Ancient Indus Narrative Seal

Mohenjo-Daro
An Ancient Indus Valley Metropolis

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  | by Jonathan Mark Kenoyer  University of Wisconsin, Madison |
 
Mohenjodaro City

Mohenjo-Daro

The name of Mohenjo-daro is widely recognized as one of the most important early cities of South Asia and the Indus Civilization and yet most publications rarely provide more than a cursory overview of this important site.

There are several different spellings of the site name and in this article we have chosen to use the most common form, Mohenjo-daro (the Mound of Mohen or Mohan), though other spellings are equally valid: Mohanjo-daro (Mound of Mohan =Krishna), Moenjo-daro (Mound of the Dead), Mohenjo-daro, Mohenjodaro or even Mohen-jo-daro. Many publications still state that Mohenjo-daro is located in India (presumably referring to ancient India), but since the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the site has been under the protection of the Department of Archaeology and Museums, Government of Pakistan.

Discovery and Major Excavations

Mohenjo-daro was discovered in 1922 by R. D. Banerji, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India, two years after major excavations had begun at Harappa, some 590 km to the north. Large-scale excavations were carried out at the site under the direction of John Marshall, K. N. Dikshit, Ernest Mackay, and numerous other directors through the 1930s.

Although the earlier excavations were not conducted using stratigraphic approaches or with the types of recording techniques employed by modern archaeologists they did produce a remarkable amount of information that is still being studied by scholars today (see the Mohenjo-daro Bibliography).

The last major excavation project at the site was carried out by the late Dr. G. F. Dales in 1964-65, after which excavations were banned due to the problems of conserving the exposed structures from weathering.

Since 1964-65 only salvage excavation, surface surveys and conservation projects have been allowed at the site. Most of these salvage operations and conservation projects have been conducted by Pakistani archaeologists and conservators.


In the 1980s extensive architectural documentation, combined with detailed surface surveys, surface scraping and probing was done by German and Italian survey teams led by Dr. Michael Jansen (RWTH) and Dr. Maurizio Tosi (IsMEO).

Mohenjo-daro Mound
The most extensive recent work at the site has focused on attempts at conservation of the standing structures undertaken by UNESCO in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology and Museums, as well as various foreign consultants.

Details of the most recent salvage excavations and conservation are found in obscure journals or reports that are not readily available to the public, but are listed in the Bibliography for those interested in searching them out.

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Top Image: Worshipper in headdress kneeling before diety on narrative Indus sacrifice seal found at Mohenjo-daro.

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