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Seal from Mohenjo-daro

Seal from Mohenjo-daro


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3D Image

Steatite Seal
Width: 1.87 inches
Date: 2600-1900 BCE
Indus seal from Mohenjo-daro, modern Pakistan, about 2600 to 1900 BCE. Some of the earliest evidence of the use of symbols and script in India, from the Indus Valley cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa.
Museum number: 1947,0416.2.

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Mohenjo-daro

Mohenjo-daro ( / m oʊ ˌ h ɛ n dʒ oʊ ˈ d ɑː r oʊ / Sindhi: موئن جو دڙو ‎, meaning 'Mound of the Dead Men' [2] [3] Urdu: موئن جو دڑو ‎ [muˑənⁱ dʑoˑ d̪əɽoˑ] ) is an archaeological site in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Built around 2500 BCE, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, and one of the world's earliest major cities, contemporaneous with the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Minoan Crete, and Norte Chico. Mohenjo-daro was abandoned in the 19th century BCE as the Indus Valley Civilization declined, and the site was not rediscovered until the 1920s. Significant excavation has since been conducted at the site of the city, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. [4] The site is currently threatened by erosion and improper restoration. [5]


Indus seal

  1. A seal (right), and an impresssion made by it, from the Indus Valley civilisation. © Trustees of the British Museum
  2. A selection of more seals from the Indus Valley civilisation. © Trustees of the British Museum
  3. A plan showing streets and houses in the city of Mohenjo-daro. © Trustees of the British Museum
  4. Map showing where this object was found. © Trustees of the British Museum

This seal was found in the 1870s and led to the discovery of an ancient civilisation in the Indus Valley. It was probably used to close documents and mark packages of goods. This suggests that the Indus civilisation was part of an extensive long-distance trading network. The animal on this seal was originally mistaken for a unicorn but is now thought to be a bull. The seals carry the oldest writing in South Asia. It has yet to be deciphered.

What was the Indus Civilisation?

The earliest civilisation in South Asia developed along the Indus river and India's western coast. The Indus civilisation produced writing, built large cities and controlled food production through a central government. Unlike Egypt and Mesopotamia, the Indus civilisation was not dominated by powerful religious elites. No temples were built and no images of state gods or kings have been found. Deforestation, climate change and a series of invasions all contributed to the Indus civilisation's decline in 1500 BC.

The Indus civilisation had complex sanitation systems and there is even evidence that houses had bathrooms.

Legacy of the Indus Valley civilisation

In 1924 when the civilisation was discovered, India was colonised. So to begin with there was a great sense of national pride and a sense that we were equal if not better than our colonisers and considering this that the British should actually leave India. This is the exact sentiment that was expressed in the Larkana Gazette – Larkana is the district where Mohenjodaro is located.

After independence, the newly created state of India was left with just one Indus site, in Gujarat and a couple of other sites towards the north, so there was an urgency to discover more Indus sites in India. This has been among the big achievements of Indian archaeology post-independence – that hundreds of Indus sites today are known, not only in Gujarat but also in Rajasthan, in Punjab, in Haryana, and even in Utter Pradesh.

The great cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, which were first excavated, are in Pakistan, and subsequently one of the most important pieces of work on the Indus civilisation was done by a Pakistan archaeologist – Rafique Mughal (presently a professor at Boston University) who discovered nearly 200 sites in Pakistan and Cholistan. But my own sense is that on the whole the state of Pakistan has been much more interested, not exclusively but significantly, in its Islamic heritage so I think there is a greater interest in India as compared to Pakistan.

There is not a competition but a certain kind of poignant sentiment that I have when I think of India, Pakistan and the Indus civilisation, for no other reason than that the great remains - the artefacts, the pottery, the beads etc that were found at these sites - are actually divided between the two states. Some of the most important objects were actually divided right down the middle – like the famous girdle from Mohenjodaro. It’s no longer one object, it’s really two parts that have been sundered like pre-independent India into India and Pakistan - these objects have met with a similar fate.

In 1924 when the civilisation was discovered, India was colonised. So to begin with there was a great sense of national pride and a sense that we were equal if not better than our colonisers and considering this that the British should actually leave India. This is the exact sentiment that was expressed in the Larkana Gazette – Larkana is the district where Mohenjodaro is located.

