Ruined City of Mohenjo-Daro (World Heritage)

The archaeological site Mohenjo-Daro was next to Harappa a center of the prehistoric Indus or Harappa culture, an important advanced civilization in the 3rd millennium BC. The approximately 7 km² large city was built from air-dried, standardized bricks and had an ingenious sewer system. Acropolis and lower town were connected by a road network and indicate an early urban planning concept.

Mohenjodaro Ruined City: Facts

Official title: Mohenjodaro ruined city
Cultural monument: first advanced civilization in the Indus valley, just as important for research as the advanced civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia; Urban area with an estimated 7 km²; Buildings made of air-dried bricks such as the 50×27 m granary, the large bath with the 12×7 m basin, the meeting house in the upper town; in the lower town houses and workshops as well as masonry sewers; around 3,000 houses have not yet been excavated, plant endangered by rising groundwater and weathering
Continent: Asia
Country: Pakistan, see homosociety
Location: Mohenjodaro
Appointment: 1980
Meaning: the center of the prehistoric Indus culture of the 3rd millennium BC

Mohenjodaro Ruined City: History

2700-1700 BC Chr. Harappa culture along the Indus
2500 BC Chr. Stupa hill
1922 Rediscovery and excavation by the Indian Archaeological Survey
1950 scientific excavations under Sir Mortimer Wheeler
1965 further scientific excavations
1979 Start of a documentation project at RWTH Aachen University

The secret of the “mound of the dead”

Soon after an Indian archaeologist discovered the remains of a prehistoric settlement while excavating in the Indus Valley, experts held their breath, fascinated: The “Hill of the Dead”, the translation of the name, turned out to be an exceptionally large city, which had been laid out according to plan and with a variety of building types during the heyday of the Indus culture. According to estimates, a good 50,000 people lived in the city, which was planned on a grid-shaped floor plan and was divided into upper and lower towns.

The discovery of Mohenjo-Daro, the structure of which was almost completely preserved, was a stroke of luck. The city of Harappa, which was uncovered in the previous century, that of the Harappa culture – it stretched from the Himalayas to the area of ​​today’s Delhi – received its name was damaged by the construction of a railway line and the use of “historic bricks” for modern house construction.

The real name of Mohenjodaro is still unknown today; After the discovery, the previous knowledge that ancient Indian history and the development of art, literature and town planning only began after the arrival of the Aryan conquerors from today’s Iran could no longer be maintained. Thanks to the radiocarbon method for determining the age of organic material, the scientists had certainly succeeded in reliably dating the finds; The meanings of the symbols and the writing system of the four and a half thousand year old Indus culture remained a mystery.

Mohenjo-Daro’s builders planned the lower town in the east, the mostly two-story houses with windowless street facades, arranged in rectangular blocks, on a brick platform. This increase was necessary because the water level of the life-giving Indus rises even today during the summer months and causes terrible flood disasters.

Every house had its own well, sewage flowed through a canal into a street channel, which flowed into a collecting canal on the main axis. Cesspits were set up at regular intervals for larger waste. As can still be seen today, there was a strict separation between private and public in this sophisticated system of water supply and sewage disposal, which was unprecedented in the ancient Orient.

The upper class residential area was built to the west of the Dead Hill. In the center of the walled citadel, the craftsmen created a brick basin. This great bath was probably used for ritual ablutions by the entire population. The nearby priest bath and school were probably only accessible to the urban elite. The granary, which was enthroned on pillars made of brick, had gaps through which fresh air could constantly enter the building. This prevented the stored grain from being attacked by mold. Archaeologists secured most of the finds from the sunken civilization in the citadel. The most important relic turned out to be a soapstone sculpture that was christened “Priest King”,

The craftsmen demonstrated remarkable craftsmanship in making gold jewelry. The excavated cylinder seals of Sumerian origin prove that the merchants of Mohenjo-Daro engaged in a lively trade with distant countries very early on.

After Mohenjo-Daro’s first demise, the ruined city has been threatened with destruction by crystallized salt that is in the masonry since the 1930s. When combined with air and rainwater, it gradually breaks down the bricks. The construction of the Indus irrigation system, which caused the groundwater level to rise, also had fatal consequences. In order to curb further deterioration, groundwater is continuously pumped out today. In addition, the authorities have banned rice cultivation, which requires a lot of water, up to a distance of two kilometers.

Ruined City of Mohenjo-Daro (World Heritage)