Ancient History/Indian subcontinent/Mehrgarh Culture

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The Indus Valley Civilization was not the first settled culture in the Indian subcontinent. Archaeologists have uncovered evidence of an earlier one called the Mehargarh culture. Mehargarh is in present day Pakistan. The site is in the Baluchistan province. It is about 125 miles from the Indus Valley. The site was first occupied around 7,000 or 8,000 B.C. It started out as a small village. The initial settlement practiced farming and raised crops, including wheat. As the community grew, farming continued, but the economy expanded and large scale trading began. Evidence shows that it traded with peoples far to the west. The goods included turquoise, cotton, and copper. Commerce was carried on with places as far away as Arabia.

By 5,000 B.C. the Mehargarh people were living in mud brick houses and then built large permanent dwellings. Trade was the main aspect of the economy. The Mehargarh culture continued to exist well past 4,000 B.C. Hence it must have traded with the Indus Valley Civilization, which was in existence by then.

A French archaeologist named Jean Francois Jarrige has participated in the excavations around Mehargarh. Many of his digs took place from 1974 to 1985. He also did some field work there in 1990 and later; in 2002 Jarigge gave a presentation on evidence (such as carbon dating) to show that the Mehargarh culture began at least around 7,000 B.C. He showed slides of artifacts and gave a lecture at the Islamabad Club Auditorium.

Jarrige found a burial place with 30 graves. Most of the remains were of females of ages 18-22. Jarrige also discovered clay pots, ornaments, buildings, and other items.

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