Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Mehrgarh was an ancient settlement in South Asia and is one of the most important sites in archaeology for the study of the earliest neolithic settlements in that region. The remains are located in Balochistan, Pakistan on the Kachi plain near the Bolan Pass, to the west of the Indus River valley and between the present-day cities of Quetta, Kalat and Sibi ,
Mehrgarh is sometimes cited as the earliest known farming settlement in South Asia, based on archaeological excavations from 1974 (Jarrige et al). The earliest evidence of settlement dates from 7000 BC. It's also cited for the earliest evidence of pottery in South Asia. Archaeologists divide the occupation at the site into several periods.
Mehrgarh Period I
Mehrgarh Period I 7000-5500 BC, was neolithic and aceramic (i.e., without the use of pottery). The earliest farming in the area was developed by semi-nomadic people using plants such as wheat and barley and animals such as sheep, goat and cattle. The settlement was established with simple mud buildings with four internal subdivisions. Numerous burials have been found, many with elaborate goods such as baskets, stone and bone tools, beads, bangles, pendants and occasionally animal sacrifices, with more goods left with burials of males. Ornaments of sea shell, limestone, turquoise, lapis lazuli, sandstone and polished copper have been found, along with simple figurines of women and animals.
Mehrgarh Period II
Mehrgarh Period II 5500-4800 BC and Merhgarh Period III 4800-3500 BC were ceramic neolithic (i.e., pottery was now in use) and later chalcolithic. Much evidence of manufacturing activity has been found and more advanced techniques were used. Glazed faience beads were produced and terracotta figurines became more detailed. Figurines of females were decorated with paint and had diverse hairstyles and ornaments. The amount of burial goods decreased over time, becoming limited to ornaments and with more goods left with burials of females. The first button seals were produced from terracotta and bone and had geometric designs. Technologies included stone and copper drills, updraft kilns, large pit kilns and copper melting crucibles.
Mehrgarh Periods IV to VI
Ancient Dentistry in Mehrgarh Periods IV-VI (3500-2800 BC)
In 2001, archaeologists studying the remains of two men from Mehrgarh, Pakistan, made the startling discovery that the people of Indus Valley Civilization, even from the early Harappan periods (circa 3300 BC), had knowledge of medicine and dentistry! The physical anthropologist that carried out the examinations, Professor Andrea Cucina from the University of Missouri-Columbia, made the discovery when he was cleaning the teeth from one of the men, with small holes found in the molar teeth from the remains of two men. It was suggested that the stone drills used to create beads could have been used (Andrea Cucina, University of Missouri-Columbia). See Indus Valley Civilization: Science.
Mehrgarh Period VII
Somewhere between 2600 and 2000 BC, the city seems to have been largely abandoned, which is the time of the Indus Valley Civilisation.
Common variant spellings
Mehrgarh is easily misspelled as Mehrgahr, Merhgarh or Merhgahr. Kachi plain is also spelled as Kacchi plain, Katchi plain.
- Balochistan Hills - http://bosei.cc.u-tokai.ac.jp/~indus/english/1_1_01.html
- Early Developments of Art, Symbol and Technology in the Indus Valley Tradition - http://www.harappa.com/indus3/e1.html
- Prehistoric dentistry evidence found - http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/health/newsid_1272000/1272010.stm
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