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Australia returns Gandhara statue of Buddha to Pakistan

An Australian citizen returned the statue of Buddha belonged to the Gandhara civilization of Pakistan as a goodwill gesture.

In this connection, a ceremony was held at the Pakistan High Commission, Canberra to celebrate the return of the statue.

The statue was in the possession of Ms Romy Dingle, an Australian citizen whose mother was a collector of artefacts and had brought it to Australia from Pakistan in the early 1970s. The family now wished to gift it to Pakistan, the place where it belonged.

The event was attended by guests from the civil society, academia, diplomatic corps and media. The Shadow Minister for Families, Youth, Community Services, and Multicultural Affairs, Ms Elizabeth Kikkert MLA in the ACT Legislative Assembly also attended.

Speaking on the occasion Ms Romy Dingle said that, she is delighted to facilitate and return the piece of history as it has now been returned to its rightful place to be celebrated and protected in a befitting manner.

She added that today’s event is an excellent example of the results that can come with close cooperation between individuals from civil society and government institution to preserve and celebrate art.

In his remarks, High Commissioner for Pakistan, Mr Babar Amin said that the statue was an important element of the cultural history and heritage of Pakistan and was so much more than a piece of property.

While giving agenesis of the Gandhara civilization, he added that Gandhara was an ancient kingdom in the modern-day North of Pakistan spreading from Peshawar to the Swat valley, and Pothoharplateau region of Pakistan.

As a centre of Buddhism, Gandhara attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century under the Kushan Kings and contributed immensely in the spheres of painting, sculpture, coins, pottery and all the associated elements of an artistic tradition.

Taxila was its seat of learning which hosted the famous Julian University one of the first in the world.

People from all over the area and neighbouring regions came to Gandhara not only for trade and commerce but also for learning and acquiring knowledge.

The High Commissioner termed the return of Buddha as a wonderful gesture and thanked Ms Dingle’s family for gifting the statue which was amazing not only for its history but also for its nifty carving.

He remarked that he hoped the people understood its value as it is one part of Pakistan’s history which also belonged to the entire world.

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Emirates transports 2000-year-old Buddha between Pakistan and Switzerland

Dubai: A 2000-year-old Buddha belonging to Gandhara Civilization was transported by the Emirates SkyCargo between Pakistan and Switzerland.

Between December 2018 and March 2019, visitors to the Museum Rietberg in Zurich, Switzerland, had the rare opportunity to come face to face with a colossal statue of Buddha more than 2,000 years old.

The statue from the Peshawar Museum in Pakistan was safely transported from its home to Zurich and back by Emirates SkyCargo.

The ancient Gandhara civilization Buddha statue was given on special loan by the Peshawar Museum to feature in the exhibition ‘Next Stop Nirvana- Approaches to Buddhism’ at the Museum Rietberg.

It was the first time that the statue had travelled outside of Pakistan. Special care had to be taken by the museums during the packing and installation process, as well as by Emirates SkyCargo during the transportation, to ensure that the monumental statue was not accidentally damaged.

Emirates SkyCargo pulled out all the stops to make sure that the statue weighing 1,700 kilograms, and reaching over 2 metres in height, was transported safely in the belly hold of its wide body passenger aircraft through handling processes and security measures outlined under Emirates Valuable, its specialised product for transporting precious goods. However, the air cargo carrier also had to do some out of the box thinking.

“Our standard procedures mention that any precious cargo has to be transported in secure metal door containers. However, for a statue of this size, this was not really an option,” said Julius Mooney, Commercial Development Manager – Speciality Products, Emirates SkyCargo. “For us the priority was twofold, to ensure that the shipment was handled with utmost care to avoid any damage from impact and of course to ensure the security of the priceless statue.

Emirates SkyCargo also worked with Emirates Group Security and Transguard to ensure seamless security screening, handling and clearance for the statue.

During its transit at Dubai International Airport, the statue was quickly transferred on the ramp to its connecting aircraft.

Emirates SkyCargo executed the first leg of the movement from Peshawar to Zurich in December 2018 and completed the return leg from Zurich in early April 2019.

“It was a landmark shipment for Emirates SkyCargo. We are delighted that we were able to successfully transport the statue to the exhibition in Zurich. Audiences in Switzerland had an opportunity to become familiar with an important part of Pakistan’s ancient heritage and Emirates SkyCargo had a part in creating this link between the two countries,” said Jassim Saif, Emirates Vice President Cargo Commercial- West Asia and South East Asia.

"Gandhara art played a significant role in the propagation of Buddhism around the world and Peshawar Museum, being the repository of the world’s richest and finest collection of Buddha statues, has a prestigious status in the eyes of art lovers,” said Mohammad Asif Raza, Curator of the Peshawar Museum.

“Our mission is to highlight the soft image of Pakistan throughout the world by exhibiting these masterpieces of art and the exhibition of colossal Buddha statue in Museum Rietberg Switzerland is the beginning of a new era of friendship and cooperation," he added.

