Monday, April 30, 2012

Travel Pakistan to walk into the history of Ancient Civilizations

There are very few countries in the world which have seen the dawn and death of great civilizations since  7000 BC when the greater Egyptian civilization was at its peak. And certainly Pakistan is one of those history rich countries, which have roots embeded in the history so majestically that only those visiting the ruins can feel the grandeur of the people who once inhibited this part of the world.

It is for this reason that Pakistan is known as the melting pot of cultures and civilizations. 

The Mehrgarh and Indus Valley Civilizations, the Gandhara, Arabs, Afghans, Mongols, Moguls, Persians, Turks and finally the British besides the indigenous customs and traditions have had a profound effect on the culture and traditions of Pakistan. The climatic conditions and different geographical regions from sea cost to deserts, plains to snow clad mountains have further magnified our culture. 

An onlooker would therefore find varying architecture, languages, dress and food as one moves from south to north, or from east to west. 

Mehrgarh civilization in the foot hills of Bolan Pass and arid Kachi plain of Balochistan province of Pakistan is the the earliest known farming settlement in South Asia, which once thrived around 7000 BC until the end of Indus valley civilization. Neolithic Mehrgarh consists of four mounds. The remains show that around 5100 BC, the Mehrgarh inhabitants constructed mud-brick structures. The remains of a large town spread over some 170 acres makes it the largest in the ancient world, being five times the size of the contemporary Catal Huyuk site in Turkey which has been called the largest Neolithic site in the Near East. It may be added that the entire population of Egypt was around 30,000 persons around 6000 BC, almost same as of Mehrgarh alone. 

Many believe that Indus Valley civilization has been the oldest civilization that flourished in the Indian subcontinent. Mehrgarh Civilization, though broke this myth, there were yet other surprises. The excavations at Kot Diji, Sind Pakistan has revealed that before Indus Valley, there existed a civilization that is pre-Harappa and Harappa period occupations (ca. 3200-2000 BC).  A forty-feet high archaeological site reflects the grandeur of the past and craftsmanship of those people. Historians and archaeologists are of the opinion that Indus Valley Civilization borrowed or developed some of the basic elements of life and culture from the civilization that was thriving at Kot Diji.

The later period of Indus Valley civilization from 2400-1800 BC, there is marked improvement in system of weights and measures, identical sized fire-backed bricks and standard writing system. So far about 700 sites have been discovered relating to the Indus Valley. Harappa, Mohenjo-Daro, and Ganweiwala are the larger sites of all spread over some 120 hectares and constructed like a citadel with separate public and residential areas, interspersed with road network. Extensive sewage and water drainage systems also are unique to Indus settlements.

Gandhara and Buddhism are two civilizations that thrived in the northern parts of Pakistan from around the Vedic times and Greco-Buddhism is considered to be the cultural syncretism between the culture of Classical Greece and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 800 years in the area corresponding to modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan, between the 4th century BCE and the 5th century CE. Greco-Buddhism influenced the artistic (and, possibly, conceptual) development of Buddhism, before it was adopted by Central and Northeastern Asia from the 1st century CE, ultimately spreading to China, Korea and Japan.

And before I forget to mention of a people who have yet to find a credible linkage to their ancestors so far - the Kafir "Kalash: Who are these people, no one knows for sure. There are many theories - the most popular being the one that take these people to the Alexander of Macedonia: The Persian emperor Cyrus the Great conquered part of the Punjab somewhere around 530 BC, while Alexander the Great conquered area up to Multan before his own troops forced him to turn back in 332 BC. Some believe that the "Kafir Kalash" tribe in northern areas of Pakistan (Chitral) are the decendants of those Greek soldiers who married the locals and left their imprints behind. The "Kalash Country" is spread over three Valleys; Bomboret, Birir and Rumbur in the remote mountains of Chitral in the northern mountains of Pakistan.  

Read more about the civilizations that once thrived in the areas of the present day Pakistan, specially the Kalash people who live in  a world of their own obscured behind high mountains.

Related / Reference: Pakistanpaedia
The dawn of civilizations
Kalash Valley - Where Fairies Dance and Sing