An Overview of City Planning at the Site of Mohenjo Daro

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"An Overview of City Planning at the Site of Mohenjo Daro"
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Mohenjo-Daro, an ancient and well-preserved archaeological site located in Pakistan's Sind Province, flourished for about 800 years during the 3rd and 2nd millennia BC. One of the largest excavation sites in the Old World, this 5,000-year-old urban center South Asia exceeded and influenced many later oriental civilizations in its urban development.

Mohenjo-Daro contains two sectors: the western sector features a stupa mound and the eastern sector features the lower city ruins built along the banks of the Indus River. Lighter mud brick shows evidence of the former city foundations. Red brick dust and pottery cover these ruins. A wall structure encircled the mound. Archeologists recognize the different forms by their brick size. Houses have a smaller brick size than platforms and city walls. The early builders constructed houses on top of enormous platforms made of mud brick. The planners followed strict rules as evidenced in the construction of the high embankments of the acropolis, the ramparts and the lower town.

The ruins of several important buildings - Great Bath, Granary, Pillared Hall and College Square- along with a number of private homes, make up the stupa mound, a gigantic slab of mud brick. The lower city contains a mixture of private and public houses, wells, businesses and industrial buildings. The streets intersect each other at right angles, revealing a sophisticated form of urbanization that included important drainage and sanitation systems.

The Pillared Hall is a group of four paved walkways. It has ordered rows where people have sat for assemblies. Massive pillars separate two sides. College Square, a large open space measuring 10 meters square surrounded a wall containing 13 openings, maybe for windows. This unique structure is a very large building complex, with about 78 rooms and passageways but no well. The builders constructed the structure east of the Great Bath and was possibly a "college" or residence of priests.

The Great Bath sits on a north-south street containing a drain made of limestone-covered bricks. The Granary is behind it. The Bath had two staircase entrances, and the floor was watertight due to the use of finely fitting bricks and gypsum plaster. They used natural tar to make the sides watertight. The floor has a southwestern slope so it can drain out to the edge of the mound.

Archeologists have only excavated about one-third of Mohenjo-Daro since 1922. A rise in the water table of the Indus River threatens the foundations of the site.

Mohenjo-Daro is a work in progress. The site has many unexcavated areas, yet it reveals how exacting the early builders were. The site has many missing pieces and will continue to interest archeologists.

More about this author: Julie Thomas-Zucker

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