Mohenjo-daro

Mohenjo-daro

Overview
Mohenjo-daro is an archeological site situated in what is now the province of Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. Built around 2600 BC
26th century BC
The 26th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 2600 BC to 2501 BC .-Events:*c. 2900 BC – 2334 BC: Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period continue....

, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

, and one of the world's earliest major urban
Urban area
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.Urban areas are created and further...

 settlements, existing at the same time as the civilizations of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, and Crete. Mohenjo-daro was abandoned in the 19th century BC
19th century BC
-Events:* Hittite empire in Hattusa, Anatolia.* 1900 BC: Proto-Greek invasions of Greece.* c. 1900 BC: Minoan Old Palace period starts in Crete.* c. 1900 BC: Fall of last Sumerian dynasty....

, and was not rediscovered until 1922. Significant excavation has since been conducted at the site of the city, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Mohenjo-daro was built in the 26th century BC
26th century BC
The 26th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 2600 BC to 2501 BC .-Events:*c. 2900 BC – 2334 BC: Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period continue....

, and abandoned around 1800 BC
19th century BC
-Events:* Hittite empire in Hattusa, Anatolia.* 1900 BC: Proto-Greek invasions of Greece.* c. 1900 BC: Minoan Old Palace period starts in Crete.* c. 1900 BC: Fall of last Sumerian dynasty....

.
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Encyclopedia
Mohenjo-daro is an archeological site situated in what is now the province of Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

, Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. Built around 2600 BC
26th century BC
The 26th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 2600 BC to 2501 BC .-Events:*c. 2900 BC – 2334 BC: Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period continue....

, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

, and one of the world's earliest major urban
Urban area
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.Urban areas are created and further...

 settlements, existing at the same time as the civilizations of ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

, Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, and Crete. Mohenjo-daro was abandoned in the 19th century BC
19th century BC
-Events:* Hittite empire in Hattusa, Anatolia.* 1900 BC: Proto-Greek invasions of Greece.* c. 1900 BC: Minoan Old Palace period starts in Crete.* c. 1900 BC: Fall of last Sumerian dynasty....

, and was not rediscovered until 1922. Significant excavation has since been conducted at the site of the city, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Rediscovery and excavation


Mohenjo-daro was built in the 26th century BC
26th century BC
The 26th century BC is a century which lasted from the year 2600 BC to 2501 BC .-Events:*c. 2900 BC – 2334 BC: Mesopotamian wars of the Early Dynastic period continue....

, and abandoned around 1800 BC
19th century BC
-Events:* Hittite empire in Hattusa, Anatolia.* 1900 BC: Proto-Greek invasions of Greece.* c. 1900 BC: Minoan Old Palace period starts in Crete.* c. 1900 BC: Fall of last Sumerian dynasty....

. The ruins of the city were discovered in 1922 by Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay
Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay
Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay , also known as R. D. Banerji, was an Indian historian and a native Indian pioneer in the fields of Indian archaeology, epigraphy and palaeography. He was the Manindra Chandra Nandy Professor of Ancient Indian History and Culture at the Banaras Hindu University from 1928-30...

, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India
Archaeological Survey of India
The Archaeological Survey of India is a department of the Government of India, attached to the Ministry of Culture . The ASI is responsible for archaeological studies and the preservation of archaeological heritage of the country in accordance with the various acts of the Indian Parliament...

. He was led to the mound by a Buddhist monk, who believed it to be a stupa
Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

. In the 1930s, major excavations were conducted under the leadership of John Marshall
John Marshall (archaeologist)
Sir John Hubert Marshall was the Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India from 1902 to 1928...

, K. N. Dikshit, Ernest Mackay, and others. Further excavations were carried out in 1945 by Ahmad Hasan Dani
Ahmad Hasan Dani
Professor Ahmad Hasan Dani FRAS, SI, HI , was a Pakistani intellectual, archaeologist, historian, and linguist. He was among the foremost authorities on Central Asian and South Asian archaeology and history. He introduced archaeology as a discipline in higher education in Pakistan and Bangladesh...

 and Mortimer Wheeler
Mortimer Wheeler
Brigadier Sir Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler CH, CIE, MC, FBA, FSA , was one of the best-known British archaeologists of the twentieth century.-Education and career:...

