MINUTES OF 1ST  MEETING OF STEERING COMMITTEE ON MAKLI HILL MONUMENTS THATTA HELD AT KARACHI.

            1st Meeting of Steering Committee on Makli Hill Monuments Thatta was held under the Chairmanship of Director General (Antiquities & Archaeology), Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Department on 3rd April, 2018 at 12.00 p.m. in his office, Karachi. Following attended the meeting.

1.      

Mr. Manzoor Ahmad Kanasro

Director General(Antiquities & Archaeology)

Chairman

2.      

Mr. Naseer Ahmed Narejo, Additional Secretary, Culture

Member

3.      

Mr. Kazi Ayaz Mahessar, Representative UNESCO,  Islamabad.

Member

4.      

Mr. Rand Eppich (Conservation Architect Spain)

Member

5.      

Mr. Georgios Toubekis (Conservation Architect-Germany)

Member

6.      

Dr. Muhammad Ali Manjhi, Historian & Archaeologist

Member

7.      

Dr. Prof. Qasid Hussain Mallah, Archaeologist

Member

8.      

Mr. Roshan Ali Kanasro, Director  P&D

Member

9.      

Mr. Abdul Fatah Shaikh, Director Archaeology

Member

10.   

Ms. Naheed Zahra, Director, Expl. Branch

Member

11.   

Mr. Amar Fayaz Buriro (Consultant STDC)

Member

12.   

Mr. Muhammad Tanveer, Asstt.Archl Engineer

Member

 

MEETING AGENDA

  1. INTRODUCTION TO THE RESPONSIBILTIES AND MANDATES OF STEERING COMMITTEE

        Mr. Manzoor Ahmed Kanasro, the chair welcomed all the participants and outlined the mandate and responsibilities of steering  committee and highlighted the objectives of the meeting stating that steering committee was requirement of UNESCO.

Mr. Naseer Ahmed Narejo, Additional Secretary, Culture insisted that a member of District Administration may be included for better implementation of decisions of the steering committee.

Mr. Kazi Ayyaz Mahasser, Representative of UNESCO, Islamabad opined that the steering committee is competent to decide all the matters regarding the conservation and preservation of the site.

 

  1. REVIEW AND ASSESSMENT OF THE PROPOSALS RECEIVED OF THE CONSERVATION, PRESERVATIN AND RESTORATION OF THE SELECTED MONUMENTS AT MAKLI  

Mr. Manzoor Ahmad Kanasro, Director General Antiquities and Archaeology briefed the committee that various proposals have been submitted by Heritage Foundation of Pakistan and Endowment Fund Trust  for the conservation, preservation and restoration of selected monuments.  He was of the opinion that all the proposals are vital for the preservation and conservation of Makli and have been considered at highest level of the Department and they will be encouraged to contribute to the magnificence of Makli Necropolis.

Mr. Tanwir Ahmed, Assistant Archaeological Engineer proposed that all the proposals on the Makli should be considered very carefully and most suitable to be selected for the work on the site.

Mr. Kazi Ayaz Mahessar, Representative UNESCO Islamabad seconded with the policy of the department for encouraging Non Governmental Organization (NGOs) for participating in the conservation of the Makli site and also pointed out that UNESCO specially encourages NGOs for conservation and preservation of archeological sites.

 

  1. DISCUSSION ON THE PRESERVATION OF JAM NIZAMUDDIN MAUSOLEUM IN THE LIHGT OF THE RECOMMNEDATIONS  BY   MATTHIAS BECKH, STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING, MUNICH, GERMANY

The chair signified the vitality of Jam Nizamuddin Monument and keeping in view of the structural condition of Jam Nizamuddin the study was conducted by Matthias Beckh, Structural Engineer with view to the consolidation of the structure of the monument as per original condition.

Mr. Naseer Ahmed Narejo, Additional Secretary, Culture department suggested that the report to be circulated amongst the experts so as to get the opinions before we work on the report.

Mr. Fayaz Amar Buriro, Consultant, STDC further suggested that the report should be placed on the web site for the general view. This suggestion was seconded by Mr. Muhammad Ali Manjhi, Historian and supported by Mr. Abdul Fatah Shaikh, Director of Archaeology and Museums Sindh.

 

  1. DISCUSION ON THE COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT FOR ADDRESSING THE ISSUES OF CONTEMPORARY BURIALS AT THE SITE.

 

The chair raised the issue of contemporary burials at the Makli site is very complex and old but needs to be resolved on the top priority basis.

Dr. Prof. Muhammad Ali Manjhi showed his willingness to mobilize the local community with a view to sensitizing to the issue of contemporary burials at the site.    

  1. DISCUSSION ON ADDRESSING THE ENCROACHMENTS

Encroachment is a very serious threat that needs to be confronted with the iron hand understanding that it has survival of a world heritage site in Pakistan is at stake. Encroachment by way of settlements and new burials is an ongoing phenomenon at Makli.  Along the Heritage site western border is the famous Jung-Shahi Road as well as urban development mostly residential. 

Mr. Abdul Fatah Shaikh, Director Archaeology briefed about the encroachments on Western corridor as it presents the WHS with the most encroachment threat though within the site itself some areas have been taken over by the influential for present construction of houses.  It is therefore imperative that encroachment around the site be removed immediately to secure and protect the integrity and authenticity of this site.  This buffer zone has been proposed in the master Plan as a 200 wide belt all around the site boundary consistent with the Antiquities Act 1975 of Pakistan, Act VII (1976) Section 22.

