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Featured Pakistan: The Archaeological Marvel

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Kalra State
Khizar Hayat Twana. Kalra state of Umar Hayat Twana designed by Ram Singh Sohal.

Pictures courtesy. Tariq Amir Sahib

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ghazi52

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تخت بھائی کے کھنڈرات مردان

The ruins of Takht Bhai Mardan..

Mardan, KP


 

Kambojaric

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Marvels of Mehrgarh


Located in the Kachi-Bolan district of Balochistan, Pakistan, at the mouth of Bolan Pass and on the bank of Bolan river, the Mehrgarh archaeological site is one of the ancient and the oldest heritage sites in South Asia. It is the precursor of Indus valley Civilization. The site is on UNESCO’s tentative heritage list.

The site was discovered in 1974 by a French archaeological team headed by Dr. Jean Francois Jarrige, in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology Pakistan. The excavation was conducted in two phases from 1974 to 1985 and again from 1997 till 2000. The whole archaeological zone is extended over 618 acres (250 hectares).Mehrgarh was one of the earliest well planned and ancient human settlements with a highly developed society. People attained remarkable progress in agriculture, architecture, domestication of plants and animals, technology, crafts and styles.

People lived in multi-roomed and rectangular houses. The houses were constructed with sun dried bricks painted with pottery and a variety of other craft practices. The housing units were large with basements. The spaces for storage and craft-making activities were provided separately similar to that of Mesopotamian sites.

Mehrgarh being an amalgam of cultural practices and traditions traversed in history and prehistory has a marvelous contribution in human history. There is substantial evidence that this area had first witnessed domestication of a variety of animals as well as the first farming culture and agricultural communities of various sizes in South Asia. People used to grow wheat, barley and cotton as well as domesticate animals notably goat, sheep and cattle. The Zebu (humped cattle) was the dominant one among all cattles, and this possibly led to the earliest known tradition of making Zebu figurine.

In any given time and place, domestication of animal and plants was a complex process involving gigantic human efforts and relationships with the environment, and in this regard Mehrgarh took the lead in entire South Asia. This remarkable development in the history of mankind is known as “Neolithic Revolution”. It was a significant transitional phase when our ancestors made the move from foraging to farming culture and from a mobile to a mainly sedentary lifestyle. Later on, similar development took place and spread over to a very large region eventually provided grounds and basis for the development of Indus Valley Civilization.

With the advent of agricultural activities and pastoralism as well as first manifestation of urbanism, this area had practically become the food -basket of the region. Subsequently, profound changes took place in the landscape and population as well as in the social structure. There was a rise of urbanization and population expansion. In a sense, the switching over to agriculture and animal husbandry, was a new way of life the humans started living. However, this extraordinary change was not without consequences.

Professor Yuval Noah Harari, an expert on world history, argues that the agricultural revolution in different parts of the world made the life of people more difficult. People began to devote all their time, effort and energy for caring animals and plants to get more fruit, grain and meat and resultantly “human spines, knees, necks and arches paid the price” and with “plethora of ailments, such as slip discs, arthritis and hernias”. The more focus on agriculture produce and rearing of animals required people to make their houses perpetually near the agriculture fields, and thus, “we did not domesticate wheat, it domesticated us”.

The rich cultural heritage of Balochistan is well known for its craftsmanship, beauty and lapidary accomplishments. Many burials were found with stone and bone tools, animal sacrifices, bracelets, turquoise beads, sea shells as well as human and animal figurine. Terracotta figurines of females were decorated with paint, beautiful hairstyles and elegant stuff. These figurines became more detailed, complex and sophisticated in the later phase.

Moreover, extraordinary treasure trove of pottery with significant shapes and motifs was found at Mehrgarh site. The pottery making took great momentum during the 5th and early 4th millennium BCE, which is considered as an important technological innovation. The introduction of Potter’s wheel and the use of spatula brought convenience and variety such as geometrical designs and different colours in pottery making.

In addition to that people knew the techniques of proto-dentistry. The studies have shown the earliest example of dentistry and traces of drilling of human teeth in Mehrgarh. The long distance trade was also known to the people of Mehrgarh because several ornaments such as sea shells, lapis lazuli and carnelian, were made of non-local material. The trade link not only brought precious and exotic goods but also technological know-how, decorative styles and ideas, said Dr. Ute Frank, a well-known archaeologist and researcher.

Despite rich and marvelous heritage, it is an irony that cultural patrimony has not been given its due place and importance over the last many decades. The Mehrgarh heritage site had not found its place for inscription on the permanent world heritage list due to lack of necessary infrastructure and restoration in line with the UNESCO guidelines. Similarly, there are several other sites where restoration and preservation work is long due.

