Saturday 25 November 2023

A hoard of coins from the Indus Valley City of Mohenjo Daro.

The Indus Valley Civilization was a Bronze Age civilization in northern South Asia, contemporary with the Old Kingdom in Egypt and the Sumerian Civilization of Mesopotamia. Spread across what is now Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northwest India, the Indus Valley Civilization is generally considered to have built the first cities in South Asia, as well as a major centre of Bronze Age technological innovation, although its language has never been translated, so that much about the civilization remains a mystery. The largest of the cities constructed by the Indus Valley people was Mohenjo Daro, located in the  Larkana District of Sindh Province, Pakistan. Mohenjo Daro has founded around 2500 BC, and at its height had a population of about 40 000. It was abandoned in about 1700 BC, along with the other major cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, although why this happened remains as mysterious as many other things about the culture.

Ruins aof the city of Mohenjo Daro in Sindh, Pakistan. Saqib Qayyum/Wikimedia Commons.

On Wednesday 15 November 2023, a team of conservators working on the western side of Mohenjo Daro stupa uncovered a jar of copper coins, the first coins uncovered at the site since 1931, although it is unlikely that they date back to the Indus Valley Civilization, which is not known to have produced coins. The hoard unearthed in 1931 comprised 4348 copper coins dating from the Kushan Empire, which lasted from about 30 AD till its conquest by the Gupta Empire in 375 AD, although its coins would have remained in circulation somewhat longer. 

A pot of copper coins discovered at Mohenjo Daro in Sindh Province, Pakistan, on 15 November 2023. Saeed Memon/Dawn.

The coins together weigh about five and a half kilograms, and are currently fused together into a single amalgam. It is hoped that it will be possible both to separate them and clean them sufficiently to make out the inscriptions on their surfaces, although this is likely to take some time. It is planned that once prepared, they will be placed on display at the Mohenjo Daro Museum in Larkarna.

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