The song of spades
Archeological findings deepen our understanding, enrich our knowledge about the past
MINDSCAPE BY S.SARWAR
Face of the moon- luminescent or pale and that of Sun wearing defining expression of the moment, have remained favourite motifs in poetry; classic as well as modern, be it Kashmiri, Urdu or English; other languages sound Greek to me, so can’t say really; but what an experience it was for me to become suddenly conscious of the moon’s fair countenance; having descended low on the shoulder of Sulaiman hillock…peeping at me from behind, silently, through the brunette veil of Chinar (- that stood in the neighborhood of the-restaurant-crossing) this evening of November while the darkening water of the lake rocked my reflection nervously.
Is it the veil of time? ...that can be suffixed with Rahi’s verse..paane palvan chho pun tanaan baazay…or is it the mirror of memory ? …that his other couplet surfaces: yoethne munz maarkus koenner maarem// aane chhoes broenth koen anaan baazay..,
Thus I wondered walking ahead on boulevard’s bank-side footpath… not failing to note that half of the cement lamp posts- bearing the state emblem, that have been greeting us since four decades, after every 75-steps, were not glowing and unwary walkers like me; if too much engrossed in names like Fairy Land…Parimahal… Tangbagh-turned- into- Taxi Stand or busy appreciating the shade giving mulberry tree growing uniquely out of embankment stones at a ghat or the two viree te kicker kul allowed to grow on lake side walkway for affording shade in a more natural way (instead of polythene awnings indigenously erected; shabbily) to shikara wallas- touting tourists during hotter months or showers, would trip into the yet- open- pits- left on the right foot path of boulevard leading to Dalgate’s Shikara Ghat No 1.
We owe thanks to government for keeping the sentinels in the middle of walkway- in the avatar of broken telephone poles, for hitting head or shoulders of those jo ziyadah lutf uthanay mai magan chalay jarahy hotay hain… feasting on the captivating view the lighted fort walls of Haari Parbat, visible above houseboat tops, or relishing the mesmerizing view reflected in this enchanting Dal lake…..that remains awake in wee hours of time to tell us the tale of Satiser and Sharika Devi… that opens, at opportune time, the taen of the Tantra cloak embellished by our artist G.R. Santosh …that narrates the daastan of life-awakening-possibilities near Mansbal lake- floated by Central Asian Dept of K.U years back; the chanting hum of the Great Buddhist Convocations/ councils, the chiseling scrape of Indo-Greek temple architecture, reliquary mantra of Pre- Parihaspore Stupa art, lisping in the tone of prof. Gangoo the sermons of the Shiva-istic Saad or Post- Hamadaani evocative litany…. wrapping up with the chorals and hymns of the old Church behind Chest disease Hospital Drugjan….conjuring those fair skinned missionaries whose services in health and education sector can never be forgotten even by those who tried to label them as mere converters… kirre banavan voel… be it Kashmir or be it Ladakh… not even 200 became Christians in two centuries. Surprised!
For tourists coming to lake area this is the first ghat but descending the 10 steps one finds the infesting algae and other water plants nourished by contaminant nutrients together with emptied chips packets etc that speak a lot about the sorry state of affairs. Lest you fail to notice let me point out to you Shikara that a board installed by J&K tourism gives totally outdated and confusing rates of ride- from any ghat on Jehlum to Nishat, Shalimar etc…return 250-300 when boards installed near every jetty or ghat, brazen- facedly, hawk 300 per hour.
After decades my eyes rested for a while on the rocky remnants- that intrigued me since childhood, as I walked ahead of Dalgate crossing/ Biscoe Boat Club; past the board of a commercial establishment that bears the name of Moses.
This reminds me about my previous write up, dated 20 Nov wherein I talked about the time of Prophet David and Solomon (a.s) when iron smelting techniques; art of furnace; sword, shields, coats of mail making skill and building of naval fleets, harnessing wind power; dyke building and architectural finery of Yemenite Queen Sheba’s palace; grandiose of Solomon’s temple or that of Sana (- recall asaab e feel, Abraha) had been developed in this region. In my column (GK 10 Nov) I talked about Hd. Ibraheem (a.s)- about whom we know that he got his second wife( Hd.Hajirah) from Egypt but she was of Yemenite origin and together with his son Hd.Ismael a.s he built/ raised( yarfu- 2:127) the foundation of Kaaba; left them there in the barren tract(14:37-38) only to be greeted later by the Jerhumi travelers from Yemen. Next time I will speak about the period of Hd. Moosa a.s but readers have to excuse me for an error that has occurred inadvertently in the column dated 10 Nov wherein instead of 1854 AD by mistake 1984 has been typed as date of finding by British archeologist J.E. Taylor.
Widened road, iron fence, and street lights- observed from Dalgate crossing to Chest Disease Hospital, have given this area a nice look and pottery and willow items displayed in a small shop transported my thoughts to archaeological findings of the fertile region I am talking about; so let us move ahead on the road leading to antiquity…to ancient times when evolutionary march of civilization started. Readers may go through the listed great findings that I will narrate briefly, in the following lines.
It is an accepted fact that pots, tools, weapons, ornaments, tombs and houses are the evidence for developments in crafts and skills and each tells the story in its own way, though history begins actually when writing begins.
