The Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro

What is considered possibly the first of its type of architecture in the category of a public water tank of the ancient world is the Great Bath at Mohenjo-Daro. It is one of the largest public buildings at Mohenjo-daro, measuring 108 ft. x 180 ft. with the bathing pool 39 ft. long, 28 ft. wide and 8 ft. deep. Discovered in 1926 through archeological excavations, the great bath is considered to be one of the most renown structures of all ruins of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization at Mohenjo-daro, Sindh, Pakistan. Archeologists have said that this structure dates back to 3rd Millennium BC.

Architecture of the Great Bath

Architectural references include a very symmetrical plan of the internal bath due to the two wide staircases from north and south. There are smaller sockets upon the edges of the stairs, which are believed to hold wooden planks. At the end of the stairs it is widely recognized that the small ledge has brick edging as a coping that extends to the whole pool. This causes the beautiful concept to exist that the people in that time could actually come down the stairways by this ledge without stepping into the pool itself. Some very finely laid burnt brickwork layered with gypsum is a spectacle due to these intricate joinery details. Brick columns surrounded the Great Bath and serve as platforms. The water for the bath was provided by a well in an adjacent room and adjacent to the bath there was porticos, sets of rooms and a staircase leading to the upper storey.

Brick Platforms surrounding the Great Bath Image: Wikimedia
Detailed Annotated Plan of the Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro Drawing: Anosh Nadeem Butt
Brick Joinery Details of the Great Bath Drawing: Anosh Nadeem Butt

Many scholars agree that the Great Bath at Mohenjo-daro was used for special religious functions. During these functions water was used to purify and renew well-being. People were not allowed to enter the Great Bath if they were poor or not pure. There was a bathroom area next to it, which was most likely to used for purification before entering the Great Bath.

Eyeing this structure moves one to think about the features of hydraulic engineering which may have been employed in its function as the city was equipped with its own complex sewer system and almost all the houses present in the city possessed a bathing compartment.

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