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The archaeological site of Mehrgarh consist of a number of low archaeological mounds in the Kachi plain, close to the mouth of the Bolan Pass. Located next to the west bank of the Bolan river, they are some 30 kilometres from the town of Sibi. Covering an area of some 250 hectares, most of the archaeological deposits are buried deep beneath accumulations of alluvium although in other areas ‘in situ’ structures can be seen eroding on the surface. Currently exposed excavated remains at the site comprise a complex of large compartmental mud-brick structures. Built of hand-formed plano-convex mud bricks, the function of these sub-divided units is still uncertain but it is thought that many were for storage rather than residential. Mounds, MR3 & MR1 also contain formal cemeteries, parts of which have been excavated.
The archaeological sequence at the site of Mehrgarh is over 11 metres deep, spanning the period between the seventh and third millennium BC. The site represents a classic archaeological tell site, that is an artificial mound created by generations of superimposed mudbrick structures. Its excavators have proposed the following chronology:
IA Aceramic Neolithlic c.6500-6000 BC Mound MR3
IB Ceramic Neolithic c.6000-5500 BC Mound MR3
II - c.5500-4500 BC Mound MR4
III Early Chalcolithic c.4500-3500 BC Mound MR2
IV-VII Chalcolithic c.3500-2500 BC Mound MR1
The earliest Neolithic evidence for occupation at the site has been identified at mound MR3, but during the Neolithic-Chalcolithic period the focus shifted to mound MR4. The focus continued to shift between localities at the site but by 2600 BC it had relocated at the site of Naushero, some six kilometres to the south. During this period the settlement was transformed from a cluster of small mudbrick storage units with evidence of the on going domestication of cattle and barley to a substantial Bronze Age village at the centre of its own distinctive craft zone. The absence of early residential structures has been interpreted by some as further evidence of the site’s early occupation by mobile or transhumant groups5 possible travelling through the nearby pass seasonally. Although Mehrgarh was abandoned by the time of the emergence of the literate urbanised phase of the Indus Civilisation, its development illustrates the development of the civilisation’s subsistence patterns as well as its craft and trade specialisation. Following its abandonment it was covered by alluvial selts until it was exposed following a flash flood in the 1970s. The French Archaeological Mission to Pakistan excavated the site for thirteen years between 1974 and 1986, and they resumed their work in 1996. The most recent trenches have astonishingly well preserved remains of mud brick structures.
Ruins of Mehrgarh
Mehrgarh is a Neolithic site (7000 BCE to c. 2500 BCE) located 30 kilometers (18.64 miles) west of the town of Sibi and 120 kilometers (74.57 miles) south-east of Quetta on the Kachi plain of Balochistan, Pakistan. It is one of the oldest sites with evidence of agricultural activities in Asia. Evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (sheep, goats and cattle) have been discovered in the area. The discovery of Mehrgarh was made in 1974 by and archaeological team supervised by French archaeologist named Jean-François Jarrige. The place was continuously excavated between 1974 and 1986, and again from 1997 to 2000.
The earliest settlement in Mehrgarh is found at north-east corner, is dated between 7000 BCE to 5500 BCE. It was small agricultural village of 495 acre (2 square kilometers). The entire area covers several subsequent settlements. Archaeological materials have been found in six mounds. About 32000 art crafts have been discovered in this area. Mehrgarh is now conceived as forerunner to Civilization of Indus Valley.
Map of Mehrgarh – click on map image to see detailed map
Mehrgarh. ( ) one of the most important Neolithic (7000 BC to c. 2500 BC ) sites in archaeology. lies on what is now the "Kachi plain" of today's Balochistan . Pakistan . It is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in South Asia.".
Located near the Bolan Pass . to the west of the Indus River valley and between the present-day Pakistani cities of Quetta . Kalat and Sibi . Mehrgarh was discovered in 1974 by an archaeological team directed by French archaeologist Jean-François Jarrige. and was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986. The earliest settlement at Mehrgarh—in the northeast corner of the site—was a small farming village dated between 7000 BCE–5500 BCE.Lifestyle and technology
Early Mehrgarh residents lived in mud brick houses, stored their grain in granaries, fashioned tools with local copper ore. and lined their large basket containers with bitumen. They cultivated six-row barley. einkorn and emmer wheat, jujubes and dates, and herded sheep, goats and cattle. Residents of the later period (5500 BCE to 2600 BCE) put much effort into crafts, including flint knapping. tanning. bead production, and metal working. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BCE.
