Extreme Floods in Pakistan Devastate Cultural Heritage Sites

View of the stupa mound at Mohenjo Daro (all images courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

News of catastrophic climate change has been dominated this week by an unprecedented monsoon season in Pakistan that has killed more than 1,000 people and impacted a significant majority of the population. Nearly 33 million of the country’s population of 220 million have been affected by the record-breaking floods, Reuters reports.

“You wouldn’t believe the scale of destruction there,” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told media outlets. “It is water everywhere as far as you could see. It is just like a sea.” The government currently estimates damage totaling $10 billion, with hundreds of thousands of citizens displaced by the crisis.

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But it is not only Pakistan’s present and future that are at risk from rising flood waters; the rains now pose a significant threat to its cultural history. The ruins of Mohenjo Daro, a 4,500-year-old UNESCO World Heritage Site located near the Indus River in the currently aggrieved southern province of Sindh, are being damaged by the rainfall.

“Several big walls, which were built nearly 5,000 years ago, have collapsed because of the monsoon rains,” Ahsan Abbasi, the site’s curator told the Associated Press. Discovered in 1922, Mohenjo Daro was previously considered among the best-preserved urban settlements in South Asia, though its origins and the fall of its inhabitants are still unknown. Now, experts argue that climate change threatens to further degrade what can be gleaned from this historical site, with the forts, tombs, and other sites that symbolize the history of the region in danger of crumbling. This loss is, of course, secondary to the millions of lives being lost or affected by the flooding, with many of those bearing the brunt of the tragedy among the most underprivileged, both globally and locally.

The great bath at Mohenjo Daro

Other sites in the Sindh province are also reporting devastation. The Shah Baharo and Tajjar buildings in the city of Larkana are inundated by rainwater overflowing from drainage and sewage lines in the city center, according to the English-language Pakistani newspaper Dawn. Additionally, the 1758 Tomb of Mian Noor Muhammad Kalhoro in Moro has already lost several graves; the drum of a Buddhist stupa at Thul Mir Rukan has been broken; and the Makli monuments in Thatta and Banbhore have suffered damage as well.

“Whatever we have restored has been damaged,” Hamid Akhund, who is secretary of the Endowment Fund Trust (EFT) for the Preservation of Heritage of Sindh, told Dawn. “There is not a single place left in Sindh where heritage remains intact; be it Kot Diji, Ranikot, Shahi Mahal, White Palace, Faiz Mahal, the historic imam bargahs, bungalows or public dispensaries.”

Source: Hyperallergic.com

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