Friday, August 24, 2007

The Mehrgarh Civilization

I have gathered these from various places and mentioned it in the reference. I am not a Historian, but a C Programmer who loves history. I am just trying to understand our roots. I have written verbatim from these sources things which I have been able to absorb and understand. If there are errors, I would be glad to know and I would appreciate if you point me to other sources as well. It pains lot of us to see our progress slowed down over trivial issues like language, caste and religion. My own mother tongue is Konkani and I feel proud that I know Hindi which is not my mother tongue but my country’s Official Language. At home also I speak Hindi. According to Comrie (1998 data), Hindi is the second most spoken language in the world, with 333 million native speakers. It also comes in the world's 10 most influential languages. According to the Census Department of India , Konkani speakers show a very high degree of multilingualism. In the 1991 census, as compared to the national average of 19.44% for bilingualism and 7.26% for trilingualism; Konkani speakers scored 74.20% and 44.68% respectively. This makes Konkanis the most multilingual community of India. I wish Hindi was introduced in South in a Humane manner taking into account the sensitivities of Tamil speaking people. It was not correct the way the Government went in those times imposing Hindi on non-Hindi speaking states. However I wish that if I knew all languages it would have been great. Practically this is not possible. Coming from the oldest civilization, it would be a shame if English becomes the binding language. We should be proud that we have an original civilization and have continued to show everyone the path to lead a civilized life. The role of language as a focal rallying point for nationality formation and in the creation and development of nation-states has been studied by linguists and social scientists, especially sociologists and political scientists in the past decades. An excellent article on this should be read here.

As far as I can remember I learnt that the following were the ancient civilization (in decreasing chronological order)

  1. Mesopotamia (Sumer)
  2. Egypt
  3. Chinese
  4. Indus Valley
  5. Akkadian

The above was taught to us in the schools. It was also a belief that Aryans came drove the Dravidians down south. This belief also aids disrespect for the languages both in the North as well as the South. Due to this any attempt to have a common language is met with resentment. The Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT) has also created much misconception about the culture in India so much as to be exploited by vested interests to create a kind of North/South divide. Even if the theory is true, it doesn’t make any sense to continue to create this divide. Both cultures have lot to learn from each other. There can only be an improvement if we try to understand each other. The political parties too have taken a partisan attitude and tried to create a bloc based on Language, Caste, Religion and Colour. The opposite of AIT is Indigenous Aryan Theory (IAT). This article here says "Until the mid-19th century, no Indian had ever heard that his ancestors could be Aryan invaders from Central Asia who had destroyed the native civilization and enslaved the native population. Neither had South-Indians ever dreamt that they were the rightful owners of the whole subcontinent, dispossessed by the Aryan invaders who had chased them from North India, turning it into Aryavarta, the land of the Aryans. Nor had the low-caste people heard that they were the original inhabitants of India, subdued by the Aryans and forced into the prisonhouse of caste which the conquerors imposed upon them as an early form of Apartheid. All these ideas had to be imported by European scholars and missionaries, who thought through the implications of the Aryan Invasion Theory (AM, the theory that the Indo-European (IE) language family had spread out from a given homeland, probably in Eastern Europe, and found a place in Western and Southern Europe and in India as cultural luggage of horse-borne invaders who subjugated the natives.". There are two theories

1. The Out of India theory (OIT, also called the Indian Urheimat Theory) is the
proposition that the original homeland of the Indo-European language family is India.

2. The predominant model of Indo-European origins is the Kurgan hypothesis

The Out of India theory is popular with the Hindutva ideologist while the Kurgan hypothesis would find favour in the South. With the discovery of The Mehrgarh Civilization, lot of these theories could change. The first farmer and the first dentist was born in Mehrgarh. The first civilized way of life started here.

The evidence of the oldest literary records of the Indo-European family of languages, the Rig Veda and the Avesta, as we have seen, clearly and unambiguously depicts a movement of the Indo-Iranians from the east to the west and northwest. If, therefore, the scholars,, by and large, remain strongly resistant to the Indian homeland theory, it is not because the facts of the case rule out this theory, but because a defence of the standard theory has become a dogma with the scholars, and any scholar, particularly an Indian one, who pursues the Indian homeland theory is automatically held suspect as a fundamentalist or a chauvinistic nationalist. Whatever the outcome is, we should wait for historians to come out with an answer which I think could be in the near future. It will be good to know the origin of our culture, civilization and what caused so many languages to develop. The Indo-European Homeland could soon be accepted.

