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MOHENJO-DARO In 1922 Mohenjo-Daro was discovered by R. D. Banerji, two years after major excavations had begun at Harappa, some 366 miles (590 km) to the north. Numerous large-scale excavations were carried out at the site by John Marshall, Ernest Mackay, K. N. Dikshit, and other directors through the 1930s. Excavations were banned after excavations by George F. Dales in 1964, and only salvage excavation, surface surveys, and conservation projects have been allowed at the site in recent times. Located on the east side of the Indus River in the semiarid region of Sind province, Pakistan, this site was spared the looting of bricks that destroyed most sites in the Punjab. It is the largest and best-preserved urban center of the Indus civilization (2600–1900 b.c.), extending over 618 acres (250 hectares). Numerous mounded ruins rise up above the plain, while others are partly buried under the silts of the encroaching Indus River. The earliest levels of the site are inaccessible due to the high water table that is the result of modern irrigation canals. Pottery recovered from the deeply submerged levels are similar to pottery found at the nearby sites of Kot Diji and Amri, dating to around 3500 b.c. These discoveries suggest that Mohenjo-Daro has an earlier Kot Diji Phase occupation, like the site of Harappa. No cemetery area has been located at the site, though there have been reports of occasional chance burials discovered in the course of site conservation.

Most of the excavations at Mohenjo-Daro were focused in the uppermost levels of the site, which date to the last part of the Harappa Phase (c. 2200–1900 b.c.). The citadel mound on the west is the highest sector of the city and contains the famous Great Bath and socalled Granary as well as numerous other large buildings and impressive streets with covered drains. One portion of the citadel mound has not been excavated because it is covered by a Buddhist stupa dating to the Kushana period, circa 2nd century a.d. A massive mud-brick wall that had a large brick gateway in the southeast originally surrounded the citadel mound.

The other mounds of the city on the east are somewhat lower in height and have been referred to collectively as the "Lower Town," but in fact they form several distinct habitation areas set apart by massive mud-brick walls and platforms and wide streets. Additional suburbs are located further to the east and south. Each sector has numerous large brick houses that could have been the mansions of powerful merchants or landowners. No temples have been identified, though there is one building with a double staircase that may have had a ritual function.

Important crafts were carried out in different sectors of all the major mounds and include copper working, shell and ivory carving, and lapidary and stone tool production; in addition, many different types of furnaces existed for the manufacture of terra-cotta pottery, stoneware bangles, glazed faience ornaments, and fired steatite beads. Seal-manufacturing workshops have been discovered in very restricted locations, indicating strong control of production. The variety of raw materials at the site demonstrates the vast trading networks that linked the city to distant resource areas.

Rare discoveries of gold and silver ornaments provide evidence of a class of wealthy merchants or landowners, similar to that seen at Harappa. At Mohenjo-Daro there are stone carvings of seated male figures that may represent some of the ancestral leaders of these communities. One of these fragmentary figures is called the "Priest-King," even though there is no evidence that either priests or kings ruled the city. 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. Male and female human figurines as well as animal figurines were made of terra-cotta, bronze, faience, or even shell. Different styles of ornaments and headdresses on the human figures suggest that many different classes and diverse ethnic communities inhabited the city. The painted pottery of Mohenjo-Daro is similar to that seen at Harappa, but there is some regional variation that reinforces the distinct character of these two important cities.

At the end of the Harappa Phase, people using a slightly different type of pottery and new styles of geometric seals that did not have writing occupied Mohenjo-Daro. The transition from one culture to the next was gradual, as seen at Harappa, and there is no evidence for an Indo-Aryan invasion. The region around Mohenjo-Daro continued to be inhabited throughout the Early Historic period, and a modern village is located near the mound today.

Jonathan Mark Kenoyer

See alsoHarappa ; Indus Valley Civilization ; Sind .


Jansen, Michael. Mohenjo-Daro, City of Wells and Drains: Water Splendour 4500 Years Ago. Bergisch Gladbach, Germany: Frontinus Society Publications, 1993.

——. "Mohenjo-Daro, Type Site of the Earliest Urbanization Process in South Asia: Ten Years of Research at Mohenjo-Daro, Pakistan, and an Attempt at a Synopsis." In South Asian Archaeology 1993, edited by A. Parpola and P. Koskikallio. Helsinki: Suomalainen Tiedeakatemia 1994.

Kenoyer, Jonathan Mark. Ancient Cities of the Indus Valley Civilization. Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Possehl, Gregory L. The Indus Civilization: A Contemporary Perspective. Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 2002.

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