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how they dated mohendojaro excavation

how they dated mohendojaro excavation


it was 1924. sir john marshall, then director general archaeological survey of india, realized that new site at mohenjodaro was not just a magnificent peace of sculpture but was far more dramatic – the remains of a lost civilisation. the twin cities of harappa and mohenjodaro were not described in ancient literature not associated with any kings of olden days. he prepared an account of what had been unearthed. he decided to get it published in the illustrated london news.


the illustrated london news first appeared in 1842. it enjoyed a very good reputation especially because of its pictures. several pieces of archaeological finds had featured in the newspaper. the richly illustrated piece on indus civilisation was published on september 20, 1924. marshall opened his description with the words " not often it has been given to archaeologists, as it was given to schiemann at tiryns and mycenae, or to stiens in the deserts of turkestan to light upon the remains of the long forgotten civilization". it looks, however, at this moment, as if we were on the threshold such a discovery in the plains of indus."

he continued, " now, however, there has unexpectedly been unearthed in the south of punjab and in sindh, an entirely new class of objects which have nothing in common with those previously known to us, and which are unaccompanied by any data that might have helped to establish their age and origin".


regarding the age of the find, he said, " all that can be said at present is that the period during which this culture flourished in the Indus valley must have extended over many centuries,  and that it came to an end before the rise of maurya power in the 3rd century bc". but he did opine that " there is no reason  that the culture of this region was imported from other lands, or that its character  was profoundly modified by outside influences".


the article was accompanied by a number of photographs in the hope that others would like to comment on these findings.


among those who scanned the story was archbald henry syace, an accomplished linguist who had vast experience of assyrian philology and was professor of assyriology in oxford university. he realised that the seals of mohenjodaro were similar to those found in the ancient royal city of susa. the susa seals had been securely dated. this meant that the civilisation in indus valley must be contemporary to that in susa. he wrote to the illustrated london news, " remarkable discoveries in the punjab and sind which sir marshall has given are even more remarkable and startling then he supposes.  the inscribed seals or plagues found at harappa and mohenjo-daro are practically identical with the proto elamite 'tablettes de compatibilite' discovered by de morgan at susa.  the form and size of the plagues are the same, the unicorns are the same and the pictographs and numerals are also the same. the identity is such that the seals and the tablets might have come from the same hand".


the susa tablets were dated to third millenium bc. it shows that there were regular intercourse beetween susa empire and india.


two other scholars gadd and sidney smith eloborated on the similarities. they also pointed out similarities to finds from other sites of known antiquity.


all in all, marshall concluded, " indians have always been justly proud of their age-old civilization and believing that this civilization was as ancient as any in asia.  they have long been hoping that archaeology would discover definite monumental evidence to justify their belief. this hope has now been fulfilled".


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