Digitalization of artifacts to prevent illicit export, help researchers

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ISLAMABAD, Jan 29 (APP): National History and Literary Heritage Division (NHLH) is all set to initiate work on the project of digital documentation of archaeological artifacts to provide database for scholars to conduct research and prevent illicit trafficking of archaeological objects.
According to the official source, this project titled `Establishment of digitalization center for documentation of the artifacts and archival material at Department of Archeology and Museums’ was approved in the budget of fiscal year 2016-17.
The project, costing to Rs. 2.929 million, has been approved from Departmental Development Working Party (DDWP). The process of
opening of assignment account and the release of funds is under
process and the work will hopefully start by the mid January.
“Preservation and documentation has always been a matter of
concern for the academic research of the moveable and immoveable
cultural wealth of the country”, Joint Secretary, NHLH, Mashhood
Mirza said.
Talking to APP, he said the fragility of archeological material and lack of documentation of the archeological artifacts in the national repository limits academic study and verification of record so it is imperative to preserve and document the archeological material.
The digital archiving of the whole record of the archaeological artifacts in the custody of DoAM was direly needed for posterity and providing data to the scholars for interpretive information, he said.
Mashhood Mirza said, this step will also prove as a deterrent
for pilfered objects from the archaeological sites and monuments and
its selling on the black market as this data is shared internationally
with Interpol and other databases for deterring illicit trafficking
of archaeological objects.
“It will enable us to comply with the UNESCO convention of 1970 – “Prohibiting and Preventing the illicit Import/Export and Transfer of ownership of cultural property”, he said.
The high resolution pictures and maintenance of electronic database is the only way to overcome the issues of illicit import and export of precious relics.
This project will provide an additional platform for access and exhibition of documents and artifacts for providing research facilities for scholars, researchers from Pakistan and abroad in the field of archaeology, Mashhood Mirza said.
He said NHLH has revitalized the Department of Archeology and Museums (DOAM) which was lying dormant after devolution under
18th Amendment of the constitution.
Advisor to Prime Minister on NHLH, Irfan Siddiqui who is taking keen interest in preservation and safeguard of the cultural heritage, has issued special directions to implement this project without any delay for saving country’s precious heritage, he said.