dans différents contextes mésopotamiens et de leur signification comme indices d'échange et/ ou de commerce. Olividae. This species grows to about 25 mm in length and they were usually perforated to be worn as beads or pendants (PI. GENSHEIMER ABSTRACT. It can be assumed that many of the smaller gastropods and bivalves that are now common in the silty-salty Gulf. le Golfe d'Oman et la côte près de l'embouchure de l'indus. particularly those of marine species. some species are better suited for the manufacture of particular kinds of objects. etc. but primarily at its far eastern edge. IMPORTANT SHELL SPECIES One of the first problems in identifying a shell species in the archaeological context is the fact that many shell artifacts are cut from larger shells and . Their shells.PALÉORIENT. Cardiidae. being more prevalent in the Gulf of Oman and along the western Makran coast (1). it has been difficult to make conclusive statements about the presence or absence of certain important species during the fourth and third millennia B. much as in later times. often lack the diagnostic features necessary for identification. Once a shell species has been identi fied however. Enfin est discutée l'importance des coquillages dans le commerce maritime entre la Mésopotamie. — Shell artifacts from major Mesopotamian sites of the 4th and 3rd millennia B. many of which may also have served specific socio-ritual functions. Different shell species used in the manufacture of specific objects are identified along with their possible source areas. e. there is the problem of defining its present source area and then reconstructing the potential ancient source areas. Arcidae. is a fairly large gastropod (150 to 200 mm) with a series of short tubercules on the shoulder of the body whorl (fig. have been used to make various utilitarian and ornamental objects.. were also available in this region in ancient times.R. Although this species generally lives in rocky (1) DURANTE. in the Gulf of Oman or even further east along the coasts of the Indian subcontinent. Engina mendicaria L. banded gastro pod is found scattered along both sides of the that Gulf. Fasciolaria trapezium L. The Gulf of Oman and the Indus coast can be identified as source areas on the basis of certain indicator species. Conidae. I a). Other shell artifacts can be identified as having been made from species that have more limited distributions in the eastern Gulf.C. Tracing the movement of these species from their source areas to their occurrence at sites can help to reconst ructintercultural connections and clarify the me chanisms by which this exchange functioned and changed over time. Due to a lack of problem oriented surveys within the Persian/ Ara bian Gulf (hereafter referred to as the Gulf). Technol ogies were developed to effectively process this raw material. are critically reexamined in terms of their role in Mesopotamian contexts and their value as indicators of external trade/exchange contacts. Because of their morphology. The importance of shell as a trade commodity is discussed in terms of Mesopotamian maritime trade with Oman and the Indus Valley Civilization. By a more detailed examination of the role of shell in the arts and rituals of Mesopotamia and by the study of the specific source areas. 10/1-1984 THE ROLE OF SHELL IN MESOPOTAMIA EVIDENCE FOR TRADE EXCHANGE WITH OMAN AND THE INDUS VALLEY T. 1975 2Č 65 : INTRODUCTION In prehistory.C. inevitably led to the development of distribution networks between the source areas and distant inland consumers. Spondulidae. Neritidae. it has been possible to present a new under standing of their importance to trade and exchange during the fourth and third millennia B.g. vol. but on the basis of negative evidence we can reconstruct some basic distribution patterns. 2:1a). Oman et la Vallée de l'indus. Les différentes espèces de coquillages utilisés dans la fabrication d'objets spécifiques sont identifiés ainsi que l'est leur origine possible. while others appear to have been collected for their unique colors or shapes. The demand for particular shell species in areas away from the source. RÉSUMÉ. is a small.

trapezium has a widespread distribution in the Arabian Sea. 1 Fasciolaria trapezium la Turbine la pyrum I Lambis truncata sebae Chicoreus ramosus FIG. being common in 66 the Gulf of Kutch and in the Gulf of Oman. Although it is possible that this species existed in the Gulf itself. but not so common along the Makran coast. 2 areas or along coral reefs. it can also be found on sandy ocean bottoms.CASPIAN SEA MODERN CITY Ancient Site FIG. it . F.