However, the present government of Balochisan has taken initiatives for the restoration and conservation of important archaeological sites such as Mehrgarh, Miri Kalat, Chakar Fort, Chowkandi graveyards and survey and mapping of other cultural properties. Alongside this, the projects for construction of new libraries, establishment of cultural centers and art galleries are part of the Public Sector Development Programme. The new Mehrgarh museum has also been built in Quetta where the brilliant culture of the past and wonderful heritage will be available to its people. The discovery of Mehrgarh is of paramount importance. It is the marvel of the world of archaeology being one of the earliest seats of civilization and a trailblazer and pacesetter of cultural evolution. Let us keep our invaluable heritage and precious cultural assets close to our heart.


The writer is Former Secretary, Culture, Tourism & Archaeology Government of Balochsian

Was unaware of Mehrgarh being the first civilization to engage in dentistry. This is actually not a recent discovery which is all the more surprising for me.

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On the Origins of the Dentist (With a Stone-Age Drill)

Man's first known trip to the dentist occurred as early as 9,000 years ago, when at least nine people living in a Neolithic village in present-day Pakistan had holes drilled into their molars and survived the procedure, anthropologists reported yesterday.

The findings, which appear in the journal Nature, push back the dawn of dentistry by 4,000 years. The drilled molars, 11 in all, come from a sample of 300 individuals buried in graves at the Mehrgarh site in western Pakistan, believed to be the oldest Stone Age complex in the Indus River valley.

"This is certainly the first case of drilling a person's teeth," said David W. Frayer, a professor at the University of Kansas who is the lead author. "But even more significant, this practice lasted some 1,500 years and was a tradition at this site. It wasn't just a sporadic event."

The earliest previously known evidence of dental work was a drilled molar found in a Neolithic graveyard in Denmark dating from about 3000 B.C.; the Pakistan graves are from about 7000 B.C.

The drilling may have been done to relieve the suffering of tooth rot, but only 4 of the 11 teeth showed signs of decay. The scientists said it was clear that the holes were not made for aesthetic reasons, given their position deep in the mouth and on the erosion-prone surface of the teeth.

There was no evidence of fillings, but because some of the holes were bored deep into the teeth, the researchers think something was used to plug them. What that substance was is not known.

The shallowest holes were just half a millimeter, but the deepest were 3.5 millimeters (about an eighth of an inch), enough to pierce the enamel and enter the sensitive dentin.

All nine of the Mehrgarh patients were adults, ranging in age from about 20 to over 40 -- four men, two women and three whose sex could not be determined.

Most of the dental work was done on the chewing surfaces of their molars, in both the upper and lower jaws, probably using a flint point attached to a bow that made a Stone Age version of a high-speed drill, the researchers said. Concentric ridges carved by the drilling device were found inside the holes.

Dental health was poor at Mehrgarh, though the problems were less often tooth decay than brutal wear and tear.

Roberto Macchiarelli, a professor of paleoanthropology at the University of Poitiers, France, and the report's lead anthropological researcher, attributed the bad teeth to the Neolithic diet, which included newly domesticated wheat and barley.

"A lot of abrasive mineral material was introduced when grains were ground on a stone," he said. "And as these people moved to a grain diet, their teeth wore down, dentin was exposed and the risk of infection rose."

The Mehrgarh complex, occupied for 4,000 years, sits beside the Bolan River in Baluchistan, on a plain that was repeatedly buried in alluvial deposits that not only destroyed mud-brick buildings but crushed many skeletons in the graveyard.

The excavation of 300 individuals was begun by a French team in the 1980's; international groups followed until 2001, when it became too dangerous to work in Baluchistan.

None of the individuals with drilled teeth appear to have come from a special tomb or sanctuary, indicating that the oral care they received was available to all.

 

Kambojaric

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Restoration work on Chitti Masjid in Khanpur starts

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BAHAWALPUR: The Punjab Archeology Department has launched the initial restoration work costing about Rs28m of historical Chitti Masjid in Khanpur tehsil of district Rahim Yar Khan.

Talking to Dawn, archeology Sub-Divisional Officer (SDO) Sajjad Ahmed said the department had released an amount of Rs5m allocated in its budget for 2020-21 and the preliminary restoration work on the mosque had started.

He said that after the utilisation of this first installment of the funds, the government might release the remaining funds during the next year. He said the project might take two years to complete.


