Indus Valley Civilisation: The Genesis of Pakistan!

A sculpted object from the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro, now placed in the Karachi Museum.



by Shanti Menon


The link for railway from Lahore to Multan in Pakistan is 4,600 years old. In truth, the rails were laid down in the middle of the nineteenth century, but to build the railway bed, British engineers smashed bricks from crumbling buildings and rubble heaps in a town called Harappa, halfway between the two cities. Back in 1856, Alexander Cunningham, director of the newly formed Archeological Survey of British India, thought the brick ruins were all related to nearby seventh-century Buddhist temples. Local legend told a different story: the brick mounds were the remnants of an ancient city, destroyed when its king committed incest with his niece. Neither Cunningham nor the locals were entirely correct. In small, desultory excavations a few years later, Cunningham found no temples or traces of kings, incestuous or otherwise. Instead he reported the recovery of some pottery, carved shell, and a badly damaged seal depicting a one-horned animal, bearing an inscription in an unfamiliar writing. (more…)

Mehrgarh…The Lost Civilization [4 of 4]

Mehrgarh, 30 km west of the town of Sibi and 120 km southeast of Quetta in Balochistan province of Pakistan is important for its antiquity and for being among the earliest sites to show the development of civilised activity like agriculture.
We do not know whether Mehrgarh was a lone beacon of such activity in a “wilderness of hunter-gatherers” since no other such settlement has been found yet. It is, however, likely that it was not alone. There must have been other similar and as yet undiscovered settlements along the Indus valley that would later provide the foundation for the rise of the first civilization in the area, the Indus civilization.
The earliest human activity in Asia after Mehrgarh of which we have archaeological evidence, centered on Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, chief cities of the Indus valley civilization. An astonishing feature of this pre-Aryan urban culture was its advanced system of public sanitation.
There were numerous wells, bathrooms, public baths, sewers, and chutes for collecting trash. Streets were laid out in regular fashion, and houses were well built and ventilated. Image via




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. (more…)

Mehrgarh…The Lost Civilization [3 of 4]


Though Mehrgarh was abandoned at the time of the emergence of the literate urbanized phase of the Indus civilization around Moenjodaro, Harappa etc., the development illustrates its synchronization with the civilization’s subsistence patterns, as well as its craft and trade.
It also shows that the sequence of civilization was not broken and the flow of civilization kept moving into the Indus Civilization. The similarity of Indus Civilization to Mehrgarh in many respects shows the linkages and relationships among the Mehrgarh and later periods.
But the important thing is that between the Mehrgarh and Indus civilization in Punjab and Sind side respectively, Suleman Range and Kirthar Range separate the Balochistan Plateau and the other geographical areas. Image: Mehrgarh figurines]



by Mahmood Mahmood


There are indications that bones were used in making tools for farming, textile, and there is good amount of evidence on use of cotton even in that period. The skeletons found at the site indicated that the height of people of that era was larger than that of the later periods. The architecture of the area at that time was well developed. Rice was the staple food for those people and there were also indications of trade activities.

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. (more…)

Mehrgarh: The Neolithic Period (From 7th Mill. BC)


These houses were builyt by Mehgarh dwellers c. 8000 years BC

Here follows an account of Mehrgarh by pioneer French archeologist who explored the area from time to time, and was first to excavate the Mehrgarh site. Let us now see what does world’s top most researcher on Mehrgarh say about the archeological excavations at Mehrgarh — a breakthrough that bestows a totally singular position to Indus Valley Civilisation — the first civilized, urban settlement on face of this earth.

by C. Jarrige

In the fourth millennium and in the first half of the third, the Mehrgarh potters and those from other parts of Balochistan alike became known for producing very high quality ceramics which were either exported or copied in eastern Iran, southern Afghanistan, and even as far as present-day Tadjikistan, notably at the Sarazm site. These periods are also distinguished by the manufacture of human figurines of a high aesthetic quality, whose attributes seem to suggest references to an underlying mythology still unclear to us.


