Almost 90 percent of seized Gandhara-era artefacts fake
Almost 90 percent of the seized “ancient relics of Gandhara civilization” seized some time ago by police in Karachi are fake and unauthentic, a member of a five-member committee of archaeologists cited a report compiled by the panel on Friday. The committee was formed to verify the authenticity of the seized artefacts by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government.
The panel of experts, led by the former director and chairman of the University of Peshawar’s Department of Archaeology, Professor Farid Khan, comprised Curator of Peshawar Museum Nidaullah Sehrai, Chairman of Hazara University’s Department of Archaeology Dr Abdul Samad, Curator of Swat Museum Faizur Rehman and Mohammad Fawad Khan, a Gallery Assistant in the Peshawar Museum.
The committee, the committee member said, had finalised its report in which it said that the seized artefacts had proved to be 90 percent fake. “Most of the objects are not original,” the committee member said on condition of anonymity. The committee, he informed, had submitted its report to the Director of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Archaeology and Museums which would forward it to the Inspector-General of Police, Sindh, via the provincial department of Archaeology.
He said that last month, police in Karachi had seized more than 392 objects, including 307 sculptures and 85 metallic artefacts, supposedly dating back to the Gandhara era. He said the committee had decided that 85 of the metallic objects were as old as 75 years, therefore, they would be declared as antiques.
The report suggested some measures regarding the seized artefacts, besides recommending ways and means to avoid the recurrence of such incidents in future. “It is suggested that these fake relics should be put on public display in various gardens and national parks.” Although, the report said, the “relics” were not original; they were “works of art”. The report further suggested that 30 to 45 of the sculptures found to be original should be returned to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, besides calling for implementing the Antiquities Act of 1997 in Sindh to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in the future.
It also called for launching a special awareness campaign for students, teaching them how to determine the originality of various sculptures and archaeological objects. Earlier, the team of archaeologists visited Karachi to examine the supposed Gandhara-era relics seized by police last month. At present, these “ancient antiques” are in the custody of the National Museum, Karachi, as a decision in this regard is still pending till the finalisation of the committee’s report.
Police is said to have recovered the “huge consignment” from a truck laden with 2,000-year-old Gandhara civilisation relics on July 6. The truck driver and its owners were also arrested. After seizure of these artefacts, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government called for their immediate return.