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UNESCO to Compile Gandhara Artefact Database


04 May 2006




LONDON, (CAIS) -- United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) plans to computerise data of statues and other artefacts belonging to the Gandhara in the entire country, official sources said.

American experts will be hired for technical assistance in computerisation of the data. The federal government has 2800 statues of Gandhara civilisation on display in museums and 1200 in its stores. The NWFP government has 4500 such artefacts but only 912 of them are on display in museums.

The compilation of Gandhara artefacts will help in their identification and location. Besides, it will also help in locating them when they are moved from one place to another, legally or illegally, and in knowing their current status.

“It will help us differentiate between genuine and the fake statues and check illegal movement of genuine ones within or out of the country,” Director Museums and Archaeology Dr Ihsan Ali said.

The database will include picture of an artefact, its number, location, physical description, material it is made of and its current status and it would be easy to trace it even if it is lying in an International museum, officials said.

There has been no incident of theft of artefacts from the Peshawar Museum but some people are involved in illegal excavation at historic sites and smuggling of relics out of the country, Dr Ihsan Ali said.

“If funds are available the project could be extended to compile data of the artefacts owned by private individuals as well,” officials in the provincial archaeology department said.

The idea to compile the data was taken up last year by UNESCO but its materialisation was delayed due to various reasons, official sources said adding that UNESCO officials entrusted with the task of monitoring the project had cancelled their visit a number of times due to ‘uncertain situation’ in the country.

Provincial and federal departments of archaeology are ready, but UNESCO has not so far appointed a national coordinator for the project, an official said. However another official said that both the governments did not agree on modalities of the project and it was main reason of delay.

He confirmed that a few months ago visit of a UNESCO official was cancelled due to protests against publication of Muhamad's cartoons.





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