14 June | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Global conference explores legacies, relevance and impacts of Indus Valley, Harappa cultures

During two-day annual THAAP conference, experts, archaeologists, historians, and academicians present valuable suggestions for securing Harappan culture and civilization

The two-day annual international conference on Indus Valley culture, its legacy and relevance concluded with an enriched panel discussion by the Harappa Circle at the THAAP Secretariat in Lahore.

During the conference, experts, archaeologists, historians, cultural activists, and academicians presented valuable suggestions for securing Harappan culture and civilization. The second day of the conference featured two paper reading sessions, a program of research and investigation of an upcoming archaeological dig at Ganweriwala, and discussion by Harappan Circle.

Dr Khola Cheema emphasizes need to pass on cultural practices in face of contemporary issues of climate change and conflict

On the second day, Dr Khola Cheema chaired first paper reading session that 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 of Harappa with a focus on traditions of pottery-making while shedding light on evolving cultural landscape of the region.

Global conference on Indus Valley culture, its legacy and relevance concluded in Lahore
The two-day annual THAAP international conference on Indus Valley culture, its legacy and relevance concluded at THAAP Secretariat in Lahore

The second paper was presented by Sehrish Rafique titled – Optimizing the value of the traditional Ajrak design fabric craft of the 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 presented by Nomana Masood and Sadia Qutub Hashmi titled – 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 fourth paper of the session was presented by Dr Rafique Mughal titled – Dig at Ganweriwala – which provided a critical and in-depth insight related to under the rationale of the dig at Ganweriwala in reference to the estimated scale of Harappa culture. The session was closed with lively discussion and closing remarks by Dr Khola Cheema which emphasizes need to inculcate and pass on cultural practices in the face of contemporary issues of climate change and conflict.

The 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 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 Muhammad 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.

Global conference on Indus Valley culture, its legacy and relevance concluded in Lahore
The two-day annual THAAP international conference on Indus Valley culture, its legacy and relevance concluded at THAAP Secretariat in Lahore

In closing remarks, Ihsan Nadeem Goraya exclaimed how heartened he was by efforts of young archaeologists regarding the future of the field. After the break, the program of research and investigation at the Ganweriwala dig and its future plans was commenced. Bahawalpur Commissioner Dr Ehtasham Anwar, THAAP CEO Prof Sajida Haider Vandal, and Prof Dr Muhammad Rafique Mughal engaged in a comprehensive and insightful discussion regarding the dig at Ganweriwala.

The expertise and insights of the guests promise to unveil new dimensions in the ongoing exploration of Ganweriwala and its archaeological significance. At the end, all session chairs answered questions regarding roadmap of the excavation and features intended to be a part of it regarding safety and awareness. In the session of Harappa Circle moderated by Prof Sajida Vandal, experts provided 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 Vandal, who introduced the panelists 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 ancestors who lived along rivers embedded in the perspective of folklores and folk songs of the region.

Ajoka Theater Director Shahid Nadeem emphasized on the pivotal role of the intangible cultural heritage with art such as theater, folksongs, music of Harappan culture and stressed upon employment of digital media tools to investigate lesser explored aspects of Harappa culture. Iqbal Qaiser established the connection of Jain tradition and mentions of Harappa culture ruins. Umar Farooq stressed the role of academia and inclusion of the importance of cutting heritage in students to knowledge as a medium of exploration for generation and dissent on Harappa 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 Harappa culture and dig at Ganweriwala.

Dr Munnaza Akram talked about religions based identities that are being imposed on national identity. Prof Dr Neelam Naz and other speakers also presented their valuable suggestions regarding the discussion. In a closing session, certificates were awarded to all the paper readers, volunteers, THAAP staff, and secretariat followed by closing remarks by Prof Pervaiz Vandal and Prof Sajida Vandal, who thanked the participating scholars, guests and students for active participation and making the conference a memorable event.