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Indus Valley Culture statuette from Mehrgarh, Period VII, c. 2800-2600 BC

Terracotta statuette of a seated naked and a stylized female (mother goddess?) with child.

The oldest ceramic figurines in South Asia were found at Mehrgarh. They occur in all phases of the settlement and were prevalent even before pottery appears. The earliest figurines are quite simple and do not show intricate features. However, they grow in sophistication with time and by 4000 BC begin to show their characteristic hairstyles and typical prominent breasts. All the figurines up to this period were female. Male figurines appear only from period VII and gradually become more numerous. Many of the female figurines are holding babies, and were interpreted as depictions of the “mother goddess”. However, due to some difficulties in conclusively identifying these figurines with the “mother goddess”, some scholars prefer using the term “female figurines with likely cultic significance.”

Merhgahr is one of the most important Neolithic (7000 BC to c. 2500 BC) sites in archaeology. It lies on the Kacchi Plain of Balochistan, Pakistan. It is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming and herding in South Asia. Mehrgarh is located near the Bolan Pass, to the west of the Indus River valley and between the Pakistani cities of Quetta, Kalat and Sibi.

More about Mehrgarh

The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BC; mature period 2600–1900 BC) extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. Along with Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia it was one of three early civilizations of the Old World, and of the three the most widespread.

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Mehrgarh, one of the most important Neolithic (7000 BCE to c. 2500 BCE) sites in archaeology, lies on the “Kachi plain” of Balochistan, Pakistan. It is one of the earliest sites with evidence of farming (wheat and barley) and herding (cattle, sheep and goats) in South Asia.

Mehrgarh is located near the Bolan Pass, to the west of the Indus River valley and between the Pakistani cities of Quetta, Kalat and Sibi. The site was discovered in 1974 by an archaeological team directed by French archaeologist Jean-François Jarrige, and was excavated continuously between 1974 and 1986, and again from 1997 to 2000. The earliest settlement at Mehrgarh—in the northeast corner of the 495-acre (2.00 km2) site—was a small farming village dated between 7000 BCE to 5500 BCE.

Early Mehrgarh residents lived in mud brick houses, stored their grain in granaries, fashioned tools with local copper ore, and lined their large basket containers with bitumen. They cultivated six-row barley, einkorn and emmer wheat, jujubes and dates, and herded sheep, goats and cattle. Residents of the later period (5500 BCE to 2600 BCE) put much effort into crafts, including flint knapping, tanning, bead production, and metal working. The site was occupied continuously until about 2600 BCE. Mehrgarh is probably the earliest known center of agriculture in South Asia.

In 2001, archaeologists studying the remains of two men from Mehrgarh made the discovery that the people of the Indus Valley Civilization, from the early Harappan periods, had knowledge of proto-dentistry. In April 2006, it was announced in the scientific journal Nature that the oldest (and first early Neolithic) evidence in human history for the drilling of teeth in vivo (i.e. in a living person) was found in Mehrgarh.

Mehrgarh is now seen as a precursor to the Indus Valley Civilization.

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Cette statuette ne tient pas debout. Deux étaux métalliques sont nécessaires à son exposition, la partie supérieure de l’oeuvre étant trop pesante en proportion. A moins de supposer un support disparu, on peut en déduire que, contrairement à  aujourd’hui, cette statuette n’était pas primordialement faite pour être vue. 
Tout comme la fonction de cette sculpture du 4e millénaire avant notre ère nous est obscure, son esthétique est déconcertante pour un oeil contemporain. Il ne peut pas simplement y voir un corps de femme tant la forme qu’il contemple est éloignée de la collection des représentations concrètes qu’un esprit moderne range sous l’expression. De fait, nous voyons d’abord deux lobes de tubules gras et sinueux pressant une face poisson - un cerveau qui se serait extrait de son crâne et un visage qui aurait rétréci pour ne conserver que sa structure essentielle: son nez. Les seins, bombés comme des grenades, sont l’autre trait saillant de cette figurine. Dans l’esprit de celui qui l’a façonnée, il n’était manifestement ni utile ni sensé de développer les autres parties du corps : le menton et le front ont quasi-disparu ainsi que les bras ou le ventre. D’où le malaise du spectateur devant cette créature syncopée évoluant dans un rêve très ancien.

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