This is what most of us believe (and a prevalent view in Europe and West)

Sumer (or Šumer) was the earliest known civilization located in lower Mesopotamia (modern Iraq) from the time of the earliest records in the mid 4th millennium BC . The term "Sumerian" applies to all speakers of the Sumerian language. Sumer, together with Ancient Egypt and the Indus Valley Civilization, is considered among the first settled societies in the world to have manifested all the features needed to qualify fully as a "civilization". History begins at Sumer was the title of S.N. Kramer's major work in 1965. The Aryan Invasion Myth was also the conclusion of Sir Mortimer Wheeler. Sir Mortimer Wheeler erred grossly when he stated that the 'idea of city' came to India from Mesopotamia, around 2500 B.C

Mehrgarh (Credit: Indus and Mehrgarh archaeological mission)
Mehrgarh was discovered and excavations begun by a French team led by Jean-François Jarrige; the site was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986.

Excavations (Mehrgarh, Nausharo & Pirak) carried out at Mehrgarh by French Archeologists have proved that the Mehrgarh represents a highly developed civilization that existed there until around 8,000 years ago. Much older than the Sumer Civilization. Mehrgarh is now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization. This discovery also changes whole lot of things about the Aryan Invasion, the Rig Veda, the Sanskrit (1700 BC), Tamil (300 BCE) and other ancient languages of this country. It also proves that Civilization started in Mehrgarh (now in Pakistan) and spread to the West (Sumer) and the East (Indus Valley Civilization) with the drying up of the River Saraswati. Other settlements, now numbering over 2500, have been unearthed by various archaeologists. Stretching from Afghanistan in the north to Godavari river in the south and from the Indus in the west to the Gangetic plains in the east, its size exceeds the combined area occupied by the Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations. About 75% of these settlements are concentrated along the now dried up Saraswati River. This disaster - the drying up of the Saraswati - and not any invasion was what led to the disruption and abandonment of the settlements along Saraswati River by the people who lived a Vedic life. There is no mention of rice in Rig Veda. That is because rice was unknown during those times to Mehrgarh. Even now the staple diet in the North continues to be wheat. However rice was known to Indus Valley Civilization which came later. Rice continues to be the staple diet in South India. This also shows that Rig Veda precedes Indus Valley Civilization. The drying up of the Saraswati River was a great catastrophe which led to a massive outflow of people, especially the elite went into Iran, Mesopotamia and other neighboring regions. Around the same time (2000-1900 BC), there were constant floods and/or prolonged draughts along the Sindhu river and its tributaries which forced the inhabitants of the Indus valley to move to other safer and greener locations, and hence a slow but continuous migration of these highly civilized and prosperous Vedic people took place. Some of them moved to south east, and some to north west, and even towards European regions. For the next thousand years and more, dynasties and rulers with Indian names appear and disappear all over the West Asia confirming the migration of people from East towards West. There was no destruction of an existing civilization or invasion by any racial nomads of any kind to cause the destruction or abandonment of these settlements. The earliest settled portion of Mehrgarh was in an area called MR.3, in the northeast corner of the 495-acre occupation. It is a small farming and pastoralist village dated between 7000-5500 BC, with mud brick houses and granaries. The early Mehrgarh residents used local copper ore, basket containers lined with bitumen, and an array of bone tools. They grew six-row barley, einkorn and emmer wheat, jujubes and dates.

