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Gandhāran statues at a police station in Karachi. Authorities seized dozens of precious artefacts belonged to the 2,000 year-old Gandhāran civilization, illegally removed from Pakistan’s terrorist-torn north-west region. Image credit AFP

Jaffer Rizvi, writing for BBC News Asia, reports on the 6 July that –

An attempt to smuggle ancient artefacts, possibly worth millions of dollars, out of the Pakistani port city of Karachi has been foiled, police say. A top archaeologist has said the goods are at least 2,000 years old and were illegally excavated. Police have called in experts to help assess their value.

Two men caught trying to ship the items have been arrested, police say. Karachi is often used by smugglers who can get criminal support to take valuable antiquities out of the country. Customs officers in 2005 foiled a similar attempt to smuggle nearly 1,500 artefacts worth more than $10m (£6.4m) out of Pakistan.

Gandhāran painting and sculpture displays a strong Greco-Roman influence, with its beginnings dated to around 75-50 bce when links between Rome and the Indo-Parthian kingdoms existed. “There is archaeological evidence that building techniques were transmitted between the two realms. Christian records claim that around AD 40 Thomas the Apostle visited India and encountered the Indo-Parthian king Gondophares.” (Source Wikipedia).

Full article here.

 

Mohenjo-daro, the great Indus Valley city which flourished from circa 2,600-1,500bce. Source Wikipedia. Image credit Comrogues

The Wikipedia entry for Mohenjo-daro describes the city as –

Mohenjo-daro (موئن جو دڙو ) lit. Mound of the Dead, is an archeological site situated in the province of Sindh, Pakistan. Built around 2600 BC, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, and one of the world’s earliest major urban settlements, existing at the same time as the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Crete. Mohenjo-daro was abandoned in the 19th century BC, and was not rediscovered until 1922. Significant excavation has since been conducted at the site of the city, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

Now, Aleem Maqbool, reporting today for BBC News, says –

In its day, about 2600 BC, its complex planning, incredible architecture, and complex water and sewage systems made it one of the most advanced urban settings anywhere. It was a city thought to have housed up to 35,000 inhabitants of the great Indus civilisation. While I was overwhelmed by the scale and wonderment of it all, my eminent guide to the site was almost in tears of despair.

“Every time I come here, I feel worse that the previous time,” says Dr Asma Ibrahim, one of Pakistan’s most accomplished archaeologists. “I haven’t been back for two or three years,” she says. “The losses since then are so immense and it breaks my heart.”

Dr Ibrahim starts to point out signs of major decay. In the lower town of Mohenjo Daro, where the middle and working classes once lived, the walls are crumbling from the base upwards. This is new damage. The salt content of the ground water is eating away at the bricks that, before excavation, had survived thousands of years.As we move to the upper town where the elite of the Indus civilization would have lived, and where some of the signature sites like the large public bath lie, it appears even worse. Some walls have collapsed completely, others seem to be close to doing so.

“It is definitely a complicated site to protect, given the problems of salinity, humidity and rainfall,” says Dr Ibrahim. “But most of the attempts at conservation by the authorities have been so bad and so amateur they have only accelerated the damage.” Some experts have gone so far as to suggest the entire site should be buried again to halt its decline. It is a sign of the desperation of those who love Mohenjo Daro, and who are pained to see a city that once rivalled sites of its contemporary civilisations in Egypt, Mesopotamia and China, losing its glory in this undignified way.

Full article here.

 

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