DECISIONS:

          After thorough discussion, following decisions were taken:

  1. A member of District Administration of Thatta will be included in the Steering Committee for better implementation of the decisions in the Committee.
  2. The Committee shall meet regularly.
  • It has been decided to upload the report of Mr. Matthias Beckh, Structural Engineer on the official web site of Antiquities.
  1. It has been decided to mobilize the local community with the help of creation of  the awareness of significance heritage amongst the local masses.
  2. It has been decided the law of the Antiquities and other laws of the land will be utilized fully to implement code of conduct as set by UNESCO for the Makli site.
  3. The Media campaign against the encroachment and the new burials on the Makli site will be started with full vigor.
  • The Advertisement for the creation of awareness will be published in the top leading newspapers
  • Symposium/workshop on the issue of the Makli site will be held in which stake holders will be invited.
  1. It has been decided to arrange the walk from Makli to City Thatta for better propagating the message of safeguarding the heritage.
  2. New burials shall not be allowed within the premises of historical monuments of Makli at any cost. However, new space shall be provided to local community nearby for the new burials in consultation with the local administration.
  3. Special lecture programme will be arranged in the local institution of Makli and Thatta for the better understanding of the local heritage.
  • It has also been decided in case of violation of our law of Antiquities a petition will be filed in the court of law against the violators of sanctity of heritage.
  1. The Meeting ended with a vote of thanks to and from the chair.
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Introduction 

This document is a compilation of summaries of the scholarly presentations made at the First International Conference at Makli in January 2018. The summaries here have been divided into three categories: Archaeologists- Conservators, Historians and Historians of Art and Architecture.

Archaeologists- Conservators

Dr. Ruth Young

Dr. Thomas Lorain

Architect Yasmeen Lari

Architect Tania Ali Soomro

Rand Eppich

Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Tavassoli

Historians of Art and Architecture

Rabela Junejo

Fatima Qureshi

Dr. Margaret S. Graves

Munazzah Akhtar

Historians

Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari

Dr. Humera Naz

Shayan Rajani

Dr. Waleed Ziad

Dr. Ali Gibran Siddiqui

Dr. GM Lakho

Mr. Muhammad Shah Bokhari

ARCHAEOLOGISTS- CONSERVATORS

 

Dr. Ruth Young

PhD Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford

The Role of Heritage in Communities w.r.t. Makli

Dr. Young affirmed that Makli is one of the most spectacular later historic cultural sites in the region, if not the world, and raised a number of discussion points relevant to wider debates around heritage and the promotion of cultural sites. She listed the pros and cons involved for any site holding World Heritage status. Dr. Young encouraged the audience consider the impacts of increasing tourism. She gave several examples from other heritage sites: for example, the Great Wall of China is suffering structurally due to the impact of tourists. Littering and overcrowding are a by-product of increased visitors. Unregulated tourism could risk the very things Makli is famous for.

While Makli has avoided being placed on the WH endangered list, there are clearly many issues that need to be urgently addressed. Dr. Young cited the case of Machu Pichu where guidelines have been set to control crowds: entry is regulated with specified numbers of people at specified times, and tourists are allowed in only with a tour guide.

Dr. Young urged heritage professionals and government departments to study and learn from the mistakes of other countries and sites, and carefully select the approaches that might work best at Makli, rather than attempting to work through these problems alone.

 

Dr. Thomas Lorain

PhD from Ecole Pratiqe des Hautes Etudes

The Funerary Complex of Khwaja Sabz Push (possibly a madrassah) in Bamiyan, Afghanistan: Arch Study and Archaeological Excavation of a Medieval Necropolis by the Afghan-French Archaeological Mission in Bamiyan. Capital of Ghurids.

Dr. Lorain spoke about his experience with a large survey of Islamic monumental sites in Bamiyan. He stressed the value of proper sequencing when working on a heritage site. Dr. Lorain made the point that archaeologists must be the very first party to survey a site, prior to giving it over to conservation/ restoration groups. He underlined the importance of sweeping the site for paper scraps, shards and various other material clues. He pointed out that archaeologists are trained to find key information onsite before anyone else touches it, in order to determine what the building was and control misinformation. He recommended that the Govt. of Sindh follow such procedures in correct sequence so to preserve all possible information, as they go forward in developing the heritage site at Makli.

Architect Yasmeen Lari

SI HI Fukuoka Prize Laureate

Conservation of 16th century Monuments at Makli W.H.

Yasmeen Lari’s presentation traced the work carried out by the Heritage Foundation of Pakistan (HF) over a span of 30 years on various aspects of the Makli necropolis. The work, shown with help of slides, included the the first maps of tangible and intangible heritage assets of Makli with documentation and cataloging of 75 monuments and over 3,000 graves. She showed examples of emergency assistance provided to the 15th c. tomb of Samma Noble I (with assistance from Prince Claus Fund, the Netherlands), 16th c. mosque of Auliya Peer and 17thc. stepped well (with support from Spiritual Chords of South Africa).

Dr. Lari showcased the use of innovative techniques of placing bamboo domes over the voids created due to collapse of the original domes. The new domes thus provide protection to the cenotaphs which were made vulnerable as a result of being exposed to the weather.

With support from UNESCO/Republic-of-Korean Funds-in Trust, the HF set up a Kashi Atelier for training of master and other skilled artisans to produce improved quality of tiles to compensate the loss of tiles in the tombs. The training imparted by HF has empowered the local community with an avenue for livelihood. This is especially significant because Makli is home to a large mendicant community, who beg for a living.

Architect Tania Ali Soomro

Conservation Architect/ Researcher,

Lecturer – Department of Architecture & Planning DUET

UNESCO World Heritage Site Management Apprehension”
A Discourse Concerning the Tourism Aspect of Necropolis of Makli

Tania Ali Soomro underscored that the vulnerability of the Makli site is due to deterioration as a result of natural decay, as well as hazards from the inappropriate behavior of users, mainly the tourists. She expressed confidence that this situation can be altered if tourism at Makli is managed according to the resources available on site. She drew parallels from a case study of another World Heritage Site: Petra, Jordan.  Ms. Soomro suggested the following interventions:

  • distance accessibility through comprehensive website,
  • visitor centers and museums,
  • clear communication of dos and don’ts,
  • eco friendly commuting within sties, since vibrations of motors is harmful. In Petra, for example, tour operators take tourists around the site on donkeys.
  • Food is an intangible part of experience. However, outlets should blend into environment, and not spoil the landscape.

