By Mahjabeen Malik
Ahmad Hassan Dani was a great Pakistani archaeologist, historian and linguist. He was born on 20 June 1920 in Basana Central Province in India. He belonged to a family called Wain, they were traders in Kashmir. He received his early education from India and passed his graduation in1944. He was the first graduate of Banaras Hindu University. He obtained gold medal by securing highest marks in the examination. And the university offered him a job as a lecturer and was offered a salary but he couldn’t teach there due to his religious beliefs. He also took part in Taxila Mohanjo-doro.
Later on, he started working as an archaeologist at the Department of Archaeology of British India at Taj Mahal, Agra. . He went abroad for his higher studies and qualified his PhD from the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. He was a power on Central Asian and South Asian archaeologist and a historian. He was the pioneer who introduced archaeology as a discipline in higher education in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
He was a brilliant figure of Pakistan who achieved various awards from Pakistan and abroad. Apart from archaeological digging and research, he is famous for his archaeological expertise on the pre-Indus recipient of various civil awards in Pakistan and abroad. He could speak more than 35 local, national and international languages and dialects fluently.
In 1962, he joined the University of Peshawar as a professor of Archaeology and continued his job there till 1971. He led the rearranged and renovation works for the Lahore and Peshawar Museum during that tenure of the job as a professor. However, he secured the position of Chairman of the Research Society at the University of Peshawar in 1970. He became the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences when he shifted to Islamabad in 1971. He concentrated on his research as a Professor of History, therefore, he had to leave his job in 1975. In the meantime, the University had renamed Quaid-e-Azam University in 1976. He kept continuing his work in various positions until his retirement in 1980 when he was made Emeritus Professor. At the same period, he also rendered his services as President of the Archaeological and Historical Association of Pakistan in 1979 and Co-Director of the Pak-German Team for Ethnology Research in Northern Areas of Pakistan.
In 1992, he was selected as Advisor on archaeology to the Ministry of Culture of Pakistan, serving from 1992–96. Between1994–98, he remained Chairman of the National Fund for Cultural Heritage in Islamabad.
In 1993, he received his PhD degree from Tajikistan University. He had also founded Museum in Islamabad in the same year.
He was appointed as an Honorary Director at the Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations in 1997. He remained in the position until the day of his departure from this transitory world.
At the age of 88 years, he passed away on 22 January 2009 in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Science in Islamabad with heart, kidney and diabetes diseases. He was buried in the H-11 Graveyard of Islamabad.
Achievements and commendation
Ahmad Hassan Dani was the first Muslim student of Banaras Hindu University who obtained highest marks in the graduation examination and achieved J.K Gold Medal from the university in 1944. He had also achieved Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2002 from the Government of Pakistan. Higher Education Commission had awarded the title of Distinguished National Professor in appreciation of his work.
Ahmad Hassan Dani achieved many awards and medals in his life for his work.
Ø 1998 Légion d’honneur, President of the French Republic
Ø 1997 Aristotleh Silver Medal, UNESCO
Ø 1996 Order of the Merit, Government of Germany
Ø 1994 Knight Commander, Government of Italy
Ø 1990 Palmes Academiques, Government of France
Ø 1986 Gold Medal, Asiatic Society of Bangladesh
Ahmad Hassan Dani was a writer as well. He had written more than 30 books in various languages as was capable speaking more than 35 languages. He had also been writing articles for various magazines and journals. The list of some books of Ahmad Hassan Dani is as under:
- History of Pakistan: Pakistan through ages. Sang-e-Meel Publications. 2007.
- The Historic City of Taxila. Sang-e-Meel Publications.
- History of Northern Areas of Pakistan (Up to 2000 AD).
- Romance of the Khyber Pass.
- New Light on Central Asia.
- Central Asia Today.
- Human Records on Karakorum Highway.
- Peshawar: Historic City of the Frontier.
- Tribes and Peoples of Northern Punjab(500 BC to Present times).
- A Short History of Pakistan, Book One: Pre-Muslim Period. University of Karachi.
- History of Northern Areas of Pakistan (Historical studies). National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research.
- Perspectives of Pakistan. National Institute of Pakistan Studies, Quaid-e-Azam University.
- The historic city of Taxila. Centre for East Asian Cultural Studies.
- Chilas: The City of Nanga Parvat (Dyamar).
- Thatta: Islamic architecture. Institute of Islamic History, Culture & Civilization.
- Indus Civilization: New Perspectives. Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad.
- Alberuni’s Indica: A record of the cultural history of South Asia about A.D. 1030.
- Indian palaeography.
- Dacca: A record of its changing fortunes. S. S. Dani (Publisher).
- Prehistory and Protohistory of Eastern India: With a Detailed Account of the Neolithic Cultures. K. L. Mukhopadhyay.
- Bibliography of the Muslim Inscriptions of Bengal.
Ahmad Hassan Dani was the real asset of Pakistan. We feel proud of him. May Allah rest his soul in peace. Ameen.