The prevalent belief regarding the age of the Vedas as between 1200 and 1000 BC is based purely upon an ad hoc pronouncement by Max Muller despite his admission in his last work that the date could as well be 1500 as 15,000 BC!. The proponents of Kurgan Hypothesis suggest that the Aryans came from Anatolia and were Hittites. The Hittites were an ancient people from KanešIndo-European language, and established a kingdom centered at Hattusa (Hittite URUḪattuša) in north-central Anatolia from the 18th century BC. In the 14th century BC, the Hittite empire was at its height, encompassing Anatolia, north-western Syria about as far south as the mouth of the Litani River (a territory known as Amqu), and eastward into upper Mesopotamia. There is now evidence that Rig Veda is older than the oldest Hittite works (which are currently believed to be the oldest literary works) and Sanskrit could prove to be the origin for all european languages. The Rig Veda hereafter is the most important document not only for Indology but most indo European studies in philology, religion, mythology or history. Archeological investigations in Pakistan and NW india pushes the date of Rig Veda to 3100 BC and sanskrit before that. There is no evidence furnished in support of any invasion or entry of people from Europe. PH Francfort utilizing images from the French satellite SPOT finds that the river saraswati is pre-harrapan and started drying 4000BC. Rig Veda knows two very large rivers Saraswati and Indus. With this evidence, the date of Rig Veda and Sanskrit can be pushed back to atleast 3800 BC. You can read in more detail on the A new date for the Rgveda Here. The origin of Dravidian Languages could be older than this. Some linguistic scholars incorporate the Dravidian languages into a larger Elamo-Dravidian language family, which includes the ancient Elamite language (Haltami) of what is now south-western Iran. Dravidian is one of the primary linguistic groups in the proposed Nostratic language system, linking almost all languages in North Africa, Europe and Western Asia into a common family with its origins in the Fertile Crescent sometime between the last Ice Age and the emergence of proto-Indo-European 4-6 thousand years BC. Dravidian grammatical impact on the structure and syntax of Indo-Aryan languages is considered far greater than the Indo-Aryan grammatical impact on Dravidian. Some linguists explain this anomaly by arguing that Middle Indo-Aryan and New Indo-Aryan were built on a Dravidian substratum.

The Indus Valley Civilization were known to
Sumerians as Meluhha. Meluhha was Sumer's prominent trading partner. There is plenty of archaeological evidence for the trade between Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley.

The word “Aryan” has been twisted to provide a racial connotation that it never had. “arya” referres to a quality of character: nobility, and “arya-varta” means the abode of noble people. Aryans never denotes a race of people as it is now taken as.

  • Vedic Age - 7000-4000 BC
  • End of Rig Vedic Age - 3750 BC
  • End of Ramayana - Mahabharat Period - 3000 BC
  • Development of Saraswati-Indus Civilization - 3000-2000 BC
  • Decline of Indus and Saraswati Civilization - 2200-1900 BC
  • Period of Complete chaos and migration - 2000-1500 BC
  • Period of evolution of Hindu culture - 1400 - 250 BC

Due to the drying up of Saraswati, Civilization moved to Mesopotamia and the Mehrgarh Civilization started dying. The Elamite civilization developed around B.C. 4000. Elam (Ezham) was the area on the eastern side of the mouth of the two rivers Euphretis and Tigris. Many linguists suppose that Elamite and Tamil belong to the same Elamo-Dravidian language family. Both the Elamite and Indus Valley scripts have not been deciphered yet. Ur was a city in Mesopotamian area with a population of 65000 inhabitants. Elam (Ezham) in Tamil now means SriLanka. Originally it referred to the whole of south India and there is a view that the original meaning of the word was motherland. Ur (oor) in Tamil means place of settlement. The Elamites built large structures using burned bricks and mud. They also developed urbanization. Groups of Elamites migrated south–east and settled in the Indus valley around 4000 B.C. Figurines of the type found in Elam with exaggerated representation of the eyes have been found in Indus Valley too. The Elamites also merged with the local populations (Australoid mainly and Negroid to a lesser extent). Racialy they belonged mainly to the Mediterranean and Australoid races. Some Mongoloid and Negroid skulls have also been excavated from the area. Slowly they migrated eastward and developed the big urbanised culture which is now known as the Indus-Valley civilization. The Elamite civilisation spread West to the area inbetween the two river mouths and a thousand years later became the Sumerian civilisation. The Elamite script developed into the cuneiform Sumerian script which has been deciphered. Close similarity between the Sumerian language and Tamil has been observed. For example, "father" is Appa in Tamil and Abba in Sumerian, mother is Amma in Tamil and Ama in Sumerian. The Indus Valley civilization was highly developed in material, mental and spiritual levels. It covered an extensive area. Towards the end, around 1500 B.C. it extended up to Delhi in the East and Narmada in the south. Around 1400 cities have been unearthed though all of these may not have existed at the same time.

The Indus Valley Civilization people were artists, craftsmen and traders. They were hard working people. They had a highly organized system of agriculture with large granaries and storehouses. They lived in highly planned cities with broad roads and two-storied terraced buildings. They had a script (developed probably from the Elamite script). They made beautiful objects of art, necklaces and other ornaments. They had sailboats and bullock carts. They had wind mills. They played chess. They had stringed musical instruments. They had trade contacts with all the civilisations of their time namely Sumerians, Egyptians and Chinese. They therefore to some extent would have mixed with people of these cultures also.. Theirs probably is the first globalised culture in the world. Their caravans went up to China opening up what later came to be known as the silk route. The most important feature of the Indus valley civilization is the absence of weapons used in war. They were peaceful people.

