Moenjodaro in Larkana, Sindh, Pakistan - January 2011
Mohenjo-daro (lit. Mound of the Dead, Sindhi: موئن جو دڙو, pronounced [muˑənⁱ dʑoˑ d̪əɽoˑ] ), situated in the province of Sindh, Pakistan, was one of the largest city-settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization. Built around 2600 BCE, it was one of the early urban settlements in the world, existing at the same time as the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Crete. The archaeological ruins of the city are designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is sometimes referred to as "an ancient Indus valley metropolis"
Rediscovery and excavation
Mohenjo-daro was built around 2600 BCE and abandoned around 1500 BCE. It was rediscovered in 1922 by Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India. He was led to the mound by a Buddhist monk, who believed it to be a stupa. In the 1930s, massive excavations were conducted under the leadership of John Marshall, K. N. Dikshit, Ernest Mackay, and others. John Marshall's car, which was used by the site directors, is still in the Mohenjo-daro museum, showing their struggle and dedication to Mohenjo-daro. Further excavations were carried out in 1945 by Ahmad Hasan Dani and Mortimer Wheeler.
The last major excavations were conducted in 1964-65 by Dr. George F. Dales. After this date, excavations were banned due to damage done to the exposed structures by weathering. Since 1965, the only projects allowed at the site have been salvage excavation, surface surveys and conservation projects. Despite the ban on major archaeological projects, in the 1980s, teams of German and Italian survey groups, led by Dr. Michael Jansen and Dr. Maurizio Tosi, combined techniques such as architectural documentation, surface surveys, surface scraping and probing, to determine further clues about the ancient civilization.
Mohenjo-daro is located in Sindh, Pakistan on a Pleistocene ridge in the middle of the flood plain of the Indus River Valley. The ridge is now buried by the flooding of the plains, but was prominent during the time of the Indus Valley Civilization. The ridge allowed the city to stand above the surrounding plain. The site occupies a central position between the Indus River valley on the west and the Ghaggar-Hakra river on the east. The Indus still flows to the east of the site, but the Ghaggar-Hakra riverbed is now dry.
Anthropogenic construction over the years was precipitated by the need for more room. The ridge was expanded via giant mud brick platforms. Ultimately, the settlement grew to such proportions that some buildings reached 12 meters above the level of the modern plain, and therefore much higher than this above the ancient plain.
Mohenjo-daro in ancient times was most likely one of the largest cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization.  It was the most developed and advanced city in South Asia, during its peak. The planning and engineering showed the importance of the city to the people of the Indus valley.
The Indus Valley Civilization (c. 3300–1700 BCE, flowered 2600–1900 BCE), abbreviated IVC, was an ancient riverine civilization that flourished in the Indus river valley (now Pakistan and northwest India). Another name for this civilization is the "Harappan Civilization" (Harappa is another important IVC site to the north of Mohenjo-daro in Punjab).
The Indus culture blossomed over the centuries and gave rise to the Indus Valley Civilization around 3000 BCE. The civilization spanned much of what is now Pakistan and North India, but suddenly went into decline around 1900 BCE. Indus Civilization settlements spread as far west as the Iranian border, with an outpost in Bactria, as far south as the Arabian Sea coast of western India in Gujarat. Among the settlements were the major urban centers of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro, as well as Lothal.
Architecture and urban infrastructure
Mohenjo-daro has a planned layout based on a street-grid of rectilinear buildings. Most are of fired and mortared brick; some incorporate sun dried mud-brick and wooden superstructures. The sheer size of the city, and its provision of public buildings and facilities, suggests high levels of social organisation. 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 (hypocaust), possibly for heated bathing. Most house have inner courtyards, with doors that opened onto side-lanes. Some buildings were two-storeyed.
In 1950, Sir Mortimer Wheeler designated one large, probably public facility 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 note the complete lack of evidence for grain at "granary", which 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. From a colonnaded courtyard, steps lead down to the brick-built pool, which was waterproofed by a lining of bitumen. The pool is large – 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. Near the Great Bath is the so-called "College Hall", a complex of buildings comprising 78 rooms and thought to have been a priestly residence.
Mohenjo-daro had no circuit of city walls but was otherwise well fortified, with 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, lead to the question of whether 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, however 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 is thought to have been the cause of destruction.
The city is divided into two parts, the so-called Citadel and the Lower City. Most of the Lower City is yet to be uncovered, but the Citadel is known to have the public bath, a large residential structure designed to house 5,000 citizens and two large assembly halls.
Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and their civilization vanished from history until rediscovered in the 1920s. It was extensively excavated in the 1920s, but no in-depth excavations have been carried out since the 1960s.
A bronze "Dancing girl" statuette, 10.8 cm high and some 4,500 years old, was found in Mohenjo-daro in 1926. In 1973, British archaeologist Mortimer Wheeler described her as his favorite statuette:
"There is her little Balochi-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, one of the excavators at Mohenjo-daro, described her 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 says, "We may not be certain that she was a dancer, but she was good at what she did and she knew it". The statue could well be of some queen or other important woman of the Indus Valley Civilization judging from the authority the figure commands.
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 monarchs ruled the city, archeologists dubbed this dignified figure a "Priest King"; like the Dancing Girl, it has become symbolic of the Indus valley civilization.
This bearded sculpture wears a fillet around the head, an armband, and a cloak decorated with trefoil 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. 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 is the result of weathering or it may be due to original firing of this object.
Current UNESCO status
Preservation work for Mohenjo-daro was suspended in December 1996 after funding from the government and international organizations stopped. Site conservation work resumed in April 1997, utilizing monies provided by the U. N. Educational, Scientific, and Culture Organization (UNESCO). The funding provides $10 million over two decades to protect the standing structures and the site from flooding.