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Google EarthTM @ Ghazni

Although Professor Tucci’s fieldwork in Afghanistan comprised a single season in 1957, it was characteristically influential, initiating excavations at the medieval Islamic site of Ghazni, and at the nearby Buddhist stupa-monastery complex of Tepe
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  501Google Earth™ @ Ghazni 20 D AVID  T HOMAS GOOGLE EARTH™ @ GHAZNI I  NTRODUCTION The enduring legacy of Professor Tucci’s single season of eldwork in Afghanistan in 1957 serves as a reminder of the scope and vision of his intellect (Tucci & Gullini 1960). The excavations he initiated at the medieval Islamic site of Ghazni, 1  and at the nearby Buddhist  stupa - monastery complex of Tapa Sardār, have yielded remarkable discoveries and over 80 books and articles. 2  Complementing the eldwork was a series of programs, in which Professor Tucci took a keen interest, aimed at training Afghan archaeologists and conservators, and setting up museum facilities and exhibitions. These commendable, capacity-building projects continue to provide the focus for the Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente 1  The medieval Islamic sources refer to modern Ghazni as Ghazna or Ghaznīn, but given the diachronic span of this paper, I will use the modern transliteration throughout. I have generally followed the  Encyclopaedia of Islam  (Gibb et al  . 1960) with regard to diacritics, although where a lesser-known site is only mentioned in Ball’s gazetteer (1982), I have retained his transliteration to avoid confusion. 2  See http://www.isiao.it/en/attivita-istituzionali/attivita-di-ricerca/centro-scavi-e-ricerche-archeologiche/afghanistanafghanistan [accessed 30/4/2011] for a bibliography of all Italian archaeological work in Afghanistan. Work on the nal publication of the excavations at Islamic Ghazni is currently being directed by Dr Roberta Giunta (2005; 2010).   Asian Horizons: Studies in Honour of Giuseppe Tucci and His Legacy 502 (IsIAO)’s work in Afghanistan, now that eldwork at Ghazni is virtually impossible (Filigenzi 2009). The limited opportunities for new archaeological eldwork mean that archaeologists and heritage managers need to utilise the existing data sources to their maximum potential whilst recognising the limitations of data now over 30 years old (Ball 1982:22; Shokoohy 1984:572). We also urgently need to develop innovative ways of collecting, integrating and presenting archaeological information, particularly in the face of the signicant threats posed by the rapid expansion of urban centres, agriculture and mineral exploration (Thomas 2010).This paper provides an overview of the work I have been undertaking through the Archaeological Sites of Afghanistan in Google Earth (ASAGE) project as part of my PhD research at La Trobe University. 3  It assesses the potential for using Google Earth as a source of new archaeological data, based on a pilot study in and around Ghazni. It outlines Ghazni’s geographical, historical and archaeological setting, before providing a précis of Google Earth software and the way it is currently being used in archaeological research. The paper then focuses on two avenues of research—the re-visualisation and documentation of known archaeological sites, and the exploration of unsurveyed areas. It concludes by considering how the increasing integration of multimedia through tools such as Google Earth and the internet is changing the way cultural heritage is documented, managed and presented, and the implications this has for sites such as Ghazni, particularly following its nomination as ‘Cultural City of the Islamic Civilisation’ for 2013. G EOGRAPHICAL   AND   HISTORICAL   SETTING Ghazni is situated at 2,190 m above sea level, in the mountainous heart of modern Afghanistan (Dupree 1977:179). It is located in the Southern Mountains and Foothills geographical region (Dupree 1980:19-21), a region of agricultural villages dotted along rivers and tributaries owing 3  My thesis was entitled The ebb and ow of an empire: the Ghūrid polity of central  Afghanistan in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries . It was completed in 2011 and will hopefully be published in 2012.  503Google Earth™ @ Ghazni from the central mountains into the deserts of southern Afghanistan. It is a turbulent landscape—earthquakes regularly shake the region, 4  while the Ghaznawid chronicler Bayhaḳī records that sudden summer oods washed away bridges, caravanserai, markets and houses in 1031 CE (Bosworth 1965:1049).Ghazni lies on the border of  Amygdalus —and  Pistacia atlantica —woodlands, with sub-alpine and alpine semi-deserts and meadows nearby (Breckle 2006). In the medieval period, the surrounding region was known for its apples, rhubarb and large pears (Bosworth 1965:1049). The seventh century Chinese traveller Xuan Zang comments on its cold climate, but abundance of winter wheat, turmeric and asafœtida (Beal 1968:283), while 19th century British India army scouts list deposits of lead and antimony (used in ceramic manufacture and medicine) among the region’s other natural resources (Bellew 2007 [1862]:190).Ghazni’s geographical location was key to its prosperity, both from a local, agricultural point of view (Minorsky 1970:111), and as a pivotal centre in regional commerce (Fig. 1). It lay on the ‘major route between Kabul in the north and Kandahar in the south, and was also the point where several routes from South Asia (particularly those using the Kurram and Tochi passes) met the major north south route’ (Petrie 2007). This trade, primarily with the northern Indian Sub-continent, included slaves so numerous, according to al-cUṭbī, that there was not enough water for them, and thousands of elephants which were used in the Ghaznawid armies (Bombaci 1959:18; Bosworth 2001:171–5). Like Bāmiyān and many other major centres in Afghanistan, Ghazni’s history pre-dates the arrival of Islam—it may equate to Gazaca in the writings of Ptolemy (Bosworth, in  EI   II, 1965:1048; contra  Bombaci 1957:255–6). 