After independence, the newly created state of India was left with just one Indus site, in Gujarat and a couple of other sites towards the north, so there was an urgency to discover more Indus sites in India. This has been among the big achievements of Indian archaeology post-independence – that hundreds of Indus sites today are known, not only in Gujarat but also in Rajasthan, in Punjab, in Haryana, and even in Utter Pradesh.

The great cities of Harappa and Mohenjodaro, which were first excavated, are in Pakistan, and subsequently one of the most important pieces of work on the Indus civilisation was done by a Pakistan archaeologist – Rafique Mughal (presently a professor at Boston University) who discovered nearly 200 sites in Pakistan and Cholistan. But my own sense is that on the whole the state of Pakistan has been much more interested, not exclusively but significantly, in its Islamic heritage so I think there is a greater interest in India as compared to Pakistan.

There is not a competition but a certain kind of poignant sentiment that I have when I think of India, Pakistan and the Indus civilisation, for no other reason than that the great remains - the artefacts, the pottery, the beads etc that were found at these sites - are actually divided between the two states. Some of the most important objects were actually divided right down the middle – like the famous girdle from Mohenjodaro. It’s no longer one object, it’s really two parts that have been sundered like pre-independent India into India and Pakistan - these objects have met with a similar fate.

Nayanjot Lahiri, Professor of History, University of Delhi

A spiritual legacy

The Indus civilisation has a legacy which would resonate with any Indian who walks through the Harappan Gallery of the National Museum. There are so many objects there that you feel a complete affinity with.

For example you see a lot of shell bangles that are still worn by women, especially married women, in many parts of India. You see particular kinds of pictures inscribed on seals which show tree worship, and tree worship can be seen anywhere in India, including in urban Delhi. You can see figures in what appear to be in yogic postures, figures in meditation surrounded by animals, things you feel familiar with.

Similarly, in the Harappan gallery there is this extraordinary miniature terracotta phallic emblem which is actually set in what looks like to any Indian a Yoni. Somebody who is not politically correct as historians tend to be – just an ordinary Indian – he would tell you that this is a Shiva linga.

You think of the great bath of Mohenjodaro, you think of the extravagant use of water - there was a well for every 3/5 houses - then you think how finicky Indians are about their personal hygiene and how important water is to us. It doesn’t appear alien just because it belongs to the third millennium BC.

Now I am not trying to say that we can trace modern Hinduism from the Indus civilisation but there are things about the Indus civilisation which become a part of later Hinduism.

The Indus civilisation has a legacy which would resonate with any Indian who walks through the Harappan Gallery of the National Museum. There are so many objects there that you feel a complete affinity with.

For example you see a lot of shell bangles that are still worn by women, especially married women, in many parts of India. You see particular kinds of pictures inscribed on seals which show tree worship, and tree worship can be seen anywhere in India, including in urban Delhi. You can see figures in what appear to be in yogic postures, figures in meditation surrounded by animals, things you feel familiar with.

Similarly, in the Harappan gallery there is this extraordinary miniature terracotta phallic emblem which is actually set in what looks like to any Indian a Yoni. Somebody who is not politically correct as historians tend to be – just an ordinary Indian – he would tell you that this is a Shiva linga.

You think of the great bath of Mohenjodaro, you think of the extravagant use of water - there was a well for every 3/5 houses - then you think how finicky Indians are about their personal hygiene and how important water is to us. It doesn’t appear alien just because it belongs to the third millennium BC.

Now I am not trying to say that we can trace modern Hinduism from the Indus civilisation but there are things about the Indus civilisation which become a part of later Hinduism.

Nayanjot Lahiri, Professor of History, University of Delhi

Comments are closed for this object

Comments

Wonderful artifact and wonderful short radio show! The first I've listened to in this series and it has me hooked. The Indus symbols are fascinating for many reasons, not least of which are the different approaches to deciphering work and real personal animosity between the various academics working on it! I?ve often thought it would make a great 1 hour TV documentary but for the moment I?m very content with the 15min inspirational radio show.

I?ve no idea what the debate is concerning these seals. But I would think the whole point about a seal is that there are always two copies so as to provide proof of ownership or rightful possession. In the case of a breeding bull where its husbandry would have been carefully recorded duration of ownership was probably controlled by the state. Perhaps that is what the seal refers to.