Furthermore. in view of the accessibility to other resource areas in the Gulf of Oman. 1982 59. comm.) is another large gastropod characterized by an inflated body whorl and covered with sets of curving spines and numerous small tubercules (fig. T. 155. 1970. we can assume that the high salinity and silt content of the waters inside the Gulf would have been an important factor towards the exclusion of (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) KENOYER. 2 a). It can be assumed that Engina mendicaria.C. Turbinella pyrum (L. In the priest's quart ers at Mari the occurrence of shell pendants. either to indicate wealth or as amulets.was probably uncommon since it is now very rare or possibly extinct (2). In the graves of the Royal Cemetery at Ur the women attendants wore belts of shell rings on their ceremon ial dresses (16) and this tradition was also seen in the Early Dynastic graves at Khafajah (17). fig. KENOYER. Except for the thick accu mulations on the outer lip. 1967 98. 1983 a 8-9. This species is about the same size as Fasciolaria trape zium but it has an ovate shape and an extremely thick body whorl that spirals around a massive columella (fig.) is one of the most important gastropods in this discussion. Although there is a lack of similar studies within the Gulf.g. Pendants and beads made from Engina mendicaria. (11) Fig. 3 a and JARR1GE and MEADOW. 2. it was quite rare in Mesopotamia. Lambis truncata sebae and Chicoreus ramosus were being collected from the Gulf of Oman and possibly in the eastern end of the Gulf (fig. 1955 a 71. with relatively weak sutures and a thin columella. 2. SMYTHE. 1). but it is extinct or rare in the Gulf itself (fig. 1959-1976 156. KENOYER. Chicoreus ramosus (L. Most of these shell rings appear to have been made from the (9) e. This species lives in rocky areas or coral reefs and is common on the southern shores of the Gulf of Kutch (India). Marine shells were also commonly used as grave goods. Pakistan.C. pers. 1983 b: 141-142. (15) McCOWN. This species lives on sandy or rubble bottoms from the intertidal zone up to 10 meters. but on the Makran coast it is only found up to Pasni (8). 2 b). 1980. Eridu in SAFAR. comm. pyrum lives on sandy bottoms in the shallow littoral zone and its distribu tionlimited to the waters of the Indian subcontin is ent. unworked shell bracelets or rings and pottery with shell inlay may be taken as further evidence for the ritual value attached to shell objects. various cowries and other small gastropods were quite common in the graves at Tello(14). Lambis truncata sebae (Kiener) is a slightly larger (up to 300 mm) and more massive gastropod with 6 or 7 characteristic digitations extending from its outer lip (fig. trapezium (fig. becoming less common further west along the Sindh and Makran coasts (Pakistan).is quite common in the Gulf of Kutch and It along the coast just west of Karachi. : : : 67 larger gastropod populations. (10) Tepe Yahya. 1967 98. (13) AYNARD. the possible existence of any isolated populations would have been relatively insignificant for commercial exploitation. In the Gulf of Oman however. The distribution of this species in our area of concern is restricted to the coast of Oman (4) where it is relatively common. (12). and though it was commonly used as a raw material in the Indus Valley. PI. it is quite common near Muscat. (12) KENOYER. This columella has distinctive columellar ridges that are very diferent from those of F. 2. KENOYER. By the end of the fourth and the beginning of the third millennia we find extensive use of shell in Mesopotamia in both natural and highly worked forms. the remainder of this shell is quite thin. ABBOTT. and prefers the seaward side of reefs (3). Fasciolaria trape zium. and occasional specimens have been recovered from the Karachi coast and the Gulf of Kutch (5). 2. 1983 a il. (14) GENOUILLAC. I a). 68. Of particular note are ground shell disc beads that are a common feature in shell assemblages at many grave sites in southern Mesopotamia (9) and they are also found at sites throughout the Iranian Plateau and even as far east as Mehrgarh. There are indications that shell may have held certain religious and ritual significance since they have been found in the foundations of temples and are mentioned in magical texts as having prophylact ic and protective powers (13). 1981 125. 1)(7). pers. at Khafajah(15) and at most sites throughout Mesopotamia during this period. : : : : : . 1934: 123. Turbinella pyrum on the other hand could only have been acquired from the coastal areas of the Indus Civilization. No major populations have been reported from inside the Gulf itself though Smythe suggests that they may occur along the Iranian coast which has not been properly surveyed yet (6). SHELL USE IN MESOPOTAMIA In Mesopotamia. 1983 a 5-6. SMYTHE. beginning as early as the seventh millennium B. Conus ebraeus. (16) WOOLLEY. Studies of geomorphological changes along the coastal areas of India and Pakistan have shown that the major habitat areas for these important species have not been significantly altered since the 4th and 3rd millennia B. the use of distinctive shells as ornaments can be traced back to the Neolithic and Early Chalcolithic periods. (17) McCOWN. 4 a). This widespread distribution suggests the presence of numerous overlapping trade/exchange networks that connected the Gulf coast with the distant inland sites. LAMBERG-KARLOVSKY. Ibid. 1966 32-33.

