Public and Private Space at Mohenjo-Daro: the Implications for Social Organization

Sarah Clark

Master of Arts Thesis. 2001

Richard Wilk and Robert Netting, among others, have pointed out that household morphology and function have been found to relate to "wider social, economic, and cultural realms" (1984:4). Through household data archaeologists have the opportunity to add new dimensions to their understanding of the social, economic and political realms of the archaeological groups they study. Archaeological study of Mohenjo-Daro, a large urban center in the Indus Valley, has so far not utilized household data to any great degree, nor recognized its potential for contribution to our understanding of the Indus Civilization (Figure 1.1). The size of the Mohenjo-Daro has been estimated anywhere from 100 ha to 200+ ha in size including habitations outside the known city walls. This urban center was one of the first of its kind in the Indus Valley region; it was constructed and inhabited during the Mature Harappan period, 2600-1900 BC (Kenoyer 1997:53-54). Past study has focused on wider issues such as the plac e of Mohenjo-Daro within the larger Indus sphere, the political structure of these centers and of the Indus Civilization as a whole, and their relationships with the powerful Mesopotamian states to the northwest. So far, archaeologists studying Mohenjo-Daro and the Indus Civilization in general have not had the time or data to focus on specific questions about the site and its inhabitants in particular. By focusing on narrower range of questions and data on Mohenjo-Daro, hopefully, we will in the end be able to extrapolate and gain further understanding of the socio-political organization and economy of the Indus Civilization in general. The specific questions that I would like to address at Mohenjo-Daro are:

  1. what was the basic family structure
  2. what degree of social hierarchy was present
  3. what special function areas can we identify

Analysis of household data can provide a firm base upon which to begin to answer some of these questions.