Pak archaeologists find Indus Valley era seal

Lahore: Pakistani archaeologists have discovered a rare Indus Valley civilisation-era seal in steatite dating back to 2,500-2,000 BC from the Cholistan area of Punjab province.

The seal features the carved figure of an ibex with two pictographs. It was found at Wattoowala, located near Derawar Fort and along the ancient bed of the Hakra river, by a six-member team of archaeologists led by Punjab University Archaeology Department chairman Farzand Masih.

Masih said the discovery would open new dimensions for scholars. The seal has a perforated boss on the back and varies from the style of Harappan seals. This shows a regional influence and perhaps a separate identity in the Harappan domain, he said.

The seal is almost square in shape and slightly broken on the right side but the figure of the ibex is almost intact. The muscles, genitalia, hooves and tail of the ibex were engraved artistically with a high degree of skill and craftsmanship.

The Punjab University team also conducted excavations at Sui-Vihar, which was the only existing example of Sankhya doctrines in Pakistan. Masih said the excavation revealed a circular platform at Sui-Vihar built with sun-dried bricks and a number of supporting walls to hold the platform and the cylindrical structure.

The remnants of a votive stupa suggested that the place might had been converted to a Buddhist establishment when Kanishka-I embraced Buddhism, he said.

In spite of this, Masih said, Kanishka had great respect for other faiths and beliefs.
There was religious toleration and fraternity amongst the believers of different religious cults.

Masih said Sir Aural Stein and Henry Field had conducted a survey in the region in 1941 and 1955, respectively.

After Independence in 1947, he said, Muhammad Rafique Mughal had conducted an extensive survey during 1974-77 and discovered 424 settlements on a 24 to 32 km wide strip on both sides of the dry bed of Hakra river.

He said Mughals` work had established a new dimension in the understanding of Indus cultures in Cholistan but unfortunately no indigenous or foreign scholars had continued his work further even after three decades.

Consequently, he said, the Punjab University took up the gigantic task of exploring the sites in spite of inhospitable climatic conditions and surveyed some 25 sites in Cholistan Desert, which eventually led to the discovery of the rare Indus seal.