Post-earthquake archaeological response training at Pashupati

Though spared much of the destruction from the 2015 earthquake, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pashupati, a major Shaivite pilgrimage centre in South Asia, and Kathmandu’s premier cremation site, some monuments did sustain damage. One of these monuments was the Gurujyu Sattal, located next to the western entrance of the Pashupati Temple Complex.

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We are approaching this site as a training exercise in immediate responses to heritage monuments that have collapsed after an earthquake. Funded by the Pashupati Area Development Trust, the exercise involves participants from the Department of Archaeology, Government of Nepal, Pashupati Area Development Trust as well as police and military officers and recruits. This will aid the capacity building of heritage professionals as well as first responders who encounter collapsed buildings after earthquakes.

We have gridded out the monument and this has allowed us to locate where rubble is located. This is then moved to a replicated grid close to the monument where the material is taken for processing. This allows for the mapping of where structural and architectural elements as well as artefacts were located, whilst also allowing for quick clearing, recovery and emergency responses. To replicate the emergency response, all the photographs are taken on mobile phones, and a shovel is used as a scale, allowing for quick recording to be conducted without expensive or technical equipment.

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Removing rubble within a grid-square as part of the excavations

 

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Replicated grid squares near the site for artefact processing

 

 

As we undertake this work, we will continue to refine our methods and practices to provide a toolkit for the protection of cultural heritage in post-disaster responses to natural disasters.   

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