How do great discoveries take place? This paper aims to looks at a 1924 discovery–that of the Indus civilization–in order to understand how it can be juxtaposed with the literature on how scientific discoveries take place. In the case of the Indus civilization, there was a specific constellation of ideas and factors that came into sync with each other in 1924. Several of these–an idea slowly taking shape or the platforms and transactions that facilitated flow of information and helped in connecting the dots–have frequently been discussed in histories of innovation and discovery. There are other factors, however, which are specific to this story. These range from the varying intellectual backgrounds of the many protagonists that figure in this discovery saga to the peculiar challenges of doing archaeology within the confines of a government department. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.