Vile Vortices – Part I: Mohenjo-daro

mohenjo_daroCryptozoology lovers may be interested in some areas of the world known for strange and mysterious events, known collectively as the “Vile Vortices.”  Disappearances, strange sightings, weird feelings and more occur in these monstrous places. CryptoVille explores these mysteries in a new 12 part series beginning with Mohenjo-daro, the site of the ancient Rama Empire!

Creatures aren’t the only strange things on this planet as I’m sure many of you know. There are places around the world where some very strange and puzzling things occur. Probably the most famous is the Bermuda Triangle. (Photo of Mohenjo-daro ruins top right.)

What I didn’t realize is the number of strange places, dubbed “Vile Vortices” by Scottish Biologist Ivan Sanderson. There are 12 situated at more or less equal distances around the globe forming an imperfect icosahedron shape.

Are mysterious forces responsible for the weird happenings, or is it something more down to Earth like electromagnetic disturbances from the planet itself?

IvanSandersonA Word About Ivan Sanderson

In 1972 Scottish biologist Ivan Sanderson (photo left) wrote an article for Saga magazine called “The Twelve Devil’s Graveyards Around the World.”  According to Rob Schwarz in an article for the Stranger Dimensions website, “These [12] locations are equidistant from each other, equally divided between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, and represent areas where strange disappearances, phenomena, or electromagnetic “aberrations” are said to occur.” (The clever map below showing the location of these vortices was created by Rob Schwarz for his website article.)


Sanderson came to call them “Vile Vortices” and he speculated they may be the result of electromagnetic disturbances in the atmosphere brought on by fluctuations in air temperature.  Since his article hit the collective consciousness, others have speculated (according to Wiki) that these vortices may be due to “subtle matter energy,” “ley lines,” or “electro-magnetic aberration.”

Sanderson was born in 1911 and died in 1973. During his career he was a well respected biologist, specializing in zoology. He traveled the globe until finally settling down in New Jersey. He seems to have been well regarded by the scientific community despite having a side interest in cryptozoology and strange phenomena.

What I find most interesting about the man is that he tried to find an explanation for the strange occurrences in these “vile vortices” based on science. It wasn’t until after his death that other writers and self-proclaimed paranormal investigators took his comments on various places and used them as a basis for their more outlandish theories.

Is there any truth behind Sanderson’s original theory? Or indeed the embellished theories that flourished after his death? That’s what we’re going to try and figure out in this series.

IndusRiverWhat Is Mohenjo-daro?

In approximately 2600 -2500 BC, the people of the Indus Valley began to build one of the earliest known civilizations of the Bronze Age in northwest Pakistan – known today as Mohenjo-daro. The remains we see today show us that it was a very advanced city for its time and the level of engineering and urban planning used in its construction is amazing.

Scientists say the city prospered until around 1900-1500 BC when it was abandoned. The scientists think the surrounding rivers may have shifted, resulting in the need to evacuate the area. Others believe they were destroyed by Indo-European migrants from Iran known as the Aryans.

The city was re-discovered in 1911 and named Mohenjo-daro from the local Sindhi language. Translated, it means “Mound of the Dead.”  The site was excavated until 1965 when work had to cease because the water table of the Indus River was rising and the subsequent salt residue threatened the ruins. Scientists think they excavated about a third of what’s there.

Now let’s consider this. At the time of Sanderson’s death in 1973, work had stopped on Mohenjo-daro and it was pretty much alone as an archaeological site. So we can see how it would look to be such a special and unique archaeological treasure. (Photo of a toy excavated in Mohenjo-daro, below left.)

indus_toy_1However, in subsequent decades, scientists continued to study the area only to discover other large cities similar to Mohenjo-daro. In fact, they now think there are over 1,000 sites throughout that area of Pakistan and parts of northern India and eastern Afghanistan that formed a greater, linked civilization. Scientists believe they had trade routes that linked them to Central Asia, Persia, and the Mesopotamian civilizations that existed in the areas now known as Iraq and Syria.

I’m not suggesting that Mohenjo-daro isn’t special, but as science has revealed, it was one piece of a greater puzzle. Since location is important for this “Vile Vortices” theory, it’s looking more like Mohenjo-daro doesn’t quite fit the mold.

So Where’s the Mystery?

From what I can tell, the mystery seems to be where did the people go? Why was the city abandoned? As I previously mentioned some scientists think nearby rivers – notably the Indus River that the city overlooked –  shifted course forcing the evacuation of the great city. Others say Aryan migrants from Iran destroyed the city.

indus_brickIn an article on the San Jose State University website, another theory is posed that goes like this. The city of Mohenjo-daro was built with fire-baked bricks that required lots of wood for the fire to bake the bricks. It seems as the centuries went by, the surrounding countryside became denuded of trees – a potentially catastrophic environmental factor. This would have worsened an already troublesome flooding problem.

