International Workshop – Relations between the Indus Civilisation and the Aegean in the Bronze Age

A collaboration between prehistorians in the University of Oxford and the University of Pennsylvania

International Workshop


3-4 December 2022

Green Templeton College University of Oxford

This workshop was planned for October 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the interruption of international air travel meant that it had to be postponed. The Academic Committee are delighted that it is now possible to proceed with an in-person meeting. Our apologies go to those who offered papers last time, but we hope that they will again be able to accept our invitation.


1. The first contacts between India and the Aegean were thought to have occurred at the beginning of the sixth century BC. There is now, however, growing evidence of much earlier but indirect exchange, reaching back through prehistory. Such connections grew from ties between the Indus Civilisation (Meluḫḫa) and the Near East, and then expanded to the societies of the Early and Middle Bronze Age Aegean, including the shores of Western Anatolia, with their slowly emerging palace-based economies and complex social structures.

2. Starting in the early third millennium BC but diminishing after approximately 1800 BC, these connections point to a form of indirect or ‘trickle down’ contact. Objects and commodities that formed this contact were likely transported overland through Northern Iran, but after some time, the Indus Civilisation will have taken control and we now see a structured trade using the sea route through the Gulf, by way of Magan and Dilmun.

3. This workshop will evaluate the evidence for such contacts, particularly for commodities such as tin and lapis lazuli, recently discovered objects and current research on iconography. It is emphasised that this does not testify to direct cultural and trade links and geographical knowledge between the Indus Civilisation and the prehistoric Aegean, rather it was the natural extension of trade between the Near East and the Indus.

4. No goods or commodities arrived directly from India; they accumulated added value as they first established a distinguished pedigree of ownership in the Near East, Syria and Anatolia. In the Early to Late Bronze Age, the Indus region and lands hundreds of miles to the north, were an important resource for valuable and indispensable commodities destined for the elites and developing technologies of the Old World.

5. Whilst much has been published about Indus Civilisation relations with the Near East, the idea of connections father westwards and involvement in a pre-industrial world system, part of an interregional pattern of third millennium BC proto- urbanisation is something that has largely been ignored by scholars working in the Aegean, the Near East, India and Pakistan. This workshop and the resulting publication is aimed at changing that perspective.


The workshop will be held at Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, located in the city centre. Accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis will be available in nearby hotels or the adjacent St Anne’s College. The workshop dinner will be held on the evening of 3 December at Green Templeton College. Details of accommodation costs, registration fees (for those not presenting), the dinner and domestic arrangements will be contained within the Second Circular that will be sent after the closing date for those who have registered.


Other than keynote speakers, thirty minutes will be allocated to each paper, with twenty-minute presentations, plus ten minutes for questions and discussion. There will also be adequate time for additional discussion built into the programme.


We aim to invite all presenters to offer their papers for publication in a peer reviewed proceeding of the workshop. The lead editor will be Dr Marie Nicole Pareja Cummings on behalf of the Academic Committee and will be offered to a reputable archaeological publisher.


Offers of papers in English (with their titles) and provisional requests to participate should be sent to the email address below by 25 August 2022 at the latest. If any proposed participant requires a formal letter of invitation for purposes of applying for a UK visa or funding, please let us know. Those who wish to attend and are not presenting are very welcome.

Academic Committee

Professor Robert Arnott
(Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, UK)

Dr Marie Nicole Pareja Cummings (University of Pennsylvania, USA)

Professor Ian Rutherford (University of Reading, UK)

Provisional Registrations/Further Information

Professor Robert Arnott (Workshop Organiser)