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Invisible Value: Steatite in the Faience Complexes of the Indus Valley Tradition

Author(s): Heather Miller

Year: 2017

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Faience (composition, frit or siliceous paste) was widespread, special, and yet everyday across much of Eurasia for well over a millennium, yet hardly known today. These materials were made with many different recipes and production methods, but there is an unusual, apparently unique, variation in faience composition for some objects in the Indus. Some siliceous paste objects include steatite fragments, invisible on the surface and requiring laboratory analysis for detection. These could be production additions for strength or similar purposes, or they could relate to a different kind of materiality, either for religious meaning, as in some modern uses, or a symbol of Indus identity/unity, as in other uses of steatite during the Indus period. Or all of these could be part of the value of steatite fragments, an important option to consider beyond the usual oppositional approach to production and use answers for material choices.

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Invisible Value: Steatite in the Faience Complexes of the Indus Valley Tradition. Heather Miller. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 429288)


Indus Materia value

Geographic Keywords
South Asia

Spatial Coverage

min long: 59.678; min lat: 4.916 ; max long: 92.197; max lat: 37.3 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 13247

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America