“The colossal Buddha from Peshawar – one of the absolute highlights of the exhibition – came as an ambassador of peace, tolerance and wisdom,” said Dr. Johannes Beltz, Vice Director at Museum Rietberg.

“The statue pioneered for a new partnership between museums in Switzerland and Pakistan. A rewarding and worthwhile cooperation that was made possible by the great commitment of the Peshawar Museum, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the Governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Pakistan,” he added.

Source : Gulf News

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Archaeologists discover 2,000 years-old artefacts in Peshawar

PESHAWAR: Archaeologists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have discovered 2,000 years-old ancient metal artefacts from Peshawar’s Hayatabad neighbourhood.

The Archeology Department of the University of Peshawar in collaboration with the K-P Archeology Department had been excavating the Hayatabad Phase V site for the last three years.

The artefacts discovered include utensils, tools, and industrial items. The remains were traced back to the Sateen tribe, which dates back to the 2nd century BC.

The provincial authorities are reviewing the site for restoration and the decision to convert the site into a museum will be taken at a later date.

Earlier this year, Chinese archaeologists uncovered artefacts dating as far back as 1700 BC near Khanpur. The discovery suggested that there was a civilisation in the area long before the Gandhara civilisation.

The artefacts, including pottery, remains of metallic tools, and stone items, point to a link with Harappa and Moen Jo Daro civilisations – the two cradles of Indus Valley civilisation.

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News from February 2019 but not reported on SSC

Uncovering history: 4,000-year-old artefacts found near Khanpur

HARIPUR: Chinese archaeologists have uncovered some artefacts dating as far back as 1700 BC near Khanpur. It suggests that there was a civilisation in this area long before the Gandhara civilisation.

The relics, including pottery, remains of metallic tools, and stone items, point to a link with Harappa and Moen Jo Daro civilisations – the two cradles of Indus Valley civilisation.

According to sources, the discovery was a joint effort of students from three Chinese universities along with the Department of Archaeology who have been excavating a historical site near Bhaloot in Khanpur for a while.
Nasir Khan, an official of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, said that they had discovered a large number of pots, metal and stone tools during the excavation.

He added that the best part was that most of the relics had been recovered undamaged.

Nasir hoped that research on these relics would help provide clues to the civilisation which lived in this area over a millennium ago — even before the advent of Gandhara Civilisation.

The official said that the discovery was the result of the strengthening cultural ties between Pakistan and China in the wake of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

He added that it was due to an agreement for cooperation that Chinese archaeological experts had worked with the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government to discover the relics.

“This discovery would not only open new chapters in history but would further help in understanding ancient civilisations,” he added.

He said the discovered antiquities would be displayed in a museum for general public.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2019.

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Traces of Alexander city found in Swat

MINGORA: The archaeologists have found the traces of the second missing city of Bazira that was established after the destruction of the lower city in the third century by a catastrophic earthquake.

The ancient Bazira is also known as the city of Alexander. The discovery occurred during the recent excavations in Barikot-Swat.

“Luckily we have found that missing gap. After the abandonment of the lower city in the third century, a smaller but complex urban settlement was rebuilt at the foot of Barikot Ghwandai,” Dr Luca Maria Olivieri, head of the Italian Archaeological Mission, told Dawn.

He said that archaeologists found not only the Hindu Shahi structure but also the traces of a small urban settlement and a citadel, which had been inhabited since the fourth century till the Ghaznavid time.

“The lower city, abandoned after a massive earthquake in the third century, was known as Bazira or Beira. The newly discovered city, according to an inscription found on the top of the Ghwandai, was called Vajirasthana. It means the fortified place of Bazira,” said Dr Luca.

He said that the most important and evident remains of the citadel were a fire temple, a Hindu Shahi fortress or palace, both coeval to a Hindu Shahi temple discovered in 1988 on the top of the Ghwandai.

The archaeologists found the scattered evidence of the Ghaznavid period and also the evidence of Medieval Dardic village (dated to 12th to 15th century AD) that was ultimately occupied by the Yousafzai tribe.

According to oral histories reported both from Barikot-Swat and Barikot-Dir, by a British officer in 1912, the original inhabitants of the area fled to Dir with their own chief Barya Khan and founded a new Barikot there.

Local and foreign tourists also started visiting the newly discovered site and term it an amazing addition to the realm of Gandhara civilisation.

Nattapach, a tourist, who visited the site with a group of other Thai tourists, said that he was excited to see such amazing archaeological sites. “It was a big city having a rich history,” he told Dawn, adding that Pakistan was the home of early Buddhism and it was important for Buddhists around the world.

Kampira, another Thai tourist, said that she learnt that the early Buddhists living in Gandhara region were the first to have introduced the image of Buddha that’s why she always wanted to visit Gandhara.

“Luckily I got the opportunity to visit Gandhara in Pakistan this time. I am happy and content to visit so many ancient Buddhist sites including ancient stupas, monasteries and statues,” she said.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2019
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