LARKANA: “There is a difference between culture and civilization. Culture encompasses living, thinking and dealings that nations practise collectively but civilization is purifies that culture. In the past, there were five major civilizations in the world but nowadays none of them exist but cultures are there.” This was stated by archaeologist Syed Hakim Ali Shah Bukhari — also author of many books — while speaking on ‘Twenty-first century and civilization’ at a conference on Moenjodaro held under the auspices of the Sindhi Adabi Sangat (SAS), Larkana chapter, in collaboration with the Arts Council, on Sunday.

Presiding over the conference, Mr Bukhari explained that there were two phenomena — nature and culture. Nature has its own way; early men totally depended on nature for survival but over centuries they invented things and also adopted practices of their choice which turned into cultures; their dependability on nature minimized with cultivation, animal rearing and invention of tools; all these things served the purpose of turning life comfortable.

Mr Bukhari described science and technology as culture and stressed that the the new generation should adopt this culture, which was the foremost demand of the 21st century. “Those who will follow the time and walk shoulder to shoulder with it will thrive and others will vanish,” he said.

The archaeologist believed that there was a strict rule of “survival of the fittest”. Man adopted whatever happens to be fit in his time and he had to adopt it or risk decaying.

In this context, Mr Bukhari noted that the condition of archaeological sites, including Moenjodaro, in Sindh was not good because contractors undertook the rehabilitation, maintenance and preservation works bypassing experts of archaeology and other relevant fields. “We should give up the conventional ways for such jobs, instead, a directional mode should be adopted to achieve the desired results.”

Prof Dr Mustafa Shar speaking on ‘Moenjodaro — Past and Future’ said that although only 10 per cent of the Moenjodaro ruins had so far been excavated, even the little number of artefacts discovered had not been saved properly; there was a risk of these artefacts being misplaced or stolen due to the poor management. In the past, he recalled, an official at the Moenjodaro Museum had even gifted to some influential an ancient golden necklace dug out from the ruins and displayed at the museum.

Similarly, he added, about forty seals found from the ruins had also been stolen and could not be recovered as yet. “Things at Moenjodaro are not improving due to a non-serious attitude of the quarters concerned,” he regretted.

According to Dr Shar, safe drinking water and other essential facilities for visitors are not available despite the fact that Rs20 million is earmarked every year for Moenjodaro. Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has banned further excavation of the mound for want of safety of artefacts and for fear of further damage to the historical site and discoveries. “It’s true that Moenjodaro is a very peaceful place but some skeletons of human being found there during excavation had broken skulls and crushed bones. Two female skeletons had also marks of cuts caused with some sharp objects,” noted, and said that a total of 35 skeletons had so far been dug out from the ruins.

Jagdesh Ahuja, speaking on the ‘Background and foreground of Indus civilization’ said that the Indus civilization was spread over hundreds of thousands of miles. He said Kashmir was also part of this civilization.

Earlier, Larkana SAS secretary Essa Memon welcomed the guests. Larkano District Historical Society chairman Prof Mukhtiar Samo, Prof Akhlaque Ansari, Dr Ahsan Danish, Jam Jamali, Mohammad Ali Pathan, Larkana Arts Council secretary Advocate Abdul Nabi Sario, Nena Ahuja, Dr Mazhar Mughal and a large number of people from a cross section of society attended the conference.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2019