Though the 5000-year-old city is known to the world as Mohenjo Daro, actually nobody is aware of its real name. Till date, nobody has enabled to decipher its original identity. In fact, the expression “Mohen-Jo-Daro” is also incorrect. The correct expression or pronunciation is “Moen-Jo-Daro”. It is a Sindhi term that described post-excavation nature of the site. “Moen” means “dead”, “Jo” means “of” and “Daro” means “mound”. Literally, the post-excavation experience or expression is described with the phrase “Mound of Dead”. The city’s original name is unknown. Based on his analysis of a Mohenjo-Daro seals, scholars speculate that the city’s ancient name could have been Kukkutarma, the city of the cockerel (Kukkuta or Cock). It is possible, that Cock-fighting had some ritual and religious significance for the city.
Located around 17 miles (28 km) from the town of Larkana in Pakistan, in a central position between the Indus River and the Ghaggar-Hakra River, Mohenjo-Daro is sited on a Pleistocene ridge in the middle of the flood plain of the Indus River Valley. Though, with time, most of the ridge is buried in silt deposits due to the subsequent floods, the Indus still flows east of the site. However, the Ghaggar-Hakra riverbed on the western side has become dry.
Built around 2500 BCE, Mohenjo-Daro was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and is contemporary to the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, Minoan Crete and Norte Chico. Unfortunately, with the decline of Indus Valley Civilization, Mohenjo-Daro was abandoned in the 19th century BCE, and the site remained undetected and unknown until the 1920s.
Mohenjo-Daro covered an estimated area of 300 hectares. Surprisingly, even in those early days, Mohenjo-Daro had a planned layout based on a street grid of buildings in straight lines. Most of them were built of bricks or mud-brick and wooden superstructures. The city was divided into two parts, the so-called Citadel and the Lower City. The Citadel is a mud-brick mound of about 39 feet (12m) high, which was equipped with public baths, two large assembly halls, and a large residential structure designed to house about 5,000 citizens. Water was available from smaller wells. Waste water was channeled to covered drains that lined the major streets. 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.
As mentioned earlier, with the decline of Indus Valley Civilization, Mohenjo-Daro was abandoned in the 19th century BCE. The ruins of the city remained unknown and undocumented for around 3,700 years, until Rakhaldas Banerjee, an officer of the Archaeological Survey of India was convinced about the importance of the site. Since then significant and successful excavations were conducted at the site. Excavated items from Mohenjo-Daro include seals, metal or stone figures, tools, jewelry, and even children’s toys
Mohenjo-Daro was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. A dry core drilling conducted by Pakistan’s National Fund in 2015 revealed that the site is larger than the unearthed area.
Unfortunately, the site is being constantly threatened by groundwater salinity and the improper restoration process. Many walls have already collapsed, while others have become precarious. In 2012, Pakistani archaeologists warned that, unless proper conservative measures are arranged and adopted, the site could disappear by 2030.