KARACHI: Pakistani archaeologists, historians and self-proclaimed experts have all clamoured for Moenjodaro’s welfare in the past few weeks. While few would argue the significance of this ancient yet well-known site, it is vital to understand that there is more to the country’s crumbling heritage that needs a prayer or better yet a cultural festival.
Lakhan jo Daro, located a mere 100 km away from Moenjodaro in the Sukkur industrial area, is believed to predate the ruins which have attracted such attention recently and is the second largest city belonging to the Indus Valley Civilization. Developmental activities are, however, pushing the site towards destruction.
Digging in just 10cm revealed much archaeological treasure but after careful excavations pottery, seals, vases, terra cotta ball and weights and ivory and copper object were unearthed, Dr Nilofer Shaikh, , Vice Chancellor of the Shah Abdul Latif University ( SALU) in Khairpur, told all those gathered at a conference highlighting French contribution to science in Pakistan.
Organized on the 50th anniversary at the Alliance Francaise, Karachi, the conference revealed that the Lakhan jo Daro site, discovered in 2009 and spread over three kilometers, was perhaps once a hub of commercial activity.
Door pivots, staircases, walls, platforms, covered drains in resembling those in Moenjodaro, an 'I’ Shaped brick formation on the floor, and a ritual room with some structures have been discovered which is new in context of Indus Valley Civilization.
According to Dr Shaikh, walls upon walls from this treasured archaeological site have been taken away or destroyed.
She said upon further excavation, as the discoveries already point to, the site could well turn out to be the longest-ever lived city in South Asia.
Where are the bones of Baluchitherium?
Dr Gregoire Metais and Professor Jean- Loup Welcomme from France also shared details of their amazing discoveries in Dera Bugti, Balochistan, the famous bed of bones where fossils are best exposed to study.
Welcomme and his colleagues, discovered the fossils of ‘Baluchitherium’ or ‘the beast of Balochistan’, the largest ever land mammal in 2001 from Dera Bugti.
A huge kin of Rhinoceros, Baluchitherium was seven meters tall, and 25 tonnes in weight. The team made a nearly complete skeleton of the animal which was then locked in 12 metal containers and handed over to Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti – who actually took personal interest in the expedition and accorded full assistance to the paleontologists working in the area.
After the killing of Bugti, the bones were moved to the Geological Survey of Pakistan (GSP), headquarters in Quetta.
Metias said Dera Bugti was just like a misty rainforest in Cenozoic era and they discovered fossils of huge turtles, a seven meter long snake and other animals in the Paleo wild park of Dera Bugti.
Talking to Dawn.com, both Welcomme and Metias expressed concern over the misplacement of the bones belonging to the Baluchitherium fossils.
Both scholars urged the authorities to take immediate action over the matter.
Mehrgarh – the home of first ever dentists!
In the Balochistan province, several amazing sites of Mehrgarh, one of the most important Neolithic sites in archaeology, were discovered. It has been confirmed that first ever dentists of the world belonged to this area. It is the first ever place in South Asia where agriculture flourished, a progression from the nomadic lifestyle that existed earlier. A thread in a bead discovered from the area showed that the first ever cotton was weaved in the area thousands of years ago.
This was shared in a presentation of Jean-François Jarrige, eminent archaeologist who worked in the area for many decades and made several discoveries in the Mehrgarh to Pirak areas (3,000 to 10,000-years-old).
People of Mehrgarh quickly mastered ways making fine pottery and glass beads, their seals and buttons indicating complex geometrical patterns.
In mid-80s, another site near Mehrgarh was discovered named Naushahro which is a transition settlement from Mehrgarh to Indus Valley civilization.
The untold story of Makran
Thousands of years back, Makran was a center for trade and business not only in the area currently Pakistan, but its pottery and other goods were exported to Oman, Iran and even Afghanistan, Aurore Didier said while detailing the 20 years of archaeological work in Pakistan.
One of his slides, which put in focus a huge ornamental piece discovered from one of the 22 ancient settlements of Makran, stunned the audience. It is a 17 cm high and 15 kg elliptical ball made of pure lead encased in a copper jacket and decorated with sea shells.
Makran was also a place for manufacturing the finest pottery of its times.
Fossils of Sindh
French paleontologist Annachiara Bartolini and Pakistani scholar Dr Rafique Lashari also highlighted the importance of microfossils discovered from Lakhra and Jhirak areas of Sindh.
Both said the biodiversity of invertebrates’ fossils in the area were remarkable.
Dr Lashari from University of Sindh, shared his views on paleontological studies carried out in Lakhra, Ranikot and Jhirak areas, supported by the French government.
Lashari talked about the invertebrate fauna from Sindh within the context of continental collision. He collected 180 samples of invertebrate (microscopic) fossils which can be considered very rare.
It is also interesting to mention that the French and Pakistani experts also strived to find the traces of the past 100,000 years of global warming also dubbed as Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM). In geological terms this was the most extreme Earth surface condition which took place some 55.8 million years ago