Ancient City of Mohenjo Daro Has Survived 5 Millennia but May Disappear in 2 Decades

Ancient City of Mohenjo Daro Has Survived 5 Millennia but May Disappear in 2 Decades

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The ancient city of Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan is considered to be the most important site connected with the great Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan civilization. When it was first discovered just under a century ago, its significance was not fully realized. But excavations eventually revealed it to be another cradle of civilization, a powerful center that stood rival to those in Egypt and Mesopotamia.  However, this advanced Bronze Age metropolis, which has survived at least 5,000 years now faces destruction and experts suggest that within just two decades, it could be lost to the pages of history forever.

The City Ahead of Its Time

Mohenjo Daro reached its peak at around 2500BC and ended in apparent destruction in around 1900BC. No one really knows why. When excavations were completed on the ancient city of Mohenjo Daro, which is believed to have been home to around 40,000 residents, archaeologists were shocked at what they found – it displayed a level of advancement that was unprecedented in the region.  The city had been carefully planned out with residential zones, amenities, sewage systems, and advanced hydro-engineering, including a system of cisterns, wells, public baths and areas with public supplies of drinking water. Most of the homes even had bathrooms with flushing toilets!

Seal discovered during excavation of the Mohenjodaro archaeological site in the Indus Valley has drawn attention as a possible representation of a "yogi".

Seal discovered during excavation of the Mohenjodaro archaeological site in the Indus Valley has drawn attention as a possible representation of a "yogi". ( Public Domain )

Thousands of Relics Shed Light on Life in Mohenjo Daro

Tens of thousands of artifacts were discovered at Monhenjo Daro, including copper and stone tools, seals and binary weights, which suggest a system of controlled trade, urns, platters, toys, game pieces and thousands of art and jewelry pieces . Many beautiful beads of lapis lazuli, red carnelian, and agate stones of all colors hint at the wealth of the city.  Figurines of yogis, dancers, priests and other individuals, all with detailed items of clothing and hair styles revealed much about how the inhabitants of the city might have looked and dressed.

"The Dancing Girl", a bronze statuette at the National Museum, New Delhi.

"The Dancing Girl", a bronze statuette at the National Museum, New Delhi. ( CC by SA 3.0 )

In Danger of Being Lost Forever

Although it has survived for five millennia, Mohenjo Daro now faces imminent destruction. While the intense heat of the Indus Valley, monsoon rains, and salt from the underground water table are having damaging effects on the treasured site, it is the visitors that flock in their thousands to the site that are the biggest threat. Adding to the problem is a lack of funding, public indifference and government neglect. The government even approved a festival being held at the site back in 2014, where tents, lights and stages where hammered into the walls of the delicate ruins.

Mohenjo Daro is already in an incredibly fragile condition. It is estimated that at its current rate of degradation, the World Heritage listed site could be gone within 20 years . Experts are now saying that the only way to save it is to rebury the city. The loss of Mohenjo Daro would not only be a great national tragedy for Pakistan, it would be a loss to the entire world.

Top image: Excavated ruins of Mohenjo-daro, Sindh province, Pakistan, showing the Great Bath in the foreground. ( CC BY SA 1.0 )

By April Holloway

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