URBAN APE| Moving and Mohenjo Daro

MOVEMENT is the most significant sign of life. The ability to move from one place to another, with purpose is a sure sign of intelligence. The capacity of an entity to purposively transfer another object to another place is a sure sign of superior intelligence.

Human beings are deemed of superior intelligence due to their ability to move themselves around and at the same time purposively change the location of objects around them. This ability is something so basic, that most people (human beings become people in sociology, in biology people are seen as human beings) just take movement and mobility for granted.

The oldest know human settlement in the world is located in the Indus River Valley. The place is called Mohenjo Daro, located in present day Pakistan. The settlement is 4500 years old. The very first metropolis of the ancient world. The settlement was called a metropolis because the population living in the settlement reached more than 40,000 in an area less than 300 hectares in size. That is having 135 persons living on a site 2.5 times bigger than a basketball court. THAT can be considered over crowded, if you deduct the space for roads and food production.

For years, many archeologists wondered why Mohenjo Daro collapsed as a settlement. The inhabitants of the place were considerably wealthy. Their dwelling places had running water and bathing places. Excavated artefacts reveal that the inhabitants possessed well- crafted implements and jewelry. Surely the people who lived in Mohenjo Daro were living a good life. Archeological evidence further showed the place was rebuilt several times in the thousand year period that it was inhabited. But after the 7th cycle of rebuilding, the settlement was abandoned. There was no clear explanation why the settlement was abandoned. The place bore no signs of destruction. There was no sign of any pestilence or widespread disease. Not even signs of looting. The place just ceased to be inhabited, and for a long time, nobody could understand why the place just got deserted.

One archeologist studying the collapse of Mohenjo Daro recently proposed a fairy reasonable cause. He posited that the inhabitants of the place became so well off. They could afford to have some means of transportation – animal drawn carts at that time. The sheer number of animal drawn carts choked the narrow streets of Mohenjo Daro, so that these well off inhabitants slowly started to transfer to other less congested places. They brought with them their production, skills and business acumen to their new found place of residence. This lessened economic activities in Mohenjo Daro, which led to the slow decline and eventual abandonment of the place.

This reason for Mohenjo Daro’s decline has not been proven. No one will ever know, with certainty why and how this very well off settlement was abandoned. But this new insight into the decline of this ancient metropolis is a lesson that many cities of today have to learn and gain insight from.

Prosperity and stability makes a place attractive for living. But when people are not able to move around, life becomes unbearable. What happened to Mohenjo Daro 3,000 years ago will never happen to any present day city. No matter how crowded a city gets, people can no longer just pack their bags and move out. But that does not mean that city living people have to just smile and bear out the inconvenience. There are methods and means on how to keep people moving around in a city.

Mindano is in a development flux right now. Cities in Mindanao are suddenly on the development radar screen. This poor urban ape who likes to monkey around from place to place will attempt to look into the past, so that the present could be untangled and a clear picture of possible futures presented with a tentative purpose and clear collective certainty. Next week: Venice and Mobility

Posted in Opinion