FIGURE 3. В 5 16 17 18 19 Plate I 68 .

the carved shell plaques used in decorating musical instruments and numerous carved pendants all bear this out. Kish (25) and one has been found in a pre-Sargonid grave from Tello (26). since the oil would tend to leak out of the lamp as it was drawn up by the wick. The imitation of shell objects in precious metals and stone further attest to the socio-ritual impor tance that shell may have held. JNG 158. From these distant source areas it was traded as far inland as the site of Mari. SHELL ARTIFACTS AS INDICATORS OF TRADE In view of the fact that shell working and shell objects played an important role in the arts and rituals of Mesopotamia. 1956 168: fig. From Pre-dynastic graves at Ur inlay we find many examples of this shell that have been hollowed out and incised or decorated with in lay (30). LV b. : : : : . 221. the Makran coast and the Gulf of Oman. such as Tepe Gawra (23) and although some of them are definitely Conus sp. fig. 503 a. 1955 b JNG 159 b. 1955 a 67. others appear to be Engina mendicaria. Another examp le reported from a Jamdet Nasr grave at Ur (27). 34. obj. n° 19247. The importance of this species is the fact that its source appears to have been restricted to the eastern Gulf. etc. One of the beads clearly shows the colu mellar ridges. 2:1a after WOOLLEY. XIX. but unfortunately the inappropriate label has been perpetuated. 1950.) were often filled with various cosmetic paints and placed in many of the women's graves (19). 1936 PI. 283. PI. where it was used in necklaces (22). generally less than 25 mm in diameter. 531. b) as well as for manufact uring pieces. The outer portions of this shell were probably used for manufacturing various types of inlay. The Royal Cemetery at Ur provides many fine examples of the extent to which Mesopotamian craftsmen developed and refined the art of shell working during the Pre and Early Dynastic periods. it is important to note the specific species used for making different objects. fig. 101 a. 1982 57. Ibid.. It should be pointed out that although these objects are commonly referred to as lamps. (24) (25) (26) (27) (28) (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34) (35) 69 HEINRICH. but the other one has been ground and worn so that they are not distinguishable in the published illustration. Another important shell species was the massive Lambis truncata sebae. Similar small gastropods are seen on necklaces from burials at other sites. Due to the relatively small diameter of the columella. vol. TOBLER. 3 с WOOLLEY. One species that is easily identified is Engina mendicaria since it is generally perforated and used in necklaces as a bead or pendant. Fig.spire of Conus shells (18) Cockle shells (Arcidae. 1982 69. pers. Ibid. 1934 26. 2. It should be pointed out however. 4. The grave of Queen Pu-abi contained two pairs of imitation cockle shells. Fasciolaria trapezium is another significant species used as a raw material at Mesopotamian sites. one in gold and the other in silver (20). 1934 b PI. The solid. : : : : : : : : : : : (18) (19) (20) (21) (22) (23) KENOYER. 3 a. 3: PI. 1 c). Cardiidae sp. it is import ant note the importance of this species as an to important indicator of trade and exchange. the cylinder seals made from this species are characteristically long and thin. comm. WOOLLEY. U 71. 1934 PI. spiraling columella of this species was often ground and perforated to make long cylindrical beads and the distinctive columellar ridges are often visible even after working (fig. It can be suggested that most of the long tubular or cylindrical shell beads report ed graves of this period (28) were probably from made from the columella of Fasciolaria trapezium. PARROT. WOOLLEY. this would be possible through a closer examination of the shell structure of particular inlay pieces. 