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Introduction

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Introduction

Post  Bolan on Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:18 pm

Baluchistan is Pakistan's largest province (1). It is marked by a rugged, highly differentiated environment with many different habitats (2). The Makran Range in the south divides the interior from the coastal plain. A number of successive mountain chains run from the Arabian Sea to the Hindukush, and form a barrier towards the fertile Indus plain in the east.

These mountains enclose interior highland bassins and deserts and are intersected by many river valleys (3, 4).

Kanrach Valley, Balochistan
Southeastern Balochistan is characterized by narrow river valleys which only occassionally provide space for alluviation, and thus agriculture. The catchment areas are smaller and, due to the high gradient of the tributaries, the seasonal floods are often destructive and wash away the soil (5).

In such a harsh and barren environment, irrigation through channels, qanats, or seasonal flooding is an essential prerequisite for settlement (6). It thus developed early as an essential measure for the production of crops required by a growing population. The rising number of settlements from the beginning of settled life in the 6th millennium through the mid-third millennium BC witnesses the success of food production through farming and pastoralism.

Pioneering archaeological fieldwork in this region was carried out by the great explorer Sir Aurel Stein, Hargreaves, W.Fairservis, B. de Cardi, J.-M. Casal, G.Dales, the Dept. of Archaeology and Museums, Karachi, and a couple of other explorers.

Balochistan
The French excavations at Mehrgarh, Nausharo and Pirak in the Kachhi plain revealed a long cultural sequence from the Neolithic Period through the Iron Age. While another French Mission resumed work in Makran after a 30 year long gap in the late 80ies, southeastern Balochistan had remained a "white spot" on the archaeological landscape.

In winter 1996-7, the Joint German-Pakistani Archaeological Mission to Kalat was founded to re-open work in this area.

Kanrach Valley, Balochistan
To date, three seasons of exploration were carried out in the plain of Las Bela, in the Kanrach and the Greater Hab (Hab, Saruna, Bahlol, Loi, Talanga) River valleys, and long the eastern foot of the Kirthar Range, covering altogether about 1900 square kilometers. As a result of this work, more than 300 archaeological sites were discovered and documented (7,8, 9).

Many of them were threatened by destruction. The large number of prehistoric settlements, the size and sophisticated lay-out of some of them came as a surprise: nowadays the area is barren and inhabited by a few people. Interestingly, the sites indicate that a development from village to town and then to camp, and from agriculture to migratory pastoralism took place
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Introduction 2

Post  Bolan on Thu Jun 16, 2011 3:19 pm

The prehistoric period was certainly the most prosperous period in this cycle: during in the earlier 2nd millennium BC, the settlements were abandoned and no human traces left, whereas after a short intermezzo during the Historic Period, the sites clearly reflect that away from the cultural, economic, and political centers, migratory pastoralism and a nomadic life-style was the only mode of subsistence and land use.

The earliest site, Adam Buthi, dates to the 4th millennium, but the early 3rd millennium BC was a period of growth in terms of number and size of settlements. Many sites appear to be associated with dams.


Kanrach Valley, Balochistan
The pattern is very similar during the later 3rd millennium, but then occupation was either restricted to a small area of an earlier site, or sites were newly founded. This late Kulli occupation to which the largest number of sites in southern Balochistan belong, co-existed with the Indus Civilization (Kanri Buthi).

The presence of quite a number of town-like settlements added a new and unexpected dimension to this cultural complex and to an area which sofar had remained in the shadow of the Indus Civilization. These new and exciting findings require a rethinking of models of interaction and center-periphery relations between these two areas.

After 1900/1800 BC the Indus Civilization disintegrated into several regional cultural complexes. In southeastern Balochistan, however, the settlements and irrigation systems were abandoned. No sites dating to the subsequent centuries were found.

The only possible explanations are major population movements or a large-scale and enduring shift in subsistence economy and lifestyle. However, while the transition to a mobile lifestyle is attested to by hundreds of camp sites during the Islamic period, the second millennium BC is devoid of any human remains.

Likewise, none of the known regions experienced a massive influx of people during that time. On the contrary, areas such as Sindh and Punjab obviously experienced the same development.

Balochistan
The next traces of settled life date to the so-called Historic Period. However, although some of the Achaemenian and Greek, Mauryan, Kushana, and Sasanian rulers and historians mention southern Balochistan in their records, archaeological correlates for their presence are rare: Settlement types, pottery and small finds are rather unknown and if no coins are at hand, dating is a hazarduous undertaking (Hadera Dhan). Diagnostic links to the north, where Pirak and the Swat Valley are well explored and Buddhist sites flourished have yet to be found.

The large number of prehistoric settlements, the size and sophisticated lay-out of some of them came as a surprise: nowadays the area is barren and inhabited by a few people. Interestingly, the sites indicate that a development from village to town and then to camp, and from agriculture to migratory pastoralism took place.

Kanrach Valley, Balochistan
The Islamic Period is marked by a few settlements and fortifications which are located in central areas of Las Bela and Sindh Kohistan or strategic positions in the Hab Valley (13), while no sites other than seasonal camps (14) which are marked by hundreds of "stone benches" and sherd clusters were found In the interior mountain valleys.

These sites date to the 12/13th century AD, the 17/18th cent. and the British Period. The transition to a tribal society, and several conflicts and raids between different tribes and ethnic groups which also caused large-scale migrations were probably major forces behind this development. The Historic and Islamic Period are times of both cultural and economic growth, and of political strength and conflicts.

Balochistan Many sites in Sindh, Punjab, and the NWFP mirror this development in one way or the other. Both affected the administrative and political centers, among which Bela, Nal-Kaikanan, and Khuzdar are the most important in this region, but not the remote mountain areas which until very recently were the sole domain of migrating tribes and clans.
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