5. Investigation Campaigns 1999 and 2000

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The team in charge of the RNR building yard informed the governmental authorities (Ministry for Agriculture and National Commission for Cultural Affairs, formerly SCCA) about the findings. Lyonpo[1] Kinzang Dorji, Minister for Agriculture of the RGoB[2], asked N.G.O. Helvetas to organize an archaeological investigation of the structures directly threatened by the undergoing building work. Helvetas contacted the SLFA in February 1999 and a first investigation campaign could start on April 6th, 1999, for four weeks. A second fieldwork campaign occurred from April to July 2000, enabling further documentation of the site.

Investigation Campaign 1999

During the campaign 1999, we were a small team consisting of 1 archaeologist, 1 representative of the Special Commission for Cultural Affairs, 1 field assistant, and 3-6 fieldworkers. The main goal was to recognize the archaeological potential (historical and cultural significance) of the structures B1, B2 and B3, which were directly threatened by the new buildings. Our report for 1999 gives detailed insight of the investigation procedures, as well as advises for further steps to be made toward complete site documentation and preservation.

The main results of the first investigation were that:

 structures B1 and B2 are linked to form an architectural complex of defensive nature;

the stone structure B3 is a massive monument of ceremonial nature;

the historicity of monuments B1-B2 and B3 is ascertained by radiocarbon dating (8-9th century, respectively 16th century AD);

the cultural importance of complex B1-B2 cannot be ascertained due to lacking historical and archaeological comparative sources for this period, but its historical importance is clear since it is the first buried ruin to be documented for the period;

the cultural importance of monument B3 appears through its shape, which has no known equivalent in the country. Its historical importance cannot be ascertained due to lacking historical and archaeological comparative sources.

Excavation Campaign 2000

An interdisciplinary team of four Swiss acted as core investigation group during the second and main excavation campaign: 1 archaeologist, 1 geologist/sedimentologist, 1 biologist, and 1 ethnology student. As in the preceding year, a representative of the National Commission for Cultural Affairs (formerly SCCA) from Thimpu supplemented us. A group of 8-10 local fieldworkers[3] were hired for us by the RNR-RC direction to assist us on the excavations. The campaign duration, which was initially planed to be three months, was extended for one month until end of July.

The goals set for the second campaign include the following points.

Full excavation and documentation of the B3 monument, in order to let the RNR-RC direction set up a final strategy concerning eventual shifts of planed buildings on their master plan.

Completion of excavation and documentation of the B1-B2 complex, in order to gain a complete overview of the structural and non-structural remains.

Testing of buried structure B4, located outside of threatened area.

Retrieving of oral information among the local population concerning other potential archaeological or historical sites or remains in the Choskhor valley.

Locating, mapping and briefly describe new sites or remains based on retrieved local information.

Establish the archaeological potential of the visited regions for future archaeological investigations.

An inestimable amount of data was secured in the course of the four-month campaign, so that all the above-mentioned goals can be reached and presented in this report. Among the raw data, following is worth a short summary (Tab. 1):



Field journal

> 170 pages

Drawings, sketches, measurement sheets, etc.

> 190 sheets

Digital photographs[[4]

362 pictures

Slide and negative photographs[[5]

> 1600 pictures

GPS recordings[[6]

> 120 points

Computer databases[[7]


Preliminary analytic report about the conflicting situation



> 2447 documents

Tab. 1 - Documentation summary for the campaign 2000.

Retrospectively, it appears that both campaigns were successful when compared with the local setting and work conditions: due to the great involvement of an inexperienced workmanship, we are today able to characterize more than five archaeological structures in the Choskhor valley. Of course, we spent most energy in documenting monument B3 and complex B1-B2, since those were directly endangered. Among the remainder, we can now give some descriptive account about other remains of archaeological importance in the Choskhor valley of Bumthang.


[1] Minister title.
[2] Royal Government of Bhutan.
[3] We would like to sincerely thank all local fieldworkers who assisted us during the campaign 2000: Am Rinzin, Dechen, Karma, Lhamo, Lhamo Yeshi, Omnath Rai, Pema Tsering, Sonam Choden, Sonam Dema, and Tashi Chesom. We also thank the RNR-RC yard personal that regularly gave us a hand. Special thank goes to the yard junior engineer Bhim B. Pradhan who permitted constructive interaction.
[4] We thank Dr. Walter Roder of RNR-RC Jakar for lending us a digital camera of brand Sony Mavica. We could easily print out digital shots on site using the RNR-RC office computer and printer. This helped us gaining a lot of time.
[5] We used three cameras: one Canon AE-1 reflex camera with 28 mm, 50 mm, and 100 mm lenses and a flashlight, all lent by Mrs. Nicole Reynaud, Vevey, Switzerland; one Canon FTb with 50 mm lens lent by Mrs. Annette Meuwly, Avry-devant-Pont, Switzerland; and one Leica with 50 mm lens belonging to Luc Braillard.
[6] We used a Garmin 12 Personal Navigator GPS system belonging to the Swiss National Foundation for Scientific Research (SNF) and lent to us by Dr. Yvon Csonka, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
[7] We processed data on an IBM Thinkpad laptop computer belonging to the SLFA (Chukotka project) and on a Dell laptop computer lent us by Mrs. Suzanna Jakimovski, Fribourg


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Copyright 2001, Reto Blumer, Switzerland
Copyright 2001, SLFA Zürich, Switzerland

For problems or questions regarding this web contact rblumer@vtx.ch.

Last updated: 29-05-2001.