Tuesday, February 7

Preliminary analyses of cores obtained from Mohen jo Daro during the year 2015-16

Karachi, March 29, 2018 (PPI-OT): The Department of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities initiated a Dry Core Drilling program at the site of the ancient Bronze Age city of Mohen jo Daro, Sindh Province, Pakistan. Mohen jo Daro is potentially the largest settlement of this time frame in the world and its period of florescence spanned the period 2600-1900 B.C. Previous work by scholars like Raikes, Lambrick, and others, including the cores obtained by the NEDECO and WAPDA projects were partially studied by Dr. Jansen and others.

Interpretations offered strong indications that the site was considerably larger than formerly acknowledged by archaeologists and that the sediments that blanketed the terrain near the known city-center were both deep and of alluvial (floodplain) origin. Based on earlier fieldwork and remote imagery, it was hypothesized that major (and intact) portions of the settlement lay buried beneath many meters of flood deposit (Jansen 1984, 1999). In 2012 UNESCO commissioned a study to identify the center and buffer zone of the city to delimit its margins and to provide an overview of the buried contexts of the ancient and extended settlement.

To meet this obligation the Technical Consultative Committee (TCC) for Mohen jo daro, formulated the Dry Core Drilling program, and Professor Sarfraz Solangi (Sindh University, Jamshoro) a Quaternary geologist with extensive experience in alluvial geomorphology was brought on to the project. The TCC and the Geology division at Sindh University undertook a systematic drilling of approximately 60 cores that were aligned along transects crossing the site and its general vicinity. Several sets of cores had been excavated along the project footprint over the years, but none were analysed in great detail.

The objectives were to identify processes and periods of flooding that may have accounted for technical innovations that would have allowed for permanent settlement in proximity to the Indus. Additionally, it was necessary to understand the stream behaviour and flooding processes that affected the human settlement and the landscape use of the site.

As the results of the dry core drilling began to take shape, it was decided that the flood deposits should be radiocarbon dated in order to develop a history of the alleviation and its connection to the occupation of Mohen jo Daro. Dr. Joseph Schuldenrein of Geoarchaeology Research Associates (GRA; New York, USA) was brought onto the project to run a series of radiocarbon dates and to explore the relationship between flood activity and the anthropogenic deposits that were preserved in a large number of the deep cores. Initial results showed that the antiquity of floodplain and delta complexes in which Mohen jo daro was centred extends as early as the Late Pleistocene (ca. 17,000 B.P.) and continued well into the Holocene (ca. 2000 B.P.).

These are the first radiocarbon dates of the Mohen jo Daro landscape. Early observations suggest that extensive meandering dominated the fluvial regime of the delta. These results confirm the signature of extensive meandering activity and a complex series of stream migrations whose history involved lateral channel displacement and isolated periods of pounding and basin formation.

An understanding of the relationship between human geography and landscape change is key to reconstructing the combined history of human occupation and preservation of the archaeological components at Mohen jo daro. We are in the early stages of assembling the geological and archaeological records. This work underscores the need to expand our research in the form of a 3 year proposal to further investigate all elements of the history of Mohen jo Daro with an emphasis on the complex relationships between the core city, its secondary locations and an alluvial landscape whose history is only now beginning to take shape.

Joseph Schuldenrein, PhD. President and Co-Principal Investigator Michael Jansen, PhD. GU-Tech University of Technology, Muscat Oman Principal Investigator Asma Ibrahim, PhD. State Bank Museum, Pakistan, Kaleemullah Lashari, PhD. Chair, Technical Consultative Committee, Pakistan Sarfraz Ahmed Solangi, PhD. Pro Vice Chancellor, Sindh University Ghulam Akbar Laghari, Secretary, Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department.

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