History of Sindh/Early farming cultures

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Sindhu in might surpasses all the streams that flow.
His roar is lifted up to heaven above the earth;
He puts forth endless vigour with a flash of light.
Even as cows with milk rush to their calves,
So other rivers roar into the Sindhu.
As a warrior-king leads other warriors,
So does Sindhu lead other rivers.

— Rigveda

Neolithic Mehrgarh[edit]

The hunter-gatherers had travelled the farthest in days and food was scarce. They heard of a new technology – agriculture – one that required growing one's own food. In the later part of the 7th millennium BC, somewhere in the late Neolithic era, agriculture had become a main source of nutrition for the people that settled in the plains of what is now part of the province of Baluchistan in Pakistan. During excavations carried out in and around Mehrgarh in the late 1970s and early 1980s, ruins of an agricultural village as big as 300 hectares or about 1.1 square miles were discovered. This site was immediately deemed a pre-cursor to the greater Indus Valley civilisation. Indus, the mighty river that runs from the mountains of the Himalayas down to the Indian Ocean is now seen as the cradle of one of the earliest civilisations, and one that rivals those of the other neighbouring civilisations in terms of technology and trade.

The agricultural economy was based on the cultivation of barley, jujubes, einkorn and emmer wheat and the meat diet was still obtained from hunting animals. Where hunting was slowly becoming the thing of the past, domestication of animals started to take precedence. People started domesticating zebus (Bos primigenius indicus), the humped cattle, and goats, and soon hunting activities died out and gave way to the more productive technologies – pottery and making of ornaments.[1] The people of Mehrgarh would have been the most advanced of their surrounding settlements.

How animal husbandry and batteries improved their nutritious needs is unclear, however from the terracotta figurines of bulls and oxen acquired from the period suggests that the average citizen of Mehrgarh worshipped them, their exalted status as givers of life and providers of food.

Chalcolithic endeavours[edit]

The people of the region dug earth for the cultivation of experimental crops, they are deemed to have stumbled across strange rocks they had never seen before – that of Chalcopyrite (or Copper ore). The people would later became aware of its metallurgy and start forming tools from metals that they excavate from the earth locally. Like their experiments with farming, meddling with the rocks provided them with an opportunity to make better tools. Some of which were hand-crafted to assist in better farming.

These endeavours led to a faster development of technology and better crop yields making the Mehrgarh people superior in all sense to the civilisation that had sprouted up simultaneously across its surrounding regions. It is then that historians make note of the development of similar technology in the infant civilisations of Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt.

While metallurgy thrived, pots were used more often as a common utensil to store crop yields. Made from unrefined clay pots were usually made from hand. Remarkable advances, mainly in ceramics gave way to a pottery of a new kind – one with refined fine-quality clay and on a potter's wheel (another of the invention these people came up with). These pots were then decorated with paintings of animal forms and birds found locally and brought trade to the region. Structures in the excavated town show signs of storage cells adorned with ceramic linings excellent for storing cereal crops.

With better metal tools, people of the land dug earth faster and made great canals dividing the river Indus into irrigation channels. With every passing day the civilisation extended more towards the river and started building transport over water: primitive floating devices – used mainly for fishing in deeper waters.

Cotton cultivation and export[edit]

There came a time when livestock were abundant than the hunt and killing an animal was being deemed more as a sport. It was then that the people of the land started focusing more on adding more crops to their farms. One of the major crops grown in the period were those of cotton. Excavated ornaments shows copper beads, one of which still carried the trace of a cotton thread, the oldest example of a fibre that exists to date.[1] It became obvious that people had become aware of manipulating raw cotton into fibre and had already started utilising this in their handiwork. Beyond the realms of this lesser civilisation of thread-mongers lay slightly advanced civilisations of greater Mesopotamia, envoys of which would travel across the land and shores that met Mehrgarh and the early Indus Valley civilisation. These merchants would take home the cotton products which with time the region would be renowned for. In fact, it is often documented that cotton was deemed a high quality export and that much of the cotton found in ancient Egypt came from civilisations on the shores of the Indian Ocean.[2] The trend continues today.

References[edit]

  1. a b Indus and Mehrgarh archaeological mission
  2. Schanz, Moritz. Cotton in Egypt and the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Read Books. pp. pp. 7-8. ISBN 1406783110.