Excavation soon to ascertain depth of Mohenjo-Daro

KARACHI: Renowned German scholar, architect, archaeologist, conservationist Prof. of Urban History Micheal Jansen said on Tuesday that the Sindh government has approved a project for more research and excavation of Mohenjo-Daro and drilling at different places would soon start to ascertain the depth of remains of ancient city.

In his presentation at technical session ‘Ancient Art & Architecture of Sindh’ on second day of International Seminar ‘Sindh through Centuries’ organized by Sindh Madressatul Islam University at a local hotel in Karachi, he said the archaeological site of Mohenjo-Daro is spread over one and half a kilometre but UNESCO is interested in depth of ancient remains.

German scholar was of the view that Indus river course poses threat to Moen Jo Daro and added that before the banks of Indus River were raised during British rule here in 1870, the river water used to inundate the area eroding the remains.

He did not agree to general perception that the Stupa of Moen Jo Daro belonged to Buddhist era. “The Buddhist Stupas are generally found far away from the urban areas while the Stupa at Mohenjo-Daro is located in urban area of ancient city. However, it needs further research,” he said.

A study jointly conducted by a South Korean and a Pakistani scholar says there is an illustration of possible linkage between human factor of Manhattan gridiron system (City Plan) and the anthropology of Indus Valley Civilization (Mohenjo-Daro).

Presenting the paper on comparative study on gridiron planning from America to Indus Valley Civilization and pre-Amri period Mehergarh, Balochistan, at the technical session on ‘Ancient Art & Architecture of Sindh’ on second day of international seminar ‘Sindh through the Centuries’ at a local hotel on Tuesday, the scholars said archaeologists and historians had been requesting the urban planners to systematically design the gridiron due to its after effects in the history. The gridiron once embedded in urban mass is difficult to revise for further change. The seminar has been organized by Sindh Madressatul Islam University.

The paper, which intended to identify the trends over the time for anthropological living settlement patterns and chronology of compact city plan, says that gridiron pattern is fixing lines and urban frame, a water front line and fixing geometry for defining urban segments. Scholars quoted Stanislawski as saying in 1946 that the origin of the grid (type of city plan in which streets run at right angles to each other forming a grid) was Moen Jo Daro. He had analyzed that the grid emerged from the tradition of Indus Valley.

The paper was co-authored by Dr. Jae Seung Park, Professor at the School of Architecture, Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea and Javeria Manzoor Shaikh, PhD candidate in Healthcare Architecture at same University.

Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari, co-director, Centre for Archaeological & Environmental Research, in his paper on Makli, which is dubbed as largest necropolis of Islamic world and world’s epigraphic wonder, reproached that the site, protected a century ago under preservation laws and subsequently declared as the world heritage under UNESCO conventions, has unfortunately suffered a colossal neglect as it neither been studied nor maintained. He urged for full documentation and scientific conservation strategy for Makli.

According to his study, most of the inscribed graves are neither dated nor give information regarding the person buried at Makli. It has created the problem in understanding the spatial growth of the graveyard. It however is well compensated with structural classification of the Cenotaphs showing perceptible evolution in the design, he concluded.

Dr. Mastoor Fatima Bukhari, Director, Archaeology & Anthropology, Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur presented her paper on early historic period pottery, its history, earliest evidences, typology, designs/decoration, colours and motifs. She said that pottery provides most important information about the technologies and stylistic development of the past. The pottery has played a vital role in archaeology and served as a document of important themes in human life and also a source of inspiration in the history of arts and crafts. She spoke about stamped pottery with different patterns and directly stamped on clay.

Another important paper “Tale of dying craft and identity: the saga of the Silawat Community” presented by Varda Nisar, who studied Architecture at University of Karachi, and currently is freelance editor of online magazine, highlighted the role of Silawat community in architecture of Karachi. “The Silawat, which means ‘Stone Masons’, had been the force behind buildings like KMC Building, Merewether Tower, Mohatta Palace etc, but the impact of modernization has been such that their craft, a major source of their identity, would soon diminish, remaining as only a footnote in our history,” she said.

The former Project Architect and Researcher of Karachi Heritage Building Resurvey Project, NED University, Karachi, Tania Ali Soomro readout paper on conservation practices used in Karachi for protection of architectural heritage.

Renowned urban planner Arif Hassan Khan presided over the session.

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