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Indus Valley civilization had first sophisticated financial exchange system

The Indus Valley Bronze Age civilization may have developed the first system of wage labour, financial exchange and measurement.

Dr Bryan Wells, a researcher based at India’s Institute of Mathematical Sciences, told The Daily Telegraph he had begun work on his thesis ten years ago when he first saw photographs of the clay pots with markings which appeared to be in proportion to their relative size.

But he was not able to test his thesis until he visited New Delhi earlier this month where the original pots are stored in one of the city’s Mughal era forts. The three pots each had different markings, the smallest with a ‘V’ to indicate ‘measure’ and three long strokes. The medium vessel had six strokes and the largest had seven.

When he measured them he found they were in proportionate capacity: 3:6:7.

The inscriptions on the pots matched those on bas relief ceramic tablets which he believes are tokens of exchange for fixed measures of grain or other commodities.

The size of the pots – the largest is 2.7 metres in circumference, and contains 65 litres – indicates an organised system of exchange for large scale transactions, he said.

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