The Indus valley region was made fertile by the rivers running down from the Himalayas. Himalayas are highly earthquake prone and earth quakes would have been much more frequent then than now. Earth quakes cause alteration in the path of rivers and also cause floods. The Ivians were troubled by these floods periodically. Sometimes a whole city was destroyed by floods. The starting point of a city was a citadel (small fortress) around which the city grew. The people could take refuge in the citadel from minor floods and also attacks by enemies. Some cities were rebuilt above the ruins of earlier cities as many as seven times. The earlier cities appear to be bigger and more neatly planned indicating that the builders came from another area (Elam) which already had developed an urban culture. Finally around B.C.1500 the Indus people gave up and decided to migrate further east. There has to be more than one cause to account for these people covering a large area to quit. Epidemics, population pressure and invasions from different groups of migrants from the north-west would have hastened their movement towards the east. Their culture got diffused as they spread all over peninsular India. However their influence is seen maximally in south India (central Kerala and middle portion of Tamil Nadu along the Kaveri river ending in the ancient port town of Poompuhar. Another migration went to the north-east ending in Bihar first and later in Bengal area. Figurines of females with elaborate headdress of the Indus Valley type have been found in ancient Magadha. Among the different caste groups in India the Ivian influence is maximally seen among the Vaisyas (who traditionally handled all art, craft, trade and organized agriculture). The Ivians had trade contacts with south India. Their ships probably came to the south for spices and gold and it is possible that at the end of Ivian civilization many groups migrated to south as well as Bengal on ships.

The word Dravid was initially used in Sanskrit to refer to the Indus valley Civilization. Some say it means ‘Good for Nothing’ (not in a derrogatory sense) but a term given to people who were nomads and kept on moving. Dramil was originally Tamil. The languages no doubt got altered as a result of amalgamations with the Indianoid languages. There are groups of people speaking Dravidian languages in the north like Brahui of Afghanistan and Baluchistan and Kurukh in the north-east indicating the northern origin of Tamil. Mythology states that Tamil was created by sage Agasthya (he was probably the first to write Tamil grammar) who migrated from the north to south. The word Dravida has been politicised much and acquired many different meanings. When DMK (Dravida Munnetta Kazhakam) was formed, originally it was a party of the Vaisyas in Tamil Nadu. Later it was expanded to include the Dalits and backward classes for numerical strength and today it has becomes a party of all people in Tamil Nadu. The term Dravidian originally did not refer to any particular race, but to a community of people racially mixed who lived in Indus Valley and developed a high degree of civilization and culture. Later on the word Dravida acquired the meaning south. An in-depth understanding of south Indian culture is necessary to correctly understand and interpret our culture and civilization. The credit for the first one to set the tone for the political appropriation of the Aryan Invasion Theory was Jyotirao Govindrao Phule. Phule portrayed aryans as invaders and Lower caste people as original inhabitants of India, and described aryan culture along with caste system as alien to these Original people whom he termed Bahujan Samaj. Phule called these invaders Brahmins and brave original inhabitants Kshatriya. Howeverr Phule used the AIT to tirelessly work for the downtrodden. He is most known in society for his efforts to educate women and the lower castes. He, after educating his wife, opened the first school for girls in India in August 1848.

