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Exhibition offers window on Dhaka's past

Stone inscriptions provide 'witness to history'

Exhibition visitors look at a 17th century stone inscription collected from a Christian cemetery in Dhaka Exhibition visitors look at a 17th century stone inscription collected from a Christian cemetery in Dhaka
  • ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • December 26, 2011
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An exhibition depicting stone inscriptions has shed light on the ancient origins and history of the country’s capital city.

“Stone Inscriptions of Dhaka: Ancient Time to Mughal Period,” which ran through December 17-23, showcased in digital photographs some 83 stone inscriptions, including items from various Christian churches and gravestones, written in Persian, English, Arabic, Latin, Armenian and other languages.

The exhibition was organized by the Committee for Documentation on Architectural Sites in Dhaka, a trust initiated and sponsored by Dhaka University, as part of efforts to preserve the heritage of the city.

The inscriptions depicted date from between the 3rd century BC to the end of the Mughal empire in 1757.

Organizers say the presence of so many different languages among the inscriptions shows that Dhaka was an important international city from its very beginnings.

Twelve of the 83 photographs showed inscriptions from churches and gravestones, written in Armenian, Latin, Portuguese and English.

Dr Arefin Siddique, vice chancellor of Dhaka University, told attendees at the inauguration of the exhibition that the objective of the event was to provide a “witness of history” through the depiction of the stone inscriptions.

“Language experts and researchers will translate and explain what these ancient writings mean and the historic significance they have.”

Italian Xaverian Father Silvano Garello, one of three foreign missioners who have translated the inscriptions, said the Church in Bangladesh needs to preserve the inscriptions in their possession.

“There are few Church documents about the first missioners and the history of Christianity in the country. The Church should come forward to research and preserve the signs of history.”

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