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Burying the 5,000-Year-Old Lost City of Pakistan to Save It

May 22, 2017 10:20 AM EDT
Mohenjo Daro
One of the world’s earliest cities, the Mohenjo Daro settlement is home to the powerful Indus Valley people whose population reached up to five million in the Bronze Age.
(Photo : National Fund for Mohenjodaro/YouTube)

The buried city of Sindh, Pakistan is a sophisticated Bronze Age metropolis that dates back 5,000 years. It soon became known as Mohenjo Daro or "mound of the dead," an advanced city that could unlock the secrets of the lost Indus Valley people, according to a report from Phys Org.

Little is known about this mysterious city that features a street grid and an advanced bath and drainage system that can rival modern systems in the country. One of the world's earliest cities, the Sindh settlement, is home to the powerful Indus Valley people whose population reached up to five million in the Bronze Age.

This civilization disappeared abruptly at around 1900 B.C. No one knows why, but archaeologists are hoping the answers are found in Mohenjo Daro. 

Unfortunately, the only way to save the ancient Mohenjo Daro is to bury it.

While excavation of Mohenjo Daro could likely reveal information about life thousands of years ago, digging up the city could ultimately inflict irreperable damage, according to a report from Quartz.

One of the factors that can be destructive to the Mohenjo Daro ruins is the scorching heat. The rising temperature causes "enormous thermo-stress" to the site, according to German researcher Dr. Michael Jansen. Summers in the region can record temperatures over 46 degrees Celsius (115 Fahrenheit). Salt from the underground table can also be a threat to the hidden city.

Natural events may wear it down, but researchers say human activity makes things even worse for Mohenjo Daro. The ongoing conflict in Pakistan threatens the ancient site, subjecting it to potential destruction like how Syria's Palmyra was destroyed, a report from Phys Org revealed.

Even more dangerous to Mohenjo Daro is the activity of ordinary citizens. Hundreds of people flocked to the site back in 2014 in a spectacle that included dancing, fireworks, lasers and spotlights.

"It's like you are jumping on the bed bed of a 5,000-year-old ailing patient," Sardar Ali Shah, cultural minister in Sindh province, told AFP.

Archaeologists are suggesting that instead of excavating the site, it would be better to leave Mohenjo Daro buried. While this means the mystery of the ancient civilization would remain unknown for now, it would also keep the valuable ruins protected.

"It is actually preserved when it is buried," Harvard University's Dr Richard Meadow pointed out.

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