A mere 28km from Larkana town is one of the most fascinating spots you could possibly visit in Pakistan: Mohenjo Daro, a significant representative of the Indus Valley Civilisation or IVC and one of the biggest cities of its time. Presumed to have been founded around four and a half millennia in the past, the city is said to have been vacated by its inhabitants and left a ghost town around 1800 BC, after which time and elements conspired to leave it forgotten for about several thousand years. It was only rediscovered in the 20th century, and since then, it has become one of the most talked-about cities in archaeology, leaving archaeologists with more queries than answers even to this day.
Mohenjo Daro used to be on a ridge like most other cities in this time and region, to avoid flooding. Changes in topographic character for the area around the Indus have actually buried this ridge now, though. Another change from olden times is that while it was originally situated between two rivers, only one river now lies near it: the Indus. The other, Ghaggar-Hakra, has since dried up.
The site was discovered by a member of the Archaeological Survey of India, Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay, who came upon it in 1922. The original suspicion, prior to excavation, was that the mound of earth over the site concealed a Buddhist stupa. One may well imagine the amazement upon finding that what was actually under the soil was an ancient city, then, and one so old that linguists have no way of deciphering its script even now. The city had a great deal in common with the nearby Harappa too, another of the IVC sites in Pakistan. Excavations revealed that it was even bigger than Harappa, though, with people estimating a population of over 30,000. By 2600 BC standards, this was a metropolis.
There have been many questions provoked by the discoveries at the site. For example, the famed Great Bath of Mohenjo Daro, a 2.4m-deep, 12×7-metre bitumen-waterproofed recess, continues to make archaeologists wonder as to its precise purpose. The noble sculpture called the Priest-King of Mohenjo Daro also provokes much inquisition, given that there are hardly any indications of kings ever ruling the civilisation. There is also the similarity of the city to the plans of the site at Harappa, which some argue could be indicative of a shared central administration and which other insist are merely superficial similarities born from the fact that the two were constructed in a comparable orthogonal layout (but not planned the same way after that). Finally, there is the IVC script itself, which people still do not know how to interpret and which has no Rosetta Stone that may assist linguists in their efforts. Yet, oddly enough, startling comparisons and similarities have been found between this script and the script used by the old inhabitants of the archaeological sites in a place an unbelievable distance away: Easter Island, the island of the moai statues.
Mohenjo Daro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason, and no visit to Pakistan can be considered complete without passing by it. There has always been something about our past that draws us in and intrigues us, and when so much of it is shrouded in mystery as in the case of Mohenjo Daro, the added romance only serves to heighten the sense of human appreciation and sentiment one feels for what artefacts have been left behind. Take the comments countless archaeologists have made on the famed Dancing Girl of Mohenjo-daro, a bronze figurine depicting an adolescent female with nothing save bangles and jewellery on her apparently following some internal beat we cannot hear, her hip thrust to one side and one hand resting on it. She has been called “half-impudent [in] posture” and “perfectly confident of herself and the world” by turns, and has even prompted one archaeologist to remark that although we do not know if she was truly a dancer, we do know that she was good at what she was doing and she herself knew it.