Sunday, August 24, 2008

Professor Sufi Mustafizur Rahman spoke on Wari-bateshwar at Chhyanot

A report from The Daily star.
Here is the Deatail :
Wari-Bateshwar: In search of origins
Lecture at Chhayanat
Nadia Sarwat

The history of human race is about 24,00,000 years old, but it was not until 10,000 years back that humans started making settlements. As the pre-historic people mostly lived in stone-caves, it is commonly thought that there cannot possibly be any trace of humans from that period in Bangladesh. But archaeological excavation of the Wari-Bateshwar site in Narsingdi district indicates just the opposite. Wari-Bateshwar, two neighbouring sites on the Pleistocene flat surface of the eastern Madhupur tract proves the existence of an ancient fort-city (dating back to the year 450 BC) on the bank of the river Buriganga.

Chhayanat arranged a lecture on Wari-Bateshwar at the Chhayanat Sanskriti Bhaban on August 15. Professor Shah Sufi Mustafizur Rahman, Department of Archaeology, Jahangirnagar University, who is leading the excavation at the site since 2000, was the speaker at the event.

Dr. Sanjida Khatun, president of Chhhayanat, welcomed the audience and introduced Professor Shah Sufi Mustafizur Rahman and his team. A one-minute silence was observed in honor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

The lecture was aided with an interesting slide show, which included maps and photographs of the site, artifacts, archaeological discoveries and different processes of excavation and survey. Professor Rahman explained how the excavation began and how important the discovery is to our history. It is being speculated that Wari-Bateshwar is indeed "Sounagora", a center of trade described by Ptolemy.

"The excavation owes a lot to the local schoolteacher Hanif Pathan who initially played a major role in generating public interest in the sites in 1930. Later, his son Habibullah Pathan, an amateur archaeologist, furthered the mission with his writings. But it wasn't until 2000 that any formal excavation began at the sites. Several organizations including The Daily Star came forward to promote it, as the process is time-consuming, costly and difficult," said Professor Rahman.

"Traces of the civilization we found at Wari-Bateshwar are astonishingly advanced. Instead of living in stone caves, here the people invented a system, which is known as "pit-dwelling" -- an important discovery of the excavation. The system indicates to the Chalcolithic era. Instead of tools made of stones, a kind of fossil wood was used. Artifacts, beads and household items made of clay and ceramic further ensure the authenticity of the excavation. We could not exactly trace the year of the artifacts but samples have been sent to the Institute of Archaeology, London University for "Carbon-14" test (a method to identify the time)," he added.

The lecture included descriptions of different perspectives of the excavation and its historical-archaeological significance. A question-answer session followed the lecture.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An unexpected event that attarcted Bangladeshi people to Archaeology for the first time

I tried to realize the fact that what archaeology really means to our people and what they thinks about it. It is hard to articulate since to our people it seems to me sometimes that history just began from 1971 through our struggle for independence. Not only the ordinary people but also the university graduates can hardly realize what does it means by the word archaeology. Often i would asked about my background. I might say that I am/was a student of archaeology. `Oh. Nice subject! architecture.' Or `Is it related to fine arts?' is a common reaction to my answer. Then there is a explanation to set. Everyone knows here Paharpur (A Buddhist Monastery)and Mahastangaraah (A post-Moryan site) since in the school level textbooks have some information about these two sites. So, When we are asked we answer like this. That archaeology deals with the matters like Paharpur or Mahastangarah. In our learning days we often uttered the line that archaeology is the primary source of history. It makes history come to happen in a authentic form. But as an ordinary citizen we have nothing to do with our history and archaeological history in socio-political and economic running here in Bangladesh. Here history means all the glories and controversies of 1971, and debates related to Sheikh Mujib and General Zia. people know much that if any one calls for independence, is a great factor for politics or if anyone leads the nation toward the movements of independence it matters for the power game. But they often fails to connect their present life with the fact that once there was a great Buddhist civilization in their country. What can the do with that? They goes for picnic in the winter days to Maynaamati, Paharpur or Mahstangarah. Visits museums, have some rich food and come back to home with a little consciousness about these sites. We are talking about the literate persons from middle class. They can easily recall the history of colonial past. Even they can mention the pre-colonial Muslim era. But they can hardly recall the history before the invasion of Muslim rulers. So in this position of realization of history here occurred an historical event that made the literate persons engaged to the archaeology of Bangladesh. It was the Guimet Museum issue. There was a program called Sonar Bangla festival to be held in Paris this year. Guimet was responsible for the event. And for the festival they wanted to have some precious artifacts to be parceled for Guimet. There was laws an regulations customs and other issues. Finally it seemed to many that there is something wrong. Dal me kuch kaala hay. So, first of all a small part of the Intelligentsia raised their voice against the artifact dispatch to Paris. There held a procession during the dispatch of artifacts from National Museum. After that, all media got concerned. After a huge reporting and tele programs And a large number of the conscious people felt attachment to the procession. This is first time we saw a number of people got involved to the issue related directly to archaeology.
But what is next? What impact they really feels? That's another question.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Once upon a time i was a student of Archaeology Department

I was admitted to archaeology department of Jahangirnagar in the year 1998 and with a long session jam i passed all my exams in 2003. That's all my attachment with the courses and research activities. In Bangladesh if one is not capable to manage a lecturer-ship in the University he/she will have no opportunity to be with archaeology. There is no potential research organization, no proper govt employment system to get archaeology student engaged in archaeological works. In my university days i calculated much, thought, whether i have no first class to achieve i must left the idea behind to do with archaeology. So, it does not matters me whether i was passed in English, Bangla or any other discipline. So, i passed the exams a left everything archaeological behind. I course of it seems that i totally forgot all about my subject.
But a miracle happened this year. I met one of my favorite Professor. He was very exited with their excavation at Wari-Bateswar. He told me that the days will come all the the students will get together to work, excavation, exploration etc. I told, Sir, or path is already divided and the is no possible options to get together again. After that conversation i thought much. I had no idea that what can i do for Archaeology. Sometimes i wrote some popular articles for newspaper. I thought it to be continued. And suddenly i got the idea that there is a great possibility for me to blogging archaeology. I spend much of my time for blogging. Why not there is some time for archaeology. Today i am very happy that i started a blog titled in archaeology. So here begins my new studentship as a student of archaeology.


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