Mehrgarh Civilization – Ancient Indian History Characteristic, Culture, Agriculture, Life Style

The 500-acre Mehrgarh archeological site has been discovered in the Kacchi plain near the Bolan Pass and 150 km from Quetta city. Excavations were carried out here in 1974-1986 under the French archaeologist Jean-François Jarrige. The discovery of Mehrgarh civilization is important for many reasons. As a result, the very perspective of Indian civilization has changed.

Mehrgarh Civilization
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Mehrgarh Civilization at a glance

Location Dhadar, Balochistan, Pakistan
Region South Asia
Founded Approximately 7000 BCE
Abandoned Approximately 2600 BCE
Excavation dates 1974–1986, 1997–2000
Archaeologists Jean-François Jarrige, Catherine Jarrige

Why Mehrgarh Civilization is Important?

It has long been thought that the Indus Valley Civilization is the oldest civilization in India, but the discovery of Mehrgarh proves that an advanced civilization developed in India in the pre-Indus period. For so long, many thought that Harappa and Mohenjo-daro were remote colonies of Mesopotamia. Now that idea has changed and today it can be firmly said that the creators of the Indus Civilization are not foreigners, they are the people of India. The advanced urban civilization of Harappa- Mohenjo-daro is no accident. The Harappan civilization is a perfect embodiment of the development of human civilization in and around Mehrgarh.

Mehrgarh Period I – Characteristic, Culture, Agriculture

The period of the first phase of Mehrgarh is from 6000 BC to 5000 BC (tested by Radio Carbon-14 method). Evidence suggests that the area was originally a temporary habitat for hunters and nomadic herdsmen. Later temporary shelters were established here and agricultural livelihoods were developed. The dwellings were made of equal size bricks made of clay and dried in the sun. The houses were divided into multiple small rooms. Some homes had an oven or fireplace to heat the house. In many houses a room was used as a granary. There are various tools like jaanti, hamandista, nidari, kaste and stone.

The existence of animal husbandry and granaries has also been proved. Domestic animals included cows, sheep, goats and bulls. It seems that the dog also accepted the pet at that time. Various species of barley and wheat were cultivated here. In this period, some small human figures have been found. Scholars speculate that these statues are probably the oldest specimens of Indian sculpture. Several tombs have been found here. Usually the space between two houses was used as a cemetery. The bodies were buried on their knees and tilted to one side. However, the head was not always kept to one side.

The deceased was accompanied by sea oyster pendants, stone beads and oyster necklaces, sapphires, etc. Dilip Kumar Chakraborty said that from the difference in what was given to the deceased, it can be inferred that there were also social differences in that era. Dr. Irfan Habib has also noticed the existence of a class society here. There is no doubt about the communication of distant countries with Mehrgarh. Sea oysters used to come to this region due to their contact with the coastal region. Probably turquoise was imported from Central Asia or Persia and Baiduryamani from Afghanistan. From this time onwards, Mehrgarh gradually started advancing towards urbanization. Food grains are cultivated in the surrounding areas.

Merhgahr Period II

The second period of Mehrgarh culture is from 5000 BC to 4000 BC. In this episode, along with the continuity of the previous period, several changes and innovations are noticed. Lots of burnt cotton seeds were found in this episode. From this it can be deduced that people used to cultivate cotton in this period. This proves that cotton cultivation started here two thousand years before the Harappan civilization.

The cultivation of various agricultural products such as wheat, barley and cotton obtained here proves human control over water. It turns out that they developed a fairly irrigation system.

Animal husbandry became essential for agriculture. The existence of cattle, sheep and goats is proved in domestic animals.

Towards the end of this period, the potter’s wheel came from Arctic around 4000 BC. This brought a turning point in the pottery industry. More pottery began to be made in less time and at a lower cost.

The existence of different types of stones and shells in this region indicates long distance trade.

Mehrgahr Period III

The period of the third period of this civilization is from 4000 BC to 3200 BC. The progress of agriculture can be understood by looking at the huge list of crops cultivated in this period. There has been a great improvement in the pottery. The widespread use of pottery of various colors made on wheels and burnt in furnace fires began. A variety of geometric designs, pictures of animals, birds, cattle and plants can be seen on these potteries.

A copper bead and ring are found in the first and second stages. In the third episode, at least fourteen earthenware pots are found for copper smelting. This is proof of the widespread use of copper at this time. Besides, copper knives, fishing rods, needles etc. were found in this episode. The people of this period also became skilled in making ornaments by cutting stones. At this time foreign trade also spread.

During the fourth to seventh periods, the material culture of Mehrgarh gained further results. There are different types of pottery and different colors are used. Burnt earthen idols and seals are being made.

There is evidence of canal cutting for irrigation of crops. Urbanization in Mehrgarh started long ago. Development is noticeable in this period. Evident in the development of human life, taste, improvement of roads are found in this period.

The Mehrgarh civilization collapsed in the middle of the third millennium BC and probably the inhabitants migrated elsewhere.