The Pakistan Institute of Archaeological Training and research. (PIATR)
In South Asia, Pakistan with its rich cultural heritage ranks high in the comity of the nations. The story begins with the evidence of early man about 2 million years ago in the Soan Valley. The artifacts represent various stages of human society and activities in the remote past of Pakistan or what is generally called the Paleolithic period.In the Indus or Harappan period, as process of decentralization had set in as reflected in the lack of general homogeneity of cultural traits and standardization of products. In the wake of decline, regional cultural traits sprouted with predominance of local features. In the core centre of the Indus Valley Civilization of Pakistan and contiguous areas across the Indian borders, the Harappan tradition continued for some time until disappearing completely around 1300 BC.
It is in this background that the Department of Archeology and Museums decided in principle to establish a training Centre in 1988 which is now functioning as the Pakistan Institute of Archeological Training and Research (PIATR) The campus occupying the south-western portion of the Lahore Fort.
Pakistan is rightly proud of hundreds of Buddhist religious monuments such as stupas and monasteries concentrated in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and parts of northern Punjab Covering a span of more than a century, the Gandhara art and architecture is basically a religion oriented manifestation with main emphasis on the depiction of Buddhist religious themes and life events of Buddha. In the beginning of 8th century AD, Pakistan came in direct contact with the Muslims who brought a new ideology and way of life and culture. The old order gave way to a system which lasted for about one thousand years.
Our reference to the cultural heritage of Pakistan is intended to highlight its richness and also to emphasis the necessity of its preservation by the professionals, conservators and technical staff. The existence of such a glorious heritage of Pakistan imposes special responsibilities on the nation and in particular, the Department of Archaeology and Museums to ensure its proper preservation, maintenance and projection by the professionally trained staff. Therefore, like all self- respecting nations, Pakistan is also striving hard, to document, study, preserve and intelligibly present its cultural heritage. At international level, inter Governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) exist such as ICCROM, ICOMOS and ICOM which are committed to the cause of preservation of cultural heritage. The need for the establishment of a training institute in Pakistan was felt rather strongly.
The establishment of such an institute with multiple disciplines involves setting up of various laboratories and workshops, providing proper space for offices, Lectures, etc. and arranging for on-campus accommodation for teachers and trainees.
In its initial years a number of courses were conducted to impart training in the field archaeology as well as conservation of monuments. The trainers from abroad were also invited to give training to the officers of Archaeology Department and sister organizations in relevant fields.Some of the major training courses conducted at the PIATR are outlined below.
Training Course In Archaeology And Museology
(January to March 1988: 8 weeks)
Training Course In Conservation Of Cultural Property
(September to December 1989: 10 weeks)
Training Course For Fresh Tourist Guides
(December 1989 to February 1990: 10 weeks)
Training Course In Museology
(February to March 1990: 6 weeks)
Training Course In Islamic Epigraphy
(April –August 1991: 20 weeks)
Course In Museology
(May – June, 1947: 7 weeks)
Field Archaeology Courses
(January – April 1993 and 1994)
Intensive Course In Conservation Procedures
(August 1994: two weeks at Lahore and Karachi)
Basic Training Workship For The Development And Promotion Of Museums
Revival of PIATR
This particular institute faced a very lean patch and became dormant due to the lack of staff and funds which is now required to be revived with proper strength of instructing staff as well as provision of requisite equipment for technical training. This institute was devolved to Punjab after 18th Constitutional Amendment. The Director General of Archaeology, Government of Punjab assured UNESCO for revival of PIATR and has been included in the report submitted by a consultant hired for the preparation of Capacity Building plan of the Directorate General of Archaeology. Beside the staff, machinery and equipments the consultant proposed the following trainings;
- Core Training For The Staff Of Dga ( Diploma In Archaeology)
- Short Term Training Modules
- Professional Workshops
- Lecture Series
- Training For Artisans In Traditional Building Crafts
Department always seeks opportunities to arrange seminars , conference and expert meetings to develop awareness and acquaintance with international trend in the field of archeology, Museology, conservations , especially the ,managements of the world heritage sites and the promotion of heritage tourism in country. Organization of such seminars with the help of foreign organizations and local institutions has contributed a lot towards sensitizing various stake holders of heritage regarding the endorsement and conservations of the country’s heritage.
The Department of Archeology of Punjab has been proactively enduring the promotion and awareness campaign. Just a decade before department of archeology as an important custodian of cultural heritage was not in the realm of bureaucratic considerations. Electronic and print media was also out of touch and ignorant towards achievements and success of department of archeology at national level as well as on the front of world heritage sites . for the promotion and awareness about importance and substance of archeology , museuology and heritage tourism, department has been doing exceptional efforts. It is a result of department’s awareness campaign that issue of archeological sites and monuments, cultural heritage and tourism promotion are becoming trendy part of discussion and debates on social, electronic and print media.
Dearth & necessity of trained hands in the highly specialized field of archaeology and conservation and management of heritage has been realized in the very beginning of the department and efforts have been consistently made to enhance and update the quality of training contents. Department has been trying its best to leave no stone un-turned in this respect. Pakistan Institute of Archaeological Training & Research (PIATR) played a vital role in catering training facilities to the new entrants in the department and providing expertise and knowledge to the institutions having stake in the field of heritage and other stakeholders in the field of cultural heritage and tourism in the country. After 18th constitutional amendment PIATR has been devolved to the Punjab Archaeology and still exists on the capacity portfolio of the department. Urgent steps are being taken for making it again a useful and highly academic institution.