Expedition News – Spring 1965

Originally Published in 1965

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West Pakistan

The South Asia Section of the University Museum and the Pakistan Department of Archaeology conducted the first season of new excavations at Mohenjo-daro this past winter. Mohenjo-daro, some 180 air miles north of Karachi, is the largest preserved site of the ancient Indus (Harappan) civilization.

The original excavations at this site in the 1920’s and early 1930’s exposed the basic ground plans of the city and buildings and uncovered thousands of objects. Little, however, was discovered about the origins and decline of the city and the civilization it represents. Our new work had two main objectives: 1) to obtain, for the first time, a stratified series of objects and plans from the latest down to the earliest levels of the city; 2) to study the geology and ancient geography of the area with emphasis on their possible influence on the decline of the civilization.

The first objective is made difficult by the present high level of the sub-surface ground water which is only fifteen feet below the plain level. We know as the result of test drilling made this season that occupation at our particular area of the city begins thirty-nine feet below plain level. Thus, the water table will have to be lowered more than twenty-five feet if the earliest levels are to be reached by archaeological excavations. Our hydrology consultant, Robert L. Raikes of Rome, is supervising the designing of a dewatering system sufficient to cope with this problem. The first season’s excavations concentrated on the latest levels of occupation. Much of interest was discovered about the final phase of occupation. Also, we discovered a massive complex of mud and baked bricks which may prove to be part of the hitherto unknown city wall.

The second objective of the project requires the combined efforts of the natural scientist and the archaeologist. Mr. Raikes is concentrating on the study of geological and geographical evidence which is being combined with archaeological evidence in the hope of reconstructing a picture of the ancient natural environment. Especially important is the effort to explain the various flood deposits at Mohenjo-daro and other sites in the valley. Tentatively it can be suggested that geological disturbances produced widespread flooding which literally drowned the civilization in the lower Indus valley. Further research is required before this theory can be properly tested but preliminary studies point to its confirmation.

The expedition staff consisted of myself as Director, Aubrey S. Trik as Architect and Stephen Rees-Jones of Queens University, Belfast, as Conservator. Mrs. Barbara Dales was Administrative Secretary and Mrs. Helen Trik was Registrar. W.O. Heinze of Swarthmore volunteered his services for part of the season as photographer and field assistant. Financial support for the project derived from the JDR 3rd Fund, the National Science Foundation, the Penrose Fund of the American Philosophical Society, the W.E. Seeley Trust Fund and generous donations from friends of the expedition.

New Publications

“Winery, Defenses, and Soundings at Gibeon,” by James B. Pritchard, with contributions by William L. Reed, Douglas M. Spence, and Jane Sammis.

This final volume in the Museum Monographs series on the excavations at el-Jib, Jordan, identified as the Biblical Gibeon, has just come from the press. The first section of the volume is devoted to the large winery in the northeast sector of the mound, whose discovery was one of the principal results of the 1959 and 1960 seasons. The winery consisted of storage cellars cut into the live rock as well as other smaller cuttings made for pressing the grapes and processing the wine. Dr. Pritchard gives here detailed descriptions of thirty-six of the most typical cellars with plans and sections. He also describes the tomb and columbarium to which six of the cellars were adapted in Roman times. Later sections of the monograph are devoted to the defenses of the city as seen in the city walls of two different periods; and to the results of soundings in several sections of the mound. There is an illustrated catalogue of the pottery and other artifacts from the winery and from the soundings; also a catalogue of the coins found during all five seasons of excavation. The previous volumes in this series are Hebrew Inscriptions and Stamps from Gibeon (1959), The Water System of Gibeon (1961), and The Bronze Age Cemetery at Gibeon (1963).

“A Guide to the Collections.” To answer a long-felt need, the Junior Guides have prepared a guide to the collections in the University Museum. There are ten sections–a brief introductory account of the Museum, and nine sections which follow the exhibition plan of the Museum, which is primarily geographical: The Near East, Biblical Archaeology, Egypt, The Mediterranean World, North America, Middle America and South America, Africa, Oceania and Austronesia, China. Because of inherent differences in the material covered and because the sections were written by several members of the Junior Guides, they do not conform to one pattern; but in general, each gives something of the history of the area, an account of the Museum’s field work there, descriptions of some of the more important objects in the collection. There are several photographic illustrations and a map in each section. And there is a date chart which is helpful in relating the happenings in various parts of the world to each other. Reprints of each of the nine sections (excluding the introductory one) are available.

Further on the Debert Site

Through the author’s oversight, insufficient recognition was given George F. MacDonald of the National Museum of Canada in the article in Expedition, Vol. 7, No. 1 Mr. MacDonald, who is now completing detailed studies of the artifacts recovered in the course of excavations, served as Assistant Director of the Debert Archaeological Project during the field seasons of 1963 and 1964. Discoveries of similarities of certain of the artifacts, especially the “wedges,” to Old World types are due to the work of Mr. MacDonald in the preparation of his Ph.D. dissertation.

Cite This Article

"Expedition News – Spring 1965." Expedition Magazine 7, no. 3 (May, 1965): -. Accessed April 18, 2024. https://www.penn.museum/sites/expedition/expedition-news-spring-1965/


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