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ISLAMABAD: Unfolding a magnificent chapter of human evolution through centuries, an exquisite exhibition of rock inscription paintings and multimedia presentation titled “Talking Rocks Along the Karakoram Highway” by German Archeologist Prof Dr Harald Hauptmann started on Thursday at National Art Gallery (NAG).

Jointly organised by Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), Ministry of Culture and Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (HASH), the exhibition focuses on documenting and publishing the rock carvings and inscriptions found in the high mountains of Northern regions of Pakistan.

Under a joint German-Pakistan Archeological Project inaugurated in 1980, a mission was established as a research project at the HASH in 1984. The Government of Federal Republic of Germany and the state of Baden-Wurttemberg funded the project under ‘Academy Programme’.

Some 101 cache of paintings highlighting the high mountains of Pakistan including Hindukush, the Western Himalayas and Karakoram- one of the world’s largest rock art spreading along the banks of the Upper Indus, have been displayed in the exhibition.

Dedicated to the great explorers of the Northern Areas, Dr Ahmed Hassan Dani (1920-2009) and Dr Carl Jettmar (1918-2002), the photographs captured unique diversity and abundance cover cliffs, rock faces and boulders accompanying the Indus River from Indus-Kohistan to Baltistan and reaching as far as Ladakh and Tibet.

The photography exhibition mainly focused on rock inscriptions and paintings work also included the giant figures in Khanbary, Ibex hunted by a leopard- Eurasian animal style in Chilas, Buddha relief in Kargah, Gilgit, inscription of an envoy written in Chinese at Hunza, a number of stupas at different sites including Kashmir, Shigar, Skardu, Baltistan, Basha, Harappa and Mohenjodaro with decorated wooden carvings in a most remarkable way.

The visitors took keen interest in photography of carved woods and stones displayed in the exhibition that was followed by a talk by Hauptmann, a Professor Emeritus of Prehistoric and Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Heidelberg and former director of the German Archaeological Institute at Istanbul.

Hauptmann highlighted different aspects of rock carvings and inscriptions along the Karakoram, history of the research project, the archeological heritage, Northern nomads, and Iranian influence in Indus valley, Battle-Axe Warriors in 9th century and the age of Buddhism.

Hauptmann said rock art sites did not only follow the routes along the Indus itself, but also trace important mountain passes and the valleys of the Indus tributaries including the Gilgit River up to Yasin and Hunza Valley. “The tremendous diversity of these places not only permits insight into the history of various people with different socio-cultural and political traditions and religious beliefs but also discloses the strategic importance of the region,” he said.

Anna Lapin, deputy head of archeology department, Embassy of Germany, said the research project was initiated in 1980 to strengthen ties between both the nations besides exploring the magnificent archeological sites of Northern Areas of Pakistan. “The government of Germany would continue to take up such projects with Pakistan in future,” she said.

PNCA Director General Naeem Tahir said the exhibition was extremely important as it had original record of people who passed through mountains during last 12,000 years.

“It records expressions of different ages with a perception of natural elements, flora and fauna, animals, birds, beasts and their experiences with these elements,” said Tahir, adding, figures of mythology and its subsequent eras which are close to the periods of history are also captured in these photographs.

Fazal Dad Kakar, Director General, Museum and Archeology Department, Taha Bugti, and others also spoke on the occasion. The exhibition would continue at NAG till July 19.

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