Mehrgarh

Mehrgarh, sometimes anglicized as Mehergarh or Mehrgar, near the capital of the Kachi District Dadhar, is one of the most important Neolithic (6500 BCE to c. 2500 BCE) sites in archaeology It lies on the Kacchi Plain of Balochistan, Pakistan.

It is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming and herding in South Asia. Mehrgarh is located near the Bolan Pass, to the west of the Indus River valley and between the Pakistani cities of Quetta, Kalat and Sibi. The site was discovered in 1974 by an archaeological team directed by French archaeologists Jean-François Jarrige and Catherine Jarrige, and was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986, and again from 1997 to 2000. The earliest settlement at Mehrgarh, in the northeast corner of the 495-acre (2.00 km2) site, was a small farming village that has been dated to between 6500 BCE to 5500 BCE. The whole area covers a number of successive settlements. Archaeological material has been found in six mounds, and about 32,000 artifacts have been collected.

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. Mehrgarh is probably the earliest known center of agriculture in South Asia.

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 in 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 Baluchistan at the Musee Guimet in 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 River 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 Egypt. For the first time in the Indian 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."