Preserving history: Digitisation of 5,000 artefacts to be complete by year end

Published: October 22, 2018


ISLAMABAD: The Department of Archeology and Museums (DoAM) will complete the digitization process of 5,000 artefacts before the end of this year.

The task is expected to be completed by the department’s Digitisation Centre to provide an electronic database for scholars to conduct research and preserve items of cultural heritage and prevent illicit trafficking of archaeological objects.

The department has so far completed digitisation of around 3,500 artefacts while rest of the artefacts will be digitised before the end of this year, DoAM Director Archeology Abdul Azeem revealed.

The department, working under the National History and Literary Heritage Division (NHLH), was given the task to digitise 5,000 selected artefacts in the initial phase. Work on the project started soon after the establishment of a digitisation centre for documentation of the artefacts and archival material.

Azeem observed that preservation and documentation have always been a matter of concern for the academic research of the movable and immovable cultural wealth of the country. The fragility of archaeological material and lack of digital documentation of the artefacts in the national repository limits academic study and verification of record.

The process of digital archiving the entire record of the archaeological artefacts in the custody of DoAM was direly needed for preservation, preventing it from illicit trafficking and providing data to the scholars for interpretive information, he said.

The DoAM Archeology director further stated that the department will digitise the entire inventory with DoAM in phases which will be replicated by all the provinces so that a national inventory can be created. It will enable the country to comply with the UNESCO Convention of 1970, which is “prohibiting and preventing the illicit import, export and transfer of ownership of cultural property,” he said.

Azeem further said that the digitised record of an artefact carries all necessary information about the object along with a variety of 3-D images in different angles made through the latest cameras. Referring to the importance of digitisation of artefacts, he said artefacts give evidence of a civilization’s culture, heritage, and development over time and often date back thousands of years and are irreplaceable.

So, the preservation and protection of artefacts against damage or theft was always a challenge for museums and other conservation organisations.    He added that the latest technologies of digitisation through 3-D images of the artefacts have contributed a lot for the preservation of this cultural asset.

Botanical Forest Diorama

The Pakistan Museum for Natural History (PMNH) will build an innovative and modernised forest gallery titled “Botanical Forest Diorama” by the end of the year which would allow researchers and students to explore different species of plants.

The ongoing work on establishing this gallery will be completed by the end of this year, informed PMNH Director-General Dr Rafique.

The forest gallery will have specimens of a variety of plant species, herbs and insects which would enable the students to conduct research and explore different aspects. Listing other initiatives being taken by PMNH for the preservation of natural resources, he informed that the museum will also start work on establishing an `Ocean Gallery’ during the next year to display a huge variety of specimen of fish and facts associated with their existence.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 22nd, 2018.

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