AFTER the 18th Amendment, archaeological sites and monuments have been handed over to the ministry of culture, government of Sindh. The people of Sindh were extremely concerned about the speedy decay of the sites’ historical monuments.
Since the provincial culture department has become the custodian of the heritage, people’s expectations are overwhelmingly enhanced.
Even after the passing of more than two years no vision plan has been made public pertaining to the preservation, conservation, restoration or publication of components, archaeology being the major proponent of the ministry of culture.
Being a member of the Historical Society of Sindh, it is deemed obligatory to draw the attention of senior officials of the culture department for the fulfilment of the following essentialities at their earliest.
Fixing of signboards: Since the transformation of sites and monuments the department has taken no initiative to get signboards fixed on roadsides, indicating the existence and distance of monuments. The list of taken-over as well as recorded sights has also not been publicised. This act of ownership is a must to prevent heritage sights from illegal encroachment.
Publications: While visiting the sights, museums and historical monuments, people often ask for some printed material for reference such as booklets, site maps, etc. The least attention has been paid to this knowledge-producing and income-generating source. Watch and ward staff: In order to protect the sites from wandering cattle and treasure-hunters, it should be the top priority of the culture department to get the sites surrounded by barbed wire. Besides, sufficient staff should be deployed under a site supervisor for keeping an eye on things.
It is worth mentioning here that the culture-loving villagers of Mathelo, Ghotki district, are not only safeguarding the site of ‘Moomal ji Mari’, its museum and rest-house, but they are also paying utility bills since its opening in April 2010.
Indus script decipherment cell: The ancient script found from Moenjodaro and other contemporary sites still remains undeciphered due to the non-serious approach by the former authorities of the archaeology department. Several questions regarding the origin and decline of the Indus civilisation are waiting to be answered.
C-14 laboratory: To determine the date of material found from any site, the ultimate answer would be through the C-14 method.
But since its opening, no decision-maker from the federal or the provincial culture department had felt the need for such a laboratory which would have solved many problems, particularly regarding Ranikot, Kotdiji and Moomal ji Mari.
Purchasing antiquities: Every provincial culture department allocates certain funds for purchasing antiquities from individuals who couldn’t manage their preservation. It is suggested that the Sindh culture department may widely publicise the incentive to obtain cultural material possessed by influential people. Simultaneously, catalogues of purchased antiquities and permanently displayed objects of the museums should be published for academic and research purposes.
Excavation: The Sindh culture department has to prepare a priority list of sites to be excavated in future. However, the incomplete work at Mansurah, Lakhan jo Daro and Moomal ji Mari should be completed this winter with the collaboration of the department of archaeology at Sindh University and Shah Abdul Latif University.
ALTAF ASEEM Karachi