The Chitti Masjid is an historical monument in the village of Qadirpur near Khanpur. It got its name Chitti (white) due to the use of lime plaster inside and outside its structure. It is considered as one of the largest and most elaborate mosques in tehsil Khanpur. Nawab Ikhtiar Khan had got it built during his rule around the third quarter of the eighteenth century.

Due to the neglect over the years, the old brick masonry, wood work and lime plaster in the mosque were badly damaged while domes and vault roofs also disappeared.

The archaeology department declared the mosque as ‘Special Premises’ under the Punjab Special Premises (Preservation) Ordinance 1985 in 2019.

The Punjab government decided to take measures for consolidation of its structure and restoration.

The SDO said that after the utilisation of preliminary funds of Rs5m, a report would be submitted to the government to get more funds during the next year for completion of the restoration project.

WORKSHOP: The Department of Local Government and Community Development (LG&CD) organised a workshop at tehsil council to train the LG officials to use the Annual Development Programme Management Information System(ADP MIS).

According to a press release, the officials of the local bodies and community development were imparted training in 12 sectors, including budget, finance, assets, human resources and employees’ performance.

The participants were imparted training by Punjab local government additional chief secretary Tahir Khurshid, MIS manager Muhammad Adnan, senior programme manager of Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Maryam Zeb, project coordinator Arsalan Aziz and others.

 

W.11

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Lakhan jo daro is another major indus city very close to mohenjo daro (just 75 km away), it lies beneath the city of sukkur.

it is bigger than mohenjo daro

regards
 

Kambojaric

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Rehabilitation Of Ancient Temples Starts In Kalash Valley

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Directorate of Archaeology and Museums Khyber Pakhtunkwa has started conservation and rehabilitation of ancient temples inside Kalash valley


PESHAWAR, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 24th Nov, 2020 ) Directorate of Archaeology and Museums Khyber Pakhtunkwa has started conservation and rehabilitation of ancient temples inside Kalash valley.

Special Asstiant to Chief Minister for Minority Affairs Wazir Zada has approved funds for initiating this project.

Under the project , protection of historical graveyard at Kalash valley started by erecting boundary walls and pathways inside the krakal ancient graveyard.

Keeping sanctity of graveyard, tourists would will not be allowed to touch ancient remains/bones of graves in the valley.

 

Salza

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Lakhan jo daro is another major indus city very close to mohenjo daro (just 75 km away), it lies beneath the city of sukkur.

it is bigger than mohenjo daro

regards
Can you shed more light on it please. Never heard about it before.
 

Kambojaric

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Can you shed more light on it please. Never heard about it before.
Lakhan Jo Daro is contemporary with Mohenjo-daro, an urban settlement at 50 ha. Its location near the foot of the Rohri Hills and ca. 150 km from Mohenjo-daro positioned it close to the chert source, easily accessible to the larger center, and contacts in other parts of the Indus civilization. Three major mounded areas have been documented, along with standard Harappan finds and others that are unique. They include a ‘T-shaped tablet, a ritual location and a cluster of large platforms’ (Shaikh 2012).

This site has been sparsely published and is best known based on public presentations. In papers presented at New York University in 2007 and in 2011 by Nilofer Shaikh and Qasid Mallah, they showed ceramics and small finds many of which were identical to the material assemblages that I have worked with at Harappa and on survey. The potential links between Lakhan Jo Daro, Konar Sandal South and Nindowari discussed here are the white spherical stones (shown in Fig. 08) from Lakahan Jo Daro.

I read somewhere that only 5% of Lokhan jo Daro has been excavated currently. To be honest it is better this way at the moment. We lack the infrastructure, funds and common sense to properly take care of such historical sites. What PPP did at Moenjo Daro a couple of years ("sindh festival" or something like that) for example was mind boggling. Hopefully our coming generations will have more common sense and decency to preserve our heritage and history.
 

Kambojaric

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Archaeologists make new discoveries in ancient Swat town

SWAT: The archaeologists claim to have discovered remains of a Brahmanical or Deval temple, a water reservoir and a Ghaznavid military watchtower dating back to the Gandhara-era atop the Ghwandai hill in the ancient town of Bazira in Barikot-Swat.

The archaeologists clarified many points regarding the cultural sequence of the top of the Ghwandai (the acropolis of the ancient Bazira).

In the recent discovery, the Italian Archaeological Mission of ISMEO and Ca’ Foscari University of Venice discovered the water reservoir for the Shahi temple after part of which was exposed last year.

