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The Cities of the Indus, Part II

A.N. Marlow describes how city-life in India, four thousand years ago, bore a striking resemblance to that of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

In the ancient world, apart from occasional glimpses in such authors as Homer and Herodotus and in the Greek Anthology, it is difficult to picture children as other than small grown-ups, seen but not heard, perhaps taken away from home at a tender age, as in Sparta, or taught the rudiments at home or in primitive schools—with very little to amuse them and few to understand.

In Harappa it looks at first as if children must have been stuffed dummies, since their elders seem to have led a dull, regimented life; yet there are many evidences that help to bring these children to life.

For example, many toys have been found in drains, as though they had been washed away with the bath water; then there is a surprising number of models that survive—carts, some with and some without draught animals, often movable; rattles, feeding cups, whistles, even a movable bull and a monkey designed to run up a stick; there is even from Mohenjo-daro a clay figure of a crawling infant with curly hair; and the carts remind one of modern toys that sell in thousands. Curiously enough, no dolls have survived, but at least we can span the millennia and imagine children like our own.

And how did these people dress? We really have very little evidence. Cotton garments were certainly worn, but the evidence of statues is rather specialized.1 The men may have worn a shirt or tunic; but, on the other hand, both sexes may have gone naked from the waist up, though the elaborateness of their jewellery and ornaments makes this unlikely.

There is no evidence of any footwear, and a fair amount of evidence for naked feet. The head-dresses of the women were extraordinarily large, resembling panniers, to judge from surviving examples; some of these are grotesque and may have been part of the wear for a religious ceremony—a ‘holy day’ in the literal sense of the word.

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