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More research needed to uncover secrets of Bhambhore, says Italian expert

Updated February 20, 2019

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PROF Dr Valeria Fiorani Piacentini speaks at Szabist on Tuesday.—White Star
PROF Dr Valeria Fiorani Piacentini speaks at Szabist on Tuesday.—White Star

KARACHI: The many different archaeological jewels the province of Sindh boasts of was the topic of discussion by Prof Dr Valeria Fiorani Piacentini, scientific director for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan, Italy, at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (Szabist) on Tuesday.

Organised by the Sindh Abhyas Academy, an institute within Szabist that focuses on Sindh studies in the areas of teaching and research, the talk by Prof Piacentini shed light on the importance of archaeology in the world today, as well as on the various discoveries made in Bhambhore which legend suggests is where Sassui hailed from, as well as houses the ruins of Deybul, the city invaded by Mohammad Bin Qasim in 712.

“Archaeology is to survey an unknown or blank area and you have to face difficulties; there tends to be no water no electricity; however, you dedicate your life to something,” Prof Piacentini told the students in attendance.

‘This is your culture and you must get to know more about it and protect it’

It is not just digging, but a multidisciplinary issue that involves history and different technologies that aid in recording the findings in a scientific manner, she added.

“Your roots and culture are very important. What you have today is based on the past and what you and your children have tomorrow will be based on what you have today. This is your culture and you must get to know more about it and protect it. I shared this passion with my children when they were young and they joined me in the field. Now they say all that they learnt has been very valuable; they have been educated to coexist with different persons in different countries.”

Prof Piacentini shared the importance of the site of Bhambhore and its surrounding areas, calling the historic site as a hub of trade at sea and land, and a juncture of land and sea routes.

“When we got the chance to explore the surrounding areas of Bhambhore we found dwellings, villages, suburbs of merchants, pottery and other archaeological material belonging to a rich social class. We even found archaeological remains emerging from the water.”

Sharing the results of current excavations, she said: “Bhambhore is the site of a sophisticated production centre 2,000 years ago where several religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, coexisted peacefully. It is considered to be an interlacing of different religions and a hub of religious creeds, a remarkable harbour, a cultural hub, a bastion town, a thriving marketplace of luxury goods and at the centre of trade with a large part of the world, including Inner Asia, Eastern Asia, the subcontinent and the Indian Ocean.”

More extensive research and technology is needed to uncover the secrets lying buried at the site, she added.

“The ivory objects we have uncovered were produced locally, and they are of a quality that indicates they were meant for export. Thus we can conclude that it was a rich market for production and exportation,” explained Prof Piacentini.

Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, chancellor of Szabist, spoke about how important it is to conserve and preserve the cultural and archaeological heritage of the country. “Without archaeology our history would be a distant past. The way we perceive history changes when we look at our archaeological sites; it makes it more human and more concrete for us. We understand how the people lived, their aspirations, the social structure, and the kind of economic activity that went on it that period.”

She also spoke about the need to preserve historical sites such as Bhambhore so that they are not vandalised or looted as usually visitors to such sites appropriate relics and leave their physical mark on the site, which is immoral.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2019