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New ideas on IVC - Andrew Lawler


When the Indus River swelled
two years ago in central Pakistan,
the floodwaters came within just
three feet of overtopping an earthen
embankment protecting the ancient
city known as Mohenjo-Daro. At the
time, archaeologists breathed a sigh of relief. But in September
2012 monsoon rains again threatened the site, lashing at the
exposed walls and sparking new fears that this 4,000-year-old
metropolis may be destroyed before it yields its secrets.
Those secrets remain legion. Archaeologists still don’t
know the city’s true size, who ruled there, or even its
ancient name—Mohenjo-Daro (“Mound of the Dead”) is
the site’s name in modern Sindhi. A decades-long excavation
ban, frequent political upheaval, and futile past conservation
efforts have made it challenging for archaeologists to
understand the site. To many, Mohenjo-Daro remains a
dull, monochrome city, lacking the monuments, temples,
sculptures, paintings, and palaces typical of contemporary
Egypt and Mesopotamia in the third millennium b.c.
Now, however, archaeologists are using old excavation
reports, remote sensing data, and computer modeling techniques
to reexamine the reputation of what was the largest
city of the Indus River civilization and perhaps the entire
Bronze Age. Once dismissed as a settlement dominated by
similar-sized, cookie-cutter dwellings, Mohenjo-Daro is being
recast as a vibrant metropolis filled with impressive public
and private buildings, artisans working with p