It is time to develop more robust and vital collaboration between archaeology and ancient history of Pakistan


In Pakistan, archaeologists and historians can hardly appreciate each other’s work. It is due to the fact that both the sides work in isolation and in nearly complete separate domains. Departments of history almost lack any programme and workable mechanism in relation to teaching and research in ancient history. Keeping in view this situation, I would like to suggest that there should be extensive and intensive contacts and collaboration between archaeologists and historians and their respective departments. In each programme shall be included some fundamental courses from the other one. For the discipline of history may be suggested courses such as archaeological data and its interpretations (which shall focus on what archaeological data is, how is it obtained and how to explain and interpret it), ancient societies and cultures (their historical and civilisational studies) and ancient history and archaeology of South and Central Asia (starting from around 10000 years before present till the beginning of the last millennium). It will, at least, orientate students of history to the field of ancient history and the interested ones would be able to pursue career in it.

At the moment, it is heartening to note that the Department of History at Allama Iqbal University, Islamabad, in the dynamic leadership of Prof. Samina Awan and VC Shahid Siddiqui, has timely appreciated the need and importance of ancient history. So far, a comprehensive course on the ancient history and historiography of Taxila — with a vivid emphasis on its archaeological framework — has been developed for inclusion in the BS Programme. Prof. Samina is also thinking about doing more in this connection.

On the hand, in the studies programme of archaeology, it is advisable to introduce students to methods of historical research, historiography, cultural and intellectual movements and thoughts in the modern world and European colonisation. All this will enable archaeologists in the making to get familiarity with the origin, development, science and politics of their discipline.

The result of all this seems to be a productive intimation between archaeology and history. It will enable both archaeologists and historians of Pakistan to know the exploration, investigation and politics of archaeology and ancient history during British India and after the partition. This understanding has been stronger enough in India and in the West. All historical and archaeological investigations have been informed by these considerations. Pakistan shall also make its presence felt in the field of these discourses and narratives.