Mohenjo-daro is said to have been one of the most important cities of antiquity in Southern Asia and the cradle of the Indus civilisation. It is located in Northern Noord Pakistan, some 28 kilometres from the present-day town of Larkano in Sindh province. Together with Harappa, which lies 600 kilometres to the north, it is part of the best-preserved complexes of the Indus culture.
Mohenjo-daro and Harappa have provided a large amount of information about this civilisation. It arose around 2600 BC on the banks of the River Indus and was abandoned around 1700 BC. This was probably because of a change in the course of the river which supplied the whole region. There are still many questions about the people who built the cities. The writing used by the Indus culture has not yet been deciphered.
Excavations and discoveries
Mohenjo-daro was discovered in 1922 by R. D. Banerji, an officer in the Indian archaeological service. Most excavations took place in the 1930’s. The last major excavation was undertaken by Dr. G.F. Dales in 1964-65. No further large-scale work has been carried out because of problems with conservation of the finds. Since 1965 the only research has consisted of small-scale digs, surface examination and conservation projects.
Remarkable building project
Considering its great antiquity, Mohenjo-daro must have been a remarkable building project. The The layout, a grid pattern of dead straight interconnecting streets, was clearly the result of city planning. The buildings were erected with bricks, baked or dried in the sun, and burnt wood. At its peak, the city probably held around 35,000 inhabitants. There was an advanced water system, comprising both a water supply to the houses and drainage through waste pipes. There were many sorts of houses, probably of one or two stories, and a spacious public bath area. This had a layer of natural tar to prevent leaks. There was also a large well, granaries and a centrally situated marketplace. In addition, the city had a building with underground heating (hypocaust), possibly for warm baths.
Rebuilt seven times
Mohenjo-daro was destroyed and rebuilt seven times, with the new city laid out on top of the old one each time. Flooding by the River Indus is thought to have been the most common cause of destruction.
The city consisted of two parts, the so-called “Citadel” and the “Lower city”. Most of the Lower City has yet to be excavated, but the citadel clearly held an open-air baths, a large area capable of holding at least 5,000 people, and two large assembly rooms or covered markets.
Text Harrie Wolters
Translation Alun Harvey