LARKANA: A team of experts on Thursday announced unearthing a pot full of copper coins from the Divinity street on the Western side of Mohenjodaro stupa, which they saw as the first remarkable discovery of artefacts at the 5,000-year-old city remains after 93 years.
Director of Archaeology Mohenjodaro, Dr Syed Shakir Shah, who led the team comprising archaeological conservator Ghulam Shabir Joyo, assistant conservator Imtiaz Domki, laboratory assistant Rustam Ali Bhutto and research scholar Sheikh Javed Sindhi resumed digging at the site where the staff busy with preservation work had stumbled upon the pot of coins on Wednesday but reburied it.
The team continued the work for three hours and safely secured the coins buried in the debris along with the jar wherein they were kept. They appeared to be thickly rusted and stuck up with each other, said sources.
They said the jar of coins weighing about five and a half kilogram was later shifted to the soil testing laboratory at the site.
Sheikh Javed Sindhi, who was engaged in research at the site, said that previously, 4,348 copper coins were excavated by R.D. Banerji, Sir John Marshall and Mackay from 1922 to 1931. These coins belonged to Kushan Period dating back to 2 to 5 Century AD, he said. “The present discovery is remarkable after 93 years and its credit goes to Mohenjodaro team,” he said.
Rustam Bhutto, in-charge of the soil and water testing laboratory, said the treatment process for separating the amalgamated coins would take at least a month to make the figures and language on coins visible.
Shakir Shah told journalists later that most probably the coins belonged to Kushan Period. The research on the coins would only take off once they were made visible with special treatment at the laboratory and after completion of the process and research the coins would be kept at Mohenjodaro Museum for the visitors, he said.
“Though we have shifted the coins to the laboratory [for the time being] we will definitely hire experts to confirm the period which could be revealed from the inscriptions on the coins. We have to look for which dynasties of the Kushan Period the coins belong to,” he said.
He said that it was good news for everyone as the coins in such huge quantity had been discovered from the site after nearly 100 years. The jar wherein the coins were kept was broken but the coins were intact as they were found buried in between the walls built of unbaked bricks at the height of 15 feet from the street, he said.
Mr Banerji first stumbled upon them when excavating the monastery in 1921-22. Between the earliest Buddhist pavement and the lowest point reached within a space, that is to say of 40 feet-seven different strata were revealed, all belonging to the Chalcolithic period, said Ali Haidar Gadhi, senior conservationist at.
He said that Mr Banerji discovered nearly 2,000 coins, 338 of which were of the period of Kushan ruler Vasudeva-1 with standing royal figure on obverse and Shiva on the reverse and the bulk comprising 1,823 un-inscribed cast copper coins. “Another nine had fire altar on the obverse and a crude figure on reverse,” he said.
“Although subsequent investigations suggest a break between the end of the Indus occupation and the Kushan phase, it is unlikely that the site was ever totally abandoned due to its high position on the plane and the protection it afforded against floods,” he said.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2023