“Water was brought from the nearby river to the hilltop through a deep vertical natural defile (c. 50 metre deep) whose exit is located close to the tank. The four-meter walled water reservoir is partly cut on the rocky surface and surrounded by a huge walled precinct built upon the ruins of the Kushana monumental acropolis, which, when the Shahi occupied the hilltop, had fallen into disrepair,” Dr Luca Maria Olivieri, Director Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan, said. He added that two monumental artificial terraces, well-visible from kilometers away, a true landmark of the historical landscape of the Kushans, were also discovered.

“The eastern terrace was meant to house a Buddhist sacred area. On the ruins of the latter the Hindu Shahis built their 24-metre-long temple while the western terrace revealed the past traces of the Indo-Greek wall circa 150BCE), as well as traces of the earlier proto-historic occupation of about 1400-800 BCE,” he said, adding that a Ghaznavid military watchtower to control the territory on the summit was also exposed.

Dr Luca Olivieri said the new discovery was very important as now the archaeologists and historians got the complete sequence going from Kushan to Hindu Shahi and ultimately to Ghaznavid period.

Dr Michele Minardi, another archaeologist, said that the newly-excavated site was of real importance for different periods in the past. “Strategically, the top of the Ghwandai hill is very important from where the upper as well as the lower parts of Swat can easily be monitored. Therefore, it was used as part of the military garrison to keep control on the entire region in the past,” he said, adding the new discovery was an important addition to the archaeological treasure of Gandhara civilisation in Swat valley.

The archaeologists said the discovery of the Brahmanical or Deva temple in Swat was a rare example in the Gandhara period which could lead to interesting new information.

 

W.11

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Can you shed more light on it please. Never heard about it before.
Lakhan jo Daro is touted as the second largest city of Indus valley civilization after Rakhigarhi or Mohenjo daro covering an area of 300 hectares located underneath the modern city of Sukkur and situated just 75 kilometers away from Mohenjo daro itself.

Despite being one of the major cities of the IVC, the site has not been well known to the scholarly circle and to the public, while smaller sites like Ganweriwala (40–80 Ha) are rather much more well known, probably because the site wasn’t idenified until 1985 and its extend wasn’t measured until recent archaeological survey and analysis. The site was brought to attention by imminent archaeologist Dr Kenoyer in his October 2020 lecture on Indus valley civilization where he clearly placed the site as one of the major sites of the Indus valley civilization,

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Lion figure, Mohenjo Daro
 
Last edited:

Salza

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Lakhan jo Daro is touted as the second largest city of Indus valley civilization after Rakhigarhi or Mohenjo daro covering an area of 300 hectares located underneath the modern city of Sukkur and situated just 75 kilometers away from Mohenjo daro itself.

Despite being one of the major cities of the IVC, the site has not been well known to the scholarly circle and to the public, while smaller sites like Ganweriwala (40–80 Ha) are rather much more well known, probably because the site wasn’t idenified until 1985 and its extend wasn’t measured until recent archaeological survey and analysis. The site was brought to attention by imminent archaeologist Dr Kenoyer in his October 2020 lecture on Indus valley civilization where he clearly placed the site as one of the major sites of the Indus valley civilization,

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Lion figure, Mohenjo Daro
thanks. Will go thru this post in detail later today
 

W.11

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Gandharan inspired buddhist ivory sculpture from China, 7th century AD

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a very similar artifact, Charlamange ''chess piece'' 8th-10th cenury with Kufic script, most probably from Sindh

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ghazi52

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Marvels of Mehrgarh



Zafar Ali Buledi

OCTOBER 14, 2020


Located in the Kachi-Bolan district of Balochistan, Pakistan, at the mouth of Bolan Pass and on the bank of Bolan river, the Mehrgarh archaeological site is one of the ancient and the oldest heritage sites in South Asia. It is the precursor of Indus valley Civilization. The site is on UNESCO’s tentative heritage list.

The site was discovered in 1974 by a French archaeological team headed by Dr. Jean Francois Jarrige, in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology Pakistan.

The excavation was conducted in two phases from 1974 to 1985 and again from 1997 till 2000. The whole archaeological zone is extended over 618 acres (250 hectares).Mehrgarh was one of the earliest well planned and ancient human settlements with a highly developed society. People attained remarkable progress in agriculture, architecture, domestication of plants and animals, technology, crafts and styles.

People lived in multi-roomed and rectangular houses. The houses were constructed with sun dried bricks painted with pottery and a variety of other craft practices. The housing units were large with basements. The spaces for storage and craft-making activities were provided separately similar to that of Mesopotamian sites.

Mehrgarh being an amalgam of cultural practices and traditions traversed in history and prehistory has a marvelous contribution in human history. There is substantial evidence that this area had first witnessed domestication of a variety of animals as well as the first farming culture and agricultural communities of various sizes in South Asia.

