INDIA, January 4, 2013 (Live Mint): Rakhigarhi is a cluster of two sprawling villages --Rakhikhas and Rakhi Shahpur--in Haryana, around 106 miles from Delhi. That Rakhigarhi was a large Harappan town was known in 1963, when the area was first surveyed. What archaeologists are finding out now is that it is the biggest ever Harappan city, larger and more extensive than the massive Mohenjo Daro.
"The whole site is around 1.55 sq. miles, which is nearly double that of Mohenjo Daro," says Vasant Shivram Shinde, professor of archaeology and joint director of the Deccan College Post-Graduate and Research Institute, Pune. "It's in critical condition because of encroachment and construction."
About 40% of the Rakhigarhi site is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)--which translates to a fenced boundary wall and a guardroom with no guard. The wall is broken in several places, and the protected area is used by the villagers as a place to dry cow dung. The unprotected areas have houses and farmland. The ancient Harappan city lies buried under.
"People pick up Harappan objects from their fields and sell them for as little as Rs.100," says local villager Wazir Chand Saroae. "They don't mean to do anything illegal; it's just that they have little awareness about it."
All of this is set to change. The Global Heritage Fund (GHF), a non-profit organization based in the US that works to preserve the world's most endangered heritage sites, put Rakhigarhi on its project in 2012. This makes the Harappan site one of GHF's 13 projects worldwide.
GHF will not only coordinate an ambitious excavation and conservation project at the site, led by Prof. Shinde, beginning this month, it will also work with the local community to develop home stays, train tour guides, and establish an on-site lab and museum with the help of the ASI, Deccan College, and other government agencies to turn Rakhigarhi into a heritage tourism hot spot.
Even though the Harappan or Indus Valley Civilization is one of the three oldest urban civilizations, along with Egypt and Mesopotamia, it is the least understood. Its script is yet to be deciphered, and the knowledge of social structures and life during that period is scant. Rakhigarhi promises to change this too. It is one of the few Harappan sites which has an unbroken history of settlement starting with the early Harappan farming communities from 6000 to 4500 BC, to the mysterious collapse of the civilization around 1800 BC.
Read much more of this lengthy article at source.