Indus health01 May 2012
Anthropology News interviews Gwen Robbins Schug and Veena Mushrif Tripathy on their work documenting health and mortality in the Indus Valley civilization: “South Asian Bioarchaeology: Human-Environment Interaction and Paleopathology in Indus Valley Civilization”.
It was argued that Harappa was a rare example of a peaceful, heterarchical state. The human skeletal material was never consulted to address this question. Based on our evidence for both exclusion and social differentiation in the mortuary practices at Harappa, we argue that Harappa was not entirely peaceful and social differentiation was part of life....
We are using the human skeletons as artifacts of the social experience. We used the concept of structural violence in our most recent work because it accounts for the clear distinctions we see in the burial practices, ritual aspects, prevalence of trauma and infection. The mortuary and bioarchaeological evidence at Harappa suggests that the social experience in South Asia was not exceptionally different from other early urban civilizations; the kinds of suffering and the patterns of violence present at Harappa suggests structural violenceunequal power, uneven access to resources, and oppression that leads to denial of basic needs and even violence.