Ahead of Copenhagen Climate Meetings, NYU Anthropologist Looks Back at an Ancient Civilization's Sustainable Practices in a Complex Economy


The Indus civilization, a South Asian contemporary with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, was not discovered by scholars until the 1920s. While much of this civilization remains a mystery, many of its economic practices and responses to a changing climate are detailed in The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society (Cambridge University Press, 2010) by New York University Professor Rita Wright.

The Indus civilization, a South Asian contemporary with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, was not discovered by scholars until the 1920s. While much of this civilization remains a mystery, many of its economic practices and responses to a changing climate are detailed in The Ancient Indus: Urbanism, Economy, and Society (Cambridge University Press, 2010) by New York University Professor Rita Wright.

Wright uncovers how Indus farmers, pastoralists, artisans, and merchants developed and sustained a complex economy, offering a rigorous account of societal adaptation and cohesion that may offer lessons ahead of next month’s Copenhagen climate meetings.

“Studying ancient climate change contributes to an understanding of the impact of climate change on populations and their responses,” Wrights explains. “A significant difference between present-day global warming debates and ancient climate changes, however, is that early societie 500

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