.

The last major series of excavations were conducted in 1964 and 1965 by Dr. George F. Dales
George F. Dales
George Franklin Dales Jr. , was an archaeology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, and later the University of California, Berkeley, where he chaired the South and Southeast Asian Studies department. He was considered a leading expert on Indus valley peoples and their languages.-Early...

. After this date, excavations were banned due to weathering
Weathering
Weathering is the breaking down of rocks, soils and minerals as well as artificial materials through contact with the Earth's atmosphere, biota and waters...

 damage to the exposed structures, and the only projects allowed at the site since have been salvage excavations, surface surveys and conservation projects. However, in the 1980s, German and Italian survey groups led by Dr. Michael Jansen and Dr. Maurizio Tosi used less invasive archeological techniques, such as architectural documentation, surface surveys and localized probing, to determine further clues about the Indus Valley Civilization.

Location


Mohenjo-daro is located in the Larkana District
Larkana District
Larkana or Larkano is a district of Sindh province of Pakistan. According to the 1998 census of Pakistan, it had a population of 1,927,066 of which 28.70% were urban. Its main city is Larkana...

 of Sindh, Pakistan, on a Pleistocene
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene is the epoch from 2,588,000 to 11,700 years BP that spans the world's recent period of repeated glaciations. The name pleistocene is derived from the Greek and ....

 ridge in the middle of the flood plain of the Indus River Valley, around 28 kilometres (17.4 mi) from the town of Larkana
Larkana
Larkana or Larkano is the fourth largest city in the north-western part of Sindh Province, Pakistan, and is located within Larkana District.The old name of larkano is chandka which was changed in 1901. In August 2000 Larkana celebrated its hundred years of existence...

. The ridge was prominent during the time of the Indus Valley Civilization, allowing the city to stand above the surrounding plain, but the flooding of the river has since buried most of the ridge in deposited silt. The site occupies a central position between the Indus River and the Ghaggar-Hakra River. The Indus still flows to the east of the site, but the riverbed of the Ghaggar-Hakra on the western side is now dry.

Historical significance


Mohenjo-daro was most likely one of the largest cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

, which is also known as the Harappan Civilization after Harappa
Harappa
Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, northeast Pakistan, about west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The current village of Harappa is from the ancient site. Although modern Harappa has a train station left from...

, another important IVC site, located to the north of Mohenjo-daro in Punjab, Pakistan.

The prehistoric Indus culture blossomed over the centuries and gave rise to the Indus Valley Civilization around 3000 BC. The civilization spanned much of what is now Pakistan and North India, but suddenly went into decline around 1900 BC. Indus Civilization settlements spread as far west as the Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian border, with an outpost in Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

, as far south as the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

 coast of western India in Gujarat. Among the settlements were the major urban centers of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, as well as Lothal
Lothal
Lothal is one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus valley civilization. Located in Bhāl region of the modern state of Gujarāt and dating from 2400 BCE. Discovered in 1954, Lothal was excavated from February 13, 1955 to May 19, 1960 by the Archaeological Survey of India...

.

At its height, Mohenjo-daro was the most developed and advanced city in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

, displaying remarkably sophisticated engineering and urban planning for its time.

Architecture and urban infrastructure



Mohenjo-daro has a planned layout based on a street grid of rectilinear buildings. Most were built of fired and mortared brick
Brick
A brick is a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction, usually laid using various kinds of mortar. It has been regarded as one of the longest lasting and strongest building materials used throughout history.-History:...

; some incorporated sun-dried mud-brick and wooden superstructures. The sheer size of the city, and its provision of public buildings and facilities, suggests a high level of social organization. At its peak of development, Mohenjo-daro could have housed around 35,000 residents.

