Located in a central position between the Indus River and the Ghaggar-Hakra River, the 5000-year-old city, known to the world as Mohenjo-Daro is about 28 km (17 miles) away from the town of Larkana in Pakistan. Precisely, it is sited on a Pleistocene ridge in the middle of the flood plain of the Indus River Valley. Most of the ridge is now buried in silt deposits and the Ghaggar-Hakra riverbed on the western side has become dry. However, due to the subsequent floods the Indus still flows east of the site.
It may sound ridiculous, but it is a fact that till today nobody has enabled to decipher its original identity and nobody is really aware of the actual name of the 5000-year-old city, which is known to the world as Mohenjo-Daro. Moreover, the expression ‘Mohen-Jo-Daro’ is not correct, it should be pronounced as ‘Moen-Jo-Daro’. It is a Sindhi term that depicts the post-excavation nature of the site, where ‘Moen’ stands for ‘dead’, ‘Jo’ denotes ‘of’ and ‘Daro’ means ‘mound’. Thus, the post-excavation experience of the site is expressed with the phrase ‘Mound of Dead’. However, by no means, that was the name of the ancient city. Nevertheless, based on the analysis of a seal of Mohenjo-Daro, scholars speculate that, Cock-fighting had some ritual and religious significance for the city and the name of the city could have been ‘Kukkutarma’, meaning the city of the cockerel (cock is ‘kukkuta’ in Sanskrit).
Built around 2600 BC, Mohenjo-Daro was one of the largest cities of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, also known as the Harappan Civilization, which developed from the prehistoric Indus culture. It was contemporary to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Minoan Crete and Norte Chico. However, it was abandoned in the 19th century BC, with the unfortunate decline of Indus Valley Civilization and the site remained unknown and undetected until the 1920s. The existence of the forgotten city was first detected by Rakhaldas Banerjee, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India, who was convinced about the importance of the site.
After that many significant and successful excavations were conducted at the site. Major significant excavations were conducted at the site under the leadership of Marshall, D. K. Dikshitar and Ernest Mackay in the 1930s and the last major series of excavations were conducted by Dr George F Dales, in 1964 and 1965.In 2015, a dry core drilling conducted by Pakistan's National Fund for Mohenjo-Daro revealed that the site is larger than the unearthed area.
Mohenjo-Daro covered a huge area of about 100 hectares on a series of mounds. The city was devoid of palaces, temples, or monuments. However, even in those early days, it had a planned layout based on a street grid of buildings in straight lines. Most of the buildings were built of bricks or mud-brick and wooden superstructures. The city was bifurcated into the Citadel and the Lower city. The Citadel is a mud-brick mound of about 39 feet (12m) high, which was occupied by the Great Bath, two large assembly halls, and a large residential structure designed to house about 5,000 citizens.
Water was available from smaller wells. Sewer water was routed to covered drains that lined the major streets. The city was also equipped with a central marketplace, with a large central well. However, Mohenjo-Daro had no series of city walls, but was fortified with guard towers to the west of the main settlement, and defensive fortifications to the south. Excavation of the city revealed very tall wells, which became necessary for continuous rebuilding to raise the elevation of street level due to flooding.
Excavated items from Mohenjo-Daro include seals, stone or metal figures, jewelry, tools and even children’s toys. Most of the recovered terra-cottas are small but vigorous representations of bulls and buffalo. However, aesthetically the most notable work of figurative art from the city is known as the dancing girl, which is a miniature bronze statue of a nude female, adorned with multitude of armlets, discovered in 1926. The statue proved that, in those ancient days the people of Mohenjo-Daro knew the process of metal blending, casting and other sophisticated methods of working with ore and entertainment, especially dance, was part of their culture.
Enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980, the site of the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro is now threatened by groundwater salinity and improper restoration. Lots of walls have already collapsed, while others are crumbling. Pakistani archaeologists have already warned in 2012 that without improved conservation measures, the site could disappear from the face of the earth by 2030.