Discovered in the 1920’s but with archaeological excavation starting only in the 1980’s under French technical supervision, many questions were being posed regarding the how the history of this site would complement the archaeological record that was being uncovered at other prehistoric sites across the region. It was assumed that the early ceramic periods (c. 4000 BCE) would reveal a network of trade among early civilizations, which would be eventually followed by a deterioration of trade, and be followed by the subsequent rise of the Indus and Kulli Civilizations at around 2500 BCE.
Instead, what was found at Miri Kalat, and at Shahi Tump, which are either side of the river Kech, near present-day Turbat, revealed a third pattern of settlement, one established in the Chalcolithic era and which developed alongside trading routes and military excursions. These settlements run along the Kech-Nihing River and the complex is referred to as the Kech Culture. The early inhabitants of this valley began a local Pottery centre which had begun producing fine ceramic wares around the same time or earlier than at Mehrgarh and importantly, had the capacity to export these fine wares far across the region. The excavation of so many potential sites will be an ongoing project for many years; there are likely to be several large prehistoric settlements as well as objects of interest extending up until the medieval era. The French study of the area has mapped some 230 discrete sites, with the site which studies possibly supporting up to several thousand inhabitants. Little is known of their buildings or non-ceramic artefacts and as yet there is no definitive theory of their pattern of social organization. Therefore, there is still plenty to discover about the lives and occupations of the inhabitants of this area and much is still to be done before we can arrive at a definitive categorization of the ‘Dasht Culture. Another significant question that is being asked of this site is “what was the extent of trade between the sites of Balochistan, Iran and the Near East for Cotton and goods from the East (India)?”. As an important trading corridor it is hoped that further research may uncover some indication of the east-west land trade routes. It is thought that such a perspective may also help provide insight into the origin of the Indus Valley Civilization. The earliest type of pottery found at the site relates to the first half of the fourth millennium BC, [4000 – 3500 BCE] and is of a mature finish, having been well-fired in a kiln, around 1000°C. It is generically known as Miri-ware, or Shahi-Tump ware, and comprises plates, goblets, and kitchenware; usually fine and painted, either in geometric styles or with natural motifs. There are some coarser, thicker pots that were presumably once meant for cooking. Later ceramic production was of a finer standard than produced at Mehrgarh and examples of such have found in surrounding settlements and as far away as northern Iran.