There is evidence for the beginning of rice cultivation in the Indus Valley. As the people moved to south and north-east India, they would have shifted to rice cultivation as paddy is more suited for these areas. They created an elaborate network of paddy fields with a very sophisticated irrigation system. In Kerala they started using wood also to build their houses, as wood was abundantly available, but the type of house was Harappan, called Nalukettu with an inner courtyard. Different types of cemeteries (with Dolmen tombs, burial cists and Jars) have been found in different places in the south. Many of these megalithic burial monuments resemble Mediterranean megaliths. Cave characters resembling characters in the Indus script have been located in a few places (Edakkal and Perumkadavila in Kerala). There was a public bath in each settlement. The old kings lived close to the tank, and their houses were more or less the same type as the rest of the houses. The king was called ko and his residence was the kovil. With increased mixing with the Indianoids, the system of worshipping dead kings came into vogue and the kovil became the temple and the king’s residence started being called ‘kovilakam’ as different from the kovil. Ancient brick structures (for example temples) have been found both in South India and Bengal. Though Bengali is no longer a Dravidian language and has been influenced by other language families, similarities between Bengali and Tamil in syntax and other aspects have been noted. Caste and religious separations are less marked in these cultures as seen in intermarriages, compared to other places.There is a marked tradition to respect women and motherhood and also elders in both cultures. The practice of calling female children 'mother' is found in both cultures. The Baul tradition (wandering singers) in Bengal is paralleled by the tradition of Pandarams in the south. Both Bauls and Padarams like the Tamil siddhas do not worship local deities. Pandarams were Saivites and they used to bury their dead in a sitting posture and not cremate them. The root word ‘Pand’ in the south means olden times, it also means related to royalty (Pandara), anything of value like ornaments (Pandam), as well as storehouses and trade (Pandika). Pandi also refers to the southern most portion of south India and it is one of the the earliest Tamil royal dynasties. In north India the root is related to knowledge of truth (Panda, Pandit). The mystic tradition, the idea of transcendental godhead (as different from specific gods) is present in both South India and Bengal.

The word India is derived from Sindhu. H of Persia becomes S in India and I in Greek. Sindhu is Hindu and Saraswathi is Harahwathi. Therefore the words Hindu and Indian are most applicable to the Indus Valley Civilization because they have been in the Indus region for the maximum duration and most Indian values have come from them.



Trueman said...

You have put up a detailed and highly informative essay indeed, but I think you should read also the findings by Pakistan's famous Archeologist Dr. Ahmed Hassan Dani (Dr. Dani left for his permanent abode last month) who was perhaps the only authority to have been able to partially decipher the Indus Valley script. Dr. Dani does not agree with the Aryan Invasion Theory and the Dravidians as the original Indus Valley inhabitants e.g. he has logically disproved the hypothesis of Propola and others on Aryan Invasion Theory. He holds the opinion that Indus people were indigenous population who lived and perished in the Indus Valley. Rig Veda, origin of Hinduism and things like dharma and caste ridden dogmas of Hindu Pandits came much later. (Interestingly Dr. Dani was born in Southern India and he had also a deep knowledge of that area where most of the so called Dravidians live).

Please excuse me for using the term “so called” Dravidians because I myself do not subscribe to this caste, dharma and races theory of Hinduism. This
Shouldn’t mean I am biased against Hinduism as a belief, am talking purely of scientific / historical facts which I have gathered from available literature on this subject. It should therefore be taken purely in an academic sense rather than a religious or theological sense.

Nayyar Hashmey or

Trueman said...

Thanx Mahendra for your prompt reply. I too, like yourself, have a strong interest in the Indus Valley Civilisation, especially the recent findings by explorers such as Dani, Jarrige,and Cucina. In this regard, am going to put up some more articles on this subject and do hope you may find these interesting from viewpoint of your exploration about origins of humanity (which appear to be somewhere near the Indus Delta in present Pakistan).

Nayyar Hashmey

Cprogrammer said...


Thanks will be looking forward to your articles on IVC.

Hen Fap said...

Hi! I think it would be pertinent to not here that according to the Human Genome Diversity Project, "The only distinct ethnic groups present in South Asia, according to genetic analysis, are the Balochi, Brahui, Burusho, Hazara, Kalash, Pathan and Sindhi peoples" The rest of us are all one diffuse "Indian" race from Punjab to Bengal.

samuiman said...

Thank you for the effort, very nice to get a far wider understanding of how things came into being..."god given" or "gods will" uttered by humans, even if done so by "high caste priests", always made the alarm bells ring!

We are all one - is said the same time, so who invented the diversion and for what?

My cultural background is by birth christian, what abhorrent cruelty and has been conducted onto mankind in the "name of the almighty" by the church and it's powerful man is blnak horror and evil, not "holy" in any means, so following up, there might be much more to unrevell, who knows what else has been "covetred up", changed by "historians" for political, even maybe monetary gains, who knows, I am on my behalf not anymore surprised by any revalation of this kind.

The big question arises: "how much have we all been conditoned by the sheer will for gain of power and control of the people by ancient and todays rulers?

Cprogrammer said...


Unless good sense prevails, we will be all fighting each other. As long as there is materialism, capitalism, we will be always fighting a rat race. The way I see it, ultimately there will not be any borders defined by countries, race or religion. But that will happen when our very existence would have been threatened (population, catastrophe, war, etc).