The built heritage of Pakistan symbolizes our past glory and it is an integral part of our sense of identity. It may not only serves as a source of inspiration but also heightens the national pride with consequential effect of providing incentives for fulfilling our future inspirations. Archaeology often provides the only means to learn of the existence and behaviors of people of the past.
The history of archaeology has been one of increasing professionalization, and the use of an increasing range of techniques, to obtain as much data on the cultural heritage as possible. Excavations of ancient sites monuments and the collection of antiquities have been taking place for hundreds of years, but these were mostly for the extraction of valuable or aesthetically pleasing artifacts.
The province of Punjab is rich in archaeology where a complete cultural profile from the early Stone Age to the Islamic period has been established which is highlighted by archaeological sites, historical monuments, ethnic traditions and folklores.
Before establishment of Directorate General of Archaeology Punjab the onus of maintenance of entire cultural wealth of Pakistan was on Federal Department of Archaeology & Museums.
After having realized that the only Federal Department of Archaeology & Museums cannot alone protect and preserve cultural assets of the country, it was decided by Federal Government to involve provinces by establishing their own Archaeology Departments for the Purpose. Punjab Government took a lead and established its own Directorate of Archaeology on December 1, 1987 under the Information, Culture and Youth affairs Department. Previously a small conservation cell was working in Auqaf Department since 1971. In October 2011 Directorate General of Archaeology was attached new department, “Youth Affairs, Archaeology, Sports and Tourism. “Punjab Special Premised Preservation Ordinance 1985” was the legislative support and mandate of this Directorate. There are 256 historical monuments protected under the said ordinance.
In August 2004, Federal Government transferred Lahore Fort and Shalamar Gardens, the World heritage monuments to Punjab Government, and this step brought the Directorate General of Archaeology, Punjab to limelight but on the other hand its responsibilities were increased. In April 2011, after 18th constitutional amendment Federal Government again transferred 149 monuments and sites protected under Antiquity act 1975, to Directorate General of Archaeology, Government of the Punjab. Some important monuments transferred are Taxila museum and remains, Rohtas Fort, Jahangir,s Tomb Harappa Museum & Remains, Hiran Minar etc.
After devolution of historical monuments to Punjab Government, it is now the responsibility of the Directorate General of Archaeology to conduct research on these monuments & sites and to conserve and preserve them in accordance with the International charters concerning preservation of heritage to augment cultural awareness among general public and promote tourism.