1934 b 283. In addition to beads. LV1I b. Although the reexamination of these previously excavated necklaces is hardly feasible. in the Syrian desert. MOOREY. MARSHALL. Although it is often difficult to differentiate this species from others on the basis of published illustrations. GENOUILLAC. Ibid. Looking closely at these shells it is quite evident that the downturned tip is better suited for pouring rather than holding a wick. is where two cylindrical shell beads were found on a necklace. 31. 11 :~P1. The absence of burning at the ed ges (32) and the rounded bottoms (33) have been cited in the past. WATELIN. One of the more elaborate examples had a modeled and inlayed head of a duck attached to the apex and the hollow shell formed the duck's body (31). the columella was used to make cylinder seals (29). which was used in the form of containers (fig. Numerous examples of these beads have been found at Warka (24). there is no indication of their having been used in this capacity. MOOREY.. Ibid. The intricate shell inlays on the statuary and in the royal scenes of the Standard of Ur. that all of these objects are confined to elite contexts in temples or among other luxury items in grave offerings. 1934 PI. 2. and the grave of Meskalamdug contained a gold lamp (21) which closely resembles the shell lamps made from Lambis truncata sebae. 1931 569. WATELIN. Woolley's original suggestion was that they may have been used for libations or for pouring unguents (34) and Mackay suggests a similar use for almost identical shell containers found in the Indus Civilization (35).

: : : (36) (37) (38) (39) WOOLLEY. and that they were only used in major urban centers. pendants and beads were produced. : : : : . KENOYER. The wavey structure of the outer lip is so distinctive that it is also possible to identify this species from even small inlay pieces. animal figurines and even toy carts. but until further research is done with these questions in mind it is difficult to come to any conclusions. 22. WOOLLEY. Although the major raw materials were Turbinella pyrum and Chicoreus ramosus. a: 19-23. Kenoyer sug gests that these last two shell species were being supplied to the Indus workshops from the distant source areas in the Gulf of Oman. 1983 KENOYER. The occurrence of these species in Mesopotamian sites during the Proto and Early Dynastic periods coincides with the expansion of trade networks in the Gulf region and these shells were undoubtedly an important trade commodity. During the Mature Harappan period shell working became highly specialized. 1975 KENOYER. 253. an important trade network had developed in the lower Indus Valley whereby whole shells were being distributed to distant inland sites. Most of the containers do not have the thick digitations (finger-like projections) and the reason for this may be that these were sawn off to make small figurines or inlay plaques.All of these containers have had the digitations removed. As was the case with the "lamp" label. 253-254. Special types of ladles were made from Chicoreus ramosus and exquisitely carved and incised libation vessels were produced from Turbinella pyrum (43). He mistakenly described this piece as being an imitation of the "tridacna" shell. By about 2500 B. 1966 22-31. Nevertheless. The raw shells may have been traded to Mesopota mian centers in their natural form or they urban could have been processed at coastal manufacturing sites. 1934 a 43. both in terms of techno logy in the types of artifacts being manufacture and d. : : : a: 162-163. It is not unreasonable to suggest that most of the larger plaques of shell inlay used in Mesopotamia were probably made from this species. the Harappans also used Fasciolaria trapezium and Lambis truncata sebae. the term "tridacna" has been repeated in the literature when there is actually no evidence for the use of any of the tridacna bivalves for manufacturing such containers. The exclusive use of these shells at large urban centers such as Mohenjo Daro and Harappa would indicate that they had direct trade contacts with distant resource areas (47). 1983 Ibid. LVIII. these major species are either rare or completely absent in the Gulf itself and the nearest major source areas would have been in the Gulf of Oman.C. b 254. 