This unique project, launched in 2019 by Professor Stephane Pradines, has three main objectives based on research, education, and community participation.
First, the archaeological excavations in the fort respond to the needs of the AKTC architects. The idea is to document and research places in the fort before any conservation work. This AKU - AKTC pioneer project reinforces intra dynamic collaboration within the AKDN institutions by a transfer of competences and exchange of knowledge. This year, the excavations focused on the Akbari Gate, especially on the ramp leading to the main access of the Mughal Diwan i-Aam. The core team of professionals was composed of Professor Stephane Pradines, Ms Helen Renel archaeologist ceramologist from the CNRS, Olivier Onezime archaeologist surveyor from the INRAP, Inigo Almela archaeologist architect (post doc Khalili Research Centre Oxford), Ms Zobia Tanvir architect AKTC and Ms Uswa Husna archaeologist AKTC, plus a team of twenty-two workers and two foremen.
This AKU-AKTC collaboration is not only good for training and building capacity, but this is also a fantastic opportunity to research the archaeology of the city of Lahore, all the periods and cultures are explored, from the Sikh and Mughal periods to the Ghaznavid and pre-Islamic era, with Indo-Buddhist and Bronze Age /Indus Civilizations.
Finally, the ISMC-AKU field school of archaeology supports local training and sustainable development. All the participants of the field school were professionals or young professionals from MA students to lecturers, assistant professors, and members of the AKTC. In total, the ISMC-AKU delivered certificates to 16 participants from the University of the Punjab, the Directorate General of Archaeology and Antiquities of Punjab, Beaconhouse National University, and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKDN-SP).
During, his stay in Lahore, Professor Pradines continued to engage with local scholars and institutions. He gave two public lectures at the University of the Punjab (Department of Archaeology) and BNU (School of Architecture): “From Banbhore to Zanzibar. Islamic medieval trade in the Indian Ocean" and “The Aga Khan Project in Cairo. Islamic Archaeology, Architecture and Conservation". During these visits, he started to engage with scholars, and registrars, heads of schools and departments, discussions on collaborations, and MoU's on archaeology, architecture, and heritage within the ISMC Indian Ocean programme.
The AKU-ISMC extends its gratitude to the Department of Archaeology, Antiquities of Punjab; to the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA); to the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) and to the Aga Khan Development Network Service Pakistan (AKDN-SP) for their invaluable support.