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Friday, August 28, 2009

Save Moenjodaro (May 31, 1976)

The stamp is horizontal in format. The figures in blue and black appearing on the right side of the stamp is a mythological figure taken from a statuette seal of a Unicorn at Moenjodaro. In the background is shown the ruins of Moenjodaro with the stupa of Kashan period in brown and orange colours. Bold and characterized inscription of the Seal appears in orange colour against brown background at the top of the stamp with UNESCO emblem in reverse at left. The caption “Save Moenjodaro” appears in blue at the top of the stamp. The denomination figure ‘20 P’ with the word ‘Postage’ underneath appears in reverse in the blue panel at right hand corner. ‘Pakistan’ in Urdu and English appears in black at the bottom left side of the stamp. Moenjodaro was one of the main centres of culture that flourished in the Indus valley 5,000 years ago. This archaeological site is now in danger as a result of erosion caused by rising underground water level. It is the opinion of experts that, unless preserv-ed, Moenjodaro is in danger of total destruction within the next 30 years.
Measures to save Moenjodaro have been devised by the Pakistani authorities with the help of UNESCO experts. The total cost of the priority work will be 7,500,000 dollars and it will take 5 years to complete it. It is obvious that for a task of this magnitude the technical and financial resources of Pakistan are not sufficient. As a part of an international appeal for assistance to preserve Moenjodaro, the Pakistan Post Office in collaboration with the Authority for the Preservation of Moenjodaro (Pakistan) has arranged to bring out a series of commemorative stamps for public motivation. The first issue of the Save Moenjodaro Series consis-ted of a set of five stamps of different denominations and was brought Out on 29th February, 1976. As indicated previ-ously Pakistan Post Office will be issuing a stamp in this series after every three months for a period of one year. Accord-ingly the second issue is being brought out on 31st May, 1976. This is a 20-Paisa stamp.
PROBLEMS FACING MOENJODARO AND THEIR REMEDIAL MEASURES
It is a paradox of facts that the ruins of Moenjodaro buried beneath the accumula-tions of five thousand years remained in an excellent state of preservation. But as soon as they were exposed from oblivion to the incredible gaze of the 20th century, they were overtaken by water-logging and salinity. These two diseases combined with the threat of bank erosion by the Indus River, pose a grim danger to the existence of one of the most valuable cultural lega-cies of the human race. If ever the world felt concerned for sinking Venice, it must feel desperate at the crumbling of Moenjodaro if ever the world’s conscience was roused to save Abu Simbel, it must be shaken to save Moenjodaro.
The phenomenon of salt encrustation on the bricks and structures of the ruins was noticed during and immediately after the excavations in the early twenties. The swelling of water table, which had already risen by several feet during the excavation period, was observed to be the main cause of decay of the structures. Certain chemical measures for the preservation of these ruins were adopted, but these methods were a palliative and not a cure of the malady. The site was left unattended for several years during the Second World War and in this interval, the effect of salts and the defective drainage played havoc on the remains. In 1940, efforts were made to remove salts from the structures and the remains of the Great Bath were washed with plain water and given chemical treat-ment. [n 1948 mud plaster and mud brick capping was applied to some structures with considerably successful results. These homespun techniques have been in use since then to the extent of the available funds. In nature and scope these techniques, however, serve only to slow down the rate of disintegration of the remains.
The importance of the archaeological remains at Moenjodaro attracted the attention of specialists and laymen alike. It is doubtful if any advanced country, had it inherited Moenjodaro, would have done more for its preservation than what has been done so far by Pakistan despite her tight economy. In 1960, the Government of Pakistan opened negotiations with the UNESCO, inviting their technical advice in response of which a number of individual experts and missions of experts have since visited the country to study the situation and suggest remedial measures.
In order to save this priceless heritage from total extinction, the Government of Pakistan have prepared a Master Plan, which has since been approved by the UNESCO. Besides, UNESCO have also pledged to make financial contribution towards the execution of’ the aforesaid Master Plan.