today; however, there is secondary evidence of seagoing craft. Archaeologists have discovered a massive, dredged canal and what they regard as a docking facility at the coastal city of Lothal in Gujarat. An extensive canal network, used for irrigation, has however also been discovered by H.P. 38. During 4300–3200 BC of the chalcolithic period the Indus Valley Civilization area shows ceramic similarities with southern Turkmenistan and northern Iran which suggest considerable trade. During the Early Harappan period, similarities in pottery, seals, figurines, ornaments, etc. document intensive caravan trade with Central Asia and the Iranian plateau. 39. Judging from the dispersal of Indus civilization artifacts, the trade networks, economically, integrated a huge area, including portions of Afghanistan, the coastal regions of Persia, northern and western India and Mesopotamia. There is some evidence that trade contacts extended to Crete and possibly to Egypt. 40. There was an extensive maritime trade network operating between the Harappan and Mesopotamian civilizations as early as the middle Harappan Phase, with much commerce being handled by middlemen merchants from Bahrain. Such long-distance sea trade became feasible with the innovative development of plank-built watercraft, equipped with a single central mast supporting a sail of woven rushes or cloth. 41. Several coastal settlements like Surkotada and Balakot near Sonmiani in Pakistan along with Lothal in India testify to their role as Harappan trading outposts. Shallow harbors located at the estuaries of rivers opening into the sea allowed brisk maritime trade with Mesopotamian cities. 42. SUBSISTENCE Some post-1980 studies indicate that food production was largely indigenous to the Indus Valley. It is known that the people of Mehrgarh used domesticated wheat and barley and the major cultivated cereal crop was naked six-row barley, a crop derived from two-row barley. Archaeologist Jim G. Shaffer writes that the Mehrgarh site "demonstrates that food production was an indigenous South Asian phenomenon" and that the data support interpretation of "the prehistoric urbanization and complex social organization in South Asia as based on indigenous but not isolated,
cultural developments". Others, such as Dorian Fuller indicate that it took some 2000 years before Middle Eastern wheat was acclimatized to South Asian conditions. 43. LITERATURE Between 400 and as many as 600 distinct Indus symbols have been found on seals, small tablets, ceramic pots and more than a dozen other materials, including a "signboard" that apparently once hung over the gate of the inner citadel of the Indus city of Dholavira. 44. SEALSThe messages on the seals have proved to be too short to be decoded. Each seal has a distinctive combination of symbols and there are too few examples of each sequence to provide a sufficient context. The symbols that accompany the images vary from seal to seal, making it impossible to derive a meaning for the symbols from the images. There have, nonetheless, been a number of interpretations offered for the meaning of the seals. These interpretations have been marked by ambiguity and subjectivity. Photos of many of the thousands of extant inscriptions are published in the
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