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This special exhibition presents two strikingly different approaches to photography on-site at an archeological dig. The first group of photographs are part of the official documentation of excavation. These photographs date to the late 1920s and early 1930s, and show excavation work in progress at Harappa and Mohenjodaro.
South Asia's first civilization developed in the Indus Valley region of what is today Pakistan. A lengthy period of development led from societies of hunter-gatherers and nomadic pastoralists to the building of the first substantial agricultural settlements at the end of the 6th millennium BC. It is now thought that the 3rd millennium cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro represent the culmination and most elaborate manifestation of this earlier village culture, in which a simple economy based on agriculture and animal husbandry evolved into urban complexes with monumental buildings, elaborate religious ceremonial and trade contacts with the Near East, the Iranian borderlands and Central Asia.
A system of writing was developed which is preserved on stone and ceramic seals and in pottery inscriptions. A strong - though as yet undefined - social organization is indicated by the efficiently designed and large scale baked-brick granaries, bathing facilities and drains. Yet especially when compared to the rich artistic production of Central Asia and the Near East in the same period, Harappan civilization is astonishing in its lack of art.
The second group of photographs are casual snapshots taken by Dr. Alexander Nikitin, now of the Hermitage Museum, at sites in Turkmenistan during the 1970s. Turkmenistan has extraordinarily rich archeological resources ranging from a widely distributed and highly developed Bronze Age civilization with trading contacts in both the Indus Valley and Mesopotamia, to Achaemenid and Hellenistic period cities and many early and medieval Islamic monuments. These photographs document the social aspects of an ongoing excavation, the youthful enthusiasm of both Soviet archeologists and their Turkoman diggers and the grueling physical conditions of desert archeology.
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