A small square seal with a swastika design has been found at Kish in Mesopotamia and Altin Depe in south Turkmenia. The swastiks was commonly depicted by the Harappans and appears to be a typical Harappan motif. A plain seal with Harappan characters has also been found at Altin Depe.Round seals : Gadd has listed 18 seals of the so – called Indus type found at Ur and in Babylon.
Among them five seals are round with the button boss at the back giving the look of Persian Gulf seals with typical Indus characters. Identical seals have been acquired from Mohenjodaro and Chanhudaro. Rao (1970) feels that these seals belong to the Indus merchants living in Bahrein. According to Mackay these seals were imported into Sumer from some Indus site, other than Mohenjodaro and Harappa. We agree with During Caspers(1972) when she says that their shape might have been influenced by some commercial consideration, such as the adoption of the style of the region where the parties negotiated the trade. A few seals share Indian as well as Mesopotamian characteristics. For example Seal No.I of Gadd’s list (1932) is squarish with a perforated button on the ridged back and the Indus bull with the archaic Cuneiform legend on the front.
Gadd (1932) and Rao are of the opinion that this seal appears to be the product of a place which was under both Indian and Sumerian influences, and was, perhaps commissioned by an Indian merchant settled at Ur. To us, it appears that it belongs to some ship – captain working at both the ends for merchants, possibly as an authorized agent. The same caqn be applied to two cylinder seals with Indus motifs from Ur : the No.
7 cylinder seal with typical Sumerian shape and Indus motif of poor workmanship has some characteristics (foot – print ) of the Dilmun glyptic art. We think that these examples of cross – breeding go a long way to substantiate our hypothesis of operative system of trade based on an agency system. A glazed steatite cylinder seal, showing the procession of an elephant, a rhinoceros and a crocodile, has been discovered at Tell Asmar in the cluster of Indian objects.
Though the fauna is typically Indian, yet the inferior treatment of the animals indicates the non – Harappan (local) origin of the seal. During Caspers (1972) believes that it was copied in Elam. Be that as it may, the crucial point is to understand the underlying factors which were responsible for such products. Here also we see the same factor : the prevalence of the agency system.
Parpola (1975) have argued in favour of the process of acculturation of the Meluhhans in Mesopotamia. It is an all – pervading process in which all aspects of culture of a people pass through several stages of change. In time, the old features get either lost or transformed into the new ones. The determining factors remain those which belong to the higher culture or culture in which the smaller group of people find itself in hopeless minority. Thus, although in the Addadian times ‘Meluhha’ and ‘Meluhhans’ referred to a foreign land and foreign people, requiring even interpreters to translate the Meluhhan language, in Ur III times, while Meluhhans still remained as a distinct ethnic group, they became completely natives and participated in all cultural and commercial activities in that capacity. Parsis in India present the closest modern analogy.
The above details fall in the framework we are visualizing here ; stationing of a small number of Indus agents in Mesopotamian towns. Mesopotamian Seals in Indus valley : The discovery of a few seals in India showing Mesopotamian influence clearly demonstrates the two – way traffic of the trade. The cylinger seals found at the Indus sites may therefore also be interpreted as the proof of the stationing of the Mesopotamian agents in India.
Two seals from Mohenjodaro depict animals, probably, antelopes. Since antelopes occur frequently on the Sumerian and Elamite seals, it can easily be inferred that it was the adaptation of a popular West Asian motif. Five cubical seals of sandy yellow paste have been discovered at Mohenjdaro and four of them bear parallel lines, crossing on eanother on two opposite sides. This design was quite popular in Mohenjodaro (Marshall, 1931) and Susa. It is equally significant to note that eight seals of the Indus Valley depict buffalo heads in typical Sumerian style, showing both the rugged horns well developed. A number of Mohenjodaro seals depict a man struggling between two animals presumably tigers. Undoubtedly this scene reflects the Sumerian influence or Elamite influence.The second important tool of the Indus trade was the stone weight which is distinct from the West Asian weights in shape, standard and material.