At the same time, Ms. Soomro pointed out that it was important to cater to the type of tourists who is most likely to visit Makli. She observed that Makli draws more leisure tourists who will bring their family for the day to visit shrines and have a picnic, and fewer culture tourists who will require museums, cafes and souvenir shops. Being aware of this distinction makes the value of the mazar and the engagement of local sajjada nashin of great significance.

Rand Eppich

Cultural Heritage / Conservation Architecture

 An international perspective on recent tangible and intangible conservation efforts

Mr. Eppich visited Makli again after a gap of one year and shared with the audience the tangible improvement that he observed: brush clearing, installation of trash cans, control of traffic simply by placement of rocks. He underlined the importance of pursuing extensive documentation such as inventory of fallen tiles, photo documentation and CAD files. Other simple steps he suggested were cleaning of plinths and preventing buses from accessing the sites.

Mr. Eppich also brought to light the intangible aspects of the site. He reminded the audience that Makli is not just a heritage site but a living city traversed by thousands of people daily, and home to at least twelve active shrines. Community engagement and people enjoying the site are intangible aspects that must be kept in mind and preserved. Peoples’ natural connection to the site can be constructive. For example, local caretakers of shrines have been found making repairs on their own. Mr. Eppich argued that connecting them to the Department of Archaeology to guide their efforts would be advantageous for all. He also recommended creating a Visitor Management Plan, and short and long term training programs for the staff.

Dr. Mohammad Mehdi Tavassoli

Associate Prof., Dept. of Archaeology, Sistan & Baluchestan University, Zahedan-Iran.

The Anthropological Study of the Relationship between Iran and Sindh Based on the most Frequent Themes of Makli Graveyard

 Dr. Tavassoli’s research focused on the political, commercial and cultural ties that existed between Persia and historical Sindh (which included present-day Sindh, part of Punjab, Makran region and the western part of India). He stressed that understanding of cultural elements among the peoples of these two ancient lands, and finding their commonalities is essential. He focused on common cultural aspects through visual themes of the Makli necropolis. He gave examples of shared visual elements found in the ancient cities of Persepolis, Shahr-e-Sokhteh and Makli, and posited that certain shared visual elements such as the lotus flower represented considered auspicious in both Persia and Sindh.

HISTORIANS OF ART AND ARCHITECTURE

 

Rabela Junejo

Assistant Prof. Department of Architecture and Planning NEDEUT, Karachi

PhD Scholar – History of Architecture Program – Middle East Technical University, Ankara.

Tomb of Isa Khan Tarkhan II: Place of Converging Architectural Idiom 

Rabela Junejo challenged the existing sterile taxonomies which focus on the glories of Mughal architecture, while omitting early Indo-Islamic monuments.  At Makli, the Mughal dynasty was not part of the equation. She pointed out that the site saw building activity for a period of almost 400 years from 14th to 18th century under changing patrons. The span of building activity, and changing hands with patrons brought a variety of aesthetic ideals from both indigenous and migrant cultures. Therefore, a hybrid architectural language that was at once local and foreign was created. Rabela Junejo’s paper focused on the tomb of Isa Khan Tarkhan II and deliberated upon this question of hybridity in architecture of Makli. Her presentation pointed out specific architectural elements in the tomb of Isa Khan Tarkhan II and connected them to either indigenous or Central Asian roots. 

Fatima Qureshi

PhD candidate, Institute of Fine Arts, NYU

Encounters in Sindh: Mediating between East & West in the Sixteenth Century

Fatima Qureshi’s paper explored the artistic transmission between Central Asia and Sindh. In 1522, Shah Beg, who claimed descent from Arghun Khan (the fourth Ilkhanid emperor) invaded Sindh, where the Samma dynasty (1352–1522/23) had been ruling independently since their victory of the Delhi Sultan. Shah Beg’s victory, coinciding with the Mughal emperor Babur’s successful invasion of northern India, brought in a new aesthetic of architecture in southern Sindh. This aesthetic was seen in glazed ceramics and new ornamental motifs, where previously monumental architecture in southern Sindh had primarily been built in sandstone with carved Indic ornamentation, closely connected to the architecture of neighboring Gujarat and Rajasthan. Fatima Qureshi highlighted the brick and tile architecture around Thatta in order to analyze the effect of the arrival and entrenchment of Turkic polities in Sindh upon architectural practice and aesthetic vocabulary.

Dr. Margaret S. Graves

Assistant Professor of Islamic Art and Architecture at Indian University

Tomb Rubbings from Sindh in the Indiana University Collections

Dr. Margaret Graves’ presentation was based on a collection of about 100 rubbings or impressions of surface decorations from Sindh. These were made by Madge Minton, an American expatriate in Pakistan in the 1950s and 1960s. Minton later donated these to the University of Indiana, Bloomington, where Dr. Graves was able to bring them out of storage and research them.

Dr. Graves outlined a fascinating sketch of Madge Minton:  an art collector, pilot and herpetologist who came to Pakistan with funding from the IU Museum (today the Mathers Museum of World Cultures) and a mission to collect objects used in everyday life to explore the common needs all people share. However, monuments at Makli could not be collected, so Minton recorded their decorative scheme by creating impressions of the surface designs. This was achieved by laying silk cloth over carved stone and rubbing colored wax or pencil over it to transfer the design. This large collection of impressions on silk have remained carefully stored, and largely untouched at the Mathers Museum until Dr. Graves began her project.

Dr. Graves compared Minton’s work to that of another American scholar Ethel Jane-Bunting, who conducted a similar study of culture in Pakistan which resulted in the publication “Sindhi tombs and textiles: the persistence of pattern.”

