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The ancient residents of Indus Valley Civilization of Pakistan were knows as Malahha (Malaha or Meluha or Meluhha or Mehluha) to the Sumerians and Babylonians of Mesopotamia, modern Iraq. The Aryan tribes that invaded South Asia around 1900 BCE from the Eurasian steppe called the local non-Aryan people as ''Mlecchas" a term derived from Meluhha. The word 'Mal-lah' means 'sailor' in all languages of Pakistan. This clearly establishes the continuity of culture, language and ethnicity going back to the 5,000 year old Indus Valley Civilization.

The Indus Valley people were skillfull sailors and , there are archaeological remains of their dock at Lothal and their seals show impressions of boats. When the Indus script is satisfactorily deciphered, we will certainly learn more of this. But, for the moment, we must rely on collateral sources like the Sumerian cuneiform texts of the times of the Akkadian king Sargon ( 2334 - 2279 BCE) from the archaelogical remains in Iraq.

These cuneiform records, boast of extensive trade of Akkad (Agade, Babylon ) with their neighbour countries. It speaks of merchants coming to Akkad, from Asia Minor, ships from Dilmun( probably Bahrain), Magan(near Muscat on the Omani coast) and Meluha (Indus Valley) riding at anchor along its quays. That Sargon's boast of trade with Meluha (Indus Valley ) was not an empty one can be seen from the discovery in Akkadian houses at Tell Asmar of an Indus type seal together with pottery, etched carmelian beads and bone inlay of the Harappan, Indus Valley, type.

Meluha exported luxury items, novelties,and raw materials coveted by Sumer's elite classes: rare woods,copper, inlaid tables, ivory articles, pearls, carnelian, lapis lazuli, birds and monkeys. All of these were obtainable in the Indus Valley, the Harrappan region. The lapis lazuli was obtained by the Harappans from their own mining outposts at Sortugai in the Afghan mountains.

Similar oblique references can be found in the Bible (Old Testament ) of King Solomon's ( about 1000 BC ) trade ventures with the lands of Ophir, the presents to him of the Queen of Sheba of gold, precious stones and a great store of spices and the expedition of Queen Hasteyphut ( about 1500 BC ) of Egypt to the land of Punt for cinnamon used by the Egyptians, for embalming their mummies. The trade goods in all these ventures, spices, cinnamon, apes, peacocks, monkeys, ivorys etc.,all were traded by the people of the Indus region either directly
or thru intermediaries in entrepots like Dilmun, (Oman ) or Arabia Eudemon (Aden ) and a lively trade was carried out by the Malaha to these outposts of the Indian Ocean, the Arabian sea.

Meluha, on a difficult journey to Akkad, Dilmun or Eudemon. Imagine the boat and the malaha caught in a storm and their struggle with the sea. The waves breaking over their pilot, as he
struggles to ride the boat thru the looming mountains of toppling water. Steadying his boat to stay on top of the foaming white, his arms in the rigging, his hand on the rudder feeling the wind blow stinging salt into his brimming eyes. There is a sharp veer, a near capsize and a cry, nay a crescendo, of these hapless sailors, the malaha, going out to the Lord of the Seas, the Master Boatman.In an ancient language, probably different from today's, but the evocation would convey the same sentiments and passion as in today's Sindhi:

The archaeological site of Chanhu Daro is a Jhukar culture site located in Sindh it was established between about 4000-1700 BCE, Chanhu Daro is part of the Late Urban Harappan or Indus Valley civilizations. Chanhu Daro is about 130 kilometers south of Mohenjo Daro, and is thought to have been a center for the manufacture of carnelian beads. It was excavated in the mid-1930s by the American School of Indic and Iranian Studies and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

The Indus Valley peoples were farmers, fishers,and herders, subsisting primarily on barley and wheat, but with a wide variety of domesticate and gathered crops such as dates, chickpea, field pea, grapes, and jujube. They also herded cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, and pigs. Chickens and dogs were domesticated in the cities.

Writing was used in Mehluha, and was perhaps invented in the Indus Valley. Cylinder and stamp seals with identifying marks have been recovered from both Indus Valley sites and from Ur and other cities in Mesopotamia. Some scholars suggest the markings represent the roots of the Dravidian language; unless a Rosetta Stone is found it is unlikely that the precise meaning of the seals will ever be discovered.

The extensive trade network included such goods as copper, gold, ivory, chert, silver, steatite, chalcedony, lapis lazuli, turquoise, amethyst, timber, and shell. Art work identified with the Harappan peoples include wheel-turned pottery, copper-based metallurgy, and a wide variety of beads of carnelian, lapis, and other semi-precious materials.

What happened to the Mehluha peoples? The persistence of ceramic and other artifact styles suggest that people elsewhere in the Indus Valley remained where they were, and the culture evolved over time.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page last updated: Friday, February 03, 2006 21:24:44 -0500