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Mohenjo-Daro: Ancient Indian City Destroyed By Nuclear Weapon 4000 Years Ago

History taught us that most of the ancient civilizations got extinct either due to natural calamities or destroyed in wars with each other. Many people believe that the technology that humans possess in the modern world is the advanced one, never created before. Do you think it’s true? Do you really believe that modern human civilization is the advanced one? The world saw its first nuclear bomb in 1945 after it was successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico, United States. Not so long after this, the US dropped its most powerful weapon on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and wiped out almost all the population that lived there.

Was it possible to have such an explosion 4000 years ago? We do not have any videotapes or photographs to prove it, but some researchers believe that the ancient South-Asian city Mohenjo-Daro, aka “Mound of the Dead,” once held the most advanced ancient settlement destroyed by the nuclear explosion. The ancient Indian city (now in Pakistan) was densely populated, situated right on the bank of the Indus river. It was one of the fertile lands where the ancient Indus valley civilization lived.

Mohenjo-Daro, the ancient Indian city that was inhabited by more than 40,000 people 4000 years ago

The city was discovered in the 1920s along with Harappa in British India. The researchers started excavating the site in the 1920s – 1930s, and then in the 1950s and 1960s. It was the first time when the world came to know about the ancient Indian civilization that existed 4000 years ago, competing with the ancient Egyptian civilization.

According to archeologists, the city was well-planned, and houses were built with brick furniture. The most interesting thing was the network of sewer systems found at the site that ran through the center of the streets. Besides, it had manmade brick structures of drinking water for the public.

Aerial view of the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro

British researcher David Davenport found out that what had happened in Nagasaki also occurred to Mohenjo-Daro in 2000 BC. He spent over 12 years studying the city, reading ancient texts and any available information about it. He published his research on the city in the book “Atomic Destruction in 2000 BC.”

It is estimated that ancient Mohenjo-Daro was inhabited by 40,000 people, but the numbers could be as big as 100,000. From his research, he cited the mysterious but powerful weapon mentioned in the sacred Hindu text known as Mahabharata. He said the weapon called “Agneya” (Sudārśana), a wheel-like weapon that possessed the power of thunder could be the reason behind this ancient city destruction.

“The Sudarshan Chakra[ Agneya ] is the only divine weapon which is constantly in motion. It could perform millions of rotations every second and has the capability to travel several million yojanas (1 Yojana = 12 km) at the very blink of an eye. It is not thrown, but with willpower, it is sent against the enemy.”

The ruins of the city helped Davenport suggesting that Mohenjo-Daro was turned into ashes by the advanced weapons in the past. He found several objects at the site that were heated up to 1500 degrees Celcius. He also found the epicenter of the explosion, where the land and bricks in the 50 yards were fused, crystallized, and melted. All this evidence showed that a powerful blast happened in the area that could be compared to modern atomic bombs.

An Indus seal (2500–2400 B.C.E.) found at the Mohenjo Daro belonged to Indus Valley Civilization. In this image, a large figure seated on a dais surrounded by a horned buffalo, a rhinoceros, an elephant, and a tiger Image Credit: National Museum Delhi

In 1966, British author Alexander Gorbovsky reported in his book “Riddles of Ancient History” about the skeleton found in the area, containing radiation 50 times more than a natural level. Davenport’s claim was also supported by a space engineer in Rome named Antonio Castellani who said that what had happened at Mohenjo Daro was not a natural phenomenon. By the way, there was no volcanic activity in the area.


Exploring Mohenjo Daro and Harappa

Mohenjo Daro and Harappa are two of the world’s oldest settlements. The infrastructure of both the sites was so robust that it still exists in the form of ruins. In this blog, we will be exploring the two separately.

Mohenjo Daro

Credits: Facebook/Mohenjo Daro Travel

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Mohenjo Daro is found in the province of Sindh, a 37-minute drive from Larkana. It is one of the most famous historical places in Sindh. Moen Jo Daro means ‘Mound of The Dead Men’ in Sindhi, which is a language spoken locally.

History

According to the findings of the archeologists, the city of Mohenjo Daro was built around 26th Century BC, making it one of the largest settlements of the ancient times. It was one of the major urban settlements of the Indus Valley Civilization, aka, Harappan Civilization.

