Monday, March 2, 2009

Mehrgarh… The Lost Civilisation [Part 4 of 4]


by Mahmood Mahmood

One amazing bit of info about this town is that in 7000 BC it had a population of 25000 people, which was the number of people living in the entire Egypt in 7000BC. [8]

During excavations, the archaeologists discovered clay female figurines associated with fertility rites, and believed to have been worshipped by the natives. Similar figurines have surfaced in other archaeological sites in the province. Several of these statues are carved with necklaces, and have their hands on their breast or waist. Some have children on their laps.

The people of that era used to wear woolen or cotton clothes. Some of the deities had their braid on their back and shoulders. Most of the male statues wore turbans, which is still in vogue in Baluchistan. While the opinion of several archaeologists that several of the statuettes discovered at the site might have been children, there are many who link these terracotta figures to the religious beliefs of Mehrgarh people and the eon-old concept of the power of nature and female deities. 

Moreover, terracotta figures of bulls have also been discovered at Mehrgarh pointing to the possible worship of animals or their exalted status as life-givers for the food they yielded. The figurines reveal the attire women possibly put upon; lace-like material round their waists and adorned their upper bodies with necklaces. Archaeologists are still clueless as to how they wove the material and whether they used cotton or wool to make their garments. [9] 

The first use of cotton in the history of mankind has been found at Mehrgarh. This shows the deep rooted affiliation of Pakistan’s geography and economy to cotton since old ages. The local cotton which is the present day white gold for Pakistan’s economy has roots in the ancient past. Even today whenever there is good rain in the Suleman range, excellent quality of cotton is grown in the areas adjoining the Baluchistan range over the Suleman range. 

The knowledge gained from Mehrgarh excavation is supported further by the nearby discoveries of Nausharo situated on the Kachi plain approximately 10 kilometers southwest of Mehrgarh, Nausharo… was excavated by the French team from 1980 to 1998. This site was first occupied at around 2800 BC before the Harappan period under an influence of the early farming culture of Baluchistan. The material culture of the site indicates that the site fell under Harappan influence or occupation by circa 2500 BC and reverted to the Baluchistan cultures by 2100 - 2000 BC. This is the period when new summer crops such as rice were introduced into the Kachi plain in peripheral regions where the Indus Civilization had formerly flourished. 

Additionally, farming in this region involves domestication of the native cattle rather than sheep and goat, and the early layers are a ceramic, at odds with the arrival of a "package" from Southwest Asia. This region's Neolithic probably developed locally.


The statements cited above show the tendency of the scholars to create confusion as the majority of the scholars are Western trained and interestingly whenever there is a mention of some historical evidence of the age old civilizations, they add a lot of ifs and buts. Same idea was floated by Mortimer and Wheeler in their book Indus Valley civilization written in 1950’s where they attributed the rise of Indus Valley Civilization to the Middle Eastern influences. The research at Mehrgarh was done decades later but the old passions die hard, the new evidence in Mehrgarh is not taken independently and the real place of Mehrgarh is denied due to lack of knowledge and wrong frames of reference. 

Recent archaeological evidence especially from Mehrgarh has established that the Indus Civilization was essentially an indigenous development growing out of local cultures in an unbroken sequence from the Neolithic at the end of the eighth millennium BC, through the Chalcolithic (about 5000-3600 BC) and Early Harappan (about 3600-2600 BC) to the commencement of the Mature Harappan period in about 2550 BC.[10] 

Mehrgarh has all the ingredients of indigenous and local civilization and symbolic expression of its originality, uniqueness to be placed as foremost place of human heritage and human endurance and struggle to survive in a permanently changing universe and globe. 

That the domestication of animals began at Mehrgarh; the artifacts excavated from Mehrgarh fully substantiate this fact. The first pottery evidence is found in Mehrgarh.The originality and the local and indigenous nature of Mehrgarh is beyond any doubt and there is need to accept it as such not on the bases of nationalistic or ethnic point of view but upon the bases of rational and logical scientific evidence which is in abundance in Mehrgarh. The continuous flow and development of Mehrgarh was entirely local in its scope, development, technological and symbolic expressions. No doubt around 6000 BC there was human activity in Middle East and some areas of Turkey but the developmental level of Mehrgarh in art, symbolism, nature control, and technology was far more developed and continuous as compared to the pastoral, grazing communities of the Middle East and Turkey. 

From Mehrgarh the flow of civilization travelled to other areas of Pakistan in the fertile plains of Indus with more hospitable environment and relatively more refined conditions of the civilization taking inspiration and innovation to new heights from the local and independent source of Mehrgarh to its unique contours and expressions. 

           Indus civilization was most scattered and had a different scope and point of climax, but the uniqueness, originality of Mehrgarh will always hold the crown of being the pioneer in the journey of civilization in present day Pakistan’s past and hidden heritage!

Previous 12, 3, 4

2. The development of the technique of carbon dating is the most scientific method to gauge the age of the artifacts. It determines the age of old artifacts as per the proportion of carbon in the artifacts
3. Personal observation and experience in Punjab, Pakistan.
4. Walker and Erlandson 1986.
6. This is proven by the examples quoted above in the article
8. This is the first urban civilization of the world see

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