In April 2006, it was announced in the scientific journal Nature that the oldest (and first early Neolithic ) evidence in human history for the drilling of teeth in vivo (i.e. in a living person) was found in Mehrgarh.Archaeological significance
Mehrgarh is now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization. "Discoveries at Mehrgarh changed the entire concept of the Indus civilization," according to Ahmad Hasan Dani. professor emeritus of archaeology at Quaid-e-Azam University. Islamabad . "There we have the whole sequence, right from the beginning of settled village life." According to Catherine Jarrige of the Centre for Archaeological Research Indus Balochistan, Musée Guimet . Paris …the Kachi plain and in the Bolan basin (are) situated at the Bolan peak pass, one of the main routes connecting southern Afghanistan . eastern Iran . the Balochistan hills and the Indus valley. This area of rolling hills is thus located on the western edge of the Indus valley, where, around 2500 BCE, a large urban civilization emerged at the same time as those of Mesopotamia and the ancient Egyptian empire. For the first time in the Indo-Pakistani subcontinent. a continuous sequence of dwelling-sites has been established from 7000 BCE to 500 BCE, (as a result of the) explorations in Pirak from 1968 to 1974; in Mehrgarh from 1975 to 1985; and of Nausharo from 1985 to 1996. The chalcolithic people of Mehrgarh also had contacts with contemporaneous cultures in northern Afghanistan . northeastern Iran and southern central Asia.Mehrgarh Period I
Archaeologists divide the occupation at the site into several periods.Mehrgarh Period I 7000 BCE–5500 BCE, was Neolithic and aceramic (i.e. without the use of pottery). The earliest farming in the area was developed by semi-nomadic people using plants such as wheat and barley and animals such as sheep. goats and cattle. The settlement was established with simple mud buildings with four internal subdivisions. Numerous burials have been found, many with elaborate goods such as baskets, stone and bone tools, beads, bangles, pendants and occasionally animal sacrifices, with more goods left with burials of males. Ornaments of sea shell. limestone. turquoise. lapis lazuli. sandstone and polished copper have been found, along with simple figurines of women and animals. Sea shells from far sea shore and lapis lazuli found far in Badakshan. Afghanistan shows good contact with those areas. A single ground stone axe was discovered in a burial. and several more were obtained from the surface. These ground stone axes are the earliest to come from a stratified context in the South Asia .
In 2001, archaeologists studying the remains of two men from Mehrgarh made the discovery that the people of the Indus Valley Civilization. from the early Harappan periods, had knowledge of proto-dentistry. Later, in April 2006, it was announced in the scientific journal Nature that the oldest (and first early Neolithic ) evidence for the drilling of human teeth in vivo (i.e. in a living person) was found in Mehrgarh. According to the authors, their discoveries point to a tradition of proto-dentistry in the early farming cultures of that region. "Here we describe eleven drilled molar crowns from nine adults discovered in a Neolithic graveyard in Pakistan that dates from 7,500 to 9,000 years ago. These findings provide evidence for a long tradition of a type of proto-dentistry in an early farming culture."Mehrgarh Period II and Period III
Mehrgarh Period II 5500 BCE –4800 BCE and Merhgarh Period III 4800 BCE –3500 BCE were ceramic Neolithic (i.e.,pottery was now in use) and later chalcolithic. Much evidence of manufacturing activity has been found and more advanced techniques were used. Glazed faience beads were produced and terracotta figurines became more detailed. Figurines of females were decorated with paint and had diverse hairstyles and ornaments. Two flexed burials were found in period II with a covering of red ochre on the body. The amount of burial goods decreased over time, becoming limited to ornaments and with more goods left with burials of females. The first button seals were produced from terracotta and bone and had geometric designs. Technologies included stone and copper drills, updraft kilns. large pit kilns and copper melting crucibles. There is further evidence of long-distance trade in period II: important as an indication of this is the discovery of several beads of lapis lazuli —originally from Badakshan .Mehrgarh Period VII
Somewhere between 2600 BCE and 2000 BCE, the city seems to have been largely abandoned, which is when the Indus Valley Civilisation was in its middle stages of development. It has been surmised that the inhabitants of Mehrgarh migrated to the fertile Indus valley as Balochistan became more arid due to climatic changes.Common variant spellings
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Updated September 10, 2016.
Mehrgarh is a large Neolithic and Chalcolithic site located at the foot of the Bolan pass on the Kachi plain of Baluchistan (also spelled Balochistan), in modern day Pakistan. Continuously occupied between about 7000-2600 BC, Mehrgarh is the earliest known Neolithic site in the northwest Indian subcontinent, with early evidence of farming (wheat and barley), herding (cattle, sheep, and goats ) and metallurgy.
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The site is located on the principal route between what is now Afghanistan and the Indus Valley. this route was also undoubtedly part of a trading connection established quite early between the Near East and the Indian subcontinent.Chronology
Mehrgarh's importance to understanding the Indus Valley is its nearly unparalleled preservation of pre-Indus societies.
The earliest settled portion of Mehrgarh is found in an area called MR.3, in the northeast corner of the immense site. Mehrgarh was a small farming and pastoralist village between 7000-5500 BC, with mud brick houses and granaries. The early residents used local copper ore, basket containers lined with bitumen. and an array of bone tools.
Plant foods used during this period included domesticated and wild six-rowed barley. domestic einkorn and emmer wheat, and wild Indian jujube (Zizyphus spp ) and date palms (Phoenix dactylifera ).
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Sheep, goats, and cattle were herded at Mehrgarh beginning during this early period. Hunted animals include gazelle, swamp deer, nilgai, blackbuck onager, chital, water buffalo, wild pig and elephant.