Mohenjo Daro was an advanced city as its ruins show signs of remarkable civil engineering and urban planning tactics. Apart from this settlement, Harappa, Lothal, Kalibangan, Rakhigarhi and Dholavira were the urban centres of the Indus Valley Civilization, extended to the Iranian Border.

Rediscovery

For over 3,700 years, the archaeological gem of Mohenjo Daro remained undocumented. However, after some impediment findings, large-scale excavations to unearth the site of Mohenjo Daro began in the 1920s. It was led by John Marshall, who was the Director General of Archeological Survey of India at that time.

In 1965, the excavation work at the site of Mohenjo Daro came to a halt as the place was showing the signs of weather damage. In 1980, further probing of the area was done by Italian and German survey groups to dig deeper into the secrets of Mohenjo Daro.

Only four years ago, in 2015, dry core drilling was conducted by Pakistan’s National Funds at this site, the findings of which surprised everyone. A large part of the historical site has still not been unearthed.

Urban Infrastructure

Credits: Facebook/Mohenjo Daro Travel

Mohenjo Daro had a carefully planned infrastructure. According to an estimation mentioned in Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History, the city had a population of around 40,000 people.

The ruins of this city hint towards a commendable level of social organization. Mohenjo Daro is known to have large public baths, assembly halls, houses with inner courtyards and also some multiple stories constructions.

The excavation work done till date in Mohenjo Daro has unearthed over 700 water wells in this city of ancient times. These findings are an evident proof of the effectiveness of the water supply system that existed in Mohenjo Daro.

Artefacts

Credits: Facebook/ Museum of Artefacts

A large number of artifacts have been discovered as a result of the excavations done in Mohenjo Daro. These include tools made from copper and stone, figures and sculptures, balance-scale and weights, jewellery articles and toys. These objects have been preserved in the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi.

Travelling To Mohenjo Daro

If you are planning to travel to the historical site of Mohenjo Daro by air from Karachi, then it will take you around an hour to get there. Mohenjo Daro airport lacks advance infrastructure, which means only smaller aircraft could land here. The cost of a one-way ticket to/from Mohenjo Daro is around PKR 6,000.

With the help of Khushal Khan Khattak express, you can get to Dokri, which is the only nearest railway station to Mohenjo Daro. The train leaves Karachi at around 9 pm every night and it will take you 9 hours to get there. The ticket fare for a non-air-conditioned seat in a train from Karachi to Mohenjo Daro is PKR 400, which goes up to PKR 1000 for an air-conditioned seat.

Many locals and tourists travel from the city of Larkana to Mohenjo Daro with the help of rickshaws and taxis. Hiring a taxi to travel the distance between Larkana and Mohenjo Daro can cost you around PKR 500-1000. Rickshaw seems to be a more affordable option that can be hired only for around PKR 200.

Harappa

Credits: Facebook/Harappa

Harappa is a very famous archaeological site located at a distance of 24 km from Sahiwal in Punjab. The present-day village that inspired the name of this historical site is situated just at a distance of 1 km from Harappa ruins. Remains of the Bronze Age fortified city, which was a part of the Indus Valley Civilization, have been found at this site.

History

Harappan Civilization predates to 6000 BC. It is the oldest known civilization, with economic and social systems and urban centres. The Indus Valley Civilization stretched from Himalayan foothills to Sindh and Punjab in Pakistan and Gujrat in South East India.

The site of Harappa suffered great damage in the year 1857 as a result of the construction work carried out for the railway link between the cities of Lahore and Multan.

Rediscovery

Harappa was initially discovered in the 1820s but no impediment excavation work was carried out at the site then. However, after the discovery and excavation of Mohenjo Daro, the interest of archaeologists increased in the history of the Indus Valley Civilization. This renewed interest made them rediscover the historical city of Harappa and start excavation work on this site with a fresh perspective.

Urban Infrastructure

Credits: Facebook/Ancient Indus

Comprising an effective urban infrastructure, the city of Harappa was once home to 23,000 residents. This ancient urban settlement covered a total area of 150 hectares, mostly having clay brick houses.

Both Mohenjo Daro and Harappa had similar urban layouts and planning. The infrastructure of the city of Harappa had individual and combined living quarters, brick houses with flat roofs, fortified religious and administrative centres.

