Around the Indus in 90 Slides Essay  4

Around the Indus in 90 Slides Essay 4

The Beginnings of Art, Symbol and Technology

The Indus Valley civilization developed out of earlier farming and pastoral communities that inhabited the plains and western mountainous regions of Baluchistan and Afghanistan.

These communities are referred to as pre- or Early Indus cultures and each had its own distinctive artistic style. These regional styles are most clearly observed in various painted designs on pottery, different types of clay figurines, toys, seals and ornaments.

Although the styles of expression are different, trade and exchange networks connected the various regions and allowed for the distribution of raw materials, finished goods, technological knowledge and food items.

These items included precious stones, copper, sea shells, chert for stone tools and probably many other commodities such as grain, wool and livestock.

The gradual dispersal of specific artistic styles and motifs along with specific types of ornaments indicates that there was a gradual integration of these communities though marriage alliances, ritual interaction and eventually political treaties.

Neolithic Mehrgarh

Located at the base of an important pass, the site of Mehrgarh in Baluchistan, Pakistan ( Indus Civilization Map 1) provides evidence for the earliest agricultural and pastoral communities in South Asia. The first inhabitants of Mehrgarh, dating to around 6500 B.C.E., were farmers who cultivated wheat and barley as their main grain crops and had herds of cattle, sheep and goats.

Although in the earliest period they had not yet begun to make pottery, they lived in mud brick houses, wove baskets and adorned themselves with elaborate bead ornaments made of shell and colored stones. Some of these beads appear to have been traded from distant areas or were collected during pastoral migrations.

Around 5500 B.C.E. the earliest forms of pottery have been discovered along with new types of ornaments and more developed architecture.

The earliest forms of pottery have shapes that are similar to baskets and many of the designs on the vessels may replicate woven motifs on the earlier baskets. These decorative motifs were not simply for ornamentation, but undoubtedly had some ritual significance and were symbols that served to distinguish different family groups or communities.