5  By the seventh century CE, Ghazni was a thriving Buddhist centre and the heart of the surrounding region of Zābulistān under the poorly known Turk and Oḍi (Hindu) Śāhis (Bosworth 1965:1048; Dupree 1977:36; Rahman 2005). The ancient form of the name (Gazna) does not appear 4  Powerful earthquakes struck Ghazni in 1505, 1832, 1842, 1874, and 1902 (Stenz 1946, cited in Giunta 2000:386). 5  Califano’s assertion (2010) that Ghazni (rather than Ḳandahār) equates to Alexandria in Arachosia is based on his mis-quoting of Bernard (1996:108).   Asian Horizons: Studies in Honour of Giuseppe Tucci and His Legacy 504 until around 683 CE, when the Arab armies encountered erce resistance at the site (Bombaci 1959:4). The city was attacked again by Moslem forces in 747 CE, before being razed to the ground by the Ṣaffārids in 869 CE (Bombaci 1959:2). Ghazni quickly recovered, becoming the summer capital of the eponymous Ghaznawid dynasty of renegade Turk  6  soldiers who had deserted their erstwhile Sāmānid masters. It was rebuilt by Maḥmūd of Ghazna ca 1024 CE, using the proceeds of his repeated raids on the northern Indian Subcontinent, although no detailed description of the city at this time has survived (Bombaci 1959:6–7; Le Strange 1976 [1905]:348). Disaster again befell the site in 1150 CE, when Ghazna was torched by the Ghūrids, a loose confederation of semi-nomadic mountain malik  s or ‘chiefs’, to avenge the murder of two prominent members of their ruling family (Bosworth 1961:119). According to the Ghūrid chronicler al-Djūzdjānī (Raverty 1970 [1881] I:353): ‘Alā-ud-Dīn [the Ghūrid leader] took the city of Ghaznīn by storm, and, during seven nights and days, red the place, and burnt it with obstinacy and wantonness… during these seven days, the air, from the blackness of the smoke, continued as black as night; and those nights, from the ames raging in the burning city, were lighted up as light as day.’ Such was the scale of the destruction, cAlā’ al-Dīn Ḥusayn acquired the sobriquet  Djihn-sūz   or ‘World burner’ (Bosworth 1968:160). Many Ghaznawid buildings, monuments and graves were pillaged and desecrated, although the tombs of sultans Maḥmūd, Mascūd and Ibrāhīm were spared (Raverty 1970 [1881] I:354). Ghuzz nomads inicted further ravages on the city and its hinterland  before being expelled by Ghūrid forces in 117–-74 CE. The Ghūrid general Mucizz al-Dīn Muḥammad subsequently used Ghazni as a base for his extensive raids on the northern Indian Subcontinent (Bosworth 1977:125). Booty from these campaigns was again used to aggrandise the city (Kumar 2007:100), while expansion of its workshops points to contacts with Persia and India (Blair 1985:87–8; Flood 2009:134, 190 ff). The city was nally 6  Following Ball (2008:28, fn. 5), the term Turk will be used as a noun and an adjective, referring to people speaking one of the Turk group of languages, rather than the terms Turkish or Turkic.  505Google Earth™ @ Ghazni destroyed by the Mongols in 1221 CE, although they left standing the Ghaznawid towers of Mascūd III (reign 1099–1115 CE) and Bahram Shāh (reign 1118–1157 CE). By the time Ibn Baṭṭūṭa passed through in the 14th century, the greater part of the town lay in ruins (Gibb 1971:589–90).Little had improved by the time Charles Masson visited Ghazni ca 1828—Masson notes the wretched nature of its inhabitants in the midst of an outbreak of cholera which turned its numerous  zīyrt  s (pilgrimage sites) and shrines into charnel houses (quoted in Whitteridge 2002:49). 7  A few years later, however, Ghazni re-emerged from obscurity to play a prominent role in the First Anglo–Afghan War and the subsequent struggles for power in Kābul. Its imposing citadel (Bālā Ḥiṣār, Fig. 2) was rebuilt (Adamec 1985:199), only to be stormed by the British Indian army in 1839. The British were forced to surrender in 1841, but exacted swift and brutal revenge, as General Nott ordered ‘the city of Ghuznee with its citadel and the whole of its works to be destroyed’ (quoted in Dupree 1977:182). Thereafter, although the city remained in a strategically important position, it ceased to be a defensible stronghold. By 1914, Ghazni is described as ‘a decayed town of no miliary [sic] strength, and contains only about 1,000 inhabited houses… [its inhabitants] have a look of wretchedness and poverty, and are remarkable only for their ignorance and superstition’ (Bellew, quoted in Adamec 1985:194–5). P REVIOUS   ARCHAEOLOGICAL   WORK    AT  G HAZNI As mentioned in the Introduction, the Italian excavations at Ghazni initiated by Tucci focused on two major sites—the Buddhist  stupa -monastery complex of Tapa Sardār (Taddei 1969; Taddei and Verardi 1978) and the adjacent medieval Islamic city (Scerrato 1959). The uppermost archaeological deposits of Tapa Sardār (a modern name, meaning Prince’s Mound) were levelled and the site turned into a gun emplacement in 1929 (Dupree 1977:190). Despite this truncation, IsIAO excavations revealed the stupa at Tapa Sardār to be the largest in 7  Around the turn of the 20thN century, the number of shrines, often surrounded by orchards and gardens, is recorded as 197 (Adamec 1985:196).
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