TAXILA, Dec 25: Archaeological remains at an ancient site known as Sarai Khola are a shambles due lack of preservation and human vandalism.

Located about half a kilometre in the west of Kala Nala bridge on the G.T. Road and four km in the south-west of Taxila Museum, Sarai Khola was discovered in 1968. It was considered as an important discovery as it brought to light the presence of the late Neolithic and Kat Dijjan settlements in the Taxila valley. Sarai Khola gave valuable information regarding the early farming communities in Pakistan. It may be interesting to reproduce chronological sequence is Taxila valley prior to and after the discovery Sarai Khola. The archaeological remains discovered in Sarai Khola significantly contributed to the research carried out on the archeological and cultural aspects of Taxila valley.

The importance of the mound can be judged from the fact that it pushed back the chronology of Taxila valley from 6th century B.C. to 4000 B.C. The department of archaeology carried out excavations from 1968 to 1973, during which terra cotta figurines of mother goddesses were frequently found. Besides, chest blades and beads, terracotta pots and shred were also uncovered. The most interesting discovery was different types of burial customs of those days. The inhabitants used different styles to bury the dead bodies.

In view of the impotence of archeological remains, Unesco declared the site as part of its world cultural heritage. This step of Unesco is of a singular honour and recognition given to the Taxila valley. But despite its historical and archaeological importance and significance of being the only pre-Indus civilization site in Taxila valley, the site has been forgotten by the authorities of the federal department of archaeology and museums, which claims to be custodian of the heritage in Pakistan. The site is in shambles due to human vandalism and encroachments as no efforts have been made for its conservation, excavation and restoration for the last many decades. The site located on a mound has been sandwiched among new constructions. Now it is not even accessible to the common visitor. Encroachers have removed the slops of mound making it almost a pillar, and the site sits on the top of the mound. The site has also become a cattle pen and people are digging the site for use of mud for construction purposes.

When contacted, deputy director federal department of archaeology and museums Mohammad Bahadur Khan said cultural heritage of such a great importance needed special care and attention for its protection and preservation. He said the department lacked proper funds and financial resources for the excavation, preservation and restoration of the site. To protect the site from human vandalism, he added, the department was taking possible measures to protect the monument from encroachment and other unauthorised activities.

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