AN EARLY URBAN WONDER

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Moenjodaro may well be "the largest Bronze Age city in the world," says Michael Jansen, director of the German research project at the excavation site. The communications and administrative skills necessary to organize such a large city and state were unrivaled in the third millennium BC, archaeologists say.

As for monuments, Dr. Jansen says Moenjodaro's raised central area, set on 500,000 square meters (600,000 square yards) of brick, is monumental. Building the platform alone would have taken the equivalent of one man with a donkey working every day for 15 years, he estimates.

In addition, workers were needed to construct the city's buildings, roads, drains, wells, and other structures. To organize so many workers, and to create the economic surplus to free them for such massive projects would have required great sophistication.

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With no evidence of great military might, Moenjodaro's rulers demonstrated remarkable control over their domain. Throughout the Indus territory (scholars do not agree on whether the civilization constituted an empire or even a state), archaeologists find bricks of startling uniformity - whether fired or sun-baked they conform to the ratio 1:2:4.

The people of Moenjodaro were sophisticated urban planners, says Jansen. Their water supply and drainage systems ran alongside streets and alleyways, a system little improved on in much of Pakistan.

"And they were excellent engineers," he says. For example, he estimates that the city contains more than 600 wells - "the world's largest concentration of wells, ever." Made of wedge-shaped bricks, Moenjodaro's round wells can withstand great geological shifts. The Romans, building 2,000 years later, didn't figure this out. Roman wells excavated in Jansen's town of Aachen, Germany, are square and have been greatly disturbed by geological shifts.

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