19. Remarkable Inscribed Chalcedony Ear-Lobe Weight

Mehrgarh, Indus Valley, c. 3000 BC
Size: 4.2 cm high, 5.9 cm diameter

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Along the upper rim of this beguiling object are five characters of the Indus Valley alphabet, the tantalizing glyphs of an undeciphered language. The choice of stone, polished to reveal a milky ‘eye’ and undulating ribbons, as well as its seductive concave surfaces, add to its visual and tactile appeal. It has weight, too, which makes its purpose as an ear appendage surprising at first, until one remembers the tradition of such adornments in the pierced and stretched lobes of the statues of goddesses throughout the Indian subcontinent since early times.