Karachi - Daily Mail - The world’s only surviving Bronze Age metropolis could disappear within 20 years unless urgent action is taken to preserve it.

The 5,000 year old ruins of the ancient city of Mohenjodaro are situated in what is now the province of Sindh on the west bank of the Indus River. But the settlement has been left to crumble over the years due to government neglect, a drop in tourism and security issues within the country.

Experts have now warned that Mohenjodaro is in danger of corroding away completely if a rescue plan is not drawn up immediately to save it.

Officials met in Karachi last week to discuss ways of preserving it. The city dates back to 3000BC and was made up of homes with interconnecting rooms, fired brick walls, court yards, good roads, clean water and even a complex draining system.

The advanced example of urban planning was incredibly complex for its time. There were separate drains for rainwater and sewage which were covered with slabs of limestone to prevent insects. Wells were built for drinking water and clay litter bins even lined the streets.

Wheat and barley were stored on raised platforms to protect them from flooding and a water cooler took pride of place in a marketplace where people would gather. There was even a large swimming bath complete with dressing rooms - mainly used for keeping clean.

More than 40,000 artefacts have been discovered which reveal a sophisticated society of around 40,000 inhabitants living in the Indus Valley which even had its own system of law. Artefacts include gold jewellery, statues, pottery, games and even a chess set. But little is known about the appearance of men and women in Mohenjodaro.

However, a seven inch high stone sculpture discovered in the lower city shows how men might have looked and dressed.

The figure’s beard is short and neat, his upper lip is shaved clean, and his hair is tied with a band that hangs down his back to his shoulder. Sir John Marshall, the director general of the Archaeological Survey of India, led the team who dug through the sand and mud to uncover the city and thousands of artefacts. But now the walls of this ancient city are crumbling from the base upwards.

The salt content in the ground is eating away at the bricks which before had survived thousands of years. Hot summers, cold winters, monsoon rains and humidity have all contributed to the city’s major decay.

Preservation work has been carried out since the very first excavations in 1924. Some experts believe the settlement, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1980, should be buried again to stop any further decline.

Dr Asma Ibrahim, a Pakistani archaeologist, told The Telegraph: ‘There is no department with expertise, no decisions taken for the last two years. ‘The way things are going, it will survive maybe only another 20 years.’