The city had a central marketplace, with a large central well. Individual households or groups of households obtained their water from smaller wells. Waste water was channeled to covered drains that lined the major streets. Some houses, presumably those of wealthier inhabitants, include rooms that appear to have been set aside for bathing, and one building had an underground furnace (known as a hypocaust
Hypocaust
A hypocaust was an ancient Roman system of underfloor heating, used to heat houses with hot air. The word derives from the Ancient Greek hypo meaning "under" and caust-, meaning "burnt"...

), possibly for heated bathing. Most houses had inner courtyards, with doors that opened onto side-lanes. Some buildings had two stories.

In 1950, Sir Mortimer Wheeler identified one large building in Mohenjo-daro as a "Great Granary". Certain wall-divisions in its massive wooden superstructure appeared to be grain storage-bays, complete with air-ducts to dry the grain. According to Wheeler, carts would have brought grain from the countryside and unloaded them directly into the bays. However, Jonathan Mark Kenoyer
Jonathan Mark Kenoyer
Jonathan Mark Kenoyer is an American archaeologist and Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He earned his Bachelor of Arts, Master's, and Doctorate degrees at the University of California, Berkeley, finishing in 1983.Considered one of the world's leading experts on the...

 noted the complete lack of evidence for grain at the "granary", which, he argued, might therefore be better termed a "Great Hall" of uncertain function.

Close to the "Great Granary" is a large and elaborate public bath, sometimes called the Great Bath
Great Bath, Mohenjo-daro
The Great Bath is one of the best known structures among the ruins of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization at Mohenjo-daro in Sindh, Pakistan. It is located in the well-preserved northern part of Mohenjo-daro's western mound, which is also known as the "Mound of the Great Bath" or the...

. From a colonnaded courtyard, steps lead down to the brick-built pool, which was waterproofed by a lining of bitumen. The pool measures 12m long, 7m wide and 2.4m deep. It may have been used for religious purification. Other large buildings include a "Pillared Hall", thought to be an assembly hall of some kind, and the so-called "College Hall", a complex of buildings comprising 78 rooms, thought to have been a priestly residence.

Mohenjo-daro had no circuit of city walls, but was otherwise well fortified, with guard towers to the west of the main settlement, and defensive fortifications to the south. Considering these fortifications and the structure of other major Indus valley cities like Harappa
Harappa
Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, northeast Pakistan, about west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The current village of Harappa is from the ancient site. Although modern Harappa has a train station left from...

, it is postulated that Mohenjo-daro was an administrative center. Both Harappa and Mohenjo-daro share relatively the same architectural layout, and were generally not heavily fortified like other Indus Valley sites. It is obvious from the identical city layouts of all Indus sites, that there was some kind of political or administrative centrality, but the extent and functioning of an administrative center remains unclear.

Mohenjo-daro was successively destroyed and rebuilt at least seven times. Each time, the new cities were built directly on top of the old ones. Flooding by the Indus
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

 is thought to have been the cause of destruction.

The city is divided into two parts, the so-called Citadel
Citadel
A citadel is a fortress for protecting a town, sometimes incorporating a castle. The term derives from the same Latin root as the word "city", civis, meaning citizen....

 and the Lower City. Most of the Lower City is yet to be uncovered, but the Citadel is known to have public baths, a large residential structure designed to house 5,000 citizens, and two large assembly halls.

Dancing Girl


A bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 statuette dubbed the "Dancing Girl", 10.8 cm high and some 4,500 years old, was found in Mohenjo-daro in 1926. In 1973, British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler
Mortimer Wheeler
Brigadier Sir Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler CH, CIE, MC, FBA, FSA , was one of the best-known British archaeologists of the twentieth century.-Education and career:...

 described the item as his favorite statuette:
"There is her little Balochi
Baloch people
The Baloch or Baluch are an ethnic group that belong to the larger Iranian peoples. Baluch people mainly inhabit the Balochistan region and Sistan and Baluchestan Province in the southeast corner of the Iranian plateau in Western Asia....

-style face with pouting lips and insolent look in the eyes. She's about fifteen years old I should think, not more, but she stands there with bangles all the way up her arm and nothing else on. A girl perfectly, for the moment, perfectly confident of herself and the world. There's nothing like her, I think, in the world."