Pottery, that is regarded as the ancient scale for measuring civilization, is also associated with Jericho, Yarmuk, South Turkey and Greece but Tell-e- Halaf culture- that existed between river Tigris( ancient name: Diglat- 1200 miles long) and Euphrates ( ancient name Urudu; copper river- 1800 miles long), in modern Iraq and Kuwait, reached great achievements in geometric decoration and floral design, as was clear from a painted clay bowl of high artistry, dating back to 5500 BC that has been found in Arpachiyah, North Iraq. Mycenaean art in the form of pottery and funerary gold masks traveled to Syria, Greece, Cyprus and Egypt. The Anatolian idol of fertility, in terra-cotta, found at Hacilar in Turkey; dating back to 5500BC exists in the famous Louvre museum of France. It fascinates as much by its extreme antiquity as by its artistic quality.
Evidences of some kind of social organization are said to have begun in Natufian culture of Palestine. One Natufian shrine, excavated at Jericho, has been dated by carbon 14 method as of 7800 BC- where use of cereals was evident. Houses were built here using sun-dried bricks on stone foundation. At Eynan the burial remains of their chieftain, in the shape of skeleton, partly propped to face towards Mount Hermon, have been excavated. In this mountain range exist the source of river Jordan of Damascus; forests of Lebanon and Lake of Galilee- popularly associated with the ministry of prophet Isa (a.s).
Evidence of organized burial has been found in Mount Caramel as well. In Palestine and Iraqi- Kurdistan burial was found beneath the houses in graves. Some sites suggested human sacrifice. Libation to the dead was also practiced.
Carved figurines- typical of Neolithic period, suggesting concern with fertility, have been found over a wide area; from south Russia to Italy, in France, and in southern Turkey.
In Arab land remnants of past habitations like Madain-Saleh of the pre- historic Thamud- race existed in North west Arabia, where prophet Saleh (7:65) had preached in 9th century BC; in the area that lies between Hijaz and Syria, especially were rock-hewn chambers of later date; i:e 6th century BC; bearing Nabataean inscriptions of Babylonian origin-that were first seen by Islamic army in 9th Hijri, on their way to Tabuk; have been found recently in Al-Hujr area—280 Kms north of Madina; that was visited by C.M. Doughty in 18880 AD.
From Assyrian sources one comes to know that during the reign of king Sargon II (722- 705 BC) a Sabaean prince brought spices as tribute. Around 500 BC Sabaeans founded a colony in Ethopia (Aksum) and to these Sabaeans who settled there belonged Abraha- whose incursion, atop elephants, preceded just before Prophet Muhammad’s birth (SAW). In British Museum London there exists a female head and an incense burner, both in bronze-belonging to 2nd century AD that have been recovered from Yemen. Another important item recovered also from Yemen; belonging to same 2nd century AD, but in alabaster is the relief of winged bull.
In the field of tower- temple building the marvel excavated in Erida, Mesopotamia dated back to 5000 BC- that experts in the field say, was rebuilt around 2111-2094 BC at Ur (-about which you might have read on 10 Nov 2010 in this column when I talked about Hd. Ibraheem (a.s) and the great emperor Namrood). Later, king Nabonidus (556-539 BC) is said to have restored the famed ziggurat of Ur, in 545 AD, when it had fallen in decay. Great archeologists like Prof. Andre Parrot began to visualize the grand site that this Mari Palace must have presented in ancient East when the year 1934 AD exposed a temple, some houses, and a palace with 260 rooms. Surprised?... to learn that dear reader. . Statue of Mari king and 23600 cuneiform tablets and massive chapel was a real treasure. In Iraq Museum, Baghdad, are preserved a female mask of white marble and the pictorial word list on clay tablets; both belonging to 2300 BC Mesopotamia. In the same museum one can see the earliest example of a wheel; belonging to 2500 BC-recovered from Tell-e-Agrab, in the form of chariot with four Onagers, done in bronze, that proves that the Sumerians were familiar with casting of bronze; in a period when Indus valley civilization was establishing links with Mesopotamia. A stone stele found in Lagash, dating 2470 BC, that depicts a war scene, with victorious army, stands preserved in the Louvre (Paris).Like wise the statue of king Gudea ( 2124- 2144 BC)- monarch of Lagash; ancient Sumer, stands preserved in Loure, in diorite. In the museum of Philadelphia the royal harp ornamented with gold and mosaic inlay, belonging to Ur of 2650 BC, gives a vivid impression of luxury of those days. In Louvre Gilgamesh and the Lion in alabaster, belonging to 8th century BC, has been recovered in khorsabad Assyria.
Prof.Wooley, working in 1929 AD as head of English American expedition, discovered tombs of Sumerian nobles at Ur, that yielded golden drinking cups, bronze tableware, harps and lyres, golden helmet and comb, along with mass burial sites- ranging upto 70 with hero and 20 with the lady Shubad. Prof Robert Koldeway excavated in Baghdad the statue of goddess Ningal, in diorite, belonging to 2000 BC, that stands preserved in University Museum Philedelphia. Prof.Wooley has opined that the Great Deluge ( of Prophet Noah,a.s, time) happened in 4000 BC as a local occurrence between and a little beyond Euphrates and Tigris.
During the course of Hd. Ibraheem’s frequent, long travels Hd. Sarah died in Hebron- the Hittite land. He purchased land for her grave. Later he too was buried by her side. In 19277 the archaeologist Mader did some job in Hebron at Ramet-el-khaleel. Here, 2 miles north of Hebron, 20 miles away from Jerusalem, lies the holy sepulcher of the great patriarch and his first wife.
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Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Nov 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Nov 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 25 Nov 2010 00:00:00 IST
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