Some of the earliest evidence of agriculture and village settlements in South Asia, dating back to 7,000 BC, have been excavated in Balochistan.
In 1974 French and Pakistani archeologists discovered some of the earliest evidence of agriculture and village settlements in South Asia on the Kachi Plains, about 30 kilometers from the town of Sibi in Balochistan. This Neolithic Civilization, Mehrgarh, thrived immediately preceding the Stone Age from 7,000 to 2,500 BC. After this discovery, Mehrgarh came to be considered the precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization, pushing back the known history of settled life in Pakistan a few thousand years.
Mehrgarh was located close to the Bolan River which provided water for agricultural and personal use and the Bolan Pass which allowed for movement between Balochistan and present day Afghanistan.
Archeologists divide the history of Mehrgarh into several periods. From about 7000 to 6000 BC people in the area began experimenting with growing different wild cereals such as barely and wheat and domesticating animals such as water buffalo and goats. They also settled in villages and began making mud brick houses which continued into later periods.
The period between 6000 to 5500 BC was characterized by the emergence of pottery and improvements in agriculture. Evidence of granaries in the building structure appeared indicating crop surpluses. Cattle emerged as the preferred animal for domestication. Jewelry of beads made from seashells, marble, turquoise and lapis lazuli appeared. The use of semiprecious stones indicates the likelihood of trade with places in Central Asia.
Later periods from approximately 5500 BC onwards indicate further refinement of these achievements, growing settlements, the emergence of metallurgy and extensive use of copper and more complex pottery designs. Sometime between 2600- 2000 BC the people moved on to the more well developed cities of the Indus Valley Civilization.
Shaffer, J. G., and B. K. Thapar. “Pre-Indus and Early Indus Cultures of Pakistan and India.” Ed. A. H. Dani and V. M. Masson. The History of Civilizations of Central Asia. Vol. 1. Paris: UNESCO, 1996.
Hussain, Jain. An Illustrated History of Pakistan (Book 1). Karachi: Oxford UP, 1981.
West, Barbara A. Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. New York: Facts On File, 2009.