The Nausharo excavation, 6 km from Mehrgarh as the crow flies, revealed a dwelling-site contemporaneous and identical to the Mehrgarh, one between 3000 and 2500 BC and another, divided into three periods between 2500 and 1900 BC, characteristic of the urban civilization of the valley of the Indus, which is also referred to as the Harappan civilization, from the name of the eponymous site of Harappa. This excavation of Nausharo allows the Indus civilisation to be linked to the cultures which preceded it since the Neolithic and the ancient Chalcolithic times. The excavation of the Harappan layers led to the uncovering of a settlement which met the criteria of the urban civilization of the Indus, with discrete rectangular zones, and with the existence of baths and hydraulic features. The study of Harappan ceramics in Naushara has brought to light a clear stylistic evolution over time, thus contradicting the theories claiming that Harappan pottery had remained static for several centuries.

Starting from a period of about 2100 BC, which corresponds to phase-IV of Nausharo, ceramics and other objects begin to appear in the Bolan basin which are comparable to those from sites in Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the east of Iran. Some of these objects had been found previously, notably on the upper levels of the great civilization sites of the Indus, such as Mohenjo-daro and Chanhu-daro. It had been thought that these were in fact remains which indicated the arrival of invaders from the West and from the North-West. Thanks to the Nausharo dig and to the discovery of necropolises (the Mehrgarh VIII cemetery) and of various sites on the edge of Nausharo or Mehrgarh, it is now clear that the “exotic” objects belong to groups who have co-existed with the “Harappan” populations, evidently peaceably. It can even be asserted that all these objects are an indication of the development of very important trading activities whose agents between the Indus valley and Mesopotamia were groups who controlled the routes for inter-Iranian exchanges around 2000 BC.


Between 1800 and 1900 BC, the urban civilization of the Indus disappeared to survive, in derivative forms, only in the territory of present-day India. The excavation of Pirak, a settlement of about ten hectares inhabited between 1800 and 600 BC, reveals the beginning of a new age. Several miniatures of horsemen and horses and of two-humped camels – animals unknown in the Indus civilization – symbolize important changes in society. The emergence of horsemen at Pirak, just like the discovery of horse skeletons at the time in the Swat in the north of Pakistan, is to be considered in the context of the arrival of new populations belonging, perhaps, to the very first Indo-Aryan groups mixing with a local community with an increasingly diversified agricultural economy. It has been noted that in fact the cultivation of rice, which demands the use of irrigation techniques, became predominant.

As for the structures where the interior walls are punctuated with rows of symmetrical marks, sometimes on four levels: these represent a style which was still found a few years ago in houses, particularly in Hindu areas, in this region. About 1200 BC, iron utensils and weapons would emerge.

Since the end of the expedition in 2000 to the Neolithic part of the Mehrgarh site, fieldwork has been halted to allow for deeper analysis of date and to write up publications. In 2003 there was an expedition to study the material at Mehrgarh, and the dig was scheduled to resume in 2004.



Mehrgarh… The Lost Civilisation [2 of 4]

Although Mehrgarh was abandoned by the time of the emergence of the literate urbanized phase of the Indus Civilization, its development illustrates the development of the civilization’s subsistence patterns as well as its craft and trade specialization.
Following its abandonment it was covered by alluvial silts 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 proving the urban streak of this civilization.[Image above: Female figurine from Mehrgarh excavation ca.6000-3000 BC]



by Mahmood Mahmood


•  The artifacts from Mehrgarh are far more advanced and developed as compared to those obtained from excavations in Turkey and Middle East especially Jericho.

• The most unique discovery is the first known origin of the dental surgery and related medicinal activities exercised in Mehrgarh area. The discovery proves the great innovative mind and developmental level of those people about 9000 years ago.

• Mehrgarh was also a centre of manufacture for various figurines and pottery that were distributed to surrounding regions. These products are of a high quality given the circumstances and the time they were fabricated.

• No other civilisation in any other part of the world existed then; what to speak of a level of perfection in the art and craft elsewhere. (more…)