Chahun jo Daro (Pakistan) : Unearthing History
Government institutions such as the Exploration and Excavation Branch, on the other hand, desperately need funding, according to Didier. “The culture department has funds, but these are not effectively allocated due to a lack of awareness,” she says. It may not help that the Secretary of Culture changes every five or six months, which makes it impossible for this department to effectively follow up on work, year after year. Didier highlights that the archaeology departments of Sindh University, Jamshoro, and Shah Abdul Latif University, Khairpur, “consist of good archaeologists and professionals. The Culture Department could invest in training programmes for these students, who are the new generation of archaeology in Pakistan.”
Yet sadly, archaeology and heritage continue to be the exclusive realm of a select few, based on their ‘name,’ including NGOs that lack the expertise.
Didier commended the restoration efforts of the Endowment Fund Trust (EFT) and said that the EFT had “specifically helped us with training, as well as provided financial help for the training of students.” She expressed the hope that they could “work together and have a common strategy to train young people in archaeological methods.”
Members of the team excavating the site of Chahun jo Daro. (Photo credit: MAFBI©Didier).
According to Didier, the artefacts unearthed in Chahun jo Daro are currently in the Exploration and Excavation Branch in Karachi. “Most of the collections coming from our previous programme in Balochistan were first taken to this department and then shifted to the National Museum in Karachi. Syed Shakir Ali Shah, Director of the Exploration and Excavation Branch and whom Didier describes as the most important part of her team, explains, “The artefacts excavated in 2015, 2016 and 2017 are currently stored with us. Each item has been properly documented and recorded. If and when the various museums in Pakistan express an interest in displaying these artefacts, we will first obtain permission from the Secretary of Culture and then proceed accordingly.” Abdul Sattar Keerio, the local landlord whose plantation surrounds Chahun jo Daro, proposed that a small museum be built on site, displaying some of the artefacts to the public. Didier had requested the Culture Department to help install a fence around the site and declare it a protected area.
“My topmost priority, is to make a report on our results accessible to the local public,” explains Didier. “For this, we are already in talks with various publications and are looking into the creation of a website, as well as the publication of reports that can be translated into local languages.” However, she says, before any of this can happen, “we first have to send the report to the Department of Antiquities in Sindh, as well as the federal Department of Archaeology and Museums.”