The earliest residences at Mehrgarh were freestanding, multi-roomed rectangular houses built with long, cigar-shaped and mortared mudbricks: these structures are very similar to Prepottery Neolithic (PPN) hunter-gatherers in early 7th millennium Mesopotamia. Burials were placed in brick-lined tombs, accompanied by shell and turquoise beads. Even at this early date, the similarities of crafts, architecture, and agricultural and funerary practices indicate some sort of connection between Mehrgarh and Mesopotamia.Neolithic Period II 5500-4800
By the sixth millennium, agriculture had become firmly established at Mehrgarh, based on mostly (
90%) locally domesticated barley but also wheat from the near east. The earliest pottery was made by sequential slab construction, and the site contained circular fire pits filled with burnt pebbles and large granaries, characteristics also of similarly dated Mesopotamian sites.
Buildings made of sun-dried brick were large and rectangular, symmetrically divided into small square or rectangular units. They were doorless and lack of residential remains, suggesting to researchers that at least some of they were storage facilities for grains or other commodities which were communally shared. Other buildings are standardized rooms surrounded by large open work spaces where craft-working activities took place, including the beginnings of the extensive bead-making characteristic of the Indus.Chalcolithic Period III 4800-3500 and IV 3500-3250 BC
By the Chalcolithic Period III at Mehrgarh, the community, now well over 100 hectares, consisted of large spaces with groups of building divided into residences and storage units, but more elaborate, with foundations of pebbles embedded in clay. The bricks were made with molds, and along with fine painted wheel-thrown pottery, and a variety of agricultural and craft practices.
Chalcolithic Period IV showed a continuity in pottery and crafts but progressive stylistic changes. During this period, the region split into small and medium sized compact settlements connected by canals. Some of the settlements included blocks of houses with courtyards separated by small passageways; and the presence of large storage jars in rooms and courtyards.Dentistry at Mehrgarh
A recent study at Mehrgarh showed that during Period III, people were using bead-making techniques to experiment with dentistry: tooth decay in humans is a direct outgrowth of a reliance on agriculture. Researchers examining burials in a cemetery at MR3 discovered drill holes on at least eleven molars. Light microscopy showed the holes were conical, cylindrical or trapezoidal in shape. A few had concentric rings showing drill bit marks, and a few had some evidence for decay. No filling material was noted, but tooth wear on the drill marks indicate that each of these individuals continued to live on after the drilling was completed.
Coppa and colleagues (2006) pointed out that only four of the eleven teeth contained clear evidence of decay associated with drilling; however, the drilled teeth are all molars located in the back of both lower and upper jaws, and thus are not likely to have been drilled for decorative purposes. Flint drill bits are a characteristic tool from Mehrgarh, mostly used with producing beads. The researchers conducted experiments and discovered that a flint drill bit attached to a bow-drill can produce similar holes in human enamel in under a minute: these modern experiments were not, of course, used on living humans.
The dental techniques have only been discovered on only 11 teeth out of a total of 3,880 examined from 225 individuals, so tooth-drilling was a rare occurrence, and, it appears to have been a short-lived experiment as well. Although the MR3 cemetery contains younger skeletal material (into the Chalcolithic), no evidence for tooth drilling has been found later than 4500 BC.Later Periods at Mehrgarh
Later periods included craft activities such as flint knapping, tanning, and expanded bead production; and a significant level of metal-working. particularly copper. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BC, when it was abandoned, about the time when the Harappan periods of the Indus civilization began to flourish at Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro and Kot Diji. among other sites.
Mehrgarh was discovered and excavated by an international led by French archaeologist Jean-François Jarrige; the site was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986 by the French Archaeological Mission in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology of Pakstan.
Mehrgarh is one of the most important archeological sites ever discovered. This settlement dates back to the Neolithic period of 7000 BCE to circa 2500 BCE, and is located on the Kacchi Plain of Balochistan, Pakistan. Mehrgarh is one of the earliest sites ever discovered with evidence of farming and herding of animals in history rich South Asia.
The oldest ceramic figurines in South Asia were found here, and it is these figurines which provoke curiosity and discussion among many proponents of the ancient alien theory. These figurines clearly depict females with dark eyes and non-human looking heads and facial features. A number of archaeologists believe these representations to be an artistic choice, but it is interesting that only the heads of these many figurines do not accurately depict the human form, as the bodies of these figures perfectly match human anatomy.
These figurines occur in all phases of the settlement and were prevalent even before pottery appears, signifying great importance placed on these sculptures. The earliest figurines are of a much simpler design and lack the sophistication of later figurines. B y 4000 BC the unique hairstyles and prominent breasts depicted in the figurines become prevalent. The oldest figurines were all female, though depictions of males gradually become more numerous as the Mehrgarh society develops. Many of the female figurines are holding babies, and have been interpreted as depictions of the ‘mother goddess’ by some researchers, though scholars of this period cannot find enough evidence to sufficiently support this theory and can only say with certainty that the intriguing figurines honor female fertility.
Certainly an interesting artistic choice for the facial features, especially the large dark eyes.
These particular figurines appear to be the smoking gun that non- human entities inhabited this ancient settlement.