Artefacts

Some of the most exquisite artefacts have been unearthed from the site of Harappa. These valuable objects include seals engraved with animal and human motifs, stone and copper tools, decorative ornaments, hand-modelled sculptures, toys and jewellery articles. Most of these artefacts have been preserved in the Archaeological Museum located in Harappa, Punjab.

Travelling to Harappa

Being the closest city to Harappa, a world famous archaeological site, Sahiwal serves as the main hub for visitors and tourists. Harappa is only 45 minutes’ drive away from Sahiwal. With a fare of only PKR 15, a public bus from Sahiwal to Harappa leaves after every 30 minutes.


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.


Seals from the Indus Civilization

Discovery of seals is an outstanding contribution of the Indus Civilization to ancient craftsmanship. The large number of their presence at Mohenjodaro and Harappa indicate their popularity. Generally. the seal was of steatite material, square or rectangular in shape. Some seals were made of copper or bronze Seals of clay and Terra Cotta have also been found in round or cylindrical shape Wide range of animals associated in all most every case with groups of symbols in semi-pictographic script have been represented.

The animal frequently represented is an ox-like beast with a single horn-popularly nicknamed as "Unicorn* The significance of this animal is unknown. Whatever be the explanation, the ritual character of the scene is emphasized by a remarkable seal-impression from Mohenjodaro showing a figure or a -Unicom- being carried in procession. Other animals represented are sort of horned bull, buffaloes, the Brahamanical bull with hump, tiger, elephant, antelope, fish-eating crocodile and rhinoceros. Of special interest is another seal from Harappa which bears on one side a cross and on the other a splayed eagle with a snake above each wing. The motif is reminiscent of spread eagles found in Mesopotamia Susa and Tell Brak in Syria Apart from these composite animals (admixture of different features of different animals in one animal) also appear.

The fine finishing of these seals eloquently speaks for the workmanship of their makers. There is strong likelihood that these seals were of religious significance and of ritual importance.

Some seals from the Indus (Karachi National Museum)

Moen Jo Daro Seal with Unicorn Lahore Museum

Harrappa Seal with Ox Lahore Museum

Moen Jo Daro Seal with Ox Lahore Museum

Bronze Seal from Indus Lahore Museum

Bronze Seal from Indus Lahore Museum

Indus Seals from lahore Museum

Various Indus Seals from Lahore Museum

Text & Pictures by Jamal Panhwar Travel & Culture Services


2 thoughts on &ldquo Colonialism and the Pashupathi seal &rdquo

often times religious texts throughout the world can help contextualize sites, yet as you pointed out its important to see how sites are used in order to justify or historicize groups in power. Should Archaeologist always ignore religious texts when examining sites? or is it critical in order to fully interpret sites?

I came across an article once that claimed proof for a religious text because of some archaeology that was conducted on the site. However, these people were clearly pseudoarchaeologists as they were only looking at certain pieces of evidence to confirm some claim. I think religious texts are useful at contextualizing sites, they shouldn’t be ignored because they provide background to the culture, however, they shouldn’t be used to prove a biased idea or theory.


The real Mohenjo Daro: Some amazing facts about the 5,000-year-old civilisation

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
The well used for bath
  • 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
Iconic artefacts. From left: dancing girl, Pashupati seal and the priest

1. Declination of Indus Valley Civilization

Shortly after the declination of the significant cities, Harappan and Mohenjo-Daro the Indus Valley Civilization also declined. It was during 1500 BCE.

There still is confusion and mixture of the reason behind the declination of the oldest civilization. Some researchers believe the reason to be natural disasters like flood and earthquake, whereas some consider it to be the massive migration of the Aryans.

However, the most reliable reason behind it is believed to be the change in climate that brought the Saraswati River to dry during the early 1900 BCE.

After the collapse of civilization, numerous ruins were discovered during its excavation. Out of which, many ruins created history and helped to create a memoir about the existence of the oldest civilization.

Since the time of its discovery, Indus Valley went through numerous exciting incidents and moments that are hard to miss.

Most of these incidents are of everybody’s interest and a very worthy subject for research.

The facts mentioned above are the most significant ones which lead the civilization to reach the next level on account of the circumstances.

With every single discovery made from this civilization, a new fact comes out which never fails to interest people.

Likewise, the mystery behind its script and actual existence is also considered as the significant point which grabs everybody’s attention.



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  1. Brarg

    Let's talk on this theme.



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