15 April | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Archaeological excavation starts at 5000 years old civilization in Cholistan

Over four hundred sites representing origins, rise, climax, and decline of Indus and Harappan civilizations situated all along dry bed and channels of Hakra River

Archaeological excavation at the site of Ganweriwala – as many as 5000 years old Indus Valley Civilization in the midst of the Cholistan desert on the river Hakra – is going on briskly from last one week with active participation of young and professionals alike.

At the historical site, the excavations work commenced on March 1 by Bahawalpur Division Commissioner Dr Ehtasham Anwar and Punjab Archaeology Director General Shozeb Saeed and THAAP is the implementing partner of excavation work at Ganweriwala.

Archaeological excavation starts at 5000 years old civilization in Cholistan
Ganweriwala in midst of Cholistan

Led by chief archaeologist Dr Mohammad Rafique Mughal – Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at the Boston University – the excavation work has turned into unique learning and capacity building opportunity for the archaeology students. The students from the Punjab University of Lahore, Islamia University of Bahawalpur, and Balochistan University took deep interest in the excavation work at the Ganweriwala site.

Students from Punjab University, Islamia University, and Balochistan University join excavation work at Ganweriwala site

After passing the daylong activity at Ganweriwala, the students resided in the base camp, established near the site in the desert. Dr Rafique Mughal expressed his satisfaction over the pace of excavation work. Sharing details of ongoing work, he said it was amazing to see the active participation of students in the work as Ganweriwala project includes intensive training in the field of archaeology for selected university students as part of its efforts to build capacity for the future mission.

With this mission statement, the students are busy and practically engaged in excavation work. The excavation team comprises on relevant professional experts, including Dr Rafique Mughal as chief archeologist, deputy team leader Saleem ul Haq, senior archaeologist Muhammad Afzal Khan, Muzzafar Ahmed, Hassan Khokar from Department of Archeology and support staff includes chemist, draftsman, lab assistant, recorder, surveyor, data entry operator, photographer and documentary maker too.

Prof Sajida Haider Vandal, Prof Pervaiz Vandal, and Dr Nasarullah Nasir Khan are closely monitoring the excavation work. The mound of Ganweriwala contains one of the largest cities of the Harappan or Indus civilizations which reached its climax about 2600 BCE. It was discovered in the mid-1970s during an extensive survey and schematic mapping of ancient sites carried out by Dr Rafique Mughal and his team from the Department of Archaeology.

Prof Sajida Vandal, Prof Pervaiz Vandal, and Dr Nasarullah Nasir Khan monitoring excavation work, led by chief archaeologist Dr Rafique Mughal

More than four hundred sites representing the origins, rise, climax, and decline of the Indus and Harappan civilizations were recorded situated all along the (now) dry bed and channels of the Hakra River in Cholistan. The size of settlements during the period of the Harappan Civilization and early cultures (3400 to 1900 BCE) shows progressive increase until climax and then decline during the last phase of the Harappan period.

In Hakra – Kot Diji or early Harappan period – the average size of the largest settlement was 27 hectors. The climax of the Harappan Civilization as represented at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, the largest site in Cholistan called Ganweriwala spreads, this site showed a sharp decline most probably coinciding with the decline in the water and food resources, inducing partial migration of population to the desert and opting for nomadic life.

Ganweriwala in midst of Cholistan
Ganweriwala in midst of Cholistan

After being neglected for more than 50 years, the excavation work to reveal the hidden wonder at Ganweriwala is being initiated the last week and will continue for upcoming weeks. According to the team, the excavation work required three to four more sessions to collect the real amazing facts about the lost city of the Indus Civilization.