Ancient Pakistan archaeological site makes top 20 lost cities in the world


Pakistan’s ancient archaeological site of Moenjodaro has been selected by the Travel Guide Publishers’ “Rough Guides,” the Dispatch News Desk reported. The information was sent by Ms. Emma Evans of “Rough Guides” through an email sent to the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC). Moenjodaro has been placed at number 4 in the list of top 20 lost cities of the world.

According to the publisher, the civilization that flourished in the Indus Valley and built Moenjodaro around 2600 BC was a rival of its better-known Greek and Egyptian equivalents – though little is known about its people, who were early masters of town planning and civil engineering. Today its complex of houses, shops, ramparts, and streets are under threat from erosion.

Moenjodaro is located in the Larkana District of Sindh, Pakistan, on a Pleistocene ridge in the middle of the flood plain of the Indus River Valley, around 28 kilometers (17 miles) from the town of Larkana. The ridge was prominent during the time of the Indus Valley Civilization, allowing the city to stand above the surrounding plain, but the flooding of the river has since buried most of the ridge in deposited silt. The site occupies a central position between the Indus River and the Ghaggar-Hakra River. The Indus still flows to the east of the site, but the riverbed of the Ghaggar-Hakra on the western side is now dry.

Divinity Street, Moenjodaro

Moenjodaro was built in the 26th century BCE. It was one of the largest cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization, which was developed around 3000 BCE from the prehistoric Indus culture. At its h8, the Indus Civilization spanned much of what is now Pakistan and North India, ex10ding westwards to the Iranian border, south to Gujarat in India and northwards to an outpost in Bactria, with major urban centers at Harappa, Mohenjo-daro, Lothal, Kalibangan, Dholavira, and Rakhigarhi. Moenjodaro was the most advanced city of its time, with remarkably sophisticated civil engineering and urban planning. When the Indus Civilization went into sudden decline around 1900 BCE, Mohenjo-daro was abandoned.

Water well, Moenjodaro

Moenjodaro has a planned layout based on a street grid of rectilinear buildings. Most were built of fired and mortared brick; some incorporated sun-dried mud-brick and wooden superstructures. The sheer size of the city, and its provision of public buildings and facilities, suggests a high level of social organization. At its peak of development, Moenjodaro could have housed around 35,000 residents. The city is divided into 2 parts, the so-called Citadel and the Lower City. The Citadel – a mud-brick mound around 12 meters (39 feet) high – is known to have supported public baths, a large residential structure designed to house 5,000 citizens, and 2 large assembly halls.

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 (known as a hypocaust), possibly for heated bathing. Most houses had inner courtyards, with doors that opened onto side lanes. Some buildings had 2 stories.

In 1950, Sir Mortimer Wheeler identified one large building in Moenjodaro 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 noted the complete lack of evidence for grain at the “granary,” which, he argued, 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 measures 12 meters (39 feet) long, 7 meters (23 feet) wide and 2.4 meters (7.9 feet) 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, and the so-called “College Hall,” a complex of buildings comprising 78 rooms, thought to have been a priestly residence.

Moenjodaro had no circuit of city walls, but was otherwise well fortified, with guard 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, it is postulated that Moenjodaro was an administrative center. Both Harappa and Moenjodaro 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, but the extent and functioning of an administrative center remains unclear.

Moenjodaro was successively destroyed and rebuilt at least 7 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.

Listings with photographs can be viewed at the “Rough Guides” website: