The most ancient events relating to human settlement have been illustrated by the findings of Paleolithic materials in the Soan and Jhelum valleys, in the northern part of Pakistan, which seem to date back to at least 400,000 years ago. But it was the French excavations at the Mehrgarh site, in Balūčistān, that provided the most consistent evidence for prehistory: here the long cultural sequence begins with an aceramic Neolithic settlement of exceptional importance, dating back to the 7th-6th millennium BC
The main protohistoric civilization of the territories corresponding to the modern Pakistan, that of the Indus or Harappana, is today better known thanks to the researches carried out both in its main centers (Mohenjō-darō, Haṛappā) and in the peripheral areas (Makrān, Čōlistān); at the same time the relationships with the cultures that preceded it are emerging (Koṭ Diǧī, Saray Khola, Gumla, Rahman Ḍherī, Sheri Khan Tarakai). Of particular interest is the identification by an Italian mission in Mohenjō-darō of large clay brick platforms on which the city stood, sheltered from the changing course of the Indus. However, a decipherment of the Harappan script has not yet been reached, even if the theory advocated by A. Parpola and other scholars, according to which the signs hide a Dravidian language. For Pakistan 2005, please check ehealthfacts.org.
The Bronze and Iron Ages in the north of the country are known above all for the Italian excavations in the Swāt (see this Appendix) and for the Pakistani ones in the Dīr: today it is proposed to prefer that of north to the denomination of Gandhāra grave culture. -western cultures. The recent excavations of Haṭhial near Taxila help to illuminate the relationships between the mountain areas and the Indus plain.
For the historical period, in addition to the researches in the Swāt, the new discoveries mainly concern the sector of Buddhist architecture. In the Gandhāra Japanese excavations are reported in the important sacred complex of Rānīgat, not far from Swabī, while near Attock a sacred area of smaller dimensions was unearthed by the Department of Archeology of Pakistan In Sind, a survey conducted on the so-called stupa of Mohenjodaro has highlighted the numerous constructive particularities that distinguish this monument from the common outline to the stupa of the Indian sub-continent and that would suggest to the readjustment of a previous monument.
Of particular importance are the discoveries made by a joint Pakistani-German mission in the upper Indo region and in the rest of the northern areas of Pakistan (Čilās, Gilgit, Hunza, Baltistān).
Here thousands of graffiti and rock inscriptions have been identified and documented, distributed along the communication routes and often concentrated at the crossing points of rivers. The most ancient subjects show a marked affinity with the animalistic art of the Central Asian steppes of the 1st millennium BC; in the historical period, from the 1st to the 7th century AD, religious subjects constitute the most consistent nucleus, especially Buddhist ones, which in addition to isolated images also include narrative scenes from the jātaka. The inscriptions are generally made up of proper names and short religious dedications: they are not limited to the languages and scripts used by local people or neighboring areas, but also include languages of distant regions, such as Sogdian or Chinese, testifying to the extent of transit of passengers and goods.
The first Islamization of the country is testified by the excavations of the city of Manṣūra, the second Arab foundation in Sind (8th-13th century), a little later than Banbhōre. The city, surrounded by walls with semicircular bastions with four doors, has an orthogonal layout; the Great Mosque, with a rectangular plan, represents the center around which the market, the theological school and the governor’s residence are gathered, not unlike what is attested for the most ancient mosques in the Mesopotamian region.