The active sites on the methane dehydroaromatization (MDA) catalyst Mo/HZSM-5 are very hard to characterize, because they are present in various geometries and sizes and only form under reaction conditions with methane at 700 °C. To address these issues an experimental strategy is presented that enables distinguishing different active sites for MDA present on Mo/HZSM-5 and helps determining the Mo charge, nuclearity and chemical composition. This approach combines a CO pretreatment to separate the active Mo site formation from coke formation, quasi-in situ spectroscopic observations using DNP, 13C NMR, CO IR and theory. This allows the discrimination between three different types of active sites. Distinct spectroscopic features were observed corresponding to two types of mono- or dimeric Mo (oxy-)carbide sites as well as a third site assigned to Mo2C nanoparticles on the outer surface of the zeolite. Their formal Mo oxidation state was found to be between 4+ and 6+. Dynamic nuclear polarization (DNP) measurements of samples carburized in CO as well as in CH4 confirm the assignment and also show that accumulated aromatic carbon covers the bigger Mo nanoparticles on the outer surface of the zeolite, causing deactivation. It was previously observed that after an initial period where no desired products are formed yet, benzene starts slowly forming until reaching its maximum productivity. Direct observation of the active site with 13C NMR confirmed that Mo-sites do not transform further once benzene starts forming, meaning that they are fully activated during the period where no desired products are observed yet. Therefore the slow increase of the benzene formation rate cannot be attributed to a further transformation of Mo sites.