 

HISTORIANS

Munazzah Akhtar

PhD candidate Department of Art History and Visual Studies (AHVS), University of Victoria

Trade, Alliances and Architecture: Re-assessing the Culture of Samma Dynasty of Sindh (c. 1351-1521)

Munazzah Akhtar considered the effect of maritime and inter-regional trade on the visual heritage of Thatta, with a focus on the Samma period. The Sammas were indigenous people who came to power in the 14 C, subservient to the Delhi Sultan, and made Thatta the capital of Sindh. She pointed out that since historical accounts of the Samma period are sparse, architecture and epigraphy are a significant source. A variety of influences can be discerned in the monuments due to Thatta’s trade links with Gujarat, and also Shiraz, Herat, Kabul, Samarkand in the west. Munazzah Akhtar underscored that this stylistic diversity in monuments at Makli made it challenging to categorize them as Muslim, Indic or Sindhi.

Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari

Makli: An Epigraphic Odyssey

Dr. Lashari emphasized that the importance of Makli Necropolis can only be realized once its epigraphic content is understood and appreciated.

His extensive study has shown the range and variety of content the epigraphs. In the category of sacred text there are quotations from Quran, a variety of prayers from different schools of thought, Asna Ashri prayers and sayings of Holy Prophet. Funeral statements include traditional elegies in Persian, lamentations, prayers for the welfare of the dead, and even references to books. Literary references in epigraphy help scholars trace the literary trends in the town of Thatta, and facilitate a comparison with other towns of the Mughal Empire, such as Lahore, Delhi and Kabul.

Dr. Humera Naz

Assistant Professor of History, Karachi University

Historical Monuments of Makli Hills: Some Glimpses from the Makli Nama (A source of the Kalhora Period in Sindh)

Dr. Naz, shared her research about the Makli Nama and stressed its significance as the foremost historical record of the necropolis. The author was Ali Sher Qani Thattawi who completed this work in 1760 CE. The Maklinama is written in prose embellished with poetry, and pays homage to the great souls interned in the Makli graveyard. Qani, a poet and historian gave a brief introduction of many famous Sufi saints resting at Makli, and described the architectural and historical significance of the monuments which are associated with them. Qani included not only shrines, but also monasteries, caves and temples at Makli. Dr. Naz’s work highlights the significance of using primary sources to learn more about Makli.

Shayan Rajani

PhD candidate, Tufts University

Moving in Makli: The Poetics of Walking in Eighteenth-Century Sindh


Shayan Rajani’s paper presented a careful reading of the subtleties of the Maklinama, an eighteenth-century Persian praise poem on Makli written by Mir Ali Shir Qani. Mr. Rajani considered argue that walking in the Maklinama is a mode of engagement with space. It presents a sensuous engagement of Persian-speaking male literary elite with a non-elite space of beauty and sacrality. Mr. Rajani compared the Maklinama to an older style of seventeenth-century Mughal poems written in praise of Kashmir. Qani added innovations to this style, and his mode is revealing of the transformations in the social and literary milieu of post-Mughal Thatta. He quoted from the superlative praise for Thatta in the poem, where Qani described “the sweet water of Makli that renders the ab e zam zam brackish” and “a tour of Makli is equivalent to 100 tours of Kashmir.” He observed that the Maklinama is unconcerned with politics and filled with the sights, sounds and smells that represents the joyous experience of walking through Makli.

Dr. Waleed Ziad

PhD in History, Yale University

Talk on Sindh-Transoxiana connections in the late 18th and early 19th century

Dr. Waleed Ziad presented an illuminating paper on the religious and scholarly environment of 18th and 19th century Sindh. He challenged the enduring assumption that Sindh became isolated from the religio-intellectual trends of the broader Persianate world after the Tarkhan and Mughal periods. He explored religio-scholastic linkages between Sindh and Central Asia during this period.  Dr. Ziad illustrated these linkages through two inter-connected biographies, of Makhdum Ibrahim Thattavi (d. 1810), one of Sindh’s foremost luminaries, and Bibi Sahiba Kalan (d. 1803), a celebrated female scholar-saint, who inherited the principal Naqshbandi network spanning Qandahar, Kabul, Peshawar, and Lower Sindh. For those interested in further research, Dr. Ziad brought to light that hagiographies, travel accounts, waqfnama documents are essential for insight into how Makli existed.

 

Dr. Ali Gibran Siddiqui

Assistant Professor of History, the IBA

Power Prestige and Piety, Naqshbandi Sufi Networks in Mughal India

Dr. Ali Gibran Siddiqui, presented a thought-provoking paper on the life of a 17th century Naqshbandi shaykh. Makli is home to several prominent shrines which play a central role in the religious and social lives of the inhabitants of Thatta and Lower Sindh.  One such shrine housing the seventeenth-century Shaykh Makhdum Adam Thattavi and his followers still serves its community through its library, inn, soup kitchen and even its little bird sanctuary. By tracing Makhdum Adam’s life in Thatta, Dr. Siddiqui revealed the status of Sufism in 17th century Thatta within the broader framework of social and economic history. Figures like Makhdum Adam nurtured local communities as they protected them from political and economic shocks while connecting them to larger intellectual and mercantile networks spanning Central and South Asia. Naqshbandi Sufis in Sindh connected spirituality and commerce. The tariqah would allowed into its fold the most trustworthy of merchants, and utilized their network of khaneqahs or Sufi lodges to help safe passage of goods. This protection given to merchants by the tariqah facilitated goods being carried to markets as far away as Russia.

