The trailer of Ashutosh Gowarikar's film Mohenjo Daro has attracted a lot of criticism from all sectors for falsely portraying of the 5,000-year-old Indus Valley Civilisation. The Internet is exploding with memes and tweets about how Gowarikar could have conducted a better research before
The trailer of Ashutosh Gowarikar's film Mohenjo Daro has attracted a lot of criticism from all sectors for falsely portraying of the 5,000-year-old Indus Valley Civilisation. The Internet is exploding with memes and tweets about how Gowarikar could have conducted a better research before making a movie on such an important topic.
In the midst of a social media outburst about how Mohenjo Daro is wrong, we bring to you a few facts about the historical site of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro. Hope you find some clarity:
- The historical city's original name is not Mohenjo Daro. Nobody knows what the real name is, as the Harrappan scripture has still not been deciphered
- The words 'Mohenjo Daro' literally translate to 'the mound of the dead'. The city of Harappa and other important Indus Valley sites were found on a series of mounds over 250 acres of land, hence such a name
- The urban planning and architecture have mesmerised thousands of architects and archaeologists. The 5,000-year-old city could host a population of 40,000. It had a meticulous road plan with rectilinear buildings, channeled sanitisation, a huge well that served as a public pool to bathe, a 'Great Granary', and many more amazing designs on buildings
- It is also fascinating that multi-storeyed buildings were found at the site of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro
- There are signs that prove that the Indus Valley Civilisation had no monarchy. It was probably governed by an elected committee
- There are around 1,500 sites of the Indus Valley Civilisation and no sign of warfare or weapons have been found. This implies that the Indus natives were peaceful in nature, which might have made it vulnerable to foreign invaders
- The cities of Mohenjo Daro and Harappa were built in around 2,500 BC. The civilisation itself would be another five hundred years old. Archaeologists first visited the Mohenjo Daro site in 1911. Several excavations occurred in the 1920s through 1931. Small probes took place in the 1930s, and subsequent digs occurred in 1950 and 1964
- One of the earliest human civilisations, the Indus Valley site is situated at the Larkana district in the Sindh province in modern day Pakistan
- The Indus Valley Civilisation was vast. It spanned from Iran to Gujarat and went North till Bactria
- The lifestyle and faith of the people of Harappa and Mohenjo Daro are still under doubt. Some artefacts, such as the Pashupati Seal, suggest that the people would worship an 'animal deity', who would protect them from wild beasts
- The discovery of the site was very dramatic. Bengali architect Rakhaldas Bandopadhyay, an officer at the Archaeological Survey of India, went to the site in 1919-20 to identify a Buddhist stupa. There, he found a flint scraper that was much older than the stupa itself. This discovery led to a large scale excavation led by Kashinath Narayan Dikshit in 1924-25 and John Marshall in 1925-26, and the rest is history
- The reason behind the decline of the Indus Valley Civilisation is still unknown. Many cite the Aryan invasion, drought and deluge as probable reasons but none of those have been proved.
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A well-planned street grid and an elaborate drainage system hint that the occupants of the ancient Indus civilization city of Mohenjo Daro were skilled urban planners with a reverence for the control of water. But just who occupied the ancient city in modern-day Pakistan during the third millennium B.C. remains a puzzle.
"It's pretty faceless," says Indus expert Gregory Possehl of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
The city lacks ostentatious palaces, temples, or monuments. There's no obvious central seat of government or evidence of a king or queen. Modesty, order, and cleanliness were apparently preferred. Pottery and tools of copper and stone were standardized. Seals and weights suggest a system of tightly controlled trade.
The city's wealth and stature is evident in artifacts such as ivory, lapis, carnelian, and gold beads, as well as the baked-brick city structures themselves.
A watertight pool called the Great Bath, perched on top of a mound of dirt and held in place with walls of baked brick, is the closest structure Mohenjo Daro has to a temple. Possehl, a National Geographic grantee, says it suggests an ideology based on cleanliness.
Wells were found throughout the city, and nearly every house contained a bathing area and drainage system.
City of Mounds
Archaeologists first visited Mohenjo Daro in 1911. Several excavations occurred in the 1920s through 1931. Small probes took place in the 1930s, and subsequent digs occurred in 1950 and 1964.
The ancient city sits on elevated ground in the modern-day Larkana district of Sindh province in Pakistan.
During its heyday from about 2500 to 1900 B.C., the city was among the most important to the Indus civilization, Possehl says. It spread out over about 250 acres (100 hectares) on a series of mounds, and the Great Bath and an associated large building occupied the tallest mound.
According to University of Wisconsin, Madison, archaeologist Jonathan Mark Kenoyer, also a National Geographic grantee, the mounds grew organically over the centuries as people kept building platforms and walls for their houses.
"You have a high promontory on which people are living," he says.
With no evidence of kings or queens, Mohenjo Daro was likely governed as a city-state, perhaps by elected officials or elites from each of the mounds.
A miniature bronze statuette of a nude female, known as the dancing girl, was celebrated by archaeologists when it was discovered in 1926, Kenoyer notes.
Of greater interest to him, though, are a few stone sculptures of seated male figures, such as the intricately carved and colored Priest King, so called even though there is no evidence he was a priest or king.
The sculptures were all found broken, Kenoyer says. "Whoever came in at the very end of the Indus period clearly didn't like the people who were representing themselves or their elders," he says.
Just what ended the Indus civilization—and Mohenjo Daro—is also a mystery.
Kenoyer suggests that the Indus River changed course, which would have hampered the local agricultural economy and the city's importance as a center of trade.
But no evidence exists that flooding destroyed the city, and the city wasn't totally abandoned, Kenoyer says. And, Possehl says, a changing river course doesn't explain the collapse of the entire Indus civilization. Throughout the valley, the culture changed, he says.
"It reaches some kind of obvious archaeological fruition about 1900 B.C.," he said. "What drives that, nobody knows."
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