1983 Ibid. an engraved shell plaque from Tel Al Ubaid clearly displays the wavey growth lines (38). but Woolley reports a carved alabaster "lamp" or container that still retains the distinctive digitations (36). when in fact. Although Chicoreus ramosus was not a common shell in Mesopotamian assemblages two examples have been reported. a lthough none have been reported yet. As was pointed out earlier. gaming pieces. Distinctive personal ornaments such as bangles. or slightly later the Harappan trade networks expanded to include the upper Indus Valley and shell manufacturing was done at northern sites such as Harappa and even Kalibangan (42). both internal and external. The technology that was used in the different manufactur ing is quite uniform and a study of the centers unfinished shell artifacts and manufacturing waste indicate an optimal exploitation of specific shell species (44). I d) are probably quite similar to what would be found at shell working sites in Mesopotamia. the seven characteristic digitations along with the basic shape indicate that it was an imitation of a Lambis shell. 1956 PI. XLV b. 366. AYNARD. particularly for the manufacture of inlay (45). along with a wide range of inlay. The widespread use of shell at all Indus sites is indicative of the local abundance of shell resources and the effective trade networks. Two examples of small carved faces were found in the chamber of priests at Mari (37) and close examination of the shell growth structures indicate that they were carved from the thick digitations of the Lambis shell. that supplied urban manufacturing centers with raw materials. 1924 PI. b 170. rings. Although most illustrations lack the necessary detail. SHELL USE AND TRADE IN THE INDUS CIVILIZATION By the third millennium B. 30. ibid. fig. The presence of Mature Harappan sites (40) (41) (42) (43) (44) (45) (46) (47) 70 KENOYER. even as far as Shahr-i-Sokhta in Seistan (41). One large shell was inscribed with the inscription "Rimuš Lugal Kisi" and from Tello there is a large ladle that was fashioned from this species (39). PARROT. 369. The sawn fragments of Lambis from Mohenjo Daro (PI. This interpretation is based on the fact that these species are not common along the local coasts of Kutch and Sindh and that none of the Harappan coastal sites used these species in their workshops (46). Although most of the trade was limited to sites of the Early Indus Period (40) some shells were being distributed to the adjacent regions. 1983 DURANTE.C. 1228. a brief look at the use of shell in the Indus Civilization and its contacts with the Gulf region may help sort out some of the important questions.

and have been inter preted by Woolley as being some form of war medal or insignia of these soldiers (60). but again without illustrations or references. pyrum in graves at Ur (PG 143. In other cases. In the grave of Meskalamdug was a seal that measured 49 mm in length and 30 mm in diameter. The production of this type of ladle has only been documented at sites of the Indus Civiliza tion. As was pointed out above. where we find numerous examples of large shell cylinder seals. AYNARD. several examples of shell objects that can be identified as Turbinella pyrum or appear to have been manufactured in Indus work shops. TOSI et ai. 59. 55. Although the provenience for this (48) (49) (50) (51) (52) (53) (54) (55) DALES. 1981 54. 1966 31. XIX. pyrum columella or rough cylinders through trade contacts with the Indus Valley. fig. it is incised with a "V" or chevron decoration that is characteristic of Mature Indus bangles. KENOYER. let us see if there is any indication of direct trade between Mesopota miathe Indus.along the Makran coast (48) and the discovery of a possible Harappan site at Ras Al Janayz in Oman (49) all provide important evidence for the existence of sea-trade with the Gulf region during the third millennium B. pyrum. pers. and the ends were inlayed with lapis lazuli (58). 196. In reviewing the respect ive reports it has not been possible to identify site this species from any of the published illustrations and one can only wonder if he confused other. 57. WOOLLEY. has a much more massive columella (fig.C. A large wide shell bangle has been recovered from Susa that Durante as identified as Fasciolaria trapezium (55). 7. PI. A collection of five perforated discs has also been reported from Susa (57) and their similarity to shell discs made from Turbinella pyrum at Indus sites such as Harappa is quite striking (see PI. 60. however. Ratnagar also refers to similar "shell lamps" made from T. Hornell also mentions the presence of pen dants made from T. where a specialized technique was developed to remove the exterior spires and saw one or two ladles (56) (57) (58) (59) (60) (61) (62) (63) KENOYER. T. An examination of the two "shell lamps" from Tello. the presence of Turbinella pyrum in Mesopotamia has been used as evidence for contact and/or trade with the Indus Civilization. 1981 148. HORNELL. 9. 1941 23. but the data is sometimes confusing and often misleading. : : : : : : : . Other isolated examples of such large shell cylinder seals are reported from Tepe Gawra and Susa (61) and together they indicate that Mesopotamian workshops were obtaining T. Lagash and Kish (50). S. but all of the referenced examples have been misidentified and are clearly made from the Lambis shell. These latter seals are all carved with a scene showing a hunter and a lion overcoming an ibex or a bull. 2 c) and medium to large shells can easily produce a cylinder that is 30 mm in diameter and up to 50 mm in length. 1934 b PI. WATELIN. figs. which were originally identified as T. PG 127) and claims that they were "clearly imports from In dia" (53). POSSIBLE INDUS SHELL ARTIFACTS IN MESOPOTAMIA Having briefly discussed the evidence for shell trade between Oman and the two major urban civilizations to the west and east. large shell cylinders were apparently made by joining sections of shell together as is seen in cylinder seal # U-9907 from the Royal Cemetery (62). it has been possible to check the identification of specific artifacts and many are clearly not made from Turbinella pyrum. the columella of Fasciolaria trapezium is long and thin. comm. and even the largest specimen could not produce a solid cylinder measuring 30 mm in diamet er. and contrary to Durante's identifica tion it appears to have been made from the Indus species Turbinella pyrum (56). Ibid. pyrum at the site of Tello (51). I c). The absence of these types of artifacts at intermediate sites in Oman or the Persian Gulf suggests that there may have been some form of direct trade between Susa and the Indus Valley during the late third millennium. HORNELL. Hornell was one of the first to point out such connections when he mentioned the occurrence of the "Indian Chank" (Turbinella pyrum) at the sites of Ur. Other shell artifacts found in the graves of Cemetery Y at Kish have also been identified as T. 1983 b 363. 1942 132. 99 a. AYNARD. figs. and In the past. Ibid. 1966 27. 1962. shows them to be Lambis truncata sebae. fis. Evidence for the use of Turbinella pyrum can also be found in the later Dynastic levels at Ur. Other evidence for shell trade between the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia can be seen in the occur rence of a ladle made from Chicoreus ramosus at Tello (63). 1982. TOSI et ai. pyrum (52). Several other examples of these large shell cylinder seals come from the group of "military graves" excavated in Pit X at Ur (59). pyrum (54). 1981 51. 2. pyrum. Prior to this availability. 196-197. There are. : : : : : : 71 artifact is not known. 18. and his identification is not supported by the published site reports. WOOLLEY. however. 39. A preliminary study of the large cylinder seals from the graves at Ur suggests that they could only have been made from T. however. 13. 1934 b PI. more easily available gastropods with this important Indus shell. TOSI. fig. 1934 PI. RATNAGAR. 54. 58.