Also, the city residents kept large herds of animals that may have overgrazed on an already stressed landscape.

Scientists remind us that not far away (geologically) were the Himalaya mountains. The potential for devastating earthquakes in the area was high.

Dancing_Girl_of_Mohenjo-daroAnother scientist, Gregory Possehl (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia) said there wasn’t evidence of flood damage in the city itself. Also, he believes the city wasn’t completely abandoned. (Photo of Dancing Girl statue found in Mohenjo-daro left.)

In an article by John Roach for National Geographic, “Faceless Indus Valley City Puzzles Archaeologists,” Possehl says, “A changing river course doesn’t explain the collapse of the entire Indus civilization. Throughout the valley, the culture changed. It reaches some kind of obvious archaeological fruition about 1900 BC. What drives that, nobody knows.”

So any of these factors, as well as a combination of factors seems the likely reason this city fell into ruin.

indus_scriptTo date, science hasn’t deciphered the written language (see photo right) used by these people. But once that’s done, they may likely have the answer as to what was happening in those days that would have led to the city’s ruin.


Ancient Alien Theorists

You just know they had to get in on this act, right? In a nutshell, the Ancient Alien Theorists (AATs) believe Mohenjo-daro was destroyed by a nuclear bomb in the ancient past. Dollars to donuts, they think aliens were somehow involved. How did they arrive at this spectacular conclusion? They cite several points which I’ll share below:


  • They say skeletons were found around the city, face down everywhere, as though everyone was struck dead at one moment.
  • Animals avoid the area (sensing the radiation) so there are no signs of scavenging on the skeletons or anywhere else.
  • They say the bones of the skeletons are remarkably well preserved.
  • There is radiation present throughout the site.
  • They say there is an epicenter with evidence of vitrification which is only caused by immensely high levels of heat.

Mike-HeiserSounds somewhat compelling, doesn’t it? And yet, thanks to the scholarship of Dr. Michael Heiser (M.A. and Ph.D in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages, and an M.A. in Ancient History specializing in Israel and Egyptology) (photo right), we get these facts:

  • The buildings within Mohenjo-daro are intact and some of them stand 15 feet high. A nuclear blast would have destroyed them.
  • In all 37 skeletons were found within the city, but they didn’t die at the same time. In fact, their estimated dates of death span a thousand years. And did we mention, all these bodies were buried?
  • No signs of scavengers on the skeletons? No because the bodies were buried.
  • What about the well preserved bones? The area experiences temperatures in the summer up to 128 F! Perfect for preservation.
  • None of the scientists who ever worked on the site found evidence of radiation.
  • The epicenter where vitrification was found was a pit with a lot of pottery in it. Vitrification (putting pottery in fire to harden it, which creates Frit, a type of vitrification) was found there as a by-product of their manufacturing process. It was hardly an “epicenter” of anything and certainly had nothing to do with a nuclear explosion.

AATMahabharata01The AATs frequently quote the great Hindu poem, the Mahabharata, which they claim offers proof that nuclear bombs were used in pre-history.  According to Dr. Heiser the AATs usually say something along these lines:

“One reference that we have, for example, speaks of these explosions that were brighter than a thousand suns. And when these blasts occurred the suns were twirling in the air; trees went up in flames and there was just this mass destruction. After those blasts, people who survive started to lose their hair and nails started to fall out. I mean, right there, we have a concise reference to radiation poisoning; nuclear fallout – and those texts are thousands of years old.”

The AATs never tell you exactly where these quotes are in the Mahabharata and that’s because they aren’t there at all. According to Dr. Heiser the part about hair/nails falling off and the thousand suns comes from a French book called Morning of the Magicians.

Now let’s consider that the Mahabharata consists of more than 1.8 million words. Who has the time to comb through that to verify what the AATs are saying? Most of us don’t. Thanks to scholars like Michael  Heiser and Jason Colavito, we have the evidence to say their quotes are flat-out wrong.

mahabharata_1Throughout the Mahabharata, deities are described as bright as “ten thousand suns.”  Remember, this piece is a poem where fanciful language and metaphors are used to describe ethereal topics, especially of a spiritual nature. The Mahabharata actually describes the development of the Hindu religion. It’s by no means an historical account.

So I think we can safely say, Mohenjo-daro is free of nuclear radiation, especially when you consider one of my references actually encourages people to come visit there. You don’t see people inviting you to Chernobyl, right?  However, due to the unrest in the Middle East, I’m sure it isn’t safe to travel to Mohenjo-daro, and that’s purely due to current human machinations.

In the End

So we see, once we get to the truth about a place, a purported “paranormal hotspot,” it isn’t really that at all. I think that would please Ivan Sanderson who was first and foremost, a scientist. It seems fitting to post this today because January 30, 2015 would have been his 104th birthday!

Next month we’ll visit another exotic place, part of this Vile Vortices series and see what we can discover there!

Til then!



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