Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Priceless Indian Find and Yet More Destruction of Ancient Sites

From dawn.com
February 7, 2012
Rare Indus seal discovered in Cholistan (excerpted)

LAHORE, Feb 6: The Punjab University archaeology department has discovered a rare Indus seal in steatite material with carved figure of Ibex with two pictographs from Wattoowala, Cholistan, during a survey of different sites near Derawar Fort along the ancient bed of River Hakra.

(Not a good image, unfortunately) The seal dates back to 2500-2000 BC.

The seal has been discovered by a six-member team of archaeologists headed by PU archaeology department chairman Dr Farzand Masih, who has just concluded a Unesco-funded US$26,000 project “Sui-Vihar Excavations and Archaeological Reconnaissance of southern Punjab”.

Dr Masih told Dawn that the discovery would open new dimensions for scholars. The seal has a perforated boss in the back with variant style from Harappan seals showing the regional influence and perhaps a separate identity in the Harappan domain. The seal is almost square in shape and slightly broken from the right side but figure of Ibex is almost intact. The muscles, genitalia, hooves and tail of the Ibex were engraved artistically with high proportion of skill and craftsmanship.

Dr Masih said the team had also combed the Cholistan desert in the vicinity of Derawar Fort. Prior to that, he said, Sir Aural Stein and Henry Field had conducted the survey in 1941 and 1955, respectively. After the Independence, he said, Dr Muhammad Rafique Mughal had conducted an extensive survey during 1974-77 and discovered altogether 424 settlements on a 24-32 km wide strip on both sides of the dry bed of Hakra River.

He said the Mughals’ work in Cholistan had established a new dimension in the understanding of Indus cultures in Cholistan but unfortunately any indigenous or foreign scholar could not precede his work further even after three decades. Consequently, he said, the PU took the gigantic task of exploring the sites in spite of the inhospitable climatic conditions and surveyed some 25 sites in Cholistan Desert, which eventually led to the discovery of the rare Indus seal.

During explorations in Cholistan, the archaeology department chairman told Dawn that the team had also recorded flagrant violation of the Antiquities Rules to the cultural mounds which had been subjected to the worst human vandalism. “The land grabbers and other mafias have brutally murdered the cultural heritage while sinking tubewells on the mounds and ploughing the mounds to convert them into farm lands,” he said.

Dr Masih said the private land owners had sold the land including the cultural mounds and now the attitude of the new buyers towards the heritage was very hostile and it was feared that if no concrete steps were taken to safeguard the relics of the past, it might meet the fate of ruins of Harappa that suffered colossal damage during the laying of Lahore-Multan railway track.

“The entire scenario shows the dexterity of the investors and the pathetic attitude of the agencies responsible for cultural heritage of Pakistan,” he observed.

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