Tuesday, 17 January 2012

International archaeology conference: Scholars for steps to preserve heritage sites

Islamabad: A four-day international conference on archaeology concluded with an emphasis on the need to undertake new studies and immediate steps to preserve endangered cultural heritages in the region.

Scholars, on the last day, talked about the Silk Route, Hindu and Sikh temples in Hazara and Islamic and Talpur period architecture.
Ravi Korisettar from Karnatak University in India chaired the morning session.

 The first presenter, John Mock from the University of California Santa Cruz in the USA, talked about history and culture of Afghanistan’s Wakhan corridor, expanding on Aurel Stein’s descriptions. He presented an initial analysis of several new finds, including the site of Lien Yuen, which Stein discussed but was unable to locate. He also talked about Tibetan-style fort complexes and watch towers, inscriptions and numerous rock carvings that appear to represent the Silk Route caravan trade. He said these materials provide new information on the history and culture of Central Asia and the Silk Route, and underline an urgent need for thorough documentation and preservation of this globally significant heritage, said a handout issued by the organizers.

  Tahir Saeed from Federal Archaeology and Museums Department spoke about local and foreign influences on the iconography of Buddhist art in Korea. “The early formative stage of Korean-Buddhist culture and art is closely followed by earlier Chinese models which were developed from different sources starting from the Indian subcontinent,” he said.

  Ibrahim Shah from Hazara University presented his survey on Hindu Temples in Hazara, which mostly date back to the Sikh and the British periods. He said there is a dire need to study the architecture and decoration of these temples before they go into decay.

 Other scholars talked about the Islamic architecture of Swat, Talpur period architecture in Sindh, shrines, common features of the regional Islamic archaeology and illustrated manuscripts in National Museum of Pakistan. The conference also gave scholars a chance to interact with each other and youngsters from around the country. The conference concluded at noon. An excursion trip to Taxila for conference guests was held after the closing of the event.

 The four-day conference consisted of back-to-back sessions and discussions carried out by leading archaeologists and museum specialists from well-known universities in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and the US. The conference was organised by American Institute of Pakistan Studies with support from the US embassy and the Government of Pakistan.

  Published in The Express Tribune, January 9th, 2012.

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