Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pakistani dam endangers ancient carvings

A high level meeting was held between the elected Pakistani representatives and officials of Northern Areas and the Federal Government to review rock/archaeological carving being impacted by the proposed Basha Dam.

Reportedly thousands of rock carvings have been discovered in many areas during the last three decades by German scholars in collaboration with the Department of Archaeology,
Government of Pakistan. The survey is still under process to document these rock carvings spread in different areas of Northern part of Pakistan.

More than 50,000 Petroglyphs and over 5000 inscriptions in 39 different scripts and languages have been recorded so far along the Karakoram Highway in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. These rock carvings are threatened and endangered due to the proposed
construction of a dam near Basha. It is estimated that about 30,907 out of 32,405 rock carvings will be submerged by the Basha-Diamer reservoir including 3,290 inscriptions.

As the Basha-Diamer reservoir is a project of national importance, a meeting was arranged in Islamabad in order to discuss the various issues for safeguarding of engaged rock carvings. The meeting unanimously decided that the unique petroglyphs will be uplifted (wherever possible) from the location of reservoir and preserved in the Museums to he established at Gilgit and Chilas by the Department of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Pakistan.

All other important petroglyphs will be copied through a 3-D Digitizer Scanner and their replicas will be displayed in the proposed Museums. The members of the Local Administration of Northern Areas of Pakistan agreed to provide suitable piece of land free of charge for the
Museums at Gilgit and Chilas.

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