ONE of the ancient rock carvings along the Indus River bank near the Diamer Basha Dam construction site. After completion of the dam, these carvings will be submerged. In this photo, ibex sketches, believed to date from pre-Islamic times, can be seen.
ONE of the ancient rock carvings along the Indus River bank near the Diamer Basha Dam construction site. After completion of the dam, these carvings will be submerged. In this photo, ibex sketches, believed to date from pre-Islamic times, can be seen.

GILGIT: The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) has signed a Rs46.5 million cultural preservation agreement for the digitisation and 3D modelling of significant rock carvings within the impact zone of the upcoming Diamer Basha Dam.

The eight-month contract, inked in Lahore, encompasses extensive site documentation using terrestrial scanners, alongside the consolidation, archiving, and modelling of scanned data for diverse applications, including 3D printing.

Wapda has signed the agreement with firm Quality Solutions Technologies (Pvt) Ltd, which will provide consultancy services for the project.

“In a ceremony held the other day, General Manager Diamer Basha Dam Project (Wapda) Nazakat Hussain and Director Business Development Quality Solutions Technologies Saad Ahmed Khan signed the agreement on behalf of their organisations,” said a statement issued on Wednesday.

“Member (Water) Wapda Jawaid Akhtar Latif, CEO Diamer Basha Dam Company Amir Bashir Chaudhry, Adviser Wapda Cultural Heritage Management Feryal Ali Gauhar, and Chief Engineer (Contracts) Diamer Basha Dam Project Abdur Rashid were also present on the occasion.

Diamer Basha Dam is being constructed in northern Pakistan, which serves as a repository of rich cultural heritage comprising an immense number of rock carvings. Wapda is implementing its Cultural Heritage Management Plan in the Diamer Basha Dam Project area to fulfil its national and international obligations.

The plan aims to preserve prehistoric rock carvings and inscriptions to be submerged in the water reservoir of Diamer Basha Dam, set up a museum and promote cultural tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan, particularly in Chilas and its suburban areas.

Experts say the construction of the Diamer Basha Dam threatens tens of thousands of rock engravings in the Diamer area of Gilgit-Baltistan. Some of the carvings date back to 8,000 BCE.

The Diamer district has one of the largest known numbers of rock engravings. Many are located on the banks of the Indus River.

According to Feryal Ali Gauhar, the lead consultant for cultural heritage management at Diamer Basha Dam, over 50,000 rock carvings and 5,000 inscriptions serve as a timeline from the Epipaleolithic period to the era of Buddhism. The earliest petroglyphs depict ibex and sheep.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2024

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