John Marshall, another archeologist at Mohenjo-daro, described the figure as "a young girl, her hand on her hip in a half-impudent posture, and legs slightly forward as she beats time to the music with her legs and feet." The archaeologist Gregory Possehl
Gregory Possehl
Gregory Louis Possehl was a Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania and curator of the Asian Collections at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology...

 said of the statuette, "We may not be certain that she was a dancer, but she was good at what she did and she knew it".

Priest-King


In 1927, a seated male figure, 17.5 cm tall, was found in a building with unusually ornamental brickwork and a wall-niche. Though there is no evidence that priests or monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

s ruled the city, archeologists dubbed this dignified figure a "Priest-King"; like the Dancing Girl, it has become symbolic of the Indus valley civilization
Indus Valley Civilization
The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

.

The bearded sculpture wears a fillet around the head, an armband, and a cloak decorated with trefoil
Trefoil
Trefoil is a graphic form composed of the outline of three overlapping rings used in architecture and Christian symbolism...

 patterns that were originally filled with red pigment.

The two ends of the fillet fall along the back, and though the hair is carefully combed towards the back of the head, no bun is present. The flat back of the head may have held a separately carved bun, as is traditional on the other seated figures, or it could have held a more elaborate horn and plumed headdress.

Two holes beneath the highly stylized ears suggest that a necklace or other head ornament was attached to the sculpture. The left shoulder is covered with a cloak decorated with trefoil, double circle and single circle designs that were originally filled with red pigment. Drill holes in the center of each circle indicate they were made with a specialized drill and then touched up with a chisel
Chisel
A chisel is a tool with a characteristically shaped cutting edge of blade on its end, for carving or cutting a hard material such as wood, stone, or metal. The handle and blade of some types of chisel are made of metal or wood with a sharp edge in it.In use, the chisel is forced into the material...

. The eyes are deeply incised and may have held inlay. The upper lip is shaved, and a short combed beard frames the face. The large crack in the face may be due to weathering, or it may be a result of the original firing of this object.

UNESCO status


Preservation work for Mohenjo-daro was suspended in December 1996 after funding from the Pakistani government and international organizations stopped. Site conservation work resumed in April 1997, utilizing funds made available by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Culture Organization (UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

). The two-decade funding plan provided $10 million to protect the standing structures and the site from flooding.

See also


  • Indus Valley Civilization
    Indus Valley Civilization
    The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that was located in the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent, consisting of what is now mainly modern-day Pakistan and northwest India...

  • Harappa
    Harappa
    Harappa is an archaeological site in Punjab, northeast Pakistan, about west of Sahiwal. The site takes its name from a modern village located near the former course of the Ravi River. The current village of Harappa is from the ancient site. Although modern Harappa has a train station left from...

  • Chanhudaro
    Chanhudaro
    -Introduction:Chanhudaro is an archaeological site belonging to the post-urban Jhukar phase of Indus valley civilization. The site is located south of Mohenjodaro, in Sindh, Pakistan. The settlement was inhabited between 4000-1700 BCE, and is considered to have been a centre for manufacturing...

  • Dholavira
    Dholavira
    Dholavira is an archaeological site in Khadirbet in Bhachau Taluka of Kachchh district of Gujarat state in western India, which has taken its name from a modern village 1 km south of it. The site of Dholavira, locally known as Kotada timba contains ruins of an ancient Harappan city...

  • Larkana
    Larkana
    Larkana or Larkano is the fourth largest city in the north-western part of Sindh Province, Pakistan, and is located within Larkana District.The old name of larkano is chandka which was changed in 1901. In August 2000 Larkana celebrated its hundred years of existence...

  • Lothal
    Lothal
    Lothal is one of the most prominent cities of the ancient Indus valley civilization. Located in Bhāl region of the modern state of Gujarāt and dating from 2400 BCE. Discovered in 1954, Lothal was excavated from February 13, 1955 to May 19, 1960 by the Archaeological Survey of India...

  • Mehrgarh
    Mehrgarh
    Mehrgarh , one of the most important Neolithic sites in archaeology, lies on the "Kachi plain" of Balochistan, Pakistan...


External links