Living history

Published November 20, 2023

WONDROUS Mohenjodaro is alive and well as an enigma. Last week, almost a century since the first collection of coins was unearthed in 1922-31, experts excavated a pot of copper coins from the Divinity street on the western side of the Mohenjodaro stupa. These revelations, a first in over nine decades, date back to the Kushan period and the credit belongs to personnel from Archaeology Mohenjodaro who described the antiquated pennies as “thickly rusted and stuck together”. Earlier, as explorers unearthed souvenirs of old life — clay and metal seals, coins, toys, gold and bronze ornaments, weighing stones and more, that indicated flourishing trade — they also declared that the 5000-year-old city was the largest and most advanced settlement of the Indus Valley Civilisation. Moreover, its intricate sewerage and drainage system is ahead of our present conditions.

Ever since the World Heritage Site’s discovery, extensive excavation of only a small area has been achieved and much to global amazement, a sprawling public bath, not a fort or a place of worship, is its most significant structure. Therefore, if a fraction can convert the historic expanse into a marvel of infrastructure, erudition and refinement, the wealth of antiquities it continues to hold is beyond collective imagination. But Pakistan’s controversial image, tainted with militancy, insecurity, economic frailty and corruption, has rendered it unthinkable for international historians, archaeologists, students and tourists to savour this heritage and find answers for the sudden extinction of a thriving, cutting-edge society. For Mohenjodaro to survive a few more centuries, there should be preserved, studied and documented history that future generations can turn to as opposed to decay. Many lessons too are buried in the vastness of a multicultural past, such as the knowledge that these people lived well because of an egalitarian, imaginative, peaceful and secular way of life. The hour has come to respect an extraordinary inheritance and keep ancient traces within our reach.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2023

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