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Durham University

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Publication details for UNESCO Professor Robin Coningham

Coningham. R.A.E & Manuel, M.J. (2009). Priest-Kings or Puritans? Childe and willing subordination in the Indus. European Journal of Archaeology 12(1-3): 167-180

Author(s) from Durham


One of the Indus Civilization’s most striking features is its cultural uniformity evidenced by a common script, artefact forms and motifs, weights and measures, and the presence of proscribed urban plans. Early excavators and commentators utilized ideas of diffusion, and concepts of kingship and slavery remained prevalent within interpretations of the Indus. Whilst Childe questioned ideas of diffusion and hereditary rule he still identified a system of economic exploitation in which the vast majority of the population was subordinated. More recently scholars have begun to argue that small sections of the Indus population may have willingly subordinated themselves in order to secure positions of power. This article explores the dichotomy between traditional Eurocentric normative models of social organization and those derived from south Asian cultural traditions.