there is no evidence for its manufacture in the Gulf region. The or lack of any evidence for the use of Turbinella pyrum at sites in the Gulf would suggest the latter. 3b and 3d are from Mohenjo Daro and 3c from Harappa (courtesy of the Department of Archaeology. BIBLIOGRAPHY ABBOTT R. 1972 Harappan Trade in the Arabian Gulf in the Third Millennium B. Government of Pakistan). 1982 Sumerian Traders and Businessmen in the Indus Valley. Textual evidence from Mesopotamia re fers to the sea-faring traders who brought goods from Dilmun. some unfinished and finished shell was being imported from the Indus coasts. It appears that the major source of shell used in Mesopotamia was the Gulf of Oman. To adequately answer this question we need more studies of sites in Oman.A. Were the shell artifacts used in Mesopotamia being made at these urban sites or were they possibly being manufactur ed in the Gulf.C. Nevertheless. 1966 Coquillages Mésopotamiens..S. 1 14-23. Brill. U. DURING CASPERS.) at Shahr-iSokhta. 1968. 1959-76 Indo-Pacific Mollusca I-III. French Archaeological Mission in Pakistan). Syria XLIII 21-37. : : : : : : : (69) KOHL. 1975 The Utilization of Xancus pyrum (L. Similarly. CONCLUSION There is no question about the presence of trade contacts between the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia during the second half of the third millennium B.) (68). 1972. DALES G. GADD. DALES. 1962 Harappan Outposts on the Makran Coast. Other archaeol ogicalevidence for Harappan artifacts at Mesopotamian sites has been summarized by numerous scholars (66) and there are even a few suggested occurrences of Mesopotamian artifacts at Harappan sites. (ed. much in the same way that chlorite vessels were made in southeastern Iran (69). Leiden E. and it may even have been responsi blethe ultimate florescence of the Umm-an-Nar for culture (2500-2000 B. 1982. 1978 39 : : : 72 Many questions about the role of shell in Mesopotamia remain unanswered and we know little or nothing about the presence of actual shell workshops at the large urban centers. The artifact from Tello is identical to those from Indus sites and exhibits the use of a similar manufacturing technique. The fact that Omani merchants were already exporting their own shell would have put them in a good position to redistri bute transship shell from the Indus Valley. the last being identified with the Indus region (65). 1968 Of Mice and Men. DURING CASPERS E. POTTS. California 94720. Although this species is also common in the Gulf of Oman.F. Kenoyer.DE LEEUW J. : . MARSHALL 1931.. the major urban sites in the Indus Valley were importing certain shells from the Gulf of Oman.) South Asian Archaeology 1975. Journal of the American Oriental Society 83. ngemphasis of study to include artisan quarters the and manufacturing areas of the larger sites.C. On the basis of shell artifacts it is possible to provide some additional information as to the structure of this trade. GENSHEIMER Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies University of California Berkeley. (64) (65) (66) (67) (68) KENOYER. DURANTE S. and I would like to thank him for his guidance and the illustrations in figures 2 and Plate I. 42 337-379. The presence of Jamdet Nasr type pottery at numerous sites in Oman and the textual evidence for the development of strong trade contacts between these two regions from the beginning of the third millennium B. 1983 a 21. The movement of Indus shell and other objects to Mesopotamia could have been through the overlap ping these two major networks in Oman. In VON LOHUIZEN .from each shell (64). Jarrige. Greenville Delaware Museum of Natural History.T. Annali dell' 1st. 1975.-F.J. to locate shell collection and possibly manufacturing centers. AYNARD J. possibly in conjunction with copper ingots. POTTS. Orientale di Napoli. but we are still at a loss to define the nature of this exchange.L.C.. Also we need a better understanding of shell working in Mesopota mia and this can only be attained by broadeni itself. The artifacts in figure 3 a are from Mehrgarh (Courtesy of J. the definite occur rence of Turbinella pyrum and finished ladles of Chicoreus ramosus indicates that by mid-millennium or slightly later.C.C. Mesopotamia 1 : 167-191. 1932. Paris 27-42. Maggan and Meluhha. 1978 36. so we must assume that the example from Tello was brought from the Indus Valley. Thomas R. DURING CASPERS. Antiquity XXXVI 86-92.M. ACKNOWLED GEMENTS The topic of this paper was suggested to me by Professor Jonathan M. The of impact of this trade would have been greater in the Gulf communities than in either the Indus Valley or Mesopotamia.E.

