Pakistan: Monsoon rains endanger Unesco World Heritage site Mohenjo Daro

9 Sep

Built in the 26th century B.C., the ancient city of Mohenjo-Daro in modern-day Pakistan was one of the largest cities in the Indus Valley civilization. German archaeologist Michael Jansen has spent five decades at the site trying to crack its mystery. 


The ancient city Mohenjo Daro is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the largest preserved Bronze Age city. Reportedly, parts of the ancient Mohenjo Daro in Pakistan are already damaged, with heavy monsoon rains affecting the archeological ruins of the 4,500-year-old city. The ruins of Mohenjo Daro are located in the southern province of Sindh on the right bank of the Indus River, about 510 kilometers (317 miles) northeast of Pakistan's largest city, Karachi, and 28 kilometers from Larkarna. The site is considered one of the best preserved urban centers in South Asia.

The Indus River floods did not directly hit Mohenjo Daro, Ahsan Abbasi, the site's curator, told the AP news agency. Nonetheless, the unprecedented rainfall severely damaged the ruins of the ancient city, he said. Several big walls collapsed, he said, adding that extensive repair work has begun. However, the site's landmark Buddhist stupa (a structure resembling a burial mound, ed.) is intact, Abbasi said.

Mohenjo Daro was part of the Bronze Age Indus culture from 2,600 to 1,800 B.C., one of the three early advanced civilizations of humankind in the 3rd millennium B.C. Its disappearance coincided with that of Egypt and Mesopotamia. The settlement was abandoned, was forgotten and only rediscovered in 1922 by British-Indian archaeologists. The name Mohenjo Daro means "mound of the dead" in the Sindhi language.

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The discovery of the site allowed accurate conclusions about the locals' customs, art, religion and administrative organization. Their well-planned city with its public baths, a college of priests, an elaborate sewage system with wells and cesspools and a large granary, was built largely of baked bricks. According to UNESCO, Mohenjo Daro was a "metropolis of great importance." It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List as the largest preserved Bronze Age city.

Severe monsoon rains

The ruins are visible from afar. At 15 meters, the citadel (a later addition) located west of the lower city is the highest structure. 4,500 years ago, the site must have been even more impressive — over time, the Indus River has raised the plain by more than seven meters.

The rising waters of the Indus, one of the region's most important rivers, have wreaked havoc across large parts of Pakistan. More than 1,300 people have been killed and millions have lost their homes in the floods.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is scheduled to visit Pakistan on Sept. 9 to express solidarity with the people and ask for massive international support for the country. The floods are a result of climate change, which is "supercharging the destruction of our planet," he said. "Today it is Pakistan. Tomorrow it can be anywhere else,'' he warned.

According to Pakistani officials, Guterres will travel to Sindh, but it was unclear whether he will visit the archaeological site.


sd/suc (ap/dpa/UNESCO)

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