MOHENJO DARO (Pakistan)
The centre of a powerful ancient civilisation, Mohenjo Daro was one of the world’s earliest cities — a Bronze Age metropolis boasting flush toilets and a water and waste system to rival many in modern Pakistan.
Some 5,000 years on archaeologists believe the ruins could unlock the secrets of the Indus Valley people, who flourished around 3,000 BC in what is now India and Pakistan before mysteriously disappearing. But they warn, if nothing is done to protect the ruins — already neglected and worn by time — it will fade to dust and obscurity.
“Everybody knows Egypt, nobody knows Mohenjo Daro, this has to be changed,” says Dr Michael Jansen, a German researcher working at the sun-baked site on the banks of the Indus river in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province. In summer temperatures can soar above 46 degrees Celsius.“There is enormous thermo-stress,” says Jansen, adding that salt from the underground water table is also damaging the ruins. But it’s more than just the weather and time. Pakistan’s fight against militancy has also raised the spectre of destruction by a group, much like Daish destroyed the ruins in Syria’s Palmyra.
Jansen and his Friends of Mohenjo Daro society aim to promote the site internationally, with plans to recruit Pakistanis around the world for conferences, seminars and debates. Dr Kaleem Lashari, chief consultant to the Pakistani government over Mohenjo Daro, said they will also digitally archive the Indus script in hopes that making it accessible will increase the site’s profile.
The layout of the city itself suggests an egalitarian people more concerned with cleanliness than hierarchy, says Dr Jonathan Mark Kenoyer of the University of Wisconsin. None of this, however,has yet explained why such a powerful, advanced and flourishing civilisation disappeared so abruptly around 1900 BC. But mysteries take time to solve: for now, the researchers say, they will settle for ensuring that Mohenjo Daro endures for a few centuries more.