2 122-133. TOSI M. Makkan and the Economy of Ancient Sumer. 1932 Seals of Ancient Indian Style found at Ur. le Temple d'lshtar.J. 1934 b Ur Excavations II. Ithaca Cornell U. TOSI M. Pro с of the British Academy LIX 6-43. MUSTAFA A.C. London A. London Allen and Unwin. GENOUILLAC H. Antiquaries Journal 14. 1950 Excavations at Tepe Gawra II. Pakistan. and MEADOW R. 1981 Encounters : The Westerly Trade of the Harappa Civilization. 1982 Seashells of the Arabian Gulf. Chicago Univ. 3 vol. TOBLER A. de 1934 Fouilles de Telloh.H. Berkeley. phia British Museum and Univ. 1955 b Ur Excavations VI. 1967-1973. Philadelphia versity of Pennsylvania Press. Mesopotamia. The Early Periods.. D. Paris Paul Geuthner. MARSHALL J. Museum. on Pakistan Archaeology. 1936 Kleinfunde ans den Archaischen Tempelschichten in Uruk. London Ernest Benn Ltd. HORNELL J.GADD C. 1970 Urban Interaction on the Iranian Plateau. 1 18-31.M. Philadelphia British Museum and Univ. University of Chicago Oriental Pu blications LXXVIII. Baghdad. 1955 a Excavations at Ur. Ph. State Organization of Antiquities and Heritage. HAINES R. McCOWN D. Peshawar. 1981 Eridu. 4 329-346.F. Paris Geuthner. 1978 Tovvards an Integrated History of Culture Change in the Arabian Gulf Area Notes on Dilmun. : : : : : : : : : : 73 . 1983 b Shell Working Industries of the Indus Civilisation : An Archaeological and Ethnographic Perspective. Probsthain. LAMBERG-KARLOVSKY C. 1975 Carved Chlorite Vessels A Trade in Finished Commodities in the Mid Third Millennium. South Asian Archaeology 1983 Naples (in press).. KENOYER J.) OxfordField Museum Expedition. Scribal Quarters and Surroundings. 1941 Sea Trade in Early Times.C. Museum Pennsylvania. SAFAR F.. and LLOYD S. Paris Geuthner. POTTS D. SMYTH E K. 1956 Mission Archéologique de Mari. and DURANTE S. 1981 Ur of the Chaldees. Thesis.R. JARRIGE J. 1924 Excavations at Tell el Obeid. Ex pedition 18.J. WOOLLEY Sir L. 1967 Nippur I Temple of Enlil. Antiquaries Journal 14. The Royal Cemetery. Antiquity 15 233-256. KOHL P. U. 1976 The Dating of the Umm an Nar Culture and a proposed Sequence for Oman in the third Millen niumB. of Chicago Press. 1980 The Antecedents of Civilization in the Indus Valley. : : : 1. 1982 A Possible Harappan Seaport in Eastern Arabia : Ra's Al-Junayz in the Sultanate of Oman. Penns ylvania. Scientific American 243. MOOREY P. and HANSEN DP.C. 1934 Excavations at Kish. 1981 Conchiglie : II Commercio e la Lavorazione delle Conchiglie Marine nel Media Oriente dal IV al II Millenio AC. vations at Tepe Yahya. WATELIN L. MACKAY E.C. Chicago Field Museum of National History. Roma IsMEO. 1931 Mohenjo Daro and the Indus Civilization. : : : : : : : : : : : : : PARROT A.C.. 1929 A Sumerian Palace and the "A" Cemetery at Kish. Antiquity 15 113-133. 1942 The Chank Shell Cult of India. 2 vol. Journal of Oman Studies 4 29-5 RATNAGAR S. New Delhi Oxford University Press. (Unpub lished). Journal of Oman Studies 2 81-92. 1934 a Excavations at Ur 1933-34. Prnc. In LANGDON (ed. Conf. 4 369.J. of the British Academy 18 3-22. Press. HEINRICH E.E. Berlin Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. BISCIONE R. Anthropology Memoirs 1. 2.S. Presented at 1st Inter. 1983 a Shell Working at Moenjo Daro.

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