PENANG, 17 December 2014 - A team of 10 researchers led by the Director of the Universiti Sains Malaysia Centre for Global Archaeological Research (USM PPAG) Professor Dato' Dr. Mokhtar bin Saidin is actively conducting phase II research work at the University of Peshawar (UoP) campus, Pakistan.
The team departed for Pakistan on 10 December 2014 and will be there until 13 January 2015.
The research team is assisted by a group of UoP archaeological researchers, led by the leading Pakistani archeological expert, Professor Dr. Nasim Khan.
In his email, Mokhtar said that due to the rather critical situation in terms of safety and security in Peshawar at the moment, the research is currently limited to the focused site around UoP campus as an extension to the earlier mapping work at Kashmir Smash in June 2013 as a result of a memorandum of understanding signed with UoP in March 2013.
"This time our focus is on the excavation at the Pashto Academy site located in the campus of UoP," said Mokhtar.
Mokhtar explained that this ancient civilization site was previously studied by the British in 1876 but it did not involve scientific research, it was more towards finding valuable artifacts. According to the record of the British study, it was a stupa on which the Pashto Academy building was later built, i.e. a learning centre on Pashto language.
According to Professor Dr. Nasim Khan, there is a possibility that this site provided evidence of a Buddhist civilization in the first century AD and it became a very important site that requires research using scientific approach.
"UoP invited USM to carry out the scientific archaeological research at this site, even though it received many applications from other world renowned universities and institutes to conduct research at this site; they are more willing to work with USM," said Mokhtar.
He explained that this study is very much welcomed by UoP to unravel the evidence of early civilization in the campus which it hopes will turn the campus into a major tourist attraction.
Since this site represents the evidence of civilization in the first century AD, it is about the same time as the civilizationin Sungai Batu, Lembah Bujang, Kedah.
"Therefore, this study is important to examine the relationship between both the sites in order to allow the PPAG staff and students to gain experience and used as a guide in studying the civilization at Sungai Batu, Kedah," said Mokhtar.
Translation: Tan Ewe Hoe/Photos: Contributed by Professor Dato' Dr. Mokhtar Saidin