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Archeology and Public’s interest

We hope that this issue lays out at least some of the definitive questions that archeological research and activities have the potential to interact with the public.

Archeology and history are basically the search for human past and ancient civilizations. The historians often use written resources committed to dates, while archeologists concentrate on physical remains and shreds of evidence, basically linked to the spatial origin.

Archeological investigations are a leading source of knowledge of prehistoric, ancient, and extinct cultures/ civilizations. The primary aim of archeology is to enrich our present by knowledge of our predecessors’ experiences and achievements. According to experienced researchers worldwide, the most direct archeology findings bear in the history of arts and technology. But by inference, it also provides historical data for ancient civilizations’ social, religious, and economic aspects. In the past few decades, archeological discoveries bring to light and interpret many previously unknown written documents that eventually provide more certain evidence about our past.

The new era in the systematic and controlled archeological research started with the French archeologist Auguste Mariette, who also founded the Egyptian Museum of Cairo. The British archeologist Flinders Patrie developed excavating principles and summarized other methods for archeological discoveries and their aims.

Auguste Mariette | French archaeologist | Britannica
French archeologist Auguste Mariette, who founded the Egyptian Museum of Cairo. Credit: Britannica
Flinders Petrie - Wikipedia. archeology
British archeologist Flinders Patrie. Credit: wikicommons

More often than not, archeologists use artifacts like ancient tools, clothing, artwork, decorations, features like pyramids or sculptures, etc. to learn how people lived in a specific time in a particular part of the world.
Most ancient cultures left written records that archeologists study and research; surprisingly, some of the most valuable written records found so far were shopping lists, tax forms, and other everyday stuff. But many ancient civilizations have had a complicated writing style that archeologists stretch their heads for a long time to understand and decipher with the help of linguists.

For instance, the Mayan language remained a mystery to scholars for centuries; language experts thought that Maya script was merely symbolic and didn’t represent a language at all. They have been trying unlocking the symbols on discovered monuments, pottery, and statues to learn more about this powerful civilization. Still, there is a long way to fully decode the ancient script, and around 15 percent of the script is still unknown. Thanks to the internet era, researchers and linguists can now share their work with each other easily, and when they unlock the final pieces of this puzzle entirely, it will be a huge step forward for expanding our understanding of the social and historical aspects of the Mayan civilization.

This bi-monthly issue of Scientia Pakistan magazine aims to examine matters of interest for public archeology internationally and mainly in Pakistan. We hope that this issue lays out at least some of the definitive questions that archeological research and activities have the potential to interact with the public. We aim to involve the public in archeological studies, specifically our youth. In the past, it has been observed that Science magazines and research articles on archeology help to enhance the public’s interest; for instance, the campaign involving Viking Dublin in the late 1970s and early 1980s received a large number of public’s involvement with archeology at its height that resulted in thousands of Dubliners taking to the city street ostensibly to protect the city’s archeological assets.

Similarly, in Pakistan, we need to preserve our great archeological heritage in the province of Baluchistan, which has been neglected long ago and many of its historical sites like Makran coast, Dera Bugti, and Sibi brought to light and researchers notice after the completion of Makran Coastal highway in 2004, that linked Gawader to Karachi. Perhaps many such sites in Pakistan are still hidden from the world due to insufficient resources and the entire lack of Government’s interest in preserving archeological heritage. Scientia Pakistan specifically covers these sites and presents compelling stories on the Sphinx of Baluchistan, Baluchitherium, Hingol National Park, Taxila, and other places of archeological importance in Pakistan.
Have an excellent read. CHEERS!

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