About a cancelled fieldtrip and a troubled land

As you all know by now, the very core of the DiGA project is the digitization of the Gandharan artefacts stored in the Dir Museum (Chakdara, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan). Documenting this collection requires us to travel to the area, therefore the project plan includes three fieldtrips. The first digitization campaign took place in November 2021, when almost half of the collection was documented (you can read about it in this blogpost). In the last few months, most of the team’s efforts went to the organisation of the second fieldtrip that was supposed to take place from September 25th to October 15th, 2022.  

However, starting in late August, distressing news about a resurgence of Taliban operations in the area started to spread, and in the last couple of weeks it was clear that the situation was turning too dangerous and unstable, therefore, our fieldtrip was cancelled.

In mid-September violent incidents were reported in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, particularly in the mountainous tribal districts, leaving a number of casualties and accounting for several kidnappings. Responsibility for the atrocities was claimed by the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants (for an overview on what is happening read here, and here).

Clearly, considering this worrisome situation, our plan did not check the security requirements necessary for us to leave. And now? Now it is time to put into operation the risk management measures that were included in the plan. Part of the digitization will be carried out by our partners of the KPDOAM, whose dedication and efforts are beyond our most optimistic expectations. We have plenty of work to do from Germany, for example we will soon release new digitized objects on heidICON, include new updates in the Thesaurus, and – hopefully – share new publications. Our program for this trip also included an intensive training program addressed to local staff and students. This work is not cancelled either and will soon be offered in a different format. The DiGA training program is organized in close collaboration with the KPDOAM and their Digital Heritage Center. And, of course, we hope to be able to reschedule the next campaign very soon!

This blogpost is not only meant to give you an update on our work. We are aware that Pakistan is withstanding a tragic disaster due to massive floods, in this complex and terrible situation, the postponement of our fieldtrip is just a minimal collateral damage, and our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues and friends in Pakistan and with the whole population facing such unimaginable events.

Climate change is the direct cause of one of the most severe floods in history, one third of Pakistan is underwater. Balochistan, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Southern Punjab are among the most affected areas. Recent UNFPA data report of over 33 million people affected. Over 1,500 people have lost their lives in the disaster. Over 287,000 houses have been fully destroyed, and 662,000 have been partially destroyed, leaving thousands homeless. The floods have also destroyed infrastructures, hospitals, and food production facilities, including killing millions of livestock holdings. Monsoon rains are over, but the disaster is not, experts warn that disease and a lack of health care are ongoing dangers, and consequences of the floods will affect the population in the long term.

We want to use our channels to bring this emergency to your attention and inviting you to not forget Pakistan. Many organisations are working to bring relief to those affected, but so much more help is needed. At this regard we would like to invite you to donate if you can; here we collected a short list of reliable organizations:

UNFPA – Donate to Protect Women and Girls

Islamic Relief Worldwide


Edhi Foundation

Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan

The Citizens Foundation

Akhuwat – Flood relief

Urgence pakistan – International Impact (helloasso.com)

Cite this blog post
Serena Autiero (2022, September 27). About a cancelled fieldtrip and a troubled land. Digitization of Gandharan Artefacts. Retrieved June 13, 2024, from https://digartefacts.hypotheses.org/327

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