Karachi has a history

I wonder how this article escaped my notice before. It was published in Dawn’s The Magazine on August 05th by Azmat Ansari, who calls out to people to realize & protect the history. The article follows:

Imagine hairstylists and dentists practising their respective professions 7,000 years ago in areas which today form Pakistan. A 7,000-year-old handmade machine for drilling holes into weak teeth and then filling the holes with resin is still in use. The chert-stone bit of the drill machine unearthed from Mehrgarh rotates 250 times per second. The modern drills rotate 500 times per second. In 7,000 years we have gained only 250 revolutions. What is stopping us from calling Pakistan the ‘first home of dentistry’?

If we look at the issue closely we will be justified in calling Pakistan the first home of women hairstylists as well. Almost seven millenniums ago, women in Mehrgarh wore brass frames on their shoulders with two long vertical spikes on either side for holding strands of hair upright, allowing their shoulders to stay bare so that their skin below their napes could feel the breeze. The women at the time also used tongs and clips to curl their hair. Some women wore wigs, perhaps the ones who had gone bald. We know all of this from the figurines that have been dug out from Mehrgarh.

If we want to learn more from these figurines, then it would appear that men wore what looked like neckties — if not all of them wore them, then perhaps the royalty did. This should be food for thought for local tie-manufacturing firms. They could name a new brand of ties as Mehrgarh neckties to mark Visit Pakistan Year – 2007. While they do this, they will be saying that Europe and the rest of the world woke up to the idea of neckties millenniums later. Pakistan is the place where the concept of neckties was born.

Pakistan also appears to be the first place where organised cotton exports started. Some amount of cotton was also exported from Egypt, a contemporary civilisation of Moenjodaro, yet the scale of exports over there was not the same.

According to researchers, the tiny steatite seals with unicorns, fish and other symbols were the distinguishing trade marks that accompanied cotton bales that the boats carried from the river port of Moenjodaro to Dilman, modern-day Bahrain, and other close by African countries, so that the importers would know from which firm in Moenjodaro the bales of cotton originated and to whom exactly the payments had to be made. Can there be a better occasion to arrange a grand international conference on textiles and cotton exports to mark the Year-2007 somewhere in Moenjodaro or in Karachi?

Unfortunately, the most extraordinary discovery of the millennium, the existence of megalithic graves in Gulistan-i-Jauhar — which proved it beyond any doubt that the area which we call Karachi today was an inhabited one four to five thousand years ago — was played down. In fact, the very rock on which a huge grove cut by chert blades was made by ancient Karachiites was blown to bits by the owner of the residential plot in Gulistan-i-Jauhar on which the rock stood. He thought that the discovery of the rock grave would make the government confiscate his plot.

I know all of this because I was involved in the expedition.

A fruit of the expedition was the discovery of a crude handmade pitcher which was put on display at the Karachi museum. The discovery irritated some people. Why? A senior-person said, “If you can establish that Karachi was populated five thousand years ago, it will increase the stature of Karachi to unmanageable proportions. This some people will definitely resist.”

It is not only that the megaliths have been discovered along the Pakistani coastline, they have been discovered on the coastline of India too, but India has done a very sensible thing with its megaliths. When similar graves were discovered around Bombay, the authorities designated the entire area as a megalithic park, which now attracts a lot of tourists. The laying of the foundation stone of a similar park will be an appropriate thing to do during the Visit Pakistan Year.

Dr. Rauf of the Geography Department discovered more than 50 pre-historic sites around Karachi. At least four names which can be publicised with reference to Karachi during the Visit Pakistan Year are Alexander the Great, Admiral Nearchus, Mohammad Bin Qasim and Ibn Batuta. There is more history and character to Karachi and other places in Pakistan than we know or care about. Perhaps we should learn marketing skills from other countries or our neighbours for our glorious land, as we seem to have taken them for granted in the 60 years of being.

8 Comments so far

  1. Ahmed (unregistered) on August 31st, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

    I enjoyed reading this.

  2. Ahmed (unregistered) on August 31st, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

    I enjoyed reading this.

  3. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on August 31st, 2007 @ 10:20 pm


    good post,

    In ibn-batutta Mall on Shaikh Zaiyed road dubai, the INDIAN section have a 8ft x 8ft x 4 ft glass box, that box have garfix 2D map and history of what inspired Ibn Batutta in this subcontinet. to my surprised it was area of Sindh which have great history written about(now pakistani sindh).

    The place is worth a visit if you wish to learn about SINDH :) and its coastal line

  4. temporal (unregistered) on August 31st, 2007 @ 10:22 pm

    thanks for this:)

    What is stopping us from calling Pakistan the ‘first home of dentistry’?

    ask teeth maestro;)

  5. TEE BEE (unregistered) on September 1st, 2007 @ 1:26 pm

    Excellent post Mansoor….something interesting and sensible to read on KMB in the midst of all the nosense and bore stuff…..cud we get more details on tis stuff..i mean pictures/article etc????

  6. Truth (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2007 @ 4:26 am

    Please cite the source of this information.

  7. Xerom (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2007 @ 7:25 pm

    awesome history .
    i never knew it.
    got another reason to boast about my city.

  8. Mehreen (unregistered) on September 2nd, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

    Loved it:)

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