Archaeology: Pakistan to preserve Pre-Historic Rock Carvings on dam’s site

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By Muhammad Luqman

 Pakistan’s Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA)  has signed a contract worth Rs. 46.5 million with the firm, Quality Solutions Technologies for consultancy services for digitization of significant rock carvings in direct area of impact of Diamer Basha Dam in northern Pakistan  with modeling and preparation of data for 3D printing.

The site of the mega dam project with an estimated number of 50,000 carvings and 5,000 inscriptions  dating them from 8,000 BCE up to the 16th century CE and the advent of Islam in the area, is generally called an open-air museum in Chilas valley.

The major scope of services under the contract include site documentation through terrestrial scanner and consolidation as well as archiving and modelling of scanned data for various applications. The duration of the contract is eight months.

At a ceremony held in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore , 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 respective organizations.  Member (Water) WAPDA Jawaid Akhtar Latif, CEO Diamer Basha Dam Company Amir Bashir Chaudhry, Advisor 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 Project is being constructed in Northern Pakistan, which serves as a repository of rich cultural heritage comprising immense number of rock carvings. WAPDA is implementing Cultural Heritage Management Plan in Diamer Basha Dam Project area with a view to fulfilling its national and international obligations in this regard. The Plan aims at preservation of pre-historic rock carvings and inscriptions to be submerged in water reservoir of Diamer Basha Dam, setting up a museum and promotion of cultural tourism in Gilgit-Baltistan, particularly in Chilas and its suburban areas.

The Cultural Heritage Management Plan of Diamer Basha Dam Project recommends the digital preservation of 175-200 most significant rock carvings, which represent various historic periods and aesthetic style. The rock carvings, which are being preserved, were short-listed by the international consultant and former Director of the Pak-German Archaeological Mission Professor Dr. Harald Hauptmann.

The Chilas valley has one of the largest known numbers of rock engravings. Many are located on the banks of the Indus River, clustered around old roadways, river crossings and settlements. They are difficult to reach – a factor that may have helped preserve them.

The Diamer-Basha Dam, when completed,  will generate 4,500 megawatts of hydroelectric energy and irrigate 1.2 million acres of agricultural land.

Before the 1980s and the completion of the Karakoram Highway, getting to the area was hard and few academics had studied the ‘rock museum.’ However, with improved access, scholars documented

Over the ages, both peaceful travellers and invaders from Central Asia left their mark on the region, following routes along the upper Indus and its adjoining valleys. As a branch of the Silk Road, the roads were used by merchants, pilgrims and artisans from the north or the Indian subcontinent.

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