Hidden treasures

Published: August 14, 2012

Sheltered by the great Mount Elum, the Amluk-Dara stupa is an ancient relic. PHOTO: COURTESY ARCHAEOLOGY COMMUNITY TOURISM PROJECT

How many treasures lie hidden below our soil and what are we missing out on by failing to bring them before the world? The truth is we really do not know. Very little effort has been made to discover our own heritage, even though it could greatly enrich the lives of our people and help attract tourists to our country that would benefit hugely from the revenue that such tourism could bring.

Striking new discoveries have been made at the Gandhara civilisation site of Amluk-Dara in Swat, which dates back to the third century and had first been uncovered by British-Hungarian explorer Sir Aurel Stein in 1926, who found a well-preserved stupa located at the site. Now, an entire complex lying around the stupa has been uncovered jointly by an Italian archaeological mission visiting Pakistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Directorate of Archaeology and Museums. The site lies two kilometres from the main road, which travels from Barikot to Buner, protected by the Elum mountain. The site had been studied again in the 1960s and 1970s by foreign experts but no attempt was made locally since then to discover what lay there.

This complacency is a reflection of a much broader attitude. We make no effort to inculcate pride in our ancient heritage through school curricula, the media or other means. The warped ideological notions we have adopted, most markedly through the 1980s, mean we would, perhaps, like to forget that such a past exists. This is unforgivable. We must take pride in our history with all its various dimensions. A nation unable or unwilling to embrace its past is a lost one; we have lost a great deal already by doing away with huge chunks of our history and failing to embrace our heritage. Much of what lay in places like Swat has been deliberately destroyed. We must do what we can to hold on to what remains and raise awareness of this towards minds altered by years of propagandist teaching.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Khurram
    Aug 15, 2012 - 6:28AM

    No wonder why as a nation we have the Identity Crisis because we disowned our true heritage and owned with pride a false one.

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  • observer
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:31AM

    Didn’t all history begin with Bin Qasim?

    At least that is what Pakistan Study texts say.

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  • John McCoy
    Aug 15, 2012 - 4:34PM

    PakIstanis believe that this history is not theirs but that of india’s. And that perception is justified of course, as the Indus valley, Vedic, gandhara, maurya, Kushana history of Pakistan are indian civilizations. The world would always view it as indian as it has continuity with modern day India rather than Pakistan which has more continuity with the Arabs. So it is not surprising, given the India hatred, Pakistanis would want to destroy most of the history of the land. Note that a similar situation exist in turkey where the Turks associate with their nomadic turkomongol ancestors rather than the high ancient civilization of their land that is mostly Greek or roman.

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