Sindh, being the most ancient civilization of the world, has a vast knowledge and unbroken tradition of the use of the plants for a variety of purposes. Therapeutic uses of plants have been recorded in many treatises, historical documents, and travelogues of ancient Sindh.
Rural Sindh is a place where plants are still used for the treatment of prevailing diseases. However, with the growing urbanization and changing life style, this knowledge base is shrinking and traditions are gradually disappearing with time. The project entitled “Survey, Documentation, and Scientific Studies of Plant Remedies Used for the Treatment of the Infectious Skin Diseases in Sindh”, was envisaged to collect, document, and make public the rich ethnobotanic knowledge of Sindh. This is the crucial first step to preserve the traditional knowledge, to prevent its unlawful use by others, and to benefit from this knowledge by the systematic use of Science and Technology.
Brief History of Sindh
Sindh is regarded as the oldest civilization of the world, with the first known village settlement dating as far back as 7000 BC. Sindh has been called various names over the centuries e.g. Sauvira, Mehran, Sindhudesh and Sindhu, mainly based on the original name of River Indus. This culture blossomed over several millennia and gave rise to Indus Valley civilization around 3000 BC. The people of Sindh were as competent as people of other civilizations of that times, such as Ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamia, comparing in both size and scope, numbering nearly half a million inhabitants. It was a much civilized, tolerant and advanced society. In the well planned city of Mohenjo-daro there existed wide streets, paved and well designed drainage system. It is known that Indus valley civilization was trading with ancient Egypt and ancient Mesopotamia through established shipping lanes. In ancient Egypt, the word for cotton was Sindh, suggesting that the bulk of that civilization’s cotton was imported from Indus Valley Civilization. Several kings have conquered and ruled over the Sindh, such as Persians Achaemenid Empire in 6th century B.C. In the late 300s BC, Sindh was conquered by mixed army led by Macedonian Greeks under the Alexander the Great and they ruled for few decades. After the death of the Alexander the Great, there was a brief period of Seleucid rule, before Sindh was traded to the Mauryan Empire, led by Charagupta in 305 BC. During the rule of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, the Budhist religion spread to Sindh. Muryan rule ended in 185 BC with the overthrow of the last king of the Sunga Dynasty. After that Greek rule returned when Dmetrius I of Bactria led Greco-Bactrian invasion of India and annexed most of the north western lands, including Sindh. These ups and downs of history continued until 711 CE, when Mohammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh. Arabs entered here Islam widespread in the subcontinent. For this reason Sindh is also regarded as Bab-ul-Islam (Gateway of Islam). Muslims ruled India for several hundred years until the British Armies conquered India and in 1947 the subcontinent was divided into two countries, Pakistan, and India and Sindh became part of Pakistan.
Today’s Sindh is largely urbanized, with Karachi, Hyderabad and Sukkur being developed as large cosmopolitan cities. The economy, which was based on agriculture and livestock three decades ago, is now based on industrial production and value-added agricultural products. Sindh is the most urbanized and educated province of Pakistan, which serves as the economic hub of the nation, but economic disparity, growing difference in rich and poor and strong feudal system within the province, as well as stark differences in the development pattern, is among the most disturbing factors in the social fabric of the province.