Pot full of copper coins discovered in ancient Indus Valley Civilization site in Sindh province of Pakistan

The pot of coins found from Mohen Jo Daro - Photo by Saeed Memon

The pot of coins found from Mohen Jo Daro (Photo: Saeed Memon)

By Nasir Aijaz
The AsiaN Representative

ISLAMABAD: A pot full of copper coins was discovered from a stupa (a dome-shaped structure erected as a Buddhist shrine) at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mohen-jo-Daro during conservation work in Pakistan’s Sindh province.

Mohenjo Daro, or “Mound of the Dead” is an ancient Indus Valley Civilization city that flourished between 2600 and 1900 BCE. The ruins of the huge city of Mohen-jo-Daro – built entirely of unbaked brick lie in the Indus Valley. The site was discovered in the 1920s.

The Archaeological Ruins at Mohen-jo-Daro are the best preserved urban settlement in South Asia. The acropolis, set on high embankments, the ramparts, and the lower town, which is laid out according to strict rules, provide evidence of an early system of town planning.

Experts evaluated the discovery of the pot filled with copper coins as the first significant artifact discovery in 5,000-year-old city ruins after 93 years.


The Buddhist Stupa at Mohen Jo Daro

The pot full of copper coins was discovered from Divinity Street on the Western side of Mohenjodaro stupa. The coins appeared to be thickly rusted and stuck up with each other.

Director of Archaeology Mohen-jo-Daro, Dr. Syed Shakir Shah, who led the team comprising archaeological conservator Ghulam Shabir Joyo, confirmed that the staff busy with preservation work had stumbled upon the pot of coins on Wednesday.

Shah said laborers recovered the pot of coins during excavation but buried it again. Later some of them informed the officials of the archives department who then dug them out.

The team continued the work for three hours and safely secured the coins buried in the debris along with the jar wherein they were kept.

Shakir Shah said that the jar wherein the coins were kept was broken but the coins were intact as they were found buried in between the walls built of unbaked bricks at the height of 15 feet from the street.

The jar of coins weighing about five and a half kilograms was later shifted to the soil testing laboratory at the site.


Mohen Jo Daro

Sheikh Javed Sindhi, who was engaged in research at the site, said that previously, 4,348 copper coins were excavated by R.D. Banerji, Sir John Marshall, and Mackay from 1922 to 1931. These coins belonged to the Kushan Period dating back to the 2 to 5 Century AD, he said. “The present discovery is remarkable after 93 years and its credit goes to the Mohen-jo-Daro team,” he said.

Shakir Shah told journalists later that most probably the coins belonged to the Kushan Period.

“Though we have shifted the coins to the laboratory for the time being, we will definitely hire experts to confirm the period which could be revealed from the inscriptions on the coins. We have to look for which dynasties of the Kushan Period the coins belong to,” he said.

Rustam Bhutto, in-charge of the soil and water testing laboratory, said the treatment process for separating the amalgamated coins would take at least a month to make the figures and language on coins visible.

Ali Haidar Gadhi, senior conservationist said that Mr. Banerji discovered nearly 2,000 coins, 338 of which were of the period of Kushan ruler Vasudeva-1 with standing royal figure on obverse and Shiva on the reverse and the bulk comprising 1,823 un-inscribed cast copper coins. “Another nine had a fire altar on the obverse and a crude figure on the reverse,” he said.

“Although subsequent investigations suggest a break between the end of the Indus occupation and the Kushan phase, it is unlikely that the site was ever totally abandoned due to its high position and the protection it afforded against floods,” he said.

The Kushans existed from around the 1st century CE to the 3rd century CE and played a significant role in connecting various regions through trade, diplomacy, and cultural exchange.

The discovery from the historical Mohen-jo-Daro would help understand more about the world’s oldest civilization once the recovered coins are analyzed.

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