KARACHI: Sindh Minister for Culture, Archives and Heritage Syed Sardar Ali Shah on Thursday said that the preliminary analysis of cores obtained from Moenjodaro during the year 2015-16 revealed startling facts as it suggested that the site was the world’s largest settlement of its time and its period of florescence spanned from 2600 to 1900 BC.

Mr Shah was speaking at a press conference along with some foreign and local researchers and experts, besides senior officials of his ministry.

The minister said that the previous research on the cores by some other institutions was partially studied by Dr Michael Jansen of the University of Technology, Muscat, and other experts who now made the fresh conclusion about the historical site.

“Interpretations offered strong indications that the site was considerably larger than formerly acknowledged by archaeologists and that the sediments that blanketed the terrain near the known city centre were both deep and of alluvial (floodplain) origin. Based on earlier fieldwork and remote imagery, it was hypothesised that major (and intact) portions of the settlement lay buried beneath many metres of flood deposit,” he said

Mr Shah said that in 2012, Unesco commissioned a study to identify the centre and buffer zone of the city to delimit its margins and to provide an overview of the buried contexts of the ancient and extended settlement.

To meet this obligation, the technical consultative committee (TCC) for Moenjodaro, chalked out a dry core drilling programme and Sindh University’s Prof Sarfraz Solangi, a Quaternary geologist with extensive experience in alluvial geomorphology, was brought in to oversee the project, the minister said.

He said that the TCC and the SU geology division undertook a systematic drilling of approximately 60 cores that were aligned along transects crossing the site and its general vicinity. Several sets of cores had been excavated along the project footprint over the years but none was analysed in great detail, he added.

The objective, the minister said, was to identify the processes and periods of flooding which might have accounted for technical innovations probably allowed for permanent settlement within the proximity of the Indus. He said that it was necessary to understand the stream behaviour and flooding processes that affected the human settlement and the landscape use of the site.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2018