Mehrgarh

Mehrgarh is a Neolithic (7000-3200 BC) site on the Kachi plain of Baluchistan, Pakistan, and one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in south Asia. The site is located on the principal route between what is now Afghanistan and the Indus Valley.

The habitation of the site has been divided into seven periods, the first being the Pre-Pottery Neolithic period that dates to circa 7000 B.C. or even earlier. The site was abandoned between 2000 and 2500 B.C. during a period of contact with the Indus Civilization and then reused as a burial ground for some time after 2000 B.C.

Perhaps the most important feature of Mehrgarh is the fact that one can witness its gradual development from an early village society to a regional center that covered an area of 200 hectares at its height. In the course of this development, a huge platform that may reflect some form of authority was constructed at the site. Mehrgarh was also a center of manufacture for various figurines and pottery that were distributed to surrounding regions

Research shows that people here lived in houses and were involved in hunting, domesticating of animals and farming cereals like barley and wheat. This hunting-farming society developed gradually and their pursuits were creative. During the early period these people used stone and bone tools i.e. polished stone-axes, flint blades and bone-pointers. By 6000 B.C. the hand-made pottery appeared and in the 5th millenium B.C. Metallurgy and potter-wheel were introduced and they produced some fine terra-cotta figurine and pottery with exotic geometric designs. Subsequently they produced and wore ornaments of beads, seashells and semi-precious stones like Lapis Lazuli.

Most of the ruins at Mehrgarh are buried under alluvium deposits, though some structures could be seen eroding on the surface. Currently, the excavated remains at the site comprise a complex of large compartmental mud-brick structures.

Function of these subdivided units, built of hand-formed plano-convex mud bricks, is still not clear but it is thought that many were used probably for storage, rather than residential, purposes. A couple of mounds also contain formal cemeteries, parts of which have been excavated.

Although Mehrgarh was abandoned by the time of the emergence of the literate urbanized phase of the Indus civilization around Moenjodaro, Harapa, etc., its development illustrates the development of the civilization's subsistence patterns, as well as its craft and trade. There are indications that bones were used in making tools for farming, textile, and there are also evidences of the use of cotton even in that period. Skeletons found at the site indicated that the height of people of that era was larger than that of the later period.