Japanese help unravel mystery of Indus civilization: Sharmila


KARACHI: Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister for Culture and Tourism Ms Sharmila Farooqi has said that nations who do not care of their cultural heritage get lost their identity. Protecting the cultural heritage is a great challenge on account of availability and utilization of funds and the government was trying to meet this challenge, she added.

She expressed these views while delivering presidential address at second technical session ‘Archaeological Heritage of Sindh’ at first day of the second international conference on ‘Sindh through the Centuries’ organized by Sindh Madressatul Islam University at a local hotel here on Monday.

She said that the federal government had transferred control of 129 cultural and archaeological sites to Sindh in 2011 under devolution of federal subjects. According to her, preservation and protection of these sites was a bit challenge for the provincial government, especially for want of funds and their utilization. Despite difficulties her department took the job and is trying to do it well, she said adding that people of Sindh are proud of their cultural heritage because it is their identity. “Our identity is our rich cultural heritage and history and not the terrorism and extremism”, she added.

Earlier Toshiki Osada, Professor Emeritus of the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto, Japan presented his paper. He was head of the team of researchers that painted the fresh image of the Indus civilization through five years of research, known as the Indus Project. “Different regional communities created a loose network through trade”, Osada and his team members concluded in their research.

He said that two of the more well-known ruins of the Indus civilization are Harappa and Moenjo-Daro, both in Pakistan. Currently, most researchers focus on the ruins of five major urban centers: the two famous sites; Pakistan’s Ganeriwala, which is in a desert; India’s Dholavira, which is on an island in a marsh; and Rakhigarhi, also in India.

The common view is that the desert sites used to have rivers other than the Indus flowing nearby. Researchers, led by Hideaki Maemoku, a physical geography expert and professor at Japan’s Hosei University, examined the area around the desert ruins with a dating method based on mineral crystals. The conclusion is that the cities were built on these dunes only after the river was long gone.

Japanese scholar said that at Dholavira, artefacts have been found that suggest thriving maritime trade. The most likely candidates for this trade are the ancient societies in Mesopotamia, which could have been reached via the Arabian Sea. He stated that the Indus Project used computers to plot changes to the coastline over the centuries to figure out where ancient shorelines would have been. Geological features were also studied and changes in terrain were estimated. “All of this found that sea levels were around 2 meters higher and the coastline was much deeper inland. This suggests that many of the ruins in the area were along the ancient shoreline and that this part of the Indus civilization was dependent on the ocean”, he opined.

According to him, the research has also tried to find out when and why the Indus civilization declined. “When changes in the distribution of ruins are traced using what is called a geographic information system, ruins start to concentrate in northern India at the decline of the civilization”, he said, adding that Indus script has yet to be deciphered, which means there is much more to learn.

Presenting her paper during the session on recent excavations in Banbhore Dr. Asma Ibrahim, Director, State Bank of Pakistan Museum & Art Gallery Department, said that the site was surveyed completely in 2011; kite-pictures were taken aimed at mapping the site intra moenia, surrounding quarters was carried out.

The next season 2012-13 comprised excavations and further documentation, results were very interesting and raised many questions, the third season of excavations was 2013-14, Jan –Feb , the results of which are in its preliminary stages but the discoveries are amazing

Professor Dr Ghulam Mohiuddin Veesar, Department of Archaeology, Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur presented his paper on ‘Mesolithic sites in Thar Desert and its implications for human dispersal in Sindh’. He said that the evidence of early, middle and late/upper Palaeolithic sites in this region shows that the favourable echo system, raw material and exploitation of natural resources were available for the people of stone-age followed by the prehistoric and post historic settlements that have been systematically documented.

Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro, a Research Anthropologist at Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Islamabad presented his paper on ‘Stupa Images in the Rock art of Sindh’. His paper discusses the Buddhist traditions that are found in the rock art of Sindh.

Tasleem Alam Abro, who is serving as lecturer at Department of Archaeology, Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, presented her paper on Surface analysis of newly discovered sites in Larkana District’.

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