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Moenjodaro: same ruins, two versions

January 10, 2013

RECENTLY I visited Moenjodaro along with my family, one of the world’s heritage sites. The visit was a nightmare in terms of a choatic parking place, unhygienic eating outlets, and uncleaned toilets. But I am restricting myself not to comment on the environment of the site.

However, I intend to share an alarming encounter with readers. While I was buying tickets, I inquired from the ticket-seller about a guide. He directed me to the museum. I went there, and found none.

We started on our own. As we entered the site, a person came and introduced himself as the guide. We hired him. He provided information most politely. Before we departed, he concluded: “Up to now the experts are not sure about the cause of the site’s destruction.” We paid him the agreed remuneration, and he went on his way.

After some time, while we were resting there to catch our breath, the same guide appeared there along with another group. I was upset to overhear his concluding remarks: “It became a city of vices, so God destroyed it.”

I inquired from him about his different versions. He told me that the tour time gives him a chance to know about the mindset of the visitors. If it is religious, then he tells them that the cause of the destruction was vice. However, if the group falls in the opposite category, then he ends the tour with a rational conclusion.

He went on to say that he hailed from a nearby village and after having “some business negotiation with the site officials”, he is allowed to work there as a guide.

The whole narration shocked me as to how business interests are compelling individuals, officials or private, to conceal facts and promote myths.

The Department of Culture, Sindh, should be more vigilant regarding the various interpretations about the ruins. If proper measures are taken, then it would educate the visitors to understand the science of archaeology rather than to believe in myths.