Moenjodaro

Another gentleman whom we had never met, but who arrived at our house to seek my wife’s help to build in mud was Prof. Dr. Michael R. N. Jansen of RWT University of Aachen in Germany. He arrived one evening with his wife and members of his team, who had come to document and review the work done at Moenjodaro and had to live there in tents. Those who are quick to offer tents to people affected by various calamities do not know how painful it is to live in them, where the temperature soars to its highest point at noon and drops to its lowest at midnight. My wife readily agreed, but warned him that he would not get permission to build in mud. This is what happened, and their hope of living in comfortable mud houses never materialized. However we became friends, and criticized him for not teaching Pakistanis the latest methods and technology in documentation developed in Germany, and for taking all the information that they collected to Germany, which in no way benefitted Pakistani architects and archaeologists. Michael immediately agreed to take Pakistanis who would be willing to work at Moenjodaro with him, and also offered to help us document the old mud architecture of Thatta.

My wife, who was teaching evening classes at the school of architecture in Karachi selected her brightest students to work with the Germans in Moenjodaro; but they could not bear living in tents and working under the sun, and vanished from Moenjodaro after a week. However my son, Mihail, who was a student of Karachi Grammar School, worked during his holidays with them in Moenjodaro. My wife also went there to see at first hand the work that the Germans were doing, and lived with them in a tent.

Our friendship with the German professor ended when his first hard working wife died, and he married a more opulent lady, and we introduced them to the power elite in the hope that it would lead to some good for Moenjodaro. But it ended in their never leaving their marble palaces and their comforts on periodic visits to Pakistan, with the excuse that the security situation never allowed them to move out.

The earliest farming settlement cultivating plants (wheat and barley) and domesticating animals (sheep, goat and cattle) in South Asia has been

discovered at Mehrgarh in Baluchistan, dating from 7000 BCE.  The earliest evidence of pottery in South Asia is also found in Mehrgarh from 5500 BCE.

Between 5000 and 4000 BCE, farming communities spread into Sindh, Punjab and Northern India. Their inhabitants migrated to the fertile valleys of the Indus and Saraswati rivers, and developed a well-organized, and highly advanced civilization by 2800 BCE. They were the first to have central urban planning that had well organized wastewater drainage systems, trash collection systems, public granaries and baths. They also developed the first accurate system of weights and measures.

Their economy was based on trade. Therefore most city-dwellers were artisans and merchants, as flood deposits gave them a large agricultural surplus. They used bullock carts of the kind that are still used in South Asia, and developed boats with sails. They had a massive dredged canal and docking facility in the coastal city of Lothal.

The Indus civilization contradicts the hydraulic despotism hypothesis of the origin of state; as there is no evidence of kings, palaces, armies, slaves and forced mobilization of labour nor of gods, goddesses, priests and temples.

Around 1900 BCE, signs of a gradual decline begin to emerge, and by around 1800 BCE, most of the cities were abandoned. The satellite photographs have revealed the dry bed of a big river, with the width at some places of six kilometers, from the Shivalik mountains near Simla up to the Ran of Kuchh. In the Vedas, there are references to such a big river named Saraswati, to which the rivers Yamuna and Sutlej used to flow. However, the geological changes diverted the Sutlej river towards the Indus, and the Jamuna river towards the Ganges, following which the Saraswati river no longer had enough water to reach the sea, and dried up in the Thar desert. However, according to the Puranas, Saraswati hid herself out of shame because of the indiscretion of a priest and went underground, meeting the Ganges at Triveni Sangam at Allahabad.

The Saraswati river, now dried up, ran parallel to and east of the Indus river. About 96 sites have been discovered around the Indus and its tributaries, while about 500 sites have been discovered along the dried-up Saraswati River and its tributaries. According to another calculation, nearly 2,000 of the 3,000 Harrapan sites discovered so far are located outside of the Indus river valley. And more than 70 per cent of the sites are located on the banks of what was the Saraswati river. When the Saraswati dried up, the civilisation collapsed.

Archaeologists now reject the view that the Indus civilization was destroyed by the Aryans, preferring to say that they came in after the end of that civilization. However, there are no written records before the third century BC except for the Indus Valley seals, which remain unreadable. And after the Aryan invasion, literacy was wiped out, and did not reappear for another 1,000 years, when they borrowed a script from abroad.

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