Thaap conference concluded with a thought-provoking round table discussion.

Lahore (Qasim Ali)

The two day 12th annual THAAP International conference ” Indus Valley (Harrapa) Culture: Its Legacy and Relevance” concluded with an enriched panel discussion by  Harappa Circle here at Thaap secretariat on saturday evening. Distinguished cultural activists, experts, archaeologists ,historians and academecians presented their valuable suggestions for securing the Harappan culture and civilization.The second day of the conference featured two paper reading sessions, a program of research & investigation of an upcoming archaeological dig at Ganweriwala, and lively discussion by Harrapan circle which saw participation from fifteen prominent panelists in the field.

First paper reading session of the second day was chaired by Dr. Khola Cheema featured three presentations. The first presentation of the session by Asim Akhtar titled Pottery And The Cultural Landscape Through Time- A Legacy Lost And Retrieved discussed the material culture (tangible) of Harappa with a focus on traditions of pottery-making while also shedding light on the evolving cultural landscape of the region. The second paper of the session was presented by Sehrish Rafique titled “Optimizing the Value of the Traditional Ajrak Design Fabric Craft of Indus Valley Civilization through expressive attributes addresses the current situation, and possibility, potential and strategies to the traditional Ajrak in its authentic form, fabric, and dyes. The third paper of the session presented by Nomana Masood & Sadia Qutub Hashmi “Visual Appearance of Peepal Leaf Motif in Indus Valley Civilization As a Cultural Element” stressed on the sacredness of the Peepal leaf motif as a cultural element, which is still in use and also its employment as a vital symbol in the religious art of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The last paper of the session was presented by the esteemed Dr Rafique Mughal titled, “Dig at Ganweriwala” which provided a critical and indepth insight related to under the rationale of the dig at ganweriwala in reference to the estimated scale of Harrapa culture. The session is closed with lively discussion and closing remarks by chairperson Dr Khola Cheema which emphasizes the need to inculcate and pass on our regional, tangible and intangible cultural practices in the face of contemporary issues of climate change and conflict.

The fifth and last paper reading session chaired by Ihsan Nadeem Goraya featured four presentations. The first paper presented by Sarosh Tariq Titled “The Versatile Brick” Compares and Contrasts the Bricks used in Various Civilizations with the Indus Valley Bricks and Their respective Significance in their civilizations. The second paper presented by Sumbal Sarfraz titled Unveiling the Artistry and Cultural Significance of Indus Textile unveils the legacy of ancient textiles and analyses the artistic textile evolved with extended influences in other regions and embedded in the contemporary world. The third paper presented by Sidra Ashraf titled “Harappan: From Clay To Secrete Artifacts: Iconography And Style” creates a comparative analysis between the earlier Harappan phase and to mature Harappan phase in terms of different artist solutions to the heritage revival. The last presentation by Ar M Abdullah titled “Revisiting Architecture of Harappa Civilization through Visualizations” visually presents and describes the detailed building elements, spatial planning, construction materials & and techniques of the Harappa civilization. In the closing remarks chairperson of the session Ihsan Nadeem Goraya exclaimed how heartened he was by the efforts of young arachaeologists regarding the future of the field in Pakistan.

After the lunch break the program of research and investigation at the Ganweriwala dig and its future plans was commenced. Dr Ehtasham Anwar, Commissioner Bahawalpur, Prof Sajida Haider Vandal, CEO THAAP, and Cultural Heritage Expert and Prof. Dr. M Rafique Mughal professor emeritus of archaeology, Boston University USA engaged in a comprehensive and insightful discussion regarding the Dig at Ganweriwala. Their collective expertise and insights promise to unveil new dimensions in the ongoing exploration of Ganweriwala and itsarchaeological significance.At the end of the session all session chairs answered questions regarding the roadmap of the excavation and the features intended to be a part of it regarding safety and awareness. 

After a brief tea break, the session of Harappa circle moderated by Prof Sajida Haider Vandal commences where experts provide their critical insight into Punjab culture and its links with the ancient period and the need to systematically research and publish the findings and project the possibilities in the future.The session was initiated by Prof Sajida Haider Vandal, who introduced the panellists and theme of the program and directed the attention of the audience towards the ignored cultural heritage aspect of custodianship. Prof. Dr. Nasrullah Nasir draws attention towards the intelligence, social life and heritage practices of our ancestors who lived along rivers embedded in the perspective of folklores and folk songs of the region.

Shahid Nadeem director Ajoka theatre emphasised on the pivotal role of the intangible cultural heritage with art such as thratre , folksongs, music etc of Harappan culture and stress upon the employment of digital media tools to investigate the lesser explored aspects of Harappa Culture. Iqbal Qaiser established the connection of Jain tradition and mentions of Hanapps Culture ruins. Umar Farooq stressed the role of academia and inculation of the importance of intangible cutting heritage in students to knowledge as a medium of exploration for generation and dissent on Harrapa Culture.

Hassan Khokar shed light on the feature of artefacts excavated from Harappa and pointed out room for further exploration. Shafiq Butt raised the issue of heritage ownership in the younger generation and explored ways to connect new generations with regional heritage.Prof Dr. Kanwal Khalid stressed on the field of symbology and iconography as means of research and dig of decoding Harrapa culture and dig at Ganweriwala.Dr. Munnaza Akram talked about religions based identities that are being imposed on our national identity. Prof. Dr. Neelam Naz and other speakers also presented their valuable suggestions regarding the discussion.

The two-day conference concluded in a closing session where certificates were awarded to all the paper readers, volunteers, THAAP staff, and secretariate followed by closing remarks by Prof Pervaiz Vandal and Prof Sajida Haider Vandal, who thanked the participating scholars , chief guests and students for active participation and making the conference a memorable event.

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