People used to grow wheat, barley and cotton as well as domesticate animals notably goat, sheep and cattle. The Zebu (humped cattle) was the dominant one among all cattles, and this possibly led to the earliest known tradition of making Zebu figurine.

The studies have shown the earliest example of dentistry and traces of drilling of human teeth in Mehrgarh

In any given time and place, domestication of animal and plants was a complex process involving gigantic human efforts and relationships with the environment, and in this regard Mehrgarh took the lead in entire South Asia.

This remarkable development in the history of mankind is known as “Neolithic Revolution”. It was a significant transitional phase when our ancestors made the move from foraging to farming culture and from a mobile to a mainly sedentary lifestyle. Later on, similar development took place and spread over to a very large region eventually provided grounds and basis for the development of Indus Valley Civilization.
With the advent of agricultural activities and pastoralism as well as first manifestation of urbanism, this area had practically become the food -basket of the region.

Subsequently, profound changes took place in the landscape and population as well as in the social structure. There was a rise of urbanization and population expansion. In a sense, the switching over to agriculture and animal husbandry, was a new way of life the humans started living. However, this extraordinary change was not without consequences.

Professor Yuval Noah Harari, an expert on world history, argues that the agricultural revolution in different parts of the world made the life of people more difficult. People began to devote all their time, effort and energy for caring animals and plants to get more fruit, grain and meat and resultantly “human spines, knees, necks and arches paid the price” and with “plethora of ailments, such as slip discs, arthritis and hernias”.

The more focus on agriculture produce and rearing of animals required people to make their houses perpetually near the agriculture fields, and thus, “we did not domesticate wheat, it domesticated us”.
The rich cultural heritage of Balochistan is well known for its craftsmanship, beauty and lapidary accomplishments.

Many burials were found with stone and bone tools, animal sacrifices, bracelets, turquoise beads, sea shells as well as human and animal figurine. Terracotta figurines of females were decorated with paint, beautiful hairstyles and elegant stuff. These figurines became more detailed, complex and sophisticated in the later phase.

Moreover, extraordinary treasure trove of pottery with significant shapes and motifs was found at Mehrgarh site. The pottery making took great momentum during the 5th and early 4th millennium BCE, which is considered as an important technological innovation. The introduction of Potter’s wheel and the use of spatula brought convenience and variety such as geometrical designs and different colours in pottery making.

In addition to that people knew the techniques of proto-dentistry. The studies have shown the earliest example of dentistry and traces of drilling of human teeth in Mehrgarh. The long distance trade was also known to the people of Mehrgarh because several ornaments such as sea shells, lapis lazuli and carnelian, were made of non-local material.

The trade link not only brought precious and exotic goods but also technological know-how, decorative styles and ideas, said Dr. Ute Frank, a well-known archaeologist and researcher.


Despite rich and marvelous heritage, it is an irony that cultural patrimony has not been given its due place and importance over the last many decades. The Mehrgarh heritage site had not found its place for inscription on the permanent world heritage list due to lack of necessary infrastructure and restoration in line with the UNESCO guidelines. Similarly, there are several other sites where restoration and preservation work is long due.

However, the present government of Balochisan has taken initiatives for the restoration and conservation of important archaeological sites such as Mehrgarh, Miri Kalat, Chakar Fort, Chowkandi graveyards and survey and mapping of other cultural properties. Alongside this, the projects for construction of new libraries, establishment of cultural centers and art galleries are part of the Public Sector Development Programme.

The new Mehrgarh museum has also been built in Quetta where the brilliant culture of the past and wonderful heritage will be available to its people. The discovery of Mehrgarh is of paramount importance. It is the marvel of the world of archaeology being one of the earliest seats of civilization and a trailblazer and pacesetter of cultural evolution. Let us keep our invaluable heritage and precious cultural assets close to our heart.


The writer is Former Secretary, Culture, Tourism & Archaeology Government of Balochsian


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Mehrgarh's importance to understanding the Indus Valley is its nearly unparalleled preservation of pre-Indus societies.


  • Aceramic Neolithic founding 7000 to 5500 BC
  • Neolithic Period II 5500 to 4800 (16 ha)
  • Chalcolithic Period III 4800 to 3500 (9 ha)
  • Chalcolithic Period IV, 3500 to 3250 BC
  • Chalcolithic V 3250 to 3000 (18 ha)
  • Chalcolithic VI 3000 to 2800
  • Chalcolithic VII-Early Bronze Age 2800 to 2600
 

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