Mohenjo-Daro: Facts, Civilization & Religion

Instructor: Kevin Newton

Kevin has edited encyclopedias, taught middle and high school history, and has a master's degree in Islamic law.

While few people have ever heard of it, Mohenjo-Daro is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. This lesson examines the significance of one of the world's oldest cities.

What is Mohenjo-Daro?

Chances are you are familiar with the first civilizations of humanity in places like Mesopotamia or Egypt. However, you may not be as familiar with Mohenjo-Daro. However, Mohenjo-Daro was one of the most important cities of the Indus Valley Civilization, the group that started farming in modern India and Pakistan on the banks of the Indus river. Archaeologists are still studying this culture, but they have managed to find that the more they study these enigmatic cultures, the more connections can be made with both modern Indian culture and the semi-mythical past of the Subcontinent. In this lesson, we'll learn more about this important culture.

The Mohenjo-Daro Lifestyle

The people of Mohenjo-Daro were part of a larger culture known as the Harappans, so much of what we have learned about them is confirmed by studies at similar sites. We know that they were definitely farmers, but more than that, the farms were productive enough to allow for significant diversification in roles. The people of Mohenjo-Daro definitely knew how to work metal, and both copper and bronze artifacts have been found. Perhaps most interesting is the fact that they were also merchants that regularly traded with Mesopotamia and even Egypt.

Mohenjo-Daro today
Mohenjo-Daro today

The Beliefs of Mohenjo-Daro

The religion of Mohenjo-Daro may give us more questions than answers. At the surface, there seems to be plenty of similarities with earlier Brahmic faiths of India, even a sort of proto-Hinduism. Needless to say, that is exciting to many historians and archaeologists, because so little is historically certain about the opening ages of that faith. Still, as historians we have to be careful to avoid jumping to conclusions. After all, we haven't yet deciphered the writing that the people of Mohenjo-Daro left behind.

One thing we can certainly say for sure is that there seemed to be a big emphasis on water. Despite being built within easy access to the Indus River, Mohenjo-Daro has the so-called Great Bath that was close to the center of the city. While it may be tempting to assume that this is for sanitation, chances are that this was used for religious ceremonies. In any event, it was served by plumbing, which was a first in the ancient world.

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