A Bollywood film titled ‘Mohenjo-Daro’ released recently, and whatever the actual movie might be like, at least it re-garnered the interest and buzz around one of the earliest civilizations known to mankind, The Indus-Valley Civilization. Also known as Harappa civilization, the sites have been traced back to 2500 B.C. For the mathematically challenged, that is almost 5000 years back! A majority of us have heard about this civilization’s well-planned cities, sweet drainage systems and technological development. But there are many facts and secrets that we aren’t well versed with. So here are some incredible and unknown facts about Mohenjo-Daro you never knew about:
Lost In Translation?
Most of the famous ancient scripts that we know about, like the Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Mayan inscriptions and others have been roughly or completely understood and translated by archaeologists and semioticians. This has allowed us to get a glimpse into the culture and lifestyle of the people of those ages. But the Indus Script is still a mystery for everyone. Even after hundreds of attempts by scholars around the world at cracking the codes, their guesses are still as good as ours.
City of the Dead or City of Chickens!?
As the script hasn’t been deciphered, no one knows the actual name of this great lost city. The name Mohenjo-Daro means ‘Mound of the Dead Men’ and in some dialects ‘Mound of Mohan’ where Mohan refers to Lord Krishna. Some speculate the name to be Kukkutarma, which means ‘The City of Cockerel'. Many unearthed items have also shown that chickens were bred for sacred ceremonies and were not just a food source.
How Did It Happen?
Another mystery that has baffled historians and archaeologists is the reason for abandoning a fertile, prosperous settlement like the Indus Valley. Conspiracy theorists have drawn up scenarios which include floods, invasions, earthquakes and even nuclear explosions by aliens! While some points may sound ridiculous, flooding seems to be the most bankable option indeed.
A very interesting fact that many people miss out on is that despite the presence of a stupendous drainage system, 2-storey buildings, a giant bath and a huge granary (with air ducts to dry the grain!), there is absolutely no indication of a palatial building, tomb or a temple. This indicates that instead of a monarchy, the people must have been following a sort of elected governance and forces of nature could have been worshipped.
The Aryan-Invasion Theory!
Like everyone else, I too grew up hearing tales of how the highly advanced Dravidians were conquered by the barbaric Aryans. This came to be known as the Aryan-Invasion Theory and was propagated everywhere. Adolf Hitler even used a loose version of this theory to create the foundation of Nazi Germany and committed unspeakable atrocities based on racial superiority. So it would be a surprise for everyone to learn that this theory has been debunked by historians because of various discrepancies and lack of concrete proofs! Yes, our whole life has been a lie!
Tip of the Iceberg?
To learn more about the ancient site, a dry core drilling was conducted by researchers from Pakistan. To everyone’s shock, the results showed that a majority portion of the site is yet to be unearthed! The huge excavated site is just a small portion of the actual area! Imagine what other mysteries might be solved if we could dig deeper?
Like The Legend Of A Phoenix!
Before its final burial under the sands of time, the city of Mohenjo-Daro is said to have been destroyed 7 times. Each time a new city was built on top of the ruins of the old one. This destruction too was caused by the flooding of the River Indus.
Attention To Detail!
You all must have probably heard about the Great Bath of Mohenjo-Daro. It is speculated that the water tank could have been used as a public bath for general purposes or exclusively for sacred ceremonies. Such baths were common in other civilizations too, but what sets this one apart is the attention to detail. The pool is made of waterproof bricks and such was their knowledge regarding hygiene and just outside the pool they built small changing rooms with attached washrooms. This could have been used to wash up before and after a bath.
Clutching At Straws!
Though this site and many of its artifacts have survived the brunt of nature for thousands of years, recent excavations and improper restorations have led to its deterioration. After the Pakistan government stopped the funding, all preservation work was suspended in 1996. UNESCO started funding further work but yet the site is under threat because of groundwater salinity and human recklessness. If things don’t change, Mohenjo-Daro could disappear as latest as 2030 itself!
For all its technological prowess and advances in metallurgy, a single weapon or siege machine is yet to be discovered in any of the excavations. The people did build watchtowers and fortifications for defense, but no traces of any weaponry or an army show that the people of Mohenjo-Daro must have been very peaceful. So probably ahimsa has been our motto all long before Mahatma Gandhi came! But of course, with further research this theory could change.
Hundreds of interesting artifacts like seals, carvings and statues have been excavated from the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro. One of the most interesting seal out of all these is that of a creature which resembles something between a bull and a horse with a horn sticking out of its forehead. It is somewhat similar to the mythical Unicorn that has been a part of various fairytales and legends. The animal could be imaginary of course, but because all the other seals are of animals that still exist, it is very improbable that a fictitious beast would be just placed in between. Even the famous Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray has written a short story about this!
Mohenjo-Daro is not the only major settlement and testament of the Indus Valley Civilization. It is indeed one of the best explored one. Other similar sites have also been discovered like Harappa, Ganeriwala, Rakhigarhi and Dholavira. In fact, a settlement was discovered in Mehrgarh in 1974 which is said to date back to an astounding 7000 B.C! This site is said to pre-date Mohenjo-Daro and could be its original foundation. Even Rakhigarhi in India is a pre-Indus Valley Civilization settlement.
Mohenjo-Daro, though undoubtedly is one of the most important settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization, is not the only one. Currently, it lies in Pakistan, but other sites have been discovered over the recent years. There are sites located in India too, that were a part of this great civilization. Dholavira, Rupnagar, Lothal and Rakhigarhi are some of the major sites. Rakhigarhi is actually the largest Indus-Valley settlement discovered till date! And it is located in Haryana, just a 150-kilometer drive from the capital city Delhi.
So now that you are geared with all this info, time to pack your favourite scalpel, get into those Indiana Jones pants and start planning a trip ASAP!