PESHAWAR: The pre-historic rock carvings and paintings found along the famous invaders’ route in Khyber tribal region may only be the tip of an iceberg as the rest of the border areas are finally open for archaeological survey after the merger of Fata with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The provincial government in a high-level meeting recently gave a nod for documentation and survey of archaeological sites in entire tribal belt that has been merged as new districts with the province after constitutional amendment thus opening the area, which had remained so for hundreds of years, open for archaeological survey.

“The government has allocated Rs30 million for the purpose. We expect a lot from the archaeological survey in tribal districts,” said Dr Abdul Samad, the director of archaeology and museums.

He said that it would be the first archaeological survey in the entire tribal districts. He said that he was expecting to discover many sites and historic places, which even remained hidden from the British archaeological experts.

Official says Rs30 million allocated for the purpose

“They (British archaeologists) could not go there for security reasons. It is for the first time that entire tribal region would be surveyed by KP archaeology department,” said Dr Samad.

He said that on the basis of his experience in Khyber, he could expect that Kurram, Mohmand, Bajaur, North and South Waziristan tribal districts would be rich with archaeological history as the areas remained border region for hundreds of years.

In 2016, in the first ever archaeological survey in just two tehsils of the then Khyber Agency, pre-historic rock carvings, paintings and tunnels were found.

The discoveries in Khyber Agency, which was a gateway to Central Asia and route for invaders, pilgrims and traders for centuries, surprised the archaeological team that was allowed to the area with the help of the local administration for the first time for such a purpose.

The experts discovered around 130 archaeological sites including pre-historic rock carvings and paintings in Malagori area of Jamrud tehsil.

The survey was conducted for about two months as a pilot project of the then political administration and directorate of archaeology and museums.

A four-member technical team headed by Dr Samad in Jamrud tehsil discovered remains and structures with some dating back to 30,000 years or pre-historic period.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has around 6,000 documented museums, sites and monuments. It is believed that tribal districts may add up to the historic wealth and number of documented sites of the province and may have surprises for people.

Dr Samad said that once the documentation and survey of the tribal districts was completed, the archaeological artifacts would be displayed in museums in the very district to attract historians, researchers and tourists to the tribal districts.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2019