An ancient settlement in one of the most unique civilisations of the world, Indus Valley Civilisation, Mohenjo-daro is situated in Larkana District which today is in the Sindh province in modern day Pakistan. Listed as an archaeological site of immense historical significance on the UNESCO World Heritage List, this sophisticated settlement remained buried underneath thousands of years of dirt and soil until its discovery in early 1900's.

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About Mohenjo-daro

Excavated ruins, with the famous Great Bath in the foreground and the Buddhist Stupa in the background
Excavated ruins, with the famous Great Bath in the foreground and the Buddhist Stupa in the background
Mohenjo-daro, though not its historical original name, literally translates as Mound of the Dead. It was one of the earliest cities in the world, one of the most advanced of its time, and one of the main cities of the vast Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) which spanned from Iran to Western India and went north to Bacteria and approximately covers the size of Western Europe today. IVC was one of the great civilisations of the ancient world, and one of the earliest Bronze Age civilisations. It is also known as the Harappan Civilisation after another major archaeological site at Harappa, also in modern Pakistan. The terms apply to several cultures over the period 3,300-1,300 BCE, and to over a thousand sites where their artefacts have been found. The peak was the Mature Harappan period, 2,600-1,900 BCE, when Mohenjo-daro was a great thriving city.

At its height, the socially and culturally prospered IVC spanned almost all of what is now modern Pakistan and parts of what are now northern India and eastern Afghanistan. It had outposts further afield, including one far to the north in Bactria. Trading links extended at least to Central Asia, Persia and the great Mesopotamian civilisations of the period in what are now Iraq and Syria. Like its contemporary civilisations, the IVC was primarily based on agriculture; irrigation and flood control were important areas of engineering. The cities handled grain storage, trade, crafts, government and education, and acted as the main religious centres. Evidence suggests that Mohenjo-daro was ruled by an elected body of people who may have been religious leaders and traders with healthy commercial ties with people of other civilisations at that time.

Other civilisations were at a similar level of development in about the same time period. Cities contemporary with Mohenjo-daro included Thebes in Ancient Egypt, Nineveh and Ur in Mesopotamia and Knossos in Minoan Crete. While Ancient Egypt may have been better with building skills and constructing giant pyramids, the IVC cities were better with urban infrastructure; where for example, they had the world's first municipal sewage systems as their efficient municipal government put a high priority on hygiene. They were also quite technologically advanced for the time with expertise in arts and crafts and great skills in metallurgy and hydraulic engineering. China also had well-developed cities at around that time, but the Liangzhu Culture and Longshan Culture were still Neolithic (late Stone Age). Ancient Mohenjo-daro also seems like a socially classless society which focussed on convenience of its citizens, in contrast to the remains found in other ancient cities of that period where a vast amount of money, resources and people were allotted to building royal palaces and giant tomb, solely to serve their rulers.

It is believed that the period from 1900 BCE to 1300 BCE saw the decline of IVC including Mohenjo-daro. The demise of the IVC is not fully understood. Many believe that it was caused by climate change — in particular floods of the nearby Indus river and droughts due to monsoon hiatus which led to the abandonment of the city. Another theory is that it was conquered by Aryan invaders about 1,500 BCE, however no evidence of warfare, invasions or weapons have been found from the area which also gives the impression that the inhabitants of Mohenjo-daro were peaceful in nature which is remarkable if compared to its contemporary societies which were engaged in wars, destructions, bloodshed and plunders. An alternate view holds that the nomadic Aryans were assimilated by the more advanced Indus Valley culture as the Aryans spoke Sanskrit, the language of the oldest Hindu sacred texts, the Vedas, and the ancestor of all the main modern languages of Northern India and Pakistan. Sanskrit is a member of the Indo-European language family, as are almost all the languages of Europe, Persian (the modern name for Persia, "Iran", is from the same root as Aryan) and the main languages of Afghanistan, Dari (Afghan Persian) and Pushtu. It is thought that the Indus Valley people spoke a language of the non-Indo-European Dravidian group, related to the modern languages of South India and Sri Lanka. However, this is somewhat uncertain since the Indus Valley script has not been deciphered.

The extent and nature of the IVC's influence on the modern Indian subcontinent is not entirely clear. Some archaeologists see parallels between various IVC artefacts and members of the Hindu pantheon while others see more relation to religions further west, in particular the "Mother Goddess" religions of Mesopotamia and Crete. Some of the "Hindutva" nationalists talk of the "Saraswati Culture" and believe the influence was very strong.

Some links to modern culture are considered likely, though none are certain. The earliest cities along the Ganges — including Varanasi, "the spiritual capital of India" — appeared about 1,200 BCE; it is thought the founders may have been migrants from the IVC, moving east as that culture fell. The Great Bath and the many household baths at Mohenjo-daro may have been used for purification rites similar to those in modern Hinduism. Cremation of the dead became common in late Harappan culture and is now the usual custom for Hindus. A treasure of pottery, seals and other artifacts discovered from the excavated ruins points to craft technology and some items like the pottery and ox carts were well enough developed in this ancient civilisation to resemble items still made and used today.


Source: wikivoyage