The Harappans used hexahedron, popularly known as cubical, weights of chert and agate adhering to a predetermined standard. These were adopted throughout the Indus culture – area. On the other hand, Egyptians and Sumerians used barrel or duck shaped weights of alabaster.
Cubical chert weights, discovered at Kish, recall their parapllels from Harappans sites. According to Rao (1973) the Lothal merchants may have used the Indus standard for trade ‘within the Empire’ and an additional standard for international trade. At a later date we find similar standard being used by the Assyrians ; of course, only indirectly.Due to the hostile behavior of Elam towards Mesopotamia, occasionally, as evidenced from the cuneiform record the sea – route was discovered and put into traffic in spite of difficult and risky navigation ; Lothal dockyard with five stone – anchors ; terracotta models of boat from Lothal ; engraving of a boat on a seal from Mohenjodaro ; representations of sailing ships and boats on some Mohenjodaro seals and on Lothal potsherds, as also on a terracotta amulet from Mohenjodaro all attest the existence of the sea – journey. The evidence also attests the types of ancient sea – crafts of which three types are distinguishable from the Lothal models – two types of sharp – keeled boats with provision for the mast must have sailed on the high seas, whereas the type resembling canoes was used in the estuary only.It is, therefore, more than probable that the Mesopotamians and Harappans established a maritime power with a strong commercial fleet of ships and with a number of trading stations at selected points along the coast to enable the ships to prepare for the onward journey. Sargon of Addad clearly mentions the arrival of Meluhhan ships loaded bay at Addad.
And he feels proud of it. Obviously, some ships loaded with goods sailed directly up to the coast of Mesopotamia. It is our hunch that these ships carried very heavy items, such as the teak wood required for ship – building by the Mesopotamians. The situation continued throughout hthe 3rd, 2nd and 1st millennium B.C. Gudea also got wood and other raw materials for his temples from Meluhha.
Later on also Indian timber was required. The ships containing smaller items may have travelled only as far as Magan or Dilmun, that is at ports between Sutkagendor and Bahrein or failaka islands.Sutkagendor on the river Dasht, Sotkaq – Koh near Pashni, in the Shadi Kaur Valley, and Balakot near Sonmiani were built on the strategic points to control the communication. In this context, it is extremely significant to note that the small site of Allahdino, within the metropolitan city of Karachi, has yielded an unusually large number of copper implements, more than a hundred, and also earthen pots while no evidence of factories and kilns have as yet been found in or near the habitation. Undoubtedly the site was meant for redistributional activities. It is possible that the ports, located as far west as Sutkagendor, were controlled and manned exclusively by the Indus people while more westerly ports were looked after by the Persian gulf people and also the Mesopotamians with some understanding on the distribution of ports between themselves, of which, of course, we have as yet no definite proof.
However, there is one very interesting reference. The king Rimush of third millennium B.C.
is said to have conquered Meluhha. What could be the underlying reasons for this military expedition beyond Magan? Not for territorial gains is obvious from the circumstances particularly space. Undoubtedly, for giving protection to commercial interests of the Mesopotamians. Fortification of the port – town like sutkagendor is, therefore, meaningful : some kind of apprehension of military attack may have been there.Lothal, surkotada, Allahdino, Mohenjodaro, Chanhudaro, Balakot and Harappan were some of the main commercial towns of the Indus people during the third millennium B.
C. The sea – route through which their goods went to Mesopotamia seems to have started from the Gulf of Cambay and then passed along the coast of the Arabian Sea, entered into the Persian Gulf and finally reached the mouth of the Euphrates near Ur. As said earlier, Akkadian documents refer to the lands called Dilmun, Magan and Meluhha, sometimes separately, sometimes together. They were situated eastward and were the source of raw – materials and also finished goods.