7: Historic Period

7: Historic Period

Northern Las Bela, BalochistanSubsequent to the Kulli occupation, all sites in southeastern Balochistan were abandoned. Not even remains of camp sites were discovered. The next archaeological traces belong to the so-called Historic Period. Very little is known about this time beyond the few cultural, religious, and political centers which are located in the northern areas of Pakistan, and in Punjab and Sindh.

The lack of archaeological correlates to historic references dating back to Achaemenian, Greek, Parthian, Sasanian, Hindu and Buddhist times, makes the dating of these remains difficult and only very slowly a cultural sequence takes shape. The sites belong to three different structural, cultural, and probably chronological horizons.

Northern Las Bela and the Kanrach Valley produced a number of enigmatic large and small sites with a very peculiar architecture and plan. Up to 120 structures, which can reach lengths of more than 40 meters without being more than 6 meters wide, were built on rectangular boulder and gravel platforms oriented along the cardinal axes. Their lay-out makes them look like "giant's tombs" (99). The houses have annexes and, occasionally, stairs (100).
Sometimes, two structures are linked through a shared wall. At least one circular building is usually present in these "platformhouse-sites". At some sites, a couple of buildings is associated with flat extra-mural or elevated intra-mural boulder pavements. On these pavements, bone splinters, predominantly human, but also animal bones, were scattered (101)

Some structures had a small stone cists at one end. Many bone fragments carry traces of cremation. An AMS dating run on bones from Kariya Buthi in the Hab Valley provided a date of 3500-2000 BP cal. These sites cluster in northern Las Bela (Welpat) and the Kanrach Valley, while in the much larger Hab Valley only one site was found (101). Compared with prehistoric sites, the amount of pottery is very small. Most common are coarse, handmade, gritty wares. Finer fabrics are the exception. Decoration is confined to applied and then punched or impressed bands (101), or to a purplish slip.

Northern Las Bela, Balochistan
Another historic horizon is marked by Londo pottery, a type widely found throughout Balochistan to Iran (102). The pots are made of a rather gritty fabric which carries thick, often glossy slips of various shades of red and brown. They are painted in tones of red, brown and in black with geometric patterns, scrolls and spirals. Figurative designs were only found at some sites (103, 104, 105).

The most typical pottery was found at large sites with mudbrick-architecture in the plains (106, 107), but also at sites like Nindowari and Londo which comprise of stone architecture. Only a few typical Londo sherds were found at large, deflated sites on the gravel plains along the Kanrach River where the pottery is usually a coarse, unpainted fabric. Here, a black painted buff pottery is more common (108, 109, 110). Typical Londo ware was not found at platformhouse sites, but a couple of coarse sherds provide a link between these types of sites.

Londo sherds with spirals and scrolls were also found in Iran and Makran. There, many sherds were excavated from cairns. Although cairns are also a common feature in southeastern Balochistan, none of the cairns opened by our mission (109, 110) and by de Cardi yielded any Londo pottery. It is known that cairns were in use until recently; attributing a date without finds is therefore very unreliable.

It appears most likely, that the Londo horizon in this large region is not a single, homogeneous cultural complex. Upto now, the variety which is reflected by the structures and the pottery is not more than an impression. It is sufficiently evident, however, to underline the need to differentiate this amorphous cultural complex which only slowly takes shape. Accordingly, suggested datings have widely shifted through time. Recent research has narrowed the margins to a couple of centuries before and after Christ. Two new radiocarbon samples read 360 - 170 BC cal. and 180 to 50 BC calibrated.

The third structural type of sites are large rectangular buildings which are built with huge ashlars. They are usually isolated. Associated with them was a coarse, red slipped pottery which occasionally also occurs at Londo settlements.