Islamabad, it is a city thought of as having been built from scratch. From a clean slate, emerging out of nothing to be something, no past, just a present and a future.
Never has anyone wondered or rather paid attention to the fact that there existed something before Islamabad as well. No one bothered to ask the question, whether it be the initiators of this project or those who came to inhabit it, that what came before? Who was here before us if anyone?
The curiosity just hasn’t been there and for that reason vast swathes of the land both included in and around Islamabad have been bulldozed and wantonly destroyed in the name of modernity and development, without even the slightest regard for the history and heritage that has fallen to oblivion during that process.
But there is always someone to ask these questions in every era, and such questions have recently been asked and answers for them sought by a dedicated group of professionals who are seeking to uncover the true past of Islamabad and its environs, to see how far back in history we can trace the existence of human habitation in and around this city and to allow the residents of the city to take some pride and ownership of the land on which they live which is not just something that came out of nothing, but rather the continuation in a long and storied history that stretches back millennia.
Recently in the outskirts of Islamabad, right at the edge between the newly developed sectors of E-11 and D-12, a number of discoveries were made which have raised questions and tickled the curiosities of many professionals in the fields of history, archaeology and anthropology amongst others.
These discoveries came first in the form of a graveyard, which although exhibiting newer more recent graves, has a distinct area where there are much older graves of a construction style that is very different when compared to the newer cemetery.
These graves vary in sizes from normal human size graves to ones of massive proportions with the largest one being 15 feet by 20 feet. Their style of construction, their orientations, and the sheer age of the vegetation around them even, all point to this graveyard being of a significant age and requires careful study and consideration by the concerned authorities and professionals to ascertain its true age and significance.
Within the line of sight of the graveyard there are two mounds, both of exceeding interest to the discerning eye.
The mound lying to the North East of the graveyard is in shape simply (as mounds are wont to be) a curved hill with no distinguishing features, but what has been found on and around the mound offers tantalizing clues as to the true age of the site itself and in turn, the human habitation as well.
On this mound has been found what has been identified recently by Luca Olivieri of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Swat, as a Bull depiction on terra cotta aged to perhaps the Bronze Age.
In case this is found to be the case via the direct study of further experts in the field, this would be a game changing aspect of the archaeological map of the Islamabad Capital Territory as it would push back the continuous habitation of the region to the earliest known civilization in Pakistan i.e. The Indus Civilization. We already know of the Muslim and Pre Muslim habitation of the region but a proto-historic relevance to the region has yet to be ascertained and if it can be done then immense interest can be generated in our city which has otherwise been relegated to being a dead city with no history or culture. Indeed we can prove that this city has a much deeper cultural link to the past than its given credit for and once we take ownership of that link we can take pride in our heritage and be able to utilize it for further growth of the arts, crafts and humanities in the region via our study of these sites.
In case this proves to be true, then major efforts are needed to conserve the site itself and to provide a framework for the protection and further survey of the area surrounding the city of Islamabad in order to identify further mounds and sites of interest which will allow us to accurately map the archaeological heritage of the Capital Territory and to utilize it for not just academic and research purposes but for the boosting of tourism and local development via employment opportunities generated through tourism.
It is imperative that local professionals, academicians, NGOs and civil society members be engaged to push the federal bodies dealing with archaeology and development to give due attention to these areas in order to preserve them for future generations.
It is not just this one mound which is of interest, there is indeed another mound to the west of the aforementioned graveyard that exhibits features of being a prior historical/ancient habitation with a most interesting feature, in that the trees which cover this mound seem to be aligned in rows and leading up towards a singular point at the top of the mound. If it can be verified that this arrangement is indeed man made then that is also an extremely interesting find for concerned professionals and further excavations and research might lead to even more clues regarding its prior use and significance.