ISLAMABAD: German academician and researcher, Professor Harald Hauptmann has breathed his last on August 2, 2018, at the age of 82.
He had been traveling to Gilgit-Baltistan since 1989 to understand and explain the region’s pre-Islamic cultures, primarily by studying the thousands of petroglyphs found on both sides of the Indus river, in Diamer district.
Professor Hauptmann. working with his teams, had concluded that the oldest rock carvings and paintings found in Diamer belonged to the Neolithic period, or the ‘new stone age’, as long as 10,000 years BC.
In 2013, several newspapers in Pakistan had reported that the government had hired services of Professor Hauptmann as a consultant for preservation of the rock-carvings and paintings that are likely to drown when the Diamer-Bhasha Dam is built.
The Diamer-Bhasha dam is likely to “inundate 95 archaeological sites, including 75 rock art assemblages [sic] comprising 5, 759 engraved rock faces and boulders covered with 37, 116 petroglyphs, among them the remarkable amount of 3, 618 inscriptions”, according to this article.
Ijlal Hussainpuri, writing for The News on Sunday (TNS), had observed that Professor Jettmar and Professor Harald Hauptmann, supported by Heidelberg Academy, “have systematically documented and published information on thousands of rock-carvings found in what is called the world’s largest ‘rock art museum’ located where plans are final to build the Diamer-Bhasha Dam. A groundbreaking publication under the project is the three volumes of Antiquities of Northern Pakistan published in 1990-94.”
Scholars and cultural activists in Gilgit-Baltistan have paid rich tributes to Professor Hauptmann for his academic contributions.
Aziz Ali Dad, noted writer, posted the following on Facebook:
“It’s very sad news that Professor Hauptmann from Germany has passed away. He is one of the pioneering figures who provided his academic insights about culture of Gilgit-Baltistan specially petroglyphs of Diamer. May his soul repose in eternal peace and his soul must reside in us to look deep into our past. Hauptmann has given words to rock carvings of Chilas. We should continue his legacy.”
Amin Beg, a development expert and cultural activist wrote, “Sad news for GB and archaeology- Leading German archaeologist Prof. Harald Hauptmann has passed away. He did extensive research on Buddhist heritage of GB. Rest in peace.”
“Rest in peace. His research will be remembered. Extremely grateful for his valuable contributions”, wrote Zafar Iqbal, who has recently written a couple of books about the region’s history