 

Dr. GM Lakho

Retired Professor and Chairman of the Dept. of General History, University of Sindh, Jamshoro

Jami Masjid of Thatta or Shah Jehan Mosque: basic facts, certain explanations

Dr. Lakho challenged the prevalent assumption that the Shah Jehan Mosque in Thatta was commissioned by the Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan. He drew upon the research of Pir Husamuddin Rashdi and noted that no records from Shah Jehan’s court have mentioned the construction of this mosque, and further, no funds were recorded to have been released for this project. Furthermore, the date of construction of the mosque was during the period when a battle of succession was ongoing between Shah Jehan’s sons, therefore it was unlikely that the Emperor had any interest in a mosque in Sindh during this time.  Dr. Lahko therefore credited a local patron from Sindh for commissioning this mosque, and suggested that due to lack of credible evidence linking the mosque to Shah Jehan, it would be best to call it Jami Masjid Thatta. He also pointed to a gap in scholarship regarding the patronage of this mosque, and appealed to scholars to consider this lacuna.

Mr. Muhammad Shah Bokhari

Head of Arabic and Persian Manuscripts, Islamic Art Collection

Dept. of Archaeology & Museums

Govt. of Sindh

Makli inscriptions through stampages

Mr. Bukhari’s presentation was concerned with the field of epigraphy at Makli. He highlighted that the graves at Makli represent epigraphy in Sindh over a period of six centuries, making it the largest period covered in the historic cities in Pakistan. In terms of content he summed up that Quranic text, names of God, various sayings of the Prophet, durud sharif, kalimas, as well as Shia texts and couplets of poetry in Persian were commonly found, as well as chronograms regarding genealogy of the deceased and commemorating historic events. He told the audience that he majority of inscriptions are in Arabic, and some in Persian. He outlined the preferred technique of making impressions of inscriptions.

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BRIEFING  13th FEBRUARY 2018       

Banbhore: a Mystifying Evocative Site at the Mouth of the Indus Delta

The Research-Work So Far Carried Out. The Starting Points of the 2017-2018 Campaign

1.     The Ramparts and the so called “Partition Wall”. To a more careful study, the ramparts of the site of Banbhore appeared as the result of various influences and building periods. Dr Kervran has provided in her 2012 Report a masterly analysis of the various periods and influences. She has also underlined that these need careful observation and archaeological investigation. The “Partition Wall” is a late structure (around the end of the 12th – early 13th century Ch.E.), a defensive organisation of the Eastern high portion of the bastioned town, hurriedly erected on other buildings and when the population had already started to abandon the site – as some buildings dug in the course of the 2014 field-season seem to suggest (2012-2014).

  1. A first chronological stratigraphy: Trench n 7. Trench 7 provided us with a chronological stratigraphy of the bastioned city up to pre-Islamic levels (late Sasanian), when a layer of well-carved sandstone slabs disposed side by side (some of them with smoothed upper surface) obliged to interrupt the excavation and go deeper. This excavation allowed to reach the transition period between the Islamic and pre-Islamic phase of occupational life, and the Indo-Sasanian levels, revealing intricate patterns of roads, which induced to envisage precise plans of urbanisation in the course of the various phases of life of the site (2014).
  2. Artefacts. Interesting artefacts were found, denoting that also in this area crafts activity was practised (2014).
  3. The excavations carried out by the French Team in the western portion of the site (Trench 1), by the Pakistani Team (Trenches 4 and 5) and by the Italian Team (Trenches 7 and 8, and in 2015 Trench 9) have provided good evidence of crafts activity (ivory, bones, woods, glass, shells, metallurgic activities and so on)..
  4. Urbanisation of Banbhore and its Evolution. Then, studying the evidence brought to light during the 2014 field-season, we decided to complete this first investigation on the urban asset of the bastioned city through the excavation of a new West-East trench south of the 2014 area: Trench n. 9. Trench 9 allowed: (a) to get a complete stratigraphy from the topsoil to the most ancient levels; (b) to collect more information in stratigraphic sequence on the site’s urban architectural organisation; (c) to collect more pottery and artefacts in the pre-Islamic and Islamic occupational levels, in order to better characterise these periods, and to provide some insights on the social structures and urban characters, too; (d) to reach the earlier occupational levels, that – however - could not be reached because of the water table; (e) to collect a marked evidence in stratigraphy of the “Indianisation” of the site in specific phases and aspects of its life; (f) to acquire a rich material evidence of a local ivory and bones crafts activity, carried out in the late period of life of the site; (g) to ascertain an impressive Sasanian presence, as already documented by Trench 7.  This latter feature stands out as a unique study-case, and, with it, unveils new amazing facets of a peripheral but not at all marginal region of this empire, all to be  further explored and studied.
  5. Archaeometric analysis has provided further data on coins and coinage, metal work, little objects, pottery and techniques whether locally or not locally practised.

This was the starting point of this 2017-2018 campaign, worked out and elaborated in collaboration with our Consultant for Banbhore to the General Directorate for Antiquities of Sindh, Qasim Ali Qasim.

All in all, at the start of this 2017-2018 campaign we had some certainties…but yet still many uncertainties made of this site a mystifying reality. So far , it was possible to state:

