TAXILA, July 13: Thousands of antiquities removed from the Swat Buddhist Museum for safety after militants bombed it in 2008 were returned to the museum on Wednesday.

Officials of the Taxila Museum, where the more than 2,700 pieces of Gandhara period were kept, handed the whole lot to the Directorate of Archaeology of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday.

The Swat Museum was closed following the bomb attack on it in February 2008 and its unique archaeological trove was shifted to the vaults of Taxila Museum for safekeeping.

Swat Museum’s assistant curator Aman Ullah Khan, who headed the three-member team from the directorate of archaeology, told reporters that the treasure included 250 stone sculptures, 100 statues of Buddha, 1,200 coins, 50 stucco sculptures, a large number of anthological material, pots, burial pottery and life stories of Buddha from birth to death.

He said the valuable Gandhara antiquities were shifted to Taxila Museum to save them from the hands of militants and looters.

An Italian archaeological mission is now working on the project of rehabilitating the Swat Museum. After rehabilitation of the building and showcases, he said these antiquities would be put on display.

He said some of unique and attractive antiquities, including fasting Buddha, have been exhibited in different countries, including Germany.

He said under the 18th amendment, the federal archeology department has handed over 91 archeological sites, including Swat Museum, to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said the Italian mission has also agreed to establish a school of archaeology in the valley to equip Pakistani archaeologists, scholars, researchers and students with the latest techniques of excavation, preservation and conservation of ancient sites.

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