ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Museum has added 400 new artefacts, including one of two red stone statues of Buddha, Mehergarh pottery and seals from Mohenjo-daro that continue to baffle archaeologists even today.

A chessboard, dice, weights, cosmetics, utensils and many other items have been obtained from the National Museum in Karachi and the Taxila Museum and are now part of the permanent collection at the Islamabad Museum.

The red stone sculpture of Buddhistava, excavated from a site in Badalpur, Taxila, is as rare as the metal sculptures of Buddha found in Pakistan.

“The 2nd to 3rd century red stone sculpture does not have Gandhara features, and was possibly brought here from India,” the museum’s director Dr Abdul Ghafoor Lone said.

Displayed in warm lighting in niches in the wall, every artefact has a unique quick response (QR) code that contains information about it, courtesy of Unesco.

Some of the oldest items of display date back to 4,000 BC, such as a rare dish from Mehergarh, Balochistan, jewellery from Harappa, Punjab, from 2,600 – 1,800 BC and seals and stamps from Harappa from 3,000 BC.

“The script from this period has still not been translated and we do not know what they mean. However, the impressions of deities, bulls and patterns on the seals suggest that they were official purposes and belonged to government departments,” Dr Lone said.

Another artefact on display is a handmade bowl from the 4th millennium BC, which was before the wheel was invented to make pottery.

Besides artefacts from the Gandhara Grave Culture and the Mughal period that have been added to the collection, one of the most attractive pieces on show are two large metal door knockers. Weighing 20 kilograms each, Dr Lone said, the door knockers belong to the Hindu period.

“The Islamic script engraved all around is evidence of how Muslim invaders attempted to incorporate the aesthetics from Hindu cultures into their designs. The door knockers, which were found in Al-Mansura, Sindh, date back to the 8th century AD,” he said.

Housed in the Sir Syed Memorial building near the State Bank, the Department of Archaeology is in the process of expanding the museum’s display area.

“Negotiations are underway and if it works out, we will have a similar large space across the hall to showcase more items of antiquity,” Dr Lone said.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2019