  1. The site was inhabited all over the area encircled by the ramparts at least since the 1st Century Ch.E. We could not go deeper due to the water-table that prevented us proper stratigraphic excavations.
  2. Trench 9 had allowed the first chronological stratigraphy of the site. A synoptic analysis of the evidence emerged from the other trenches had allowed to outline a first picture of the various phases of settlement and peopling of this site, its urban evolution, decay and end.
  3. The site was not only a powerful and majestic citadel. It was a positive town, a harbour town well-fortified and refurbished, that – in different epochs of its life, under different influences, since at least the first century b.Ch. E. – had given life to a well-structured system.
  4. Not only this. Interesting artefacts had been found and warehouses (glass, semi-manufactured shells, manufactured and semi-manufactured ivory and bones, woods, little objects, exquisite pottery, iron and copper tools, and so on), all denoting that crafts and metallurgic activity were practised in given phases of peopling.
  5. At this point, the archaeological evidence allowed to state that the site of Banbhore was not only an important harbour-town and market, but also a highly significant centre of production of luxury goods to be exported all along the main sea and land routes.
  6. Decline and end. It seems that it was gradual.
  7. The causes. Either a gradual silting of the harbour, or raids from nomadic peoples. Or both. Actually, we are informed that bands from the Chaghatay ulus had settled in Sistan. By the first half of the 13th Century Ch. E., lured by the riches stored in the trade-centres of Sindh and Kirman, these people used to make incursions, attack caravans and towns, plunder, and then a quick retreat to their camps loaded with rich booties (Juwayni, Rashid al-Din, Wassaf, Wasiri, Samarqandi and even Marco Polo tell us about these fearful bandits. The name of Daybul occurs as one of their main targets). However, until this last campaign, points 6 and 7 were only working hypotheses.
  8. Moreover, human and natural ravages and the devastating violence of rainfalls had largely upset the higher levels making it difficult to trace a proper stratigraphy and even more difficult to give a precise dating of the decline and end of the town. It was even possible to talk of “abandonment” of the site and migratory waves of the local population towards other more favourable areas. Still a working hypothesis.

The 2017-2018 campaign has allowed to clear some major points. It has been a pleasant, appropriate Team-Work and collaboration.

A clue has been given by the urban structure of this  portion of the site and its planning (development and variations), which have added precious information on the “evolution” of the site, highlighting precise spans of time. Then, no less precious source of information have been some surface surveys carried out in the surrounding and outlying areas of the walled site. 

In other terms, through advanced technologies (A. Tilia) and by a close association of the various levels with the pottery assemblage and other archaeological evidence that have been unearthed (A. Fusaro), with the support of chemical and archaeometric analyses (M. Piacentini), it has been possible to collect more information on the latest occupational levels, related models and transitional phases of the bastioned town (chronologies and associated architectural features, crafts activity), thus integrating the archaeological evidence brought to light by the excavations (Qasim Ali Qasim – Naheed Zahra – S. Mantellini) and some surveys in the surrounding area. The surveys have allowed to outline a framework of the adjoining and outlying environment and human habitat, and the interactions between the walled area and its “outside” territory. We have been confronted with a complex structural situation and a pluralistic society from the cultural and religious viewpoint.  The re-reading of contemporary literary sources (chronicles, geographies, travellers and also Italian archival records. V. Piacentini Fiorani) has given an interesting picture of specific historic phases of the Indus’ deltaic region (or “Lower Sindh”). The Historical research has given excellent clues to the understanding of the archaeological documentation. Both complemented each other, painting a plastic image of “some” events and historical periods.  

To sum up. Following this methodological approach – or modus agendi – we have achieved the following results:

  • The Archaeological “documentation”, complementing contemporary written sources, seems to point to the half of the 13th Century as the last phase of peopling of the site of Banbhore. It is well possible that some forms of human life survived, but, if so, on a very reduced scale and on the higher portion of the site (Ibn al-Athir, Wassaf, Yaqut, Marco Polo, Genoese archival documents).
  • Excavations have unearthed an interesting “quarter” with related architectonic structures (a “palace”, small houses, rooms, streets, artefacts, warehouses) at the cross-road of the two principal North-South and East-West axes of the site. These have allowed a clearer picture of the urban planning in the last centuries of life of the site, its evolution and decay (Naheed Zahra - A. Fusaro – S. Mantellini – Tilia).
  • This Archaeological evidence, moreover, has allowed to focus an “Islamic” period of intense cultural vitality and activity (political-institutional, economic and intellectual). A synoptic comparative analysis with the chronological stratigraphy from Trench 9 and other levels in stratigraphy of the preceding field seasons, plus the data emerged from the excavation carried out at the adjoining Trench n. 11 under the direction of Qasim Ali Qasim and Naheed Zahra  point to a well-defined span of time between the ninth century Ch.E. and the end of tenth-early eleventh century Ch.E.
  • Some surveys carried out in the surrounding extra-moenia territory have shown an intense activity (both agricultural based on irrigation – canals and barrages – and craftsmanship) in the north-eastern area outside the walls. The archaeological surface material gives the same dating of ninth century Ch.E. – end of tenth-early eleventh century Ch.E.
  • All in all, the urban structures and the material unearthed (pottery fragments, little objects, ivory, bones, shells, glass, , coins and fragments of moulds) plus the shards collected during our surveys provide a wealth of information also on the local daily life, pottery and coinage activity, other crafts at the height of these particular occupational levels.
  • The Hydraulic Factor, that is Water, has now a centrality of its own, both inside the walls and outside. This deserves further studying – already planned.
  • The surrounding and outlying environment and its interaction with this superb harbour-town and market acquires a specific relevance within the general historic framework of that time. Further investigation is required – already planned. The same can be said for a thorough geomorphological investigation (ancient course of the Indus river – tides and sea-level – ancient shorelines).
  • Archaeometric Analysis
  • With regard to the above said “Islamic period of intense cultural vitality”, the archaeological evidence undoubtedly tells us that we are confronted with a period of great vitality in all directions. The image is that of wealth and grandeur, political and social stability, and re-investment in the town’s structures despite two devastating earthquakes (893 Ch.E. c. and 977 Ch.E. c. – Epigraphic evidence in situ at Banbhore site.) Literary sources report specifically about Daybul – laid waste by the first earthquake – and rebuilt thanks to the generous intervention of the Emir. And again, archaeological evidence providing a precise span of time points to the last period of the Barmakid Governorship of Sindh and the Habbarid Emirate of Mansurah, to the enlightened rule of the Amir Umar ibn Abdul Aziz al-Habbari (d. 270/883), his son and successor Abdullah ibn ‘Umar al-Habbari (who is said to have reigned for three decades), and his son and successor Umar ibn Abdullah, and their ten successors up to the first half of the eleventh century. Chronicles and geographies tell us about the administrative skill of the first Emirs and their political capacity when confronted with internal strife and international disputes. In this regard, international relationships were based on a balanced policy between the main powers of the time that were fighting for having a upper hand on Sindh (the Saffarids, the Samanids and the Buhids – ) , a balanced political choice that aimed at privileging trade, reactivating also the land routes to Khurasan and Inner Asia and to Sistan-Makran and Shiraz, rather than to the acquisition of new territories. Mansurah and Daybul enjoyed a prosperity without precedent. They were magnificent and sumptuously refurbished. Daybul was surrounded by cultivated fields (hydraulic engineering), “industrial quarters” in adjoining outside areas where the fumes did not affect the “urban” centre; a lovely artificial lake with artificial islands embellished the environment at the foot of the majestic bastions…a marked “Indianisation” in the urban planning. Then, as depicted by literary sources, the Emirs and the upper class were in the habit of wear regal dresses and turbans studded with precious stones, in a style very similar to the dress worn by contemporary Mahrajas in other south-Asian regions. We are also reported about the Emirs and High Personalities circulating in  chariots driven by finely decorated elephants. Elephants were also introduced in the army and used as beasts of burden and in agriculture. A cosmopolitan, open society. The Emirate was still paying nominal tribute to the Caliph, but, de facto, was independent and had excellent diplomatic relationships with its two neighbour-Emirates of Makran and Multan, and with sovereigns of the World of Islam and the World of the Infidels. A cultural renaissance enlivened the Emirate, and – despite Arabic was still the official language – Sindhi began to be commonly used.

The arrival of the Turks and the Seljuk Qavurd Khan b. Chaghri Beg will sign a new destiny for Lower Sindh: the decline and end of Mansurah, a new autonomous status for Daybul and its brave citizens, who hold up against the Seljuk army besieging the town…defeated the Turks obliging the  Sultan and his fearful archers to a new boundary at Gwadar. But this is another chapter…

Acknowledgments

  • Our gratitude goes above all to the Ministry for Culture, Tourism and Antiquities – Government of Sindh, and namely to HE Syed Sardar Ali Shah and the Secretary to Government of Sindh, Ghulam Akbar Laghari, for having endorsed and followed our research-work most cordially.
  • A warm thanks goes also to the Italian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for its sponsorship to our researches in Sindh, and to the Italian Embassy to Islamabad, namely the Italian Ambassador to Islamabad, HE Stefano Pontecorvo, and to the Italian Consulate in Karachi, with special gratitude both to the former Consul Gianluca Rubagotti for having supported us during the long bureaucratic iter that brought to the signature of this MoU between the General Department for Culture, Tourism and Antiquities of Sindh and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, and the present Consul, our most welcomed Chief Guest for this Event, HE Anna Ruffino: we thank you, indeed, for her enthusiasm, competence and special commitment.
  • Special mention for their support and commitment deserve also the Pakistani Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Pakistani Embassy to Rome and the General Consulate of Pakistan to Milan.
  • We are also extremely grateful to the Department Culture, Tourism and Antiquities of Sindh, and especially to its Director General Mr Manzoor Ahmed Kanasro, for inspiring and firmly supporting our research-projects in Sindh, and to the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Milano, namely its Rector prof. Franco Anelli and his staff, and to the Research Centre CRiSSMA, for their  constant backing to the organization of our research-work within their scientific programme. All these Institutions – Sindhi and Italian – have motivated us all, Scholars and Researchers; their commitment in the rediscovery of the superb Cultural Heritage of Sindh beyond any cultural and national distinction continues to be a spur for all of us to research and study together.  
  • Special mention deserve Dr Qasim Ali Qasim, Consultant to the Department for Culture, Tourism and Antiquities – Government of Sindh, and Dr Naheed Zahra, Exploration Branch – Sindh, for their competent collaboration.
  • At this point, we also wish to extend our warmest thanks to the Curator of the archaeological site of Banbhore, Mr Irshad Ali Rind, whose archaeological vision and experience have been for us invaluable companions during this 2017-2018 campaign, source of intense motivation and support.
  • Apart, we wish to recall Dr Monique Kervran, whose authority and scientific fervour induced us to embark on this challenge. To her goes our sincere appreciation, to her goes our heartfelt gratitude. We miss her very much.
  • Last but not least, to Dr Kalimullah Lashari and Dr Asma Ibrahim, who nowadays have other and no less important scientific commitments, goes our expression of appreciation for our past collaboration.
  • And what to say of all our special collaborators? The Drivers, the Cook and his Helper, the soldiers always vigilant on our security, and our “special” workers, loyal diligent companions over these seven years of field-work. It would be too long to name them one by one. To all of them goes our most heartfelt thank you.

 Thank you!

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JOINT ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATION AT BANBHORE – 2017-18

WORK DONE BY PAKISTANI TEAM

  • ITALIAN ARCHAEOLOGICAL MISSION (Lead by Valeria Piacentini)
  • Department of Culture, Tourism, & Antiquities Government of Sindh.

Exploration & Excavation Branch Karachi.   (Lead by Naheed Zahra Director)

Objectives

  • To discover the relation of excavation done by Italian team in 2015 (trench # 9).
  • The substratum of the fortress of Banbhore.
  • The first settlement of Banbhore
  • Pre-Islamic Banbhore
  • Banbhore after arrival of Muslims.

Opening

  • The Excavation started on 20th Dec 2017, with joint venture of Italian Archeological Mission, which ended on 8th Feb 2018.
  • Pakistani team after a careful survey decided to mark a trench in the South of the mosque (in between mosque and southern gate).
  • The greater part of the post is excavated and the debris is kept as an afterthought hence leaving less odds of untouched zone.
  • We are thankful to the Italian team for sharing their expertise in topography, photography, and drawing.

Trench details

  • The Trench size was 5 x 5 meter.
  • 50 cm baulk.
  • 4 x 4 meter size. Grid AA,IV and trench # 11

Timeline excavation

  • After cleaning the trench, no visible artifact was found up to 14 cm depth.
  • Soil was lose, grey, and light brown color all around trench from 25cm to 50cm depth.
  • Mix pottery fragments were found on Eastern side of the wall, along with ashes, coal, and large quantity of bones, sea shall, and ivory pieces.
  • Animal figurines were also found. In 70 cm depth of South Eastern side of the trench we found circular shape stones that apparently looked like a well, but that was fallen/ collapsed stones of the wall.
  • At 83 cm depth huge amount of pot shreds, coins, coin molds, grey and glazed pottery were found.(Could be a factory of Terracotta pottery or coin molding place)
  • After 24 days while removing the baulk from the Eastern side a stone wall was found advancing from East to West.
  • To Check and clarify the wall a new trench was dig on the southern side of trench # 11. Up to 120 cm of depth wall has been cleared and a door opening place was clearly visible. This was a room structure which was connected with Italian trench # 9.

Artifacts found this season 2017-18

  • Terracotta pottery fragments, Plain and Painted pottery , Molded pottery, Rims, lids, Complete or Semi Complete objects (12,500),Glazed and Grey Pottery fragment, Coins and Coin Moulds Coin pieces/ copper objects, Beads, Bones, Ivory, Sea Shells, Stones , Iron object / pieces, Glass fragments, Animal Figurines and one Horn also founded.
  • The facts and findings will tack time that would revealed  later on  
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Cultural Attaché of USA Embassy Islamabad, Cultural Attaché Consulate General of USA Karachi and Architect from Washington visited Makli, Thatta. They inspected ongoing conservation work on Tomb of Sultan Ibrahim.

Ms. Yasmeen Lari, Mr. Qasim Ali Qasim archaeologist, Mr. Tanveer Archeological Engineer and Qazi Ayaz Mahesar from UNESCO Karachi office were companied with distinguished guests. From Culture and Antiquities Department Director General Mr. Manzoor Ahmed kanasro briefed them about the speedy progress of conservation work of this archaeological monuments.

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Director General, Antiquities Department Mr. Manzoor Ahmed Kanasro visited Makli monuments (World Heritage Site) to inspect the conservation work along with archaeologist and engineers on 25th Oct, 2017.

He informed to press and media that lot of development projects are in progress i,e conservation works on many monuments, installation of weather stations, fixing of cracker monitor units, installation of dustbins, increase of security guards and provide them motorcycles and guns, removing of grafity and vegetation, improvement of roads within the boundary and construction of boundary walls around the graveyard, and many others.

Makli necropolis is one of the enlisted archaeological site in UNESCO, where in December 2017 an International Conference is going to be organized by Department of Culture, Tourism & Antiquities, Government of Sindh.

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A seminar was organized by Sindh University, Thatta Campus with collaboration of Department of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities, Government of Sindh on “Digital promotion and preservation of archaeological sites in Sindh”. Students of the campus who were from different departments have participated in this lecture with interactive session. Mr. Amar Fayaz Buriro, a well-known language engineer and programmer of Sindhi and Urdu language was guest speaker where he elaborated the ongoing rapid revolution of digital media and incorporation of social media in it. Where opportunities are vastly opened for all users of the world. “We are in that opportunity so we can enlist our historical monuments, landmarks as well as our villages, towns and cities. We can add the information of our daily lives and our archaeological ruins on Wikipedia, google maps and other social media channels like facebook, twitter for giving eternal age to our landmarks.” Said Amar Fayaz.

“One another threat is, if we may not participate in this informational revolution then we will be backward and will be pushed to past.” He emphasized that it is our basic responsibility to protect and preserve our archaeological sites and ruins and feel proud that we have a glazed past and take development paces for the better future.

In the last session of questions and answers students shown keen interests in this regard. Mr. Aftab Ahmed member of the faculty had offered thanks to participants and Antiquities department for raising this awareness program.  

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Directorate of Antiquities and Archaeology, Government of Sindh is working on the Proposal for UNESCO Project “Raising awareness and capacity of the Culture and Disaster Management Authorities to Manage Disaster Risk Reduction to the Cultural Properties in Pakistan.

Dr. Qasid H. Mallah is currently engaged in this project for fact finding survey of Mohenjo-Daro site. This survey is multi layered to document the vulnerability of heritage structures and remedial measures for flood. This field documentation includes the physical conditions, types and kinds of structures.  The focus is on the finding suggestions recommendations for priority areas, which need specialized handling in case of emergency to the cultural heritage of Sindh. 

Under this project, all areas have been closely observed and priorities for first aid conservation work have been identified.  The assessment protective embankments along the River and the behavior of River itself and effects of agriculture are investigated.

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As per decision taken by Hon’ble Minister Culture, Tourism & Antiquities Department, GoS in the website review meeting held on 21st Sep 2017 at Sindh Archive Office Karachi, it was instructed by the Minister Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Syed Sardar Ali Shah, that all archaeological sites of Sindh province must be geo-tagged along with current photographs and virtual tours and all material which captured from sites may be posted on departmental website.

Mr. Amar Fayaz Buriro, a language engineer and programmer along with Mr. Qazi Asif were nominated by the Minister for accomplishment of the task. The team is on his job and its primary phase they have compiled data of Karachi districts.

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Conservation work started at kot Diji fort by the antiquities department from Thursday 5 October 2017. Director General Antiqtuities Mr. Manzoor Ahmed Kanasro has visited the Kotdiji Fort. The work of conservation has been started with dedicated and standard manners. DG antiquities has announced that within 15 days the related conservation work will be started on other archaeological sites too.  

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