MINGORA, Pakistan — Archaeologists and cultural activists say Buddhist rock carvings in the Swat district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are fading fast and urgently need a well-thought-out preservation strategy by the province’s Archaeology Department to protect them from vandalism.
The carvings date from the Gandhara Civilization, considered a cradle of Buddhism, which lasted from early in the first millennium BC to the 11th century AD in what is now northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Most depict Buddha or other prominent figures in ancient Buddhism. The rest are considered masterpieces of art and history that could attract tourists and scholars from around the world.
However, they are in danger from weathering, neglect, and vandals who have defaced them, thrown stones and garbage at them, and in some cases, urinated on them. Many of those responsible for the desecrations are locals who say they have been told by their mullahs it is virtuous to vandalize them. Read more.
ISLAMABAD: Many Pakistanis might not be aware that South Koreans trace the roots of their Buddhist heritage to centres of Gandhara civilization located in present-day Pakistan.
Buddhism is the largest faith in South Korea and Korean archaeologists and monks have visited Pakistan in the past for research as well as pilgrimage.
“Gandhara is considered the second home for Buddhism by Koreans,” says Quaid-e-Azam University’s Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations (TIAC) Director Dr Muhammad Ashraf Khan. “It is because Maranantha, the Gandharan monk who introduced Buddhism to South Korea, belonged to Swabi in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
” Now, academic exchanges and technical knowledge sharing between Pakistani and Korean archaeologists are expected to expand further. Read more.
A court on Thursday gave the Sindh archaeology department the custody of precious Gandhara-era relics lying at the Awami Colony police station since their seizure from smugglers earlier this month.
The court of Judicial Magistrate (East) Haleem Ahmed ordered the investigation officer in the smuggling case to hand over 395 relics to the department.
The judge observed that the department could take care of 2,000-year-old artefacts in a better way.
The archaeology department’s director, Qasim Ali Qasim, had filed an application with the court on Tuesday, requesting that his department be given the custody of the remains dating back to the Gandhara civilization.
Gandhara is the region that now consists of the Peshawar valley and eastern Afghanistan. It was in this region that the Gandhara civilisation rose and became the cradle of Buddhism. Read more.
KARACHI: Authorities in Karachi have seized dozens of precious antiquities dating from Pakistan’s ancient Gandhara civilisation, illegally dug from the country’s restive northwest, officials said Friday.
The haul included statues of Buddha, life-sized idols, bronze artefacts, utensils and decorative plaques, Qasim Ali Qasim, director of Sindh province archaeology department, told AFP.
Police intercepted a flatbed truck in Karachi and found the antiquities from the 2,000-year-old civilisation hidden under plastic and wooden items, officials said.
Senior police official Latif Siddiqui said the driver and cleaner of the truck had been arrested and an investigation was underway. Read more.
PESHAWAR: The smugglers in the garb of builders are excavating archaeological sites of Gandhara Civilisation unchecked and robbing the province of its archeological riches, allege officials and experts.
Recently, a probe team, headed by Museums and Archaeology Director Nidaullah Sehrai and comprising members of Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) and archaeology department officials, visited various archaeological sites in Mardan and Swabi districts to substantiate reports that relic hunters were engaged in unlawful digging at Gandharan Buddhist sites in these antiquity rich districts.
The team visited Sikri, Aziz Dheri, Baaja and Galla sites among others and confirmed that reports were true, officials said.
“Our finding confirm that well-organised gangs of smugglers are engaged in this criminal practice that threatens many ancient sites in the province”, said Mr Sehrai. Read more.