Wednesday, May 20, 2015

World Museum Day: Balochistan needs proper museums for its relics, say speakers

By Mohammad Zafar

May 19, 2015

QUETTA: Balochistan needs properly managed museums to showcase its rich collection of artefacts — drawn from one of South Asia’s most ancient civilisations — which are currently on display in the museums of Karachi and Islamabad, speakers said at a discussion.

The discussion was held as a part of the World Museum Day celebrations in Quetta. A large number of students, academics and fans of archaeology attended the event organised at the University of Balochistan by the Geological Survey of Pakistan.

“This day is celebrated to make people aware of their heritage,” said Jameel Baloch, deputy director of directorate of archaeology. The museums hold the key to the links between the past and present society, he said. “The day is marked to encourage archaeological research and excavations,” Baloch added. A treasure trove of artefacts excavated from across the province is on display in various museums of Pakistan.

Although Balochistan has five museums — Quetta, Kech, Sibi, Turbat, Gwadar only Quetta Museum located in Noori Naseer Khan Cultural Complex is functional. The other museums in the province have no staff and no artefacts, antiques or archaeological finds to display, he said.

Over 17,000 artefacts of Balochistan are kept in National Museum Karachi despite the fact that Balochistan has museums to exhibit its cultural heritage, the official said.

Baloch said that the fossils of Balochitherium — one of the largest mammals that ever roamed the Earth were found from Dera Bugti. However, the bones of the five-metre tall herbivorous that weighed over 20 tonnes, almost as massive as the size of three large elephants, were put on display at theNatural History Museum in Islamabad.

He pointed out that Mehrgarh was now recognised as one of the oldest civilisations of South Asia — as established by the findings of several French archaeological missions. The findings of these expeditions are kept in the National Museum, Karachi.

The rich heritage of Miri Kalat and Shahi-Tump, Kech excavated by the late Roland Besenval and team are also kept in the National Museum, Baloch said.

Panah Baloch, an expert of ancient cultures, said the provincial government should appoint staff for the museums of Balochistan. Panah recalled that the then ambassador of France Phillipe Thiebaud had laid the foundation stone for the department of archaeology in the University of Balochistan and that French authorities had assured that it would provide scholarships to archaeology students of the province.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2015.

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