TAXILA, June 14: The facilities available at the archaeological conservation and research laboratory established in Taxila Museum has not been utilised for the last 16 years while the costly equipment has been left to rot, it has been learnt.
Sources told Dawn that archaeological conservation and research laboratory (ACRL) was established at the regional office of department of Archeology with financial assistance extended by the Japanese government. They said under the Official Development Assistance Programme (ODAP), the Japanese government had provided Rs16 million in grant to set up the lab with an aim to ascertain the cause behind decaying antiquities and take necessary remedial measures in this regard.
The laboratory also provided facilities for research and conservation on newly-discovered antiquities for examining their material, era to which they belonged and inscription they had.
The equipment was also to be utilised to conduct research on environment and its effects on Archeological sites and to provide facilities for conservation of objects unearthed during excavations.
Official sources said the laboratory was also equipped with facilities to produce replicas of Archeological objects and to carry out research and analysis of mortars and building material.
The sources further said the Japanese government had also provided equipment for the laboratory which included computerised surveying equipment, laptops, projectors, audio-video recording/editing system, colour photographic lab, electric generator, chemical analysis equipment, weather station, etc.
They said according to the MoU, the lab had to be established in a new building; however, it was set up in the building constructed in 1988 to house the headquarters of the Department of Archeology. The department’s headquarters were to be shifted from Karachi to Taxila but this plan was postponed, they added. Meanwhile, the source said, the lab equipment including computers, printers, TVs, VCRs, video cameras, photocopier, refrigerator, were in the personal use of the department’s officials.
Official sources confirmed to Dawn that the Japanese government provided the construction cost to the department and department established seven rooms and two halls for this laboratory which have now turned into offices of the Taxila Museum.
It has also been learnt that since its inception in 1996, the Department of Archaeology and Museums could not even create the post of archaeological chemist so that this multi-million project could be utilised for the preservation of the ancient cultural heritage.
Even a lab assistant has never been posted or appointed here to look